Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I think I'm being eaten alive by a poem.

I had trouble falling asleep after book club's second go at trying to unravel the mysteries within Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot. I just kept thinking about the poem. I woke up this morning still thinking about the poem. I'm beginning to hate that poem.
I was just saying the other night that I think that getting to know a poem is a little like getting to know a person. At first glance they don't really mean anything to you but the more you get to know them, to understand them - the more you grow to love them....(or hate them). I just feel so rejected by this poem. Like I've tried really hard to get to know it but it keeps shutting me out, almost as though it doesn't want to be understood - just left alone to writhe in it's intricate and untieable knots. So then I think FINE, be alone and misunderstood - what do I care?!? (Except, I do care and I have this sinking feeling that the poem is actually just too cool for me, outta my league - you know what I mean?)

I read the following comments on Eliot this morning.

We need to identify how T. S. Eliot contributed something unique to poetry through his work. Certainly it is hard work to read his poetry and even harder to understand it, however, if we persevere we can detect gleams of his genius that shine through in spite of the impenetrable nature of his work. His use of intertextuality to comment on the problems with his contemporary society have created some of the greatest gems of Literature such as "The Hollow Men" and "The Four Quartets."

Many readers find T. S. Eliot's writing to be difficult to read because it is abstract. ... the 1948 Nobel Prize in Literature...he won it and is still considered a significant writer because of his innovative style. Eliot, along with poet Ezra Pound, invented Symbolism, a form of poetry which evolved during the Modern Era (generally 1900-1950). Symbolists like Eliot longed for their readers to view the world with imagination and from a new perspective. What is most interesting about Eliot is that he was able to juxtapose his inventive techniques with the theme of tradition. Eliot's poems such as "The Waste Land" and "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" demonstrate the poet's disillusionment with modern society and its lack of regard for tradition, but the style of the poems is anything but traditional.

So I'm not alone in being rejected here (above comments given by people who are still in denial) A little ironic how much time I've spent with this poem which seems to want very little to do with me.

Ode to Eliot
marshmallow sundial
candy to the wind
hopscotch off the blazing cliff
Falling yet not falling yet falling
Down the rabbit's hole
Turns out there is a bottom


LiNds said...

Hilarious explanation of your frustration with his poetry! I remember one time in college freshmen english class i had to read an essay that talked about the best way to analyse a poem. Then I had to read a commentary about a poem of my choice and critique the commentary according to how the essay said a commentary should be. Haha! My head spins just trying to remember the assignment! This poem kinda reminds me of when I was wrapping my head around my own essay. SO many layers. Anyway, now I think our prof was just playing a mean trick.

Coleen said...

Or - maybe you're just too cool for the poem.

Grampa said...

This poem is way too last century. They predicted the imminent end of the world as we know it, but we're still here.

2x2momma said...

I love that phrase- untieable knots. And YOUR poem cracks me up for some reason. It seems like the perfect metaphor for life in general sometime. (O r IS it? Maybe we should call you T.S. Char)