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Thread: Read Serious Poetry with me & Corpsey

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  1. #13
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    Apr 2008
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    Last night I was stoned as fuck and high on life too and I came across this Keats poem which I've never read before:

    After dark vapors have oppress’d our plains
    For a long dreary season, comes a day
    Born of the gentle South, and clears away
    From the sick heavens all unseemly stains.
    The anxious month, relieved of its pains,
    Takes as a long-lost right the feel of May;
    The eyelids with the passing coolness play
    Like rose leaves with the drip of Summer rains.
    The calmest thoughts came round us; as of leaves
    Budding—fruit ripening in stillness—Autumn suns
    Smiling at eve upon the quiet sheaves—
    Sweet Sappho’s cheek—a smiling infant’s breath—
    The gradual sand that through an hour-glass runs—
    A woodland rivulet—a Poet’s death.


    I was totally transfixed by this poem. It seemed Shakespearean ("when to the sessions of sweet silent thought...") to me. I love the "anxious month" taking "as a long-lost right the feel of May", and the images, particularly the "eyelids with the passing coolness" fluttering like leaves under "Summer rains".

    Then I read "Ode to a Nightingale" which of course I have read before. I think this might be one of the greatest poems I've read, an incomparably transportive poem about being transported. I also realised that there's a conneciton to Yeats's "Byzantium" in the form of the nightingale, whose song transcends time (like the golden birds in Yeats), an image of poetry itself. It's the phrase "No hungry generations tread thee down" that evoked Yeats for me "Those dying generations"...

    Thou wast not born for death, immortal Bird!
    No hungry generations tread thee down;
    The voice I hear this passing night was heard
    In ancient days by emperor and clown:


    Also, I recognised that Keats use of the word "Poesy" is a turn-off for the modern reader, because it seems mock-medieval, but that for Keats it wasn't a ridiculous word. And the Grecian references, which seem stock and flowery to us, are metaphorical - so that he calls the moon a "queen" but we aren't perhaps supposed to picture a faery queen, but the moon, vivified by association.

    "And haply the Queen-Moon is on her throne,
    Cluster'd around by all her starry Fays;"


    I mean this could make you puke but remember he's describing the moon, not a Queen, and it's less sickening. Perhaps.
    Last edited by Corpsey; 09-05-2019 at 09:13 AM.

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