Mysterious and often incomprehensible yet seemingly wise.
A saying pertaining to the manners and common practices of men, which declareth, with an apt brevity, what in this our life ought to be done, or not done.
Viz (from Armantrout, via Silliman):
with an ersatz
In today’s sharp sparkle, this winter air,
any thing can be made, any sentence begun.
I think, perhaps, I may have been too harsh (is that possible?) on lyric poetry.
I think my disdain for it comes from the seeming fact that so much lyric poetry devolves into Gnomic Poetry -- the poet-on-high telling us how to behave. But it's worse than that. It's the poet-on-high, the poet-guru, telling us in enigmatic phrases, how to behave. What is. What to be.
What's more, this is done with gnomic language -- it "sounds nice" (if they're lucky) -- or rather it "appears complex" without meaning anything -- or without deeper meaning. It's either a smudge or a stock photo -- there's no there there.
Now, I'm not sure that modern lyric poetry can save itself from the gnomic. Lyric poetry now well may be inherently gnomic. There's a fine syzygy between observation, explanation, and indoctrination.
Maybe indoctrination is too strong. Certainly most poets don't give pronouncements about not smoking or believing in nothing. But the idea pronouncing of "this is what is" (spouting tautologies and eschewing explanation ) is a terribly strong pull for most folks. Especially most poets.
This shouldn't be surprising. Most published American poets are progressives. Progressives are Puritans (generally sans all the trappings of religion). Purtians, as we know from grammar-school history, love to tell us what to do without explaning why.
So they publish what they know. They publish "how they want to be" -- that is, they publish and promote work that is inherently didactic -- that is, gnomic-lyric poetry.
Tuesday, January 27, 2009