Stirred by a Turd

For whatever reason, I had not read in my list of 101 Greatest Books of the Western World much stuff that rhymed.  This wouldn’t have made any difference but for the fact that after I got a D+ on my first paper ever for an English major class the stuff I had to write on was poetry.  Aside from Shakespeare I had not read poetry in high school; and really I didn’t consider Shakespeare poetry just hard English. 

jesusShakespeare has a plot too, but the poetry I had to write on didn’t have any plot.  It was more like that stuff by Robert Frost that people have to read in high school, especially the one about having taken the road less traveled by.  Like it was supposed to mean something and on top of that, at least in the class I was in, the way the poem was put together was supposed to be tied into that meaning.  So I not only had to figure out the meaning; I had to figure out how the way the thing was put together went along with the meaning.  

Fuck me, if I could understand it. The teacher wasn’t any help.  So I went to the library, partly to figure out how people wrote in the 20th century since he had said I should try to write as if I lived in the 20th century.  He gave us some poems to write on that were not discussed in class, and for some unknown reason I chose a poem by Gerard Manly Hopkins.  Maybe I chose it because the poem seemed to have all sorts of special effects that I might talk about as things that went along with the meaning whatever that was. 

Excuse me, please.  Here’s the poem I tried to write on.  You don’t have to try to figure out what it means:

The Windhover

 

 

To Christ our Lord

 

 

 

I CAUGHT this morning morning’s minion, king-

 

  dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding

 

  Of the rolling level underneath him steady air, and striding

 

High there, how he rung upon the rein of a wimpling wing

 

In his ecstasy! then off, off forth on swing,

        5

  As a skate’s heel sweeps smooth on a bow-bend: the hurl and gliding

 

  Rebuffed the big wind. My heart in hiding

 

Stirred for a bird,—the achieve of; the mastery of the thing!

 

 

 

Brute beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here

 

  Buckle! AND the fire that breaks from thee then, a billion

        10

Times told lovelier, more dangerous, O my chevalier!

 

 

 

  No wonder of it: shéer plód makes plough down sillion

 

Shine, and blue-bleak embers, ah my dear,

 

  Fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion.

 

 

 Look at this fucker.  Written up by some sort of overwrought religious fanatic.  I mean he dedicates his poetry to Jesus H. Christ for God’s sake. Now that takes some gall.  I am pretty sure it’s about a bird, like that white tailed kite that lived by the Japanese truck farm.  So we have a religious fanatic who dedicates his poetry to Jesus H. Christ, for God’s sake, writ
ing about a bird taking a nose dive after its prey.  Though you wouldn’t know it form lines like:  brute, beauty and valour and act, oh, air, pride, plume, here Buckle!  I thought maybe this guy was was beating off in his brain and about to come. But I wasn’t about to write that in my paper.

And dig it, but “stirred for a bird,” has got to be one of the worst lines in the English language.

I had to wade through shit like this to get a B+ in that fucking class, and I almost killed myself trying to do it.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *