We KNOW that modern poetry is progressive, and inherently superior to that of the past.
This is my private reading of a new offering – for your eyes and ears only:
Ahem. (stands at microphone, shuffles a paper)
find less than arresting: stilted musings gem-set
in ardent verbiage.
recherché semantics, florid phrases facing a withering sun
or policing of metaphor –
until handcuffed: Italic jewel thief caught on surveillance
spaces with odd punctuation; ? &
inward dithering semi-confessions in serpentine
verse. Badder (or worse) annoying line
cloying internal half – rhymes,
over-thought until you want to see
what’s on TV instead. As if
the poet’s every random musing was so
essential. Reverential semi-precious mythos
(Siren’s distant waves echo, shipwrecked rocks: Ossifer, ossifer –
it’s only boring poetry…
I’m so sorry. I’ll never do it)
(Shuffles papers, sits down)
Did you enjoy it? I didn’t. The 17 hours I labored over it were grueling. OK. Now for some oh-so-passé highly-structured message-oriented religious poetry. This woman‘s only claim to fame is that she wrote America the Beautiful after ascending the Rocky Mountains by wagon and mule as a visiting English professor at Colorado College in 1893.
[from Streams in the Desert, Sep. 18]
The rain that fell a-yesterday is ruby on the roses,
Silver on the poplar leaf, and gold on willow stem;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday is silence that incloses
Holy loves when time and change shall never trouble them.
The rain that fell a-yesterday makes all the hillsides glisten,
Coral on the laurel and beryl on the grass;
The grief that chanced a-yesterday has taught the soul to listen
For whispers of eternity in all the winds that pass.
O faint-of-heart, storm-beaten, this rain will gleam tomorrow,
Flame within the columbine and jewels on the thorn,
Heaven in the forget-me-not; though sorrow now be sorrow,
Yet sorrow shall be beauty in the magic of the morn.
Katherine Lee Bates (1859 -1929)