Gideon Cecil: A Defence of Poetry

A good poem helps to change the shape and significance of the universe, helps to extend everyone’s knowledge of himself and the world around him

—Dylan Thomas

We are living in an up-poetic age; poetry for many people in Guyana and globally is of very little significance to them. Very few people read poetry and very few are equipped with the wisdom and spiritual foresight to comprehend poetry. The audience for poetry is very small. Our literati here in Guyana and many countries globally can barely reach two hundred when we have poetry readings on world poetry day or when someone launches a poetry book. Poetry is a very powerful form of expression and its impact can be felt far and wide. Poets are people with profound sensitivity and they can communicate in a more sensitive and effective way. In a very basic sense, poetry makes us think. It helps us to look at and perceive the world in a different way and in a subtle and powerful way, it makes us take a fresh look at things we take for granted. Also, the rhythm and flow of poetry make it enjoyable to read again and again and this repetition ensures that an idea or a suggestion is well drilled into our minds by the immaculate rhymes the poet uses.

Why is poetry important to society?

Poetry has been in existence throughout the development of mankind. Poems from the ancient historical eras give us a glimpse of the thoughts of previous generations, from depicting historical events to the depiction of the primeval lifestyles of ancient civilizations. Poetry is another form of expressing beauty and revealing your feelings. A divine art, poetry incites a person to see and feel beyond the human intellect, beneath the surface of things.

All the ancient sacred books until this contemporary era that have been translated and modernized are divine poetry that has been written down by the ancient seers and prophets

Poetry gives more life and new meaning to society than a big novel of over a thousand pages can give to a reader. Even many great novels are wonderfully written and elegantly crafted by mesmerizing poetry integrated into it. Here is a poetic passage, written by the late Award-Winning Guyanese writer Mohamed Yasin:

"He looked in surprise at the small, crystal-clear lake, which was unusual since most of the rivers and lakes in the country were filled with water the colour of molasses. The primeval beauty of the lake meant nothing to him. He didn’t appreciate the brazen rays of the brilliant sun bouncing off the glassy surface of the calm lake in a dazzling display of pristine beauty”.

From the story Edward’s Lake, copyright 2008 Carlong Publishers from the book: TEK MI! NOH TEK MI!

The elegant poetic beauty of Mr. Yasin’s language captivates the reader because he employs poetry into his vivid descriptions in this magnificent story.

Poetry gives new meaning to life; it depicts the philosophy of life in all its glory and human dimensions. Every year in the month of February lovers, wives, husbands, and people of all walks of life will flock the shops to buy Valentine’s Day Cards for their lovers and loved one.

They won’t buy a novel or historical textbook, but a Valentine card with the best-crafted poetry in it.

One famous poet, whose poetry is used for Valentine’s Day, is Elizabeth Barrett Browning. Here I quote one of her famous love Sonnets:

How do I love thee? Let me count the ways.

I love thee to the depth and breadth and height My soul can reach when feeling out of sight For the ends of being and ideal grace.

I love thee to the level of every day’s Most quiet need, by sun and candle-light. I love thee freely, as men strive for right;

I love thee purely, as they turn from praise. I love thee with the passion put to use

In my old griefs, and with my childhood’s faith. I love thee with a love I seemed to lose

With my lost saints. I love thee with the breath, Smiles, tears, of all my life; and, if God choose, I shall but love thee better after death.

Elizabeth Barret Browning in How do I Love Theeexpresses the eternal nature of love and its power to overcome everything, including death. The repetition of “I love thee” serves as a constant reminder, but it is the depth of love, not the quantity of love, that gives the poem its power: She loves. For example, “the depth and breadth and height / My soul can reach,” and

“To the level of every day’s / Most quiet need.” The ultimate expression of her enduring love occurs in the last line which states her love will be stronger “after death.”

