Sunday, October 16, 2011


I'm not of two-minds about this.  Almost anything written in the last 50 years is guaranteed to be insipid doggerel.  Why is that?  If you agree, you can tell us what you think.  I think people have become less thought-full over the last century.  English is a difficult language.  It looks easy and some forms of it are have been ridiculously dumbed down, but handling it was requires skill.  Skill which few possess.  I don't write poetry, I'm not that stupid or arrogant to think I could do it well although I certainly wrote it when I was young and dumb in college.

It's always somewhat cringe-inducing to hear someone say "I just wrote a book of poetry, how can I get it published?"  That was thankfully harder a few years ago but now it's frighteningly simple.  Just go to Smashwords and see how much poetry is there.  It should be used as a Halloween display it's so scary.

What's hard about poetry is that you should be concise.  Being concise means you have a very clear idea or what you're trying to communicate.  It's the shout it across the parking lot in 1 sentence and be understood situation.

Then in order to convey this idea and say it beautifully and precisely is another feat.  It requires a good vocabulary and an understand of words.  Then you have to understand structure and construction.  You also have to realize you're telling a very short story, so that by the end of the poem there's some kind of resolution.  The reader has gone from point A to point Z, not from point A to point A.  The writer should have been illuminated, instructed and informed along this journey.  There should be a moment of wonderment.

Otherwise it's just recreational therapy.  It's like fingerpainting.

In my travels this week I came across a poem by Rudyard Kipling who was so skillful with the language and so insightful.  I offer it to you as encouragement and for pleasure and for wisdom.

"A Servant When He Reigneth"-
Rudyard Kipling 

Three things make earth unquiet
And four she cannot brook
The godly Agur counted them
And put them in a book --
Those Four Tremendous Curses
With which mankind is cursed;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Old Agur entered first.
An Handmaid that is Mistress
We need not call upon.
A Fool when he is full of Meat
Will fall asleep anon.
An Odious Woman Married
May bear a babe and mend;
But a Servant when He Reigneth
Is Confusion to the end.

His feet are swift to tumult,
His hands are slow to toil,
His ears are deaf to reason,
His lips are loud in broil.
He knows no use for power
Except to show his might.
He gives no heed to judgment
Unless it prove him right.

Because he served a master
Before his Kingship came,
And hid in all disaster
Behind his master's name,
So, when his Folly opens
The unnecessary hells,
A Servant when He Reigneth
Throws the blame on some one else.

His vows are lightly spoken,
His faith is hard to bind,
His trust is easy broken,
He fears his fellow-kind.
The nearest mob will move him
To break the pledge he gave --
Oh, a Servant when he Reigneth
Is more than ever slave!

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