Thursday, January 7, 2016

System as opposed to logic in poetry

If you have been reading my posts regularly you'll know that I am reading Pinsky's Singing School and its throwing up all sorts of interesting stuff to mull over.  There's a bit where he talks about a poem's system or I guess, its systematic presentation, how this is different to the poem's logic and how powerful a poem's systematic presentation can be in driving a poem and making it memorable.

Pinsky quotes the anonymously authored poem, The Man of Double Deed which was also turned into a song (personally I think it's better read).

The Man of Double Deed
There was a man of double deed,Who sowed his garden full of seed;When the seed began to grow,’Twas like a garden full of snow;When the snow began to melt,’Twas like a ship without a belt;When the ship began to sail,’Twas like a bird without a tail;When the bird began to fly,’Twas like an eagle in the sky;When the sky began to roar,’Twas like a lion at my door;When my door began to crack,’Twas like a stick across my back;When my back began to smart,’Twas like a penknife in my heart;And when my heart began to bleed,’Twas death, and death, and death indeed.


It did however put me in mind of a similar "poem" by Eric Lomax; this poem was never published and Lomax is thought to have though it up in a moment of delirium while suffering the effects of torture at the hands of the Japanese. 

The Clock of Man
At the beginning of time the clock struck one Then dropped the dew and the clock struck two From the dew grew a tree and the clock struck three The tree made a door and the clock struck four Man came alive and the clock struck five Count not, waste not the years on the clock Behold I stand at the door and knock.

Here's Colin Firth reading from the movie, The Railway Man.





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