In this magnificent love sonnet, the poetess defines her own love from her heart’s devotion to herself and lover and between herself and her God. Even after her death, her love will grow stronger. It’s a poem that depicts her natural love for her lover that also expresses a very strong and deep religious faith.

Known for his lyrical and long-form verse, Percy Bysshe Shelley is one of the most highly regarded English Romantic poets of the 19th century. His works include The Masque of Anarchy and Queen Mab. Though Shelley was a declared atheist and died at age twenty-nine his poetry came very close to the poetry of Shakespeare. He was also the greatest prose writer and one of the most educated poets of his time. Here I quote one of his greatest love poems.

Love’s Philosophy

The fountains mingle with the river, And the rivers with the ocean;

The winds of heaven mix forever With a sweet emotion;

Nothing in the world is single; All things by a law divine

In another’s being mingle– Why not I with thine?

See, the mountains kiss high heaven, And the waves clasp one another; No sister flower could be forgiven

If it disdained its brother;

And the sunlight clasps the earth, And the moonbeams kiss the sea; What are all these kissings worth, If thou kiss not me?

The themes of the poem are rejection, love, union, and disappointment, as they can be beautifully represented through Nature. Shelley feels he is the victim of this situation and the love he feels for another is unwanted and unrequited. Though he was an atheist he speaks of

All things by a law divine

He obviously realized that his atheism doesn’t serve his purpose as a poet who was widely read and a classical Oxford scholar; he sees the divine intermingling into his poetry as he gets older but dies young before he discovers there is a God. His excellent imagery and immaculate craftsmanship as a poet rank him as one of the best in the English Language.

In Shelley’s immortal essay ‘A Defence of Poetry’ he writes:

A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth. There is this difference between a story and a poem, that a story is a catalogue of detached facts, which have no other connection than time, place, circumstance, cause and effect; the other is the creation of actions according to the unchangeable forms of human nature, as existing in the mind of the Creator, which is itself the image of all other minds. A story of particular facts is as a mirror which obscures and distorts that which should be beautiful; poetry is a mirror which makes beautiful that which is distorted.”

After studying his fantastic essay on a ‘defence of poetry ‘I believe he was not an atheist but was probably accepting a belief in the creator his own words ‘as existing in the mind of the Creator, which is itself the image of all other minds.’ Where did he get this from?

The Bible.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

Poetry transforms the human soul from deep within and guides us to the eternal home of our Creator. It’s the greatest of the fine arts of all human expression.

Resources:

  1. From the story Edward’s Lake copyright 2008 Carlong Publishers from the book: TEK MI! NOH TEK MI!)
  2. Bright hub education; Poem hunter; Collected Works of PB Shelley in the Public Domain 1901.

Gideon Sampson Cecil was born on the 9th of May 1968 in Rose Hall Town, Corentyne Berbice, Guyana. He holds a Bachelor and Master of Divinity from Life Christian University in Tampa, Florida and a degree in journalism. He is a college lecturer and freelance journalist. He has over 300 poems, articles, stories and essays published from 1993 to 2017. He is the author of the romantic collection of poetry, The Revelation of Love, published by Outskirts Press. His poetry was published in POUi X by The University of the West Indies, Cave Hill Campus, Barbados, the Muse Literary Journal India, The Harbinger Literary Journal USA, The Chachalaca Review England, Forward Journal London, Thirty West Publishing House, The Blue Nib Literary Magazine and Alien Buddha Press. He continues to write poetry, fiction, literary criticism, and articles for various journals and newspapers at home and abroad

 

Nicholas Pelham: The first time I spoke to her she was listening to Laura Marling

‘The first time I spoke to her she was listening to Laura Marling. She’s destroyed Laura Marling for me forever.  I’ve never even really been a big fan of Laura Marling.  I like her music and all, but she’s from the wrong era.  You know how it is.’

‘But who is she?’

‘I don’t think it’s relevant somehow.’

‘How can it not be relevant?’

