10:28, Thursday [again? already?], 2 December, 2010 – Atlanta
Today is a gentle day. I shall share three examples of imagery that I love and that will do us. I figure you will appreciate the chance to have a break in things to think about and do, from me, as, if you are like me, you follow and check on several sites.
First though, a little theory [okay, I lied. I am asking your brain to exert a few cells.]. It is useful for your own poetry, especially if you do not have an ear, to know the effect of different letters:
RESONANCE n, m, ng, z, zh lingering,droning, vibrant effects
HARSHNESS k, g, hard c throaty sounds, for dissonance and cacophony
PLOSIVENESS b, p, t, d, g, k, percussive sounds
For more on sound, there is an excellent essay by C. John Holcombe, on sound patterning, if you wish to read more.
The first example of using how words sound, as well as sound imagery, is a poem by William Carlos Williams, “The Dance,” based on Brueghel’s painting.
In Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess,
the dancers go round, they go round and
around, the squeal and the blare and the fiddles
tipping their bellies (round as the thick-
sided glasses whose wash they impound)
their hips and their bellies off balance
to turn them. Kicking and rolling about
the Fair Grounds, swinging their butts, those
shanks must be sound to bear up under such
rollicking measures, prance as they dance
in Breughel’s great picture, The Kermess.
Read the poem aloud. Your mouth will move, as the words, and the dancers do, around, with the broad ou, the repeated b sounds, and the sw sound. Besides using the sound of words, we find onomatopoeia, and internal rhyme. I find it hard not to move with the poem as I read it.
The second poem is “The Bells,” by Edgar Allen Poe. I will give you one stanza and point you to the rest of the poem.
Hear the sledges with the bells-
What a world of merriment their melody foretells!
How they tinkle, tinkle, tinkle,
In the icy air of night!
While the stars that oversprinkle
All the heavens, seem to twinkle
With a crystalline delight;
Keeping time, time, time,
In a sort of Runic rhyme,
To the tintinnabulation that so musically wells
From the bells, bells, bells, bells,
Bells, bells, bells-
From the jingling and the tinkling of the bells.
Look how many times Poe uses the letter i with its tighter sound, to reflect the silvery metal of the bells. Each of the other stanzas reflect a different metal and with each Poe changes the vowels he uses, to reflect the metal.
The last excerpt employs sensory imagery that made me fall in love with the poem. The poem is T. S. Eliot’s “Preludes”
The winter evening settles down
With smell of steaks in passageways.
The burnt-out ends of smoky days.
And now a gusty shower wraps
The grimy scraps
Of withered leaves about your feet
And newspapers from vacant lots;
The showers beat
On broken blinds and chimney-pots,
And at the corner of the street
A lonely cab-horse steams and stamps.
And then the lighting of the lamps.
Count how many images are in the stanza and how many of those are sound. You should also find visual, taste, smell and touch. We will come back to this stanza later when we talk about punctuation [yep] and enjambment.
Tomorrow: freeforall day. See you there.