Pattern Poems – 1

AG: And then we have George Herbert  (that we got to.. ) [Allen begins searching in. the anthology] –  (now) where does he begin? – he begins after  (Henry) King... )  – “Easter Wings” – and, the Easter Wings, I guess you know  (or do you?)  that Dylan Thomas wrote things like that? – your friend, Dylan Thomas? – He wrote diamonds  [diamond-shaped poems]. He has..  Dylan Thomas has a series of poems that look like that – ever seen them? – and then, (like “Easter Wings”) – he was actually imitating Herbert – he also had a series that looks like that – just like Herbert.  And Guillaume Apollinaire also has something like this.

(And) there’s another one by Herbert which I don’t have in this book which is “The Altar” (which is in the shape of an altar). (so he nails that)    So the angle here is that you make the..   what is the..  this is like.. what do they call this poetry? – visual  poetry,, concrete poetry – what do they call it in Europe,  do you know, when you have a poem-shape?, (M-sic), do you know that?

Student (M): (I think the word is poesia concrete

AG: Concrete – Isn’t there anything….

Student (M):   Onomatopoeia, or something..

AG: No. well, it’s Onomatopoeia of shape. Onomatopoeia is when the words and the sounds.. like – “Yikes!”, or, “Arf!”, or, “Oh?”, or, “Eek!” – all are the same – “Oops”? – Onomatopoeia – The great example was “the murmuring of immemorial  bees.” and “the moaning…” ‘the moaning of immemorial doves..”  “The moan of doves in immemorial elms /And the murmur of [murmuring of] innumerable bees” -(Alfred Lord) Tennyson” The moan of doves in immemorial elms/ and the murmur of innumerable bees”  – ” the moan of doves in immemorial elms and the murmur of innumerable bees” – ” The moan of doves in immemorial elms/ And murmuring of innumerable bees”  – to make the sound of the bees in the forest and the stillness, and the..    You know that one..?- That’s the big classic. They used to teach that one in high school. You know, when they say. Onomatopoeia, what’s Onomatopoeia? –  the moan of doves in immemorial….  

Student:  In the elms…

AG:  Yeah...Well the angle here, however, is that the shape of the poem is supposed to imitate the thought, have relation to the thought .  So let’s do his [Herbert’s] and then I’ll do some of Dylan Thomas’ s and see how that works, because it still can work.

“Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store./Though foolishly he lost the same,/Decaying more and more,/Till he became/Most poor..” –  (so the thin line is “,most poor”) – “With thee/Oh let me rise/As larks, harmoniously/And sing this day thy victories:/then shall the fall further the flight in me…” – (so it’s wings) – “My tender age in sorrow did beginne/And still with sicknesses and shame/Thou did so punish sinne,/That I became/Most thinne/With thee/Let me combine/And feel this day thy victorie/ For, if I imp my wing on thine/Affliction  shall adavance the flight in me.”  – (affliction shall advance the flight in me)  – So, “Most poor” “Most thinne”

[Audio for the above can be heard here, beginning at approximately eighty-one-and-a-quarter minutes in and concluding at approximately eighty-five-and-a-quarter minutes in] .

One comment

  1. There’s a wonderful book of and about Concrete Poetry, “Concrete Poetry A World View,” edited by Mary Ellen Solt, who is also the author of perhaps my favorite example of concrete poetry: “Forsythia.” You can check it out here (scroll down to the poem): Somewhere I also have the Poem/Movie/Book “Sweethearts,” which is a fabulous book length poem which one reads by flipping the pages rapidly so as to produce a “movie” effect. Pure genius, both of them.

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