‘Well, I laid eyes on her, and I knew she was everything I’d wanted to meet for my whole life.  She’s French.’

‘What does her nationality have to do with it?’

‘What doesn’t her nationality have to do with it?’

‘Who’s to say.’

‘Well, I learned of her vegetarianism in the breath directly preceding my learning of the existence of her boyfriend, who is apparently on the scene.’

‘Oh.’

‘He’s Spanish.  She wants to stay in Australia after her one year contract that she is currently undertaking.  I say, having a Spanish boyfriend is useless to her.’

‘You’re probably right.’

‘At the end of the day though, she’s too attractive for me anyway.  I could never live up to that expectation.  And she seems taller than me, just because she’s slim and brunette and beautiful, but, she’s only my height.  I’ve never seen her in high heeled shoes, which is good because I do not find these terribly becoming on women, particularly slim, brunette, beautiful women who are roughly my height but seem taller.  High heeled shoes are the scourge of the male gender.  Well, the short members of the male gender anyway, and we all know what Bob Dylan says about thin men.’

‘If women choose to wear high heeled shoes surely this is their right.’

‘Yes.  But, they blame the male fashion designers for the subsequent health issues that in time arise.’

‘Ah yes.’

‘Yes.  I presume you have seen A Current Affair on at least one occasion.  But hopefully not Today Tonight.’

‘As a matter of fact, that’s correct.’

‘Yes.  Say...’

I trailed off there.  This is the story of some love affair.  It involves Bob Dylan in some way, and Laura Marling, and Bonnie Prince Billy (in all his guises), and Scout Niblett, and Joanna Newsom, and Leonard Cohen, and SoKo, and Serge Gainsbourg, and a small city to the north of France that I have never caught the name of due to barriers to effective communication that arise due to the accent of some love of mine.  Some love of my life.  I also don’t think she wants me to know the name of her city.  She has her reasons and all are well grounded.  No one wants to be stalked and subsequently strung up by one recently freed from some mental institution.  It was only a minimum-security facility anyway.  I could have quite easily made my escape at any hour of my choosing, but I did my time because that’s just the type of man I am.

I forced myself upon my true love. Having waited my whole life to find some French girl, any French girl, to lay eyes upon one in such a perfect environment meant that I had to find a way to break in with her. I didn’t see this opportunity for two weeks or so.  Even then, I sat down beside her, and she had headphones on, and she was reluctant to take these out.  When I kept on talking, she somewhat felt obliged to take said headphones out. She advised me to whom she was listening to.  I missed this due to the accent that I had always longed to hear spoken directly to me.  Later, I learned that she had been listening to Laura Marling. ‘Yes, I know Laura Marling.’  At the end of the day though, the best relationships are forged from situations where communication is rendered impossible…due to any number of reasons.

I don’t approve of the technological device known as the ‘I-pod’ due to a moral high ground.  However, my love is in possession of the said technological device.  Anything my love chooses to do, I forgive.  After discovering she was a fan of Laura Marling, I knew that she had the potential for not only being French but also being worthy of my attention.  I asked her what other artists she was fond of.  Perhaps because she was aware that there was a language barrier present, rather than speaking the names of the artists that she was fond of, she showed me their names on her technological device.  I like to remember that the first she showed to me was Bob Dylan, but it could just be that this is the first that I recall because the previous few were of no consequence or relevance.  It was at that point that I asked her if she was fond of Leonard Cohen, to which she replied, yes, but I have none of his songs on my technological device.  She then showed me Serge Gainsbourg’s name, and I knew she was the one.  But, everyone in France likes Serge Gainsbourg—I learned this from her.  Well, everyone likes Serge Gainsbourg in France, except some.  Her choice of Bob Dylan album was none too impressive, being ‘the essential’, or whatever it is called, but it worked for me.  The essential of Bob Dylan is every track that he has ever laid down on record and then some others.  This love of mine taught me a great deal about Serge Gainsbourg.  Serge Gainsbourg is a demigod in France.  I am the most important French artist in France who isn’t French.

I feel more French than I have ever felt Australian, but I do not feel French.  I am not French.  I am a refugee born to the wrong homeland.  Australia isn’t a homeland.  Australia is a convict settlement where only those the likes of me can prosper, and if you call my existence prospering, I question your definition.  All I ever wanted from life was a French girl and I found said the French girl and she was unattainable.  As a friend of mine said, someone who I thought may have been an alternative to my love, ‘what’s she with a Spanish guy for?  That’s not very exotic.’  This girl is also French and vegetarian, and I am taller than this girl.  She somewhat has a Melanie Pain look to her.  If Melanie Pain offered me her hand in marriage I would gladly accept it.  If Emilie Simon married me and subsequently I decided to take her surname, I would be known as Simon Simon.  If Emilie Simon married me and subsequently decided to take my first name as her surname, she would not be obliged, through the traditional values of marriage, to change her name.  I am tall enough for Melanie Pain but not Emilie Simon, and at this moment in time, I need a slice of bread.

It took eight months for me to hear my love say my name.  She heard me say her name at least once every day that I laid eyes on her.  This gesture of mine was always less significant than hers promised to be.  She said my name indirectly.  We were speaking of Emilie Simon, and she said, Emilie Simon.  I like the sound of my name as proffered by the French and only the French.  The following day my love directly said my name, and she said it in a variation of the French way, which was delightful to my ears.  ‘Hi Simon, it’s Mona.  I can’t come to school today.  I’m sick.  Please tell Veronique and the French teachers that I won’t be at school.  Okay.  Bye.’  The beginning of what Mona said is correct.  At some point, I lost it.  I still have the message.  It will never be deleted.  If ever I need to hear a French woman say my name, that message will always be available to me.  If ever I need to hear my love say my name, that message will always be available to me.  It was a blessing that I wasn’t around to receive said voice mail message, and it was a blessing that I didn’t see her that day.

I recently heard an anecdote from a girl who was in a brief relationship of about two weeks with a French guy.  He had come to Melbourne for work and had taken to win the affections of as many Melbourne women as possible.  He had a pre-existing lover in France, apparently.  So, this girl I know, she received a telephone call one night from a French girl, who subsequently took to abusing her for some time.  If a French girl ever took to abusing me, I would be happy to say, please continue all night long my dear.  If I could, I would spend the rest of my life speaking to a French girl.  If one had to choose by whom to be abused, it would be a French girl – hands down.

 

Until recently, I somewhat wondered if women found the accent of Frenchmen as appealing as men find the accent of Frenchwomen.  I had been thinking for some time that I only know Frenchwomen and not Frenchmen, but then I remembered that my hairdresser is a Frenchman.  He’s lost his accent though.  Anyway, so I met a few French guys at a function that I was at, and one, upon hearing him speak, I thought, yes, that is a nice accent—that would melt the heart of any free thinking, able-bodied woman.  It melts the heart of me.

‘So, what became of this love of yours?’

‘What?’

‘That love of yore, that you’ve been discussing at length.’

‘Oh, her?  I don’t know.  I never saw her again after the fourteenth day of December.  I marked this date on my calendar in August.  Call me a morose rapscallion if you must, but I like to know when my end of time is to come to pass.’

‘I don’t call you anything.’

‘And that’s lucky for you because this could mean nothing to you but hardship and strife.’

‘But, how’s that?’

‘Well, you don’t need to worry, do you?  If you did, you would have seen the wrath, but not understood the cause.’

‘Oh.’

‘Yes.’

