Friday, May 26, 2006

literary virtues & vices     [epigram]

For the upstart everything has levity
bit by bit it all becomes passé?
a poem having the virtue of brevity
can hazard vices undoubtedly outré


luc u! said...

i really like these.

i am wondering on what
it means to
hazard vices

this is a love poem?

Michael Parker said...

David, do you want "become" or "becomes"?

Nice poem. Quotable, especially for writing courses.

david raphael israel said...

Gents: thanks for remarks (pray pardon delayed reply).

Obliged, Michael, for the proofread [word now corrected; my bad] and the amusing notion such could interest the hallowed halls of academe.

Luc, -- "to hazard vices" here is meant to suggest (so called) literary vices: e.g. um, well, an incomplete list (every opinionist would have his or her favored ones), things like solipcism, bathos, redundancy, mixed metaphor, poetic license, sentimentality, logical fallacy, -- I don't know, basically, stuff that the intelligensia (however self-conceived) may object to [of every possible ilk]. The verse actually arose from a discussion; but I lifted it out of that (& altered the first line) and made it into a stand-alone epigram. But if anyone's diehard curious, the original context was an online discussion surrounding a particular poem (written by a certain Arka Mukhopadhyay), "The Poet Thinks Heretical Thoughts" [this is on a literary network called Shakespeare & Company; I don't think one needs to be a member to view the linked thread].

The sense of the verse is basically -- when you're young and filled with enthusiasms, these can lend justification for a multitude of literary sins (or, questionable experiments / etc.); when one is mature & crusty may be soon enough to cultivate restraint. (Though this poor paraphrase gives overmuch particularity to the more open-ended epigram, perhaps.)

As a form, the short epigram has caught my interest in recent seasons. Perhaps I'll post some more now & then.


david raphael israel said...

ps luc: also note, "outré" (in the last line) modifies "vices" -- so, in short, outlandish literary fallacies can be risked if the poem at least has the virtue of being very short!

(in my earlier remarks, I forgot the poem's basic point).

One critic was getting on Arka's case; this poem was by way of suggesting -- hey let the fellow write what he wants. At least his poem is wonderfully short! (though this, again, is mere paraphrase).

When people criticise a poem by saying "this has already been done" -- it seems to me a dubious ground for critique. Something akin may have been done by someone somewhere; but rainclouds and sparrows, too, have been done. But they can be done some more! (sez me).

But, so: no, this wasn't conceived as a love poem. Though it does touch on the affective teeter-totter of "levity" (which might for some evoke Kundra's semi-eponymous novel) versus boredom [when everything seems passé] -- a teeter-totter that may have relevance for (e.g.) poets-as-lovers, though here the focus was more poets-as-poets.


luc u! said...

i really liked the phrasing: "hazard vices"


for not being concieved as a love poem, it succeeds in being one to me.

as well as wisdom for my precious relationships in life, including my love affair with writting.

so thanks...