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TSE  March 2001

TSE March 2001

Subject:

Re: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)

From:

"Nancy Gish" <[log in to unmask]>

Date:

Wed, 28 Mar 2001 21:14:38 -0500

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (109 lines)

Richard,

As this interests you, I think you would enjoy Denise Levertov's early
discussions of poetic form. See _New and Selected Essays_ (New York:
New Directions, 1992)--especially "Some Notes on Organic Form" and "On
the Function of the Line." (I'm not agreeing or disagreeing with what she
says; it's just a very insightful discussion of "free vs traditional" forms and
an alternative she calls "organic."

Even if you break up syntax, you still have sequence, by the way.
Words cannot be like pictures exactly.
Nancy

Date sent: Wed, 28 Mar 2001 18:28:55 -0700
Send reply to: [log in to unmask]
From: "Richard Seddon" <[log in to unmask]>
To: <[log in to unmask]>
Subject: Re: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)

Pat:

First off, I think that TWL has form and always have thought so What
form is precisely I have never defined to myself. I just use the word to
indicate that a poem has a distinctive physical shape on paper and in the
mind. And to think that I just got characterized by my guru as a
deductive thinker as opposed to Pound's inductive thinking. Deductive
thinking being not the form that had been expected or wanted in my last
offering at his alter.

Pound in "A Retrospect" says: "Form----I think there is a 'fluid' as well
as a 'solid' content, that some poems have form as a tree has form, some
as water poured into a vase. That most symmetrical forms have certain
uses. That a vast number of subjects cannot be precisely, and therefore
not propery rendered in symmetrical forms."

I think he would call Swinburne's double sestina "The Complaint of Lisa" a
solid and symmetrical form. I think TWL would be a fluid non-symmetrical
form. Dante's "Divine Comedy" would be a solid symmetrical form. There
are 3 canticles of 33 cantos each with one introductory canto. The cantos
consist of strophes of three lines. Now, however, we get a little fluid.
The canto can be of varying length but again toward solid is approximately
130 lines long. The rhyme scheme is exacting and is never diviated from,
even when Arnault Daniel speaks in Provencal in "Purgatorio 26. The only
non-Italian words in the poem. A poem written in Spenser's stanza could
be a fluid symmetrical form. The troubadours were much obsessed with
creating complex form for their love poetry. The sestina is one of these
complex forms where the poet is almost more obsessed with the form than
with what the muse has directed that he say.

The above addresses physical form; a poem also has form as to the
manner
that the poem is presented. TSE identified in "The Three Voices of
Poetry" 3 voices that he could identify in a poem. I think that the
manner in which the poet uses these 3 voices constitutes a form. Is the
manner a dramatic monologue? Are there more than one dramatic
characters?
 Is the dramatic character positively identified? etc.

Earlier this year in a study of Pound's metric experiments I found Stephen
Adams book "Poetic Designs: An Introduction to Meters, Verse Forms and
Figures of Speech" very useful.

The ideogrammic method's lack of syntax and its use of free verse would
seem to ternd it towards being formless. Such is not true. The
elimination of syntax allows the presentation of ideas in a timeless
format. Syntactical language is temporal which gives it a slippery, fluid
nature. Lack of Syntax allows the poet to present a scene almost like a
painter does. As spatial art has form so would a poem in the ideogrammic
method.

BTW I think it was a practioner of the ideogrammic method, William Carlos
Williams, who said that his own poetry was formless. If so, I wouldn't
want to countradict the good Doctor.

>From the shadow expecting correction
Rick Seddon
McIntosh, NM, USA


    -----Original Message-----
    From: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
    To: [log in to unmask] <[log in to unmask]>
    Date: Wednesday, March 28, 2001 4:34 PM
    Subject: Re: Form in TWL (was Re: Stetson in The Waste Land)


    In a message dated 3/28/01 3:27:59 PM Eastern Standard Time,
    [log in to unmask] writes:



        Retreating into the shadow
        Rick Seddon
        McIntosh, NM, USA



    No, please don't. Just give me a simple answer to what you think form
    is. I can see it's important to you in such issues as whether a
    Stetson is similar to, or different from, the hats worn by the Anzacs.
    And I'm sure you could give a clear explanation of how sheep differ
    from goats, or a barge from a battleship...all of which are questions
    about form. But what do you understand form to be in poetry, as in
    your reference to the question of whether or not TWL is formless? Or
    if it was discussed in any of the lit classes you've taken (it might
    not have been), how was it explained there?

    pat

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