This love and I, we spent many good times together, not enough by my reckoning, but too much by hers.  Of her, there remained a hope; of her, all hope was lost.  The timing of our meeting was highly dubious.  The timing seemed too perfect to put into words.  I had recently lost something that could never be replaced.  This love would not have replaced what was lost, and no love could ever have lived alongside what was lost.  Upon learning of my love’s unattainability, I subsequently fell into a state of heartache such as has never been experienced by the likes of me.  I drew on that heartache for inspiration for all it was worth and still, do.  I also subsequently bid my god one final adieu.  Any god that mocks me to the extent that my god mocks me is not worth my time and attention, of which I proffered little, to begin with, by my reckonings.  I advised him of this decision, and to this date, I still take it upon myself to smile wryly to the heavens on occasion when situations arise of the utter scorn that only he is capable of and of which only he can conceive of.  When the day of judgment befalls us, I am in the direst of all situations.  God acknowledges the petty atheist.  He even acknowledges the petty agnostic, who is even pettier than the petty atheist.  This god, in his wisdom, forgives all the sinners against his parchments.  The only soul that this god does not forgive is he who believes in his existence but refuses him.  I accept this lot that is self-inflicted, and I welcome my day of judgment.  I’ll see you in hell, you old rapscallion.

But earlier this evening, when I was doing the dishes, and I had the SYN TV program on, that I believe is called ‘the 1700’, on my television set, and Laura Marling’s ‘Rambling Man’ came on, I looked to the heavens, with my wry smile, and I said, ‘what a god damned joke’.  ‘Rambling Man’ is a great song, but it will never soothe me as it should.  It will always bring to my eyes the face of my love, whom I have never seen a smile, and whom I have never heard a laugh, but of whom I have heard her say my name twice, once indirectly in person and once directly over the telephone.  The mockery is ever present, and this god and I share the same sense of humour.  Our long-running joke stands, and my love did not know SoKo until I introduced them to each other. 

Nicholas Pelham is an Australian who now lives in Paris, France. He is a curator of blog and in the process of creating an indie press newspaper focusing on the live music scene of Paris, as well as a few unpublished books.

Jamie Kahn: Van Life

When I was young, I asked my mom what she wanted to be when she grew up and she answered me honestly. She said that she wanted to purchase a van or a camper, turn it into a home, and travel around the world in it. My reaction now makes me feel like the worst daughter in the world, as well it should. I laughed at her and thought that she was stupid. It seemed silly and unfathomable to me, as I pictured a trailer park or gypsies. My mom was neither of those things, so I assumed that she just didn’t think anything through.

Now, with the millennial age in full swing, I wish that I hadn’t been one of the many people to laugh at her. There are entire television shows dedicated to tiny houses. There are famous people on the internet, making money with every online post about living the #vanlife. They’re the people that the world admires. They’re free spirits, without all the woes and cares of a nine to five, and my mother belongs among them, I’m sure of it.

She used to say to me, “All I want in life is a bundle for a buck, and a million bucks,” which I’m sure is a phrase that she invented. Whenever asked, she would explain that it meant that she wanted to have the smallest and simplest living space possible, and lots of money to spend on experiences rather than material things. She always resented the idea of having a large house, even sometimes griping about the size of our family home in the suburbs with room for a husband, two daughters, a dog, and a cat. “It’s too much house to clean. Nobody needs that,” she said.

My mom once owned a Mazda mini-van during my childhood, which I find ironic now. She loved that thing intensely, which not many moms do. She looks back on her memories of it with fondness, treasuring its function and utility, even though she basically only used it to cart kids to and from ballet and soccer practice. We took family road trips in it, but it was far from urban camping. There was always a feeling that there was something else you could do with that van. Eventually, when I was around eleven, it crapped out and was gone forever. She exchanged it for a sedan, as that’s what you do when your children outgrow their car seats.

We sometimes watch the shows about tiny houses when they come on TV and tag each other in pictures of people traveling the world in vans or campers. I’m now convinced that my mom could see the future, and maybe if I can buy her a van one day—to use for her intended purposes—it’ll be a sufficient enough apology for my shallow judgment. If not, I’d do it anyway.

