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Jose Garcia Villa and What Poetry Is
Two different things happened last weekend. First, I finished reading Poetry Is: The Philosophy of Jose García Villa’s Poetry by Robert L. King, which is one of the best books on writing poetry I’ve ever read (and read a lot), and secondly, I read some old magazines around the house. moved to a new resting place. One of these magazines was ‘Oasis’ (issue 14 to be exact), an early poetry magazine published in the UK in 1976. Wow, I realized that I subscribed to it then and enthusiastically subscribed to many other magazines. devoted to all things poetry and seeking to learn as much as possible about poetry.
1976 was the year I graduated from a UK university with an Honors (First Class, Magna Cum Laude) degree in English Literature, so I might reasonably conclude that I knew something about literature, especially poetry. My course choices were on the same subject. However, I’ve still subscribed to Oasis and dozens of similar British magazines for at least 20 years, and now when I look at the contents of those magazines I have to ask myself why? Why did I punish myself like this? Although no poems appear in the journal, there are at least 25 attempts at “free verse,” each indistinguishable from the last; Alongside more modernist experiments in the short story we have Philip Larkin (a true poet with an understanding of form) and an essay entitled The Literary Scene (No. 1), which spends most of its time attacking The Establishment. The Beat poet, in addition to promoting the Beat lifestyle (although he reluctantly admits that Kerouac’s “recent years were somewhat sad”) published him and, of course, promoted the idea of free verse in general (which, of course, had nothing to do with verse or poetry). unrelated. all) offer social, political, philosophical, theological freedom (yes, they are all atheistic, or more accurately Spiritist – so how can they have a Muse?). Freedom, man! Who can argue with that? Yes – the self-congratulations of the morally superior libertarians who, through the comfortable armchairs and pretty bourgeois lives of Great Britain, have shown that the chaos of their tracks contributes something to the well-being of humanity and to the existence of poetry in our time. There is always a color to deliver. The usual adjectives that describe their poetry always work like this: ‘spae’, ‘taut’, ‘precise’, ‘share’, ‘slunching’ and what it really means is ‘unmusical’, ‘unstructured’, ‘monotonous’. ‘, ‘harassment’. ‘, ‘unimaginative’. But confusion dies hard.
I could write more, but enough of this nonsense. But you understand my skepticism: these writers have for the last fifty years been a consensus that has banished real poetry, allowing anyone to stand and howl and bark at their dog in the street (yes, metaphorically) and pretend it is. a pile of poo is poetry. This is where Villa’s brilliant book comes in; indeed, at the end of the book addresses, this very tragedy. As Jay Parini puts it, we learn that “the vast majority of poetry written since the mid-twentieth century is ‘free verse’.” But as Willa brilliantly observes, “When you start a poem with a meaning, instead of building it, that meaning weakens it, pulls it down, and distorts it.” How wonderful is the image of all free verse, which by its very nature must begin with meaning, since it cannot, by definition, begin with form. In most cases, birth defects are fatal, but a great poet can write a living free verse – TS Eliot did it, but this is not the norm, not even normal.
It must be said that Willa’s thinking is hard and harsh, but I recommend everyone who loves poetry to buy and read it. . But his arguments are so strong, and his thinking about the process of writing poetry so powerful, that I sincerely believe that all artistic thinkers should heed his ideas. However, before describing the contents, a word should be said about the genesis and writing of the book. Credit must be given to the authors of the book; Yes, the book was written by Willa, but she died in 1997 and it was never written. But his student and pupil, Robert L. King, seems to have compiled all the ideas from the lectures and lecture notes preserved at Harvard in a labor of love. Writing a book on your own is difficult, but putting this book together from notes is a huge achievement, and I think future generations will be very grateful for Robert King’s ability to put together so much detail here. Realizing that it is Willa’s book, King controls his ego and allows Willa and Willa only to speak; It’s amazing.
The essence of Villa and his book is that poetry is an art form that requires at least 10 years worth of discipline before anyone can get anywhere, or produce anything worthwhile. Furthermore, poetry is about language, music, and form, but its view of form goes far beyond meter, stanza structure, and imagery, but does not negate these. For this reason, Villa describes much of today’s poetry (although it hasn’t changed much since then) as “the infantilism of love, the self-expression of nothing but baby talk.” Because “self-expression always happens” while “good writing doesn’t just happen.” This has three important implications.
First, poetry is irreplaceable with prose; The composition tells its meaning, but the meaning of poetry is inseparable from its form, so it cannot be said otherwise. In other words, it has the ability to be transformed into prose, but by changing poetry, it means ending the existence of poetry. Second, the discipline of poetry is aesthetic but also intellectual and ethical. As Villa said, “Poetry is the civilization of the human mind.” One can see directly here, how Villa free versers are contradicted; The question is not only about poetry, but also about the way of life, values and spirituality of mankind. Third, according to Willa, poetry prevents mental illness! This is an impressive claim, but not unprecedented or unreasonable. He doesn’t quote GK Chesterton, but Chesterton notices that only one English poet was mad – Cowper. In general, Apollo, the god of poetry, was the god of healing and sanity. But to quote Willa Wallace Stevens: “Poetry is not a literary activity – it is a vital activity – a part of life”. How good is that? To cap it all, Villa says, “Form must exist to be art”; form means must, order means must, and order must mean mental order, but not like a shopping list or an Excel spreadsheet. Since the order of poetry emanates from the deep mind, it is not surprising that its practice leads to mental stability and health.
Another great observation Willa made – this essay is already getting too long and I’ll have to stop – quote from Christopher Morley: “Poetry is the perfect expression of what you didn’t know you wanted to say.” In other words, every true poem is a journey of discovery; again, this is why the fabricated meanings and important lies you want to convey may make for interesting pieces of polemic or PR, but not poetry. When poetry finally appears on the page, when it is written and finished, it surprises the poet as much as the reader. In fact, there is a chapter at the end of the book about the subject of the last line of the poem, and the realization of how difficult it is to write; Because the last line must bring everything together, and yet constantly create meaning that was initially unclear. In other words, it comes out with the completion! Paradoxical but true.
I think I’ve said enough to convince you to buy Willa’s wonderful, wonderful book of poetry. Robert King deserves deep gratitude for the love he gave to this work and its owner, so that such an important idea would not be lost to the world again, but would continue and remain fresh.
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