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The Order of Words
Robert Frost believes that a poem should “end to clarify life”, allowing the reader (and the writer) to “stay a moment against confusion”. For many modern thinkers, religion no longer adequately answers important metaphysical questions about the meaning of life; and thus the established belief of the last century is that “to fall is to fall.” Many contemporary writers then turn to art as a means of understanding the world and creating world order. Wallace Stevens, Edna Millay, and Gertrude Stein are three contemporary authors who believe that the world is confusing to most people. This essay examines these artists’ definitions and interpretations of delusion in the modern world and examines how these writers use art as a “temporary defense” against this “delusion.”
In his novel To the lighthouse Virginia Woolf succinctly describes the modern view that nature (and experience in general) ignores the human need for order. Woolf wrote: “Has nature succeeded in making up for what man has advanced? … From the upper room of the empty house, only the great chaos can be heard thundering, the wind and the waves wandering and swirling like an amorphous mass of leviathans. For whatever reason, the eyebrows Is it pierced?” When we turn to nature in hopes of finding answers and solace, we hear only our own echoes or the snarling of a monstrous beast. Similarly, Stevens and Millay describe nature as wild and indifferent to humanity. In the poem Anecdote of the Pot, Stephen describes nature as “wild” and “young desolate.” Similarly, Miley describes nature as the opposite of the “sweet order” that the human heart longs for in her poem “I’ll Put Chaos in Fourteen Lines.” Unrestricted by artistic composition, he depicts the chaos represented by the natural world as a wild man who tries to escape the confines of his poem.
However, even though Stevens and Millay see only chaos and confusion in the world, they have a desire to find order. These people fulfill their desire for order and meaning, and write poems that “hold a moment against confusion.” By placing the pot “over the head” in the “wilderness” of “Tennessee,” Stevens makes life clearer and more defined; and while writing a poem about placing this vessel in the wilderness. The vase was placed on a wild hill, he says, “creating an ageless desert/ Surrounding that hill.” The jar and the poem perform a similar function: they both confound the chaos of nature by giving it definition and form. This is how nature is tamed: for “the desert rises up to her/ Roaming around, she is no longer wild.” The poem is a balanced and orderly form with birds, bushes, and wild plants (of various shapes and sizes) growing and growing (walking) around the pot, growing randomly, like a vase. . The poem is a three-stanza poem; each stanza consists of four lines; and each line has eight syllables. Human experience is rarely so structured and orderly. Containers are usually made of clear glass; the lines around the tank are clear, uniform and of the same length; the top and bottom of the vessel are generally perfectly circular; and the sides of the container are of the same substance and shape. Stevens wrote that the bottle provided a “port in the air”; This shapely object suggested a mind longing for order, solace, and perspective in the midst of chaos.
While Stevens was pottering in the desert (a metaphor for the world’s role in art), Miley decided to “create chaos in fourteen lines.” However, his goal is the same as Stephen’s: he wants to “preserve its essence, its amorphous form, until it blends and merges with order.” According to Stevens, his pot “dominant everywhere,” indicating the taming of the wilderness. Likewise, Miley wishes to tame chaos, bringing it “tightly bounded/ into this beautiful order.” The structure of the poem creates a cross for this creature’s captivity, allowing the poet and reader to “pause” for whatever the chaos may do if it is not imprisoned.
As poetic form describes the poem’s purpose (to be a net to contain and tame chaos), the arbitrary symbols of language are put into a purposeful, organized pattern. Each line of the poem has ten syllables; the end of each line predictably connects to another line; and the rhythm of the poem is aesthetically pleasing. Ironically, this poem accomplishes (in its organized form) what it sets out to do against chaos: “keep him there.” Poetry brings pleasure, imparts wisdom, gives structure to experience, and offers meaning and clarity to our lives. Thus the confusion is briefly removed, allowing the poet and the reader to enjoy and learn from the clear lines of the poem.
When something previously unknown is identified and understood, the chaos for the reader and writer of poetry becomes less. Frost says that the pleasure of poetry comes when a poem makes the reader remember something they did not know. “She’s no more, no less/ More than a simple thing that’s not yet understood,” Miley says of Chaos. in American construction, Gertrude Stein claimed that confusion and pain in the human world are the result of not fully understanding. He believes that people see themselves and their sins in other people. Thus, “mostly everyone” finds the constant repetition of our sins and other people’s lives “irritating”: “It is often irritating to hear the repetition they do.” But the repetitive nature of existence only causes pain and confusion to those who have not learned to love the repetitive patterns of existence: “As I have often said over the years, one is surprised.” So Stein set out to reveal to readers something they didn’t know. He does this by composing poems that reflect and engage with a meaningful life.