Jamie Kahn is a writer and undergraduate student. Her work has been featured in PDXX Collective, Maudlin House, Eunoia Review, LitCat, Lady! Magazine, The Claremont Review, The Unrorean, Yellow Chair Review, Fish Food Magazine, Philosophical Idiot, and Donut Factory Press. She has also written for Thought Catalog and Germ Magazine, and co-hosts The Everything Bagel podcast.

Anthony Palma: Playing to the Crowd: Can Poets Learn Anything from Rupi Kaur’s Success?

Playing to the Crowd: Can Poets Learn Anything from Rupi Kaur’s Success?

In 1917, Marcel Duchamp purchased a urinal from a restaurant supply seller, attached it to a wall, and called it art. The response was widespread criticism from other artists, critics, and art scholars who claimed that the work (entitled “Fountain”) was not art. Most of their criticism stemmed from the fact that Duchamp’s piece called into question the very foundations upon which they judged art. Exactly 100 years later, Duchamp is remembered as one of the most important and influential Modern artists. Still, the issue of defining art, or even differentiating ‘good’ art from ‘bad’ art still exists and transcends other art forms. This has occurred perhaps most notably in the recent discussions about the poetry of Rupi Kaur. To say the least, her work is polarizing. She has been ripped apart by poets and scholars alike, but despite that fact, her book Milk and Honey has sold over 2 million copies.

Let that sink in. A poet selling 2 million copies of a book.

Personally, I am not a big fan of her work, but that is not why I am writing this. I want to look at the phenomenon surrounding her work through the lens of rhetoric in an attempt to understand what is actually going on.  Perhaps, in doing so, I can offer insight into how this phenomenon is relevant to the poetic tradition and what we can learn from it, both about the nature of poetry and about how we as poets reach our audience.

The first thing I want to establish is that her work is, for lack of a better way of putting it, unremarkable. That is, it does not seem to do much that is groundbreaking. Yes, the poems are short, and yes they are easily digestible, but her work is not the first to try to do a lot with a little. For instance, her poem “answers” reads, “the way they / leave/tells you / everything.” This appears on the left side of a page, next to a line drawing of a woman sitting cross-legged with her back to us. It attempts to say a lot without saying much. It also is a rather clichéd topic, one that poets have been writing about for a long time. Kobayashi Issa (1763-1828) was a famous Japanese writer. One of his poems is as follows: “Don’t weep, insects. / Lovers stars themselves, / Must part.” This poem, too, sets out with the purpose of saying a lot through minimal words, and it deals with a very similar topic to Kaur’s, though with a different perspective. Remove the word ‘insects,’ and you are looking at a poem with very similar qualities. The main difference seems to be that Kaur’s work is intentionally general; consequently, its language attempts to appeal to a general audience. Issa’s work attempts to address a universal issue. Beyond that, though, the projects of the poems remain similar in nature. Both give us limited details, leave the topic ‘hanging out there,’ and force us to connect it to our own experience. These poems seem to rely heavily on what the audience brings to the table.

Admittedly, comparing Issa’s poem to Kaur’s is a little arbitrary, but I could have picked a number of poets who do the same thing. The fact that Kaur is not doing anything groundbreaking raises two questions in my mind:

1.      Why, then, is her work so popular?

2.      Why is the criticism of her so harsh?

To answer the first question, I want to start with a story. Several months ago, I posted a brief article on my website in which I explored audience and how audiences affect the way poets write. It was basically a conversation starter, but in a week or so after I posted it I spoke to a number of poets about the topic, and what surprised me was that pretty much all of them said that they did not think about the audience when they wrote. This seemed particularly surprising considering how limited the poetic audience is. If you don’t think this is true, go to a poetry reading. In most cases, the majority of the people there are poets themselves. It is not unusual for almost everyone in attendance at a poetry reading to also take part in the open mic that often follows. Compare this to other forms of expression such as visual art or music, and you begin to see just how specialized the audience of poetry is. Most people who read poetry are either themselves poets, involved in poetry, or know someone who is.

