Take care an object not thyself o'ercomes — (poem & analysis)

2 months ago

Take care an object not thyself o'ercomes

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poem, images & analysis
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by @dpend


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Take care an object not thyself o'ercomes

How many times an object speak'th to false
when on some fount I contemplate the waves
who unconcernéd dance and stately valse
as I pause a dirty comm'ner it self-laves.

Matters not if plant or stone or beast,
its face turns aspectless towards blesséd east.
It opens up its hands—"I shall receive,"
while westward-trailing dark does me deceive.

They come for troughs and pillories of gems;
they come for dainty murals of delight.
I sing a single note at morn and night:
the rest is filled with metamorphic hymns.

Take care the subject hijacks not thy awe,
and satisfied, take Nothing—in the raw.


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Form Analysis

Ah yes, here we are again. It's been some time since I offered a thorough analysis of a poem, and I think this piece is as good an example as any to explore a few concepts and questions about the writing of poetry.

First of all, form-wise it is based on a Shakespearean Sonnet, but departs from tradition in several ways. Instead of an ABAB, CDCD, EFEF, GG rhyme scheme (alternating in the quatrains and concluding with a rhyming couplet) it has an irregular scheme ABAB, CCDD, EFFE, GG. All things considered that is not too different, but still worth mentioning.

Like a Shakespearean Sonnet it employs iambic pentameter throughout, but there are two lines that have, instead of ten syllables, nine and eleven respectively. They are lines 4 & 5: "as I pause a dirty comm'ner, it self-laves" [11] ; "Matters not if plant or stone or beast," [9].) How does that affect the flow of the iambic pentameter? The answer in this case is quite simple, but raises an interesting question.

Ordinarily, iambic pentameter is defined as a line of verse with five metrical feet, each consisting of one short (or unstressed) syllable followed by one long (or stressed) syllable, resulting in a flow like "du DUH du DUH du DUH du DUH du DUH." (Example [line 1]: "how MA-ny TIMES an OB-ject SPEAK'TH to FALSE.") In this poem, and many times when I am writing in this scheme, there is the desire to subtly alter this flow by using lines of odd numbers, generally 9 or 11.

Basically, in such a case, a line of nine is simply iambic pentameter omitting the first unstressed syllable. That is, the line both begins and ends with a stressed syllable as follows ([line 5]: "MA-tters NOT if PLANT or STONE or BEAST.") Interestingly, in this case it would be easily finagled to conform to proper iambic pentameter with the addition of the word "it" at the beginning like so: ("it MA-tters NOT if PLANT or STONE or BEAST.") Troublingly, one of the "feet" of this line contains only one long, stressed syllable (the last) when a foot ought to contain two or three syllables, typically.

Is it better to adhere strictly to the rules for the ease of the reader, or honor the aesthetic intuition with the result that it is correspondingly more difficult to read? Ought there to be devised a symbol which would alert the reader that this is an irregular line containing one less syllable, perhaps a minus sign in parentheses in front of the line?

Likewise, in this scheme, a line of eleven begins and ends with a stressed syllable. However, it contains an extra "foot" containing not two but only one extra long, stressed syllable at the end. Actually, I don't believe it can be considered a foot since two or three syllables are generally required for it to be called as such.

Unless, that is, it can be considered a new type of foot containing one long stressed syllable, and one "unstressed syllable" of silence. Basically, it indicates a slight pause in the recitation. What is the proper way to term this? Not being thoroughly classically educated in the academic appraisal of literature, I honestly have no idea. Perhaps @marlyncabrera could provide an adequate answer where I cannot.

In any case, the stress pattern of a line of eleven in this scheme is as in the following example ([line 4]: "AS i PAUSE a DIR-ty COMM-'nor IT self-LAVES.") Ought such a line be denoted by a (+) before the line so the reader is alerted to an irregular line containing an extra, stressed syllable? So much for our discussion of form and questions of potentially clearer notation, which would, however, appear somewhat aesthetically displeasing if employed.

Subject Matter Analysis

This poem could be considered a meta-poem in that its subject is the particular necessity of expounding some concrete object or subject within writing. It is something of a lament that, to address the universal in words, we must choose some potentially arbitrary particular to extrapolate back to pristine interconnectedness of everything.