Stein believes that by “hearing the repetition” one can realize that repetition is “interesting”. One who begins to see this repetition as interesting, sees himself in others (and others in himself) and then learns to love the repetition as “a way of being.” A person who sees their “harmless” “flaws” as “attractive of any character” will accept himself and love others who remind him of his “flaws” and “charms.” For this person, “the shock is transferred to the patient’s full understanding.” Stein wants us to see her style, which can confuse and frustrate us with its grammatical errors and seemingly nonsensical words, as a metaphor for life that we can learn to love and understand.
Thus, to the individual who has mastered the art of listening and observing the “repetition of being,” confusion becomes beautiful and orderly. Stein wants his readers to master the art of learning to love the “repetition of existence.” And he helps the reader to understand the poem and to do so: if the reader understands the poem, it also makes sense to repeat that he is in the life that the poem reflects. Like his poems, experience has style and purpose; As with most poems, there are certain rhythmic, repetitive elements to the experience that prevent confusion and provide control. Human experience and existence are made up of repeating patterns. Once recognized, this pattern is a “key” against the confusion caused by ignorance. Stein acknowledges and accepts patterns of experience. Then he likes this familiar cycle of events: “Everybody is the same kind of man and woman, I always look for them, compare them, classify them, I like to see them always repeat themselves. Always I like to repeat. .” However, there was a time when he “did not see, hear, or feel repetition”; So he “didn’t know how to repeat.” His inability to “hear or feel the repetition” made him perplexed. Instead of gradually learning to resist and love, “fighting and attacking” can lead to doubt, not reaching “full understanding”.
As Stein describes different modes of existence, the form of the poem mirrors and mimics the process she describes. He begins the paragraph with the sentence, “I write for myself and for strangers,” and then repeats the phrase, “I write for myself and for strangers,” a little later, with slight variations in his work. He explains the meaning of the previous phrases, adds words that clarify and expand this phrase – “I want the reader to do this to strangers.” If we look at the previous lines where similar combinations of these same words are used (in the last lines), we find that he writes to strangers because he wants readers. He also states that readers “must do it.” But what is this? Don’t worry, he’ll say it again, he’s said it before – “It’s very important to me to always know and see which one is the same as the others and say it.” As the reader repeats the phrase and gradually develops the idea, it is possible to “fully understand” its artistic purpose, which expresses faith in humanity. He wants us to read the recurring patterns of existence that fill our lives as we read his poems.
Stein laments that “everybody’s always busy with it” because “none of them ever know it.” He wants them to stop being “busy about it” so that they can learn to listen and then like him. The reader may be frustrated by the form of this poem (this confusing line is preceded by a constant repetition and reminder of what upset him a few lines earlier). But if the reader listens to the words, he will understand that the poem reflects a recurring pattern found in life experience. Then we will fully understand the purpose of the poem and even learn to love it. Poetry is “like love” and life.
If the reader hears the “repetition of being” in our lives (as heard in the poem), we will learn to love ourselves, others, and life. “Love to repeat is a form of existence.” Understanding the style of the poem and its purpose is a key to avoiding confusion while reading the poem; Because we find that Stein deliberately repeats the main points that we want to understand. Likewise, loving and understanding the “repetitive presence” in experience (which is meaningful because of its constant repetition) helps to create order and meaning in life. Reflecting the “repetition of existence” in life, the wisdom of the poem will hopefully lead us to a greater understanding of the way we live and to “love” and “full understanding.”
“Shall I set my land in order…London Bridge is falling, it is falling…These fragments I have braced against my ruins.” These closing lines of TS Eliot’s poem A deserted place suggesting a sequence of thoughts that might even occur in the mind of a modern artist. The modern artist longs for meaning and order in the world, but sees only desolation and emptiness. As opposed to order, everything is “falling apart”. So the artist uses their imagination to create order and meaning in a world that seems devoid of these things. The pieces that artists “turn” against their destruction are the pieces of meaningful insight and beauty that provide texture, pleasure, and meaning. (“It is only through form and style that words and music can . . . achieve stillness like a Chinese vase,” wrote Eliot.) Placed in the desert, the vessel provides order and perspective to the observer. When chaos is captured and defined (in and through the poem), the reader is able to understand their experience. Art brings pleasure and wisdom to the world, and the love of art and the life it reflects can be “completely understood.” For Stevens, Miley, and Stein, art creates understanding and love; Through understanding and love, one can avoid the chaos that so desperately wants to rob life of its order and meaning.
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