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POETRYETC  2001

POETRYETC 2001

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Subject:

Re: Beowulf (was Re: HG my name JG my game WS wont same)

From:

Matthew Francis <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Poetryetc provides a venue for a dialogue relating to poetry and poetics <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Thu, 9 Aug 2001 00:52:34 +0100

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

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text/plain (117 lines)

The most distinctive poetry seems to be the longer work. Here's a bit more
of the Greenland writing, to show the alliterative technique (From
_Illnesses and Ghosts at the West Settlement_). The indents in the book
don't seem to be consistent, and adapting for email has made matters worse,
but this gives some idea. It was written for radio in any case.

Best wishes

Matthew

GREENLAND: Swinge of sea
                                                     whine of wind
                             Clang of cold
                                                   crunch and crowd
                              Whale or walrus
                                                        thud and throng
                               Glacier
                                            East Coast, West Coast, cragged
mountains along
                               Grin and grunt
                                                      thump and moan

heave and hang up
                                Of tide's toss
                                                     backwash
                                 These are my shores

GUDRID But farmers by fjords

GREENLAND So I am Greenland and on my back
                                  Is a ten-thousand-foot thick ice-pack
                                  Bowing my spine down
                                  Rock black as black, ice white as white,
                                  Greenland

GUDRID Wail and want
                                   We, who wander about in weird hail, and
who will wait
                                    Above and around the black and white
waste
                                    Where we died...

----- Original Message -----
From: "Candice Ward" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Sent: Wednesday, August 08, 2001 11:02 PM
Subject: Re: Beowulf (was Re: HG my name JG my game WS wont same)


> on 8/8/01 5:35 PM, Matthew Francis at [log in to unmask]
> wrote:
>
> > I knew Francis quite well when we both lived in Winchester. He gave
> > occasional poetry readings in a high dramatic style which was quite
> > effective once you got over the initial culture shock. (He was famous as
a
> > poetry reader in his younger days and wrote a book about voice in
poetry.)
> > When I knew him, he was already into his 80s, and had a charming,
> > considerably younger wife, Eileen, who confined him to one corner of one
> > room, which he would cover with papers and cigarette ash. He gave me a
copy
> > of his Collected Poems, which I'm embarrassed to say I haven't read much
> > of - being rather daunted by the size of the book, the length of the
poems
> > and the lack of an obvious entry point. I've just got it down, following
> > Robin's recommendation, and am having another look.
>
> How about posting a couple from the Collected to supplement the two in
> _Brit Po Since 1945_ ("Hvalsey" and "Vadstena"), Matthew? Berry is new to
me
> also and quite interesting, meadevil-wise.
>
> Just to clarify a number of languages, poetics, and poems that seem to
have
> been conflated relative to alliteration, we need to keep in mind that
> Beowulf is a textual artifact of an oral-poetics tradition in which the
> alliteration served to bind pairs of hemistiches, which weren't even
_half_
> lines prior to the introduction of writing but merely 2-measure units.
> (There's a story about either Albert Lord or one of his predecessors in
the
> Yugoslavian oral-poetics field taping the performance of one such
unlettered
> poet and then rushing excitedly up to the fellow exclaiming, "You compose
in
> perfect measures!" To which the oral poet naturally replied, "What's a
> measure?")
>
> Both Langland and the Gawain/Pearl poet were _writers_ who used the old
> oral-alliterative device (as did the author of the alliterative Morte
> D'Artur, btw) to make a sociopolitical/aesthetic point about the existence
> of poetry elsewhere in England besides the Court--Langland making his
point
> in plain style (comparatively), while the Gawain/Pearl poet heightened the
> artifice so artfully in order (I suspect) both to tweak the Court poets
and
> to show that he could!
>
> The other thing to keep in mind relative to Modern English translations of
> Old English versus Middle English alliterative poems is how different the
> actual languages are: Middle English is so close to Modern that I've never
> seen the point of translating it at all, whereas Old English is so much
more
> like German as to be a foreign language to us speakers of Modern. The
> alliteration that Michael finds so heavy-handed or hard on the ear in
Modern
> English would have had quite a different effect on the unlettered Old
> English audience listening to the scop bang out Beowulf at 60 lines/minute
> or some such phenomenal speed.
>
> Candice
>
> P.S. Why isn't Christopher Walker or some other listee who knows all this
> taking up these threads? (Don't I have enough to do around here?!)
>

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