Therefore in this piece, "object" and "subject" are considered largely synonymous, since they are both "things" and their "thingness" is what concerns us. Whether the something is considered animate or inanimate is relatively irrelevant in the context of this piece. Especially if we have a sense that a basic quality of reality is livingness, there is no essential philosophical distinction between living and nonliving. Nor is there any argument present that self-awareness, thought, feeling, intuition or any other sentient quality is necessary for an universal livingness to subsume All that Is.

Perhaps now we can look at each quatrain briefly.

Quatrain I

How many times an object speak'th to false
when on some fount I contemplate the waves
who unconcernéd dance and stately valse
as I pause a dirty comm'ner it self-laves.

This is a lament that any particular concept or thing, when considered by the deconstructive intellect aside from all else, tends to "speak falsely" or mislead one from the ultimate Truth of reality. It also speaks of the pure awe at beholding the waves of life, death, and birth of matter and energy. The last line conveys a subtle alienation from this process, that peculiar existential loneliness that oftentimes arises in the awareness of embodied beings capable of self-reflection. Now do you see why I prefer poetry to prose? It is capable of saying, succinctly and artfully, that which prose renders pedantic and cold. (By the way, "valse" is italicized because it is a French word not commonly used in English, since we have an anglicized equivalent: "waltz." However, the pronunciations differ, and the French fits better here.)

Quatrain II

Matters not if plant or stone or beast,
its face turns aspectless towards blesséd east.
It opens up its hands—"I shall receive,"
while westward-trailing dark does me deceive.

Shifting gears slightly, we have an exultation about the purity underlying the "things" one beholds in perception. No matter what kind of entity, they turn towards the bright Unmanifest light of the soul of the sun (soul of sol.) They are informed by the pure ever-growing informational capacity of the Universe and adjust accordingly, whether that result in their continued existence or appropriate dissolution. At the same time, echoing the sentiment of the final line of the first quatrain, the "westward-trailing dark" of the persistent illusion of death's primacy so often misleads one to believe in fearing the transition of temporal entities into their subsequent forms (such as the body and the brain.) That is also related to buying the spurious idea of separateness.

Quatrain III

They come for troughs and pillories of gems;
they come for dainty murals of delight.
I sing a single note at morn and night:
the rest is filled with metamorphic hymns.

Again we are lamenting; this time it is the fact that readers come to see entertaining, dramatic valleys and peaks ("troughs and pillories") that must be studded with beautiful gems to catch and hold their attention. Where is the place in their heart for a piece such as this, which speaks of the transition between dream and waking consciousness in which the personal self is briefly forgotten? This happens upon waking and falling asleep—a brief, pure, single note of silent song. By contrast, ordinary waking consciousness is filled with warbling, dissonant "hyms" filled with strange delusions of constantly warping (metamorphic) forms.

Final Couplet

Take care the subject hijacks not thy awe,
and satisfied, take Nothing—in the raw.

This is an admonition to guard one's being from the worshipping of the false, shallow aspect of "things." One is counseled to happily take "Nothingness"— that ground of Being which precedes and contains all else which has been given so many different names— in its most raw form.

Conclusion

I hope you enjoyed this poem along with the discussion of its construction. If you read the entire post, I am very grateful and would love for you to add any feedback as a comment below. If you think this post is valuable, consider upvoting and resteeming it to show your support. As always, I am eternally grateful for your reader- and friend- ship both and wish you all the best.

Yours,
Dan / @dpend


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Writing and Images
By @dpend
May 23, 2019


speath last.jpg

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Great poetry! Sometimes the most attractive thing has the least lasting value. Some normal, everyday things are the most satisfying.

Your blog adds great value to Weku and Grateful Vibes. As always thanks for using the Grateful Vibes tag

Upvoted by @gratefulvibes community account.
Continue to spread gratefulvibes with quality content.
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Saludos @dpend. Excelsa explicación de tu poema. De común acuerdo que la poesía es para expresar los sentimientos t pensamientos de manera delicada y sublime.

Oh wow! This is really an awesome poetry analysis. I also love the photos in between that gives real life to the blog as a whole. You are so talented @dpend.