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Hair-raising poetry

 
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Nick
rhymer


Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Sep 29, 2004 11:40 pm    Post subject: Hair-raising poetry Reply with quote

Hello, all. I’ve just recently started reading “White Goddess,” and after 73 pages I can see that it’s going to be quite a challenge for me to get through it. I’ll have to do a good bit of background and supplemental reading to be able to understand it at all. But I’m looking forward to the project, and I feel fortunate to have stumbled upon this forum and the associated site, both of which appear to provide a great deal of helpful material and insightful discussion.

Here’s a request that’s prompted by a wonderfully evocative sentence, with which you’re all probably familiar, in Chapter One. Graves writes, “Sometimes, in reading a poem, the hairs will bristle at an apparently unpeopled and eventless scene described in it, if the elements bespeak her unseen presence clearly enough: for example, when owls hoot, the moon rides like a ship through scudding cloud, trees sway slowly together above a rushing waterfall, and a distant barking of dogs is heard; or when a peal of bells in frosty weather suddenly announces the birth of the New Year.” I’m not at all well-versed in poetry; can someone please recommend some poems, either by Graves or by other poets, of the quality that Graves has in mind here? (The only other of Graves’ works that I’ve read are “Greek Myths” and “Greek Gods and Heroes.” So I’m not familiar with his poetry, and would appreciate any suggestions on a good place for me to start.)

Thanks for any suggestions.
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rbourke
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Joined: 18 Sep 2004
Posts: 2
Location: Western Australia

PostPosted: Sat Oct 02, 2004 1:17 pm    Post subject: hair-raising poetry Reply with quote

Nick, I think that to get a sense of what Graves is talking about in the sentence you quote from 'The White Goddess' you may need, first, to read Coleridge's 'The Rime of the Ancient Mariner' (1799; 1816) and - especially - Keats's 'La Belle Dame Sans Merci' (1819), both of which are discussed by Graves in Chapter XXIV of 'The White Goddess'. Then, perhaps, take a look at three of the best of Graves's own 'Goddess' poems: 'To Juan at the Winter Solstice', 'On Portents', and 'A Love Story' ('Complete Poems', Penguin, 2003; also available, including an audio recording of Graves reading 'To Juan ...', on the web). Finally, it's worth mentioning in this context the work of two later poets who were heavily influenced by 'The White Goddess': Sylvia Plath (e.g. 'The Moon and the Yew Tree', 'Collected Poems', Faber, 1975) and Ted Hughes (e.g. 'Moonwalk' and 'Isis', in 'Birthday Letters', Faber, 1998). I hope that may be of some help.
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Roger Bourke
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Nick
rhymer


Joined: 29 Sep 2004
Posts: 2

PostPosted: Wed Oct 06, 2004 4:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Roger:

Thanks very much for your recommendations. Aside from the Coleridge poem, I haven't read any of those poems. On my way home tonight I'll swing by the library and see which of the others I can find. Thanks again.

Nick
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