The fact that the poetic audience is highly specialized seems to have a profound effect on how we write, whether or not we are aware of that effect. Consciously or unconsciously, many poets write (or at least revise) their work to cater to the ‘poetry crowd’ because they are aware of who is most likely going to be reading their work. In contrast, the general public is often indifferent to poetry. Again, a story. I teach composition to mostly college freshman, and one of my classes contains a poetry section. Near the end of the fall semester, I spend several weeks going over poetry, and every fall I watch as students who a few weeks before were engaged and excited about writing acquire a glazed, bored, and confused expression as we begin to analyze poems. A few years ago, I changed my approach to poetry, and instead had my students explore the question ‘why do people read poetry?’ I have them conduct interviews with people about their favorite poems and why they chose them. Over the past several years, their findings have been consistent: most people don’t read poetry. The ones who do often encounter their favorite poem while in school, implying that they have read little poetry since. These poems are often very conventional, and many times are children’s poetry. While this is by no means a formal research study, it definitely provides insight into most people’s knowledge about poetry, and that it is often limited to two poems by Robert Frost, Taylor Swift, and Doctor Seuss. It’s not their fault – it is the consequence of our society – but it is still a factor that we as poets have to cope with.

In light of this, it seems that Kaur’s success comes less from her poems and more from her choice of audience. Instead of catering to the poetic community, who seems to care about universal issues, she has tailored her work to target a wider, more general, audience. This audience does not care who she has read. they don’t care about her poetic influences. They certainly don’t care about her poetic street cred. All they know is that her work is accessible and that it relates to them, even if the poetry itself is general and unremarkable.

This shift in the audience may also explain, at least in part, why claims of plagiarism have not seemed to affect her popularity. She has been accused by several people of stealing ideas and language. Now, poets take this very seriously. The authenticity of a work of art, as explained by Walter Benjamin, “is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning,” and inauthentic art lacks its “presence in time and space.” Thus, the inauthentic work is merely an imitation of other great works, removed of substance.  However, the general public seems to have fewer hang-ups about authenticity than academics and artists. Take Bob Dylan. For years, he has been plagued with accusations of plagiarism. He has even been accused of plagiarizing his Nobel Prize Lecture, from SparkNotes, of all places! (Kornhaber). Despite this, he has remained immensely popular and well respected, with thousands of die-hard fans worldwide. Dylan is hardly the exception. To put it simply, most people don’t care.

This shift towards a wider rhetorical audience, one less concerned with the authenticity of her work, explains a lot about Kaur’s success, for better or for worse. It may to a point even answer the second question that I asked above. But I think that to simply say the harshness of the criticism comes because her work is watered down or is not authentic is a little superficial. Could it be that some of the vitriol in our criticisms of her may be merely good old-fashioned jealousy?

Unfortunately for us, if we limit our reaction to Kaur as one of knee-jerk jealousy or critique, we miss an opportunity to learn about our own work and how those interested in poetry view it as an art form. It requires us to assess why we do what we do. Are we in it for how many social media followers we have, or how many copies of a book we have sold? And if we are, can we live with that? We need to decide what we want to get out of our work, and what we are willing to sacrifice in order to achieve it.

I believe, though, that there is truly a lesson in all of this. Kaur’s success stems less from what she says and more from how she has appealed to a wider audience. We as poets should be looking for ways to expand our audiences without compromising our ethics. We as a field must expand beyond what worked in the past and toward new opportunities. I may sound dramatic here, but the survival of our art form depends on our ability to adapt to a contemporary context and to the audiences of today. Even if it does not affect the way we actually write, maybe we should reconsider how we market and present ourselves, taking full advantage of the tools provided to us by our culture and time.

Perhaps time