We have so little on which to base our knowledge of people. But we live in a celebrity-driven, multimedia, uber-capitalistic world bemused with the image. Image is everything
In the non-written world, be is not the finale of seem, as poem #17 on the list had wanted. “be” is often as far away from “seem” as it could possibly get.
The #8 poem “Richard Corey’ explores this idea. Richard Corey is a wealthy factory owner, a “Richer than a king”, “he fluttered pulses”, and was “imperially slim” (That alone would be enough to get him on the cover of People magazine.) Always well dressed, well educated, and charitable, everyone in his factory envied him. Despite being so poor as to not be able to afford meat, and working from dusk to dawn at the factory, the workers all admired and wanted to be him. “And Richard Corey, one calm summer night, went home and put a bullet through his head.” Why? Robinson never says. Not that it matters anyway. What was going on with Richard Corey was converse to what the world saw. The anterior world did match his interior one. I am sure this is the case with many people both celebrated and unknown.
poem #7 ‘Jabberwocky’ is influential for me in several ways. The poem taught me that poetry doesn’t have to follow any rules. A good poet uses the language to his own end and is not bound by convention. While some may not like this poem because it ‘does not make any sense’ this is precisely why I do like it. I like how Lewis Carroll creates a picture with words that had not existed prior to his making them up. “T’was brillig, and the slithy toves, did gyre and gimble in the wabe.” In the book ‘through the looking glass ‘ Alice asks Humpty Dumpty the meaning of some of the words ‘brillig’ he says is around four o’clock when you begin to broil your dinner so it is brillig time, also to me brillig sounds like a combo of broing and grilling. ‘slithey’ is a combo lithe and slimy. The poem is chock full of such combo words. btw, I had always thought that if I ever had my own rock n roll band I would name them the ‘slithey toves’. (of course the other members may not like it, but I’m the lead singer, so it’s my band, dammit.)In the end, the hero kills the dreaded Jabberwock with his vorpal sword, but not after making short order of the “jujub bird” and the (cringe) “frumious Bandersnatch”. The hero brings home the head of the late Jabberwock to his father who “chortles in his joy” While ‘Jabberwocky’ may be considered (wrongly) to be a children’s poem, it is sad most adults become so rigid in thinking not to appreciate the clever wordplay. To be creative you almost have to take on a child’s mind to see thing fresh. Also, I might add Lewis Carroll’s poem ‘the walrus and the carpenter’ also influenced John Lennon to write what is probably my favorite Beatles song “I am the walrus”. So I am in good company in my appreciation of Carroll’s work, I think.
so the poem ranked #6 is W.H Auden’s “Funeral Blues” This poem would be familiar to anyone who saw the film “four weddings and a funeral’ as one of the characters read it at the funeral of his lover. The poem so profoundly expresses the depth of loss. In the realm of your mourning, the world for you has stopped. Outside of the confines of your grief, you see the world moving on oblivious to your pain. You almost want to yell “Stop! Can’t you see it’s different now!” It has one of the saddest lines, I’ve ever read in a poem:
“He was my North, my South, my East, and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last forever: I was wrong.”
I read a line in a book one time that said “Love is a wonderful thing until it isn’t” It’s part of Love’s Faustian bargain. It ends. But that’s also what makes it so worthwhile too.