wandering on the shores of whimsy

It’s the end of January already. 2008 is here to stay.

I’ve been busy for the last two weeks working and writing. Whenever that happens I tend to forget about devoting a smidgen of effort for the blog.

The poetry bug has bitten and latched on. I’ve written more poems this month than I did during all of 2008. I’ve no idea if the trend will continue, but I’m enjoying the work and learning from it. Last weekend over a bottle of wine and a great conversation about art with friends I pulled out my huge Oxford Anthology of English Literature and read snippets of work from several different poets.

I read a little from William Blake, Shelly, Keats, Tennyson, and a dash of T.S. Eliot at the end. Other than the modern Eliot, I suspect that the other four are considered a little unfashionable and uncool. Of course their work is firmly of their day, but still, some of it is magnificent. Most of it employs set rhyming scheme, which is definitely not in style anymore. It seems to be considered the slippery slope to doggerel, and blank verse is the preferred format nowadays.

I like both varieties, as long as they are employed well and match the subject matter.

But still, wouldn’t it be a shame if Tennyson never wrote The Lotos-Eaters in his style:

Hateful is the dark-blue sky,
Vaulted o’er the dark-blue sea.
Death is the end of life; ah, why
Should life all labour be?
Let us alone. Time driveth onward fast,
And in a little while our lips are dumb.
Let us alone. What is it that will last?
All things are taken from us, and become
Portions and parcels of the dreadful past.
Let us alone. What pleasure can we have
To war with evil? Is there any peace
In ever climbing up the climbing wave?
All things have rest, and ripen toward the grave
In silence; ripen, fall and cease:
Give us long rest or death, dark death, or dreamful ease.

Also, he wrote a fabulous Lovecraftian poem, called “The Kraken”, long before Lovecraft drew breath:

Below the thunders of the upper deep;
Far, far beneath in the abysmal sea,
His ancient, dreamless, uninvaded sleep
The Kraken sleepeth: faintest sunlights flee
About his shadowy sides: above him swell
Huge sponges of millennial growth and height;
And far away into the sickly light,
From many a wondrous grot and secret cell
Unnumbered and enormous polypi
Winnow with giant arms the slumbering green.
There hath he lain for ages and will lie
Battening upon huge sea-worms in his sleep,
Until the latter fire shall heat the deep;
Then once by man and angels to be seen,
In roaring he shall rise and on the surface die.

Man, he worked “polypi” into the poem! That’s a master at work.

Of course, if it were a true Cthulhu Mythos poem the last line would read: “in roaring he shall rise and on the surface light mankind’s pyre.” And there’d be a couple of additional words about insanity, fishmen, tentacles, grimoires, and the commencement of eternal eldritch night.

You know, the subtle approach.