Thorn Hill wrote: ↑
Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:51 pm
Yikes, the conversation continues....and now...to Marshall I say, it is the old matter of form vs. content, perhaps. The poem you cite from Villon is surely reflexive in one sense, but one sense only, in my view...
The poet reflects on the nature of poetry...
The nature of the human beast...
I don't know if I qualify as a hipster, but no doubt a prominant unwashed mass.
One of many shortcomings is that I wouldn't pay a university professor to "understand" poetry. Not that I look down my nose at those that do. My budget is strained, especially with the purchase of suds for washing the esophagus.
My university is the public library. I stroll the isles pulling random titles of interest, then open the book and read the stuff. If I like it I'll take it home. If I don't like it that's analysis enough. No more pencils, no more books, no more teacher's dirty looks. Just the freedom to like it or not.
I first heard of Villon from "A Lodging for the Night - a story of Francois Villon" by Robert Louis Stevenson. What an adventure! I didn't even think of Villon as an actual person, until years later, when I came across a 1924 edition of "The Complete Poems of Francois Villon" for $6 in a used bookstore. The book consists of two seperate translations of Villon's works; one by John Heron Lepper and another done 40 years later by John Payne; two scholars of medieval French literature. He is considered by them "as one of the glories of French literature" and "the father of French poetry" and a window into the world of France at the end of the Hundred Years War.
The nature of the human beast is what its all about. And I think that the appeal of "art" from earliest times has in it's essence those atavistic feelings which we share with our earliest ancestors. Think how you feel when looking at a cave painting 40,000 years old, and when you see a mare with a foal in the meadow; a snake in the grass. Why the zoo?
Villon was a thief, a murderer, a pimp and a poet. And fortunately, a scholar too! And so its easy to see the atavistic appeal of his writings on the human beast. His subject matter is with us yet. We can't look away.
One of the things to remember about poetry is that it is a spoken art. The meter, the lilt of the voice, the pregnant pause, the way the words roll off the tongue are as important as their meaning (which seems at times secondary to the overall feeling). I listen to opera sung in Italian and love it. But don't understand a word they're saying.
Poetry as spectator sport? Well, I have attended a "Poetry Slam" on several occasions. Where the modern bards recite their works for an audience and a panel of judges. (Hey, they served cookies and beer, two of life's essentials!) Get to one of these if you want to witness your original quote in action.
The subject matter of poetry is often depressing. Why is it that it lifts the spirit? Misery loves company, but a good host tries to make their guests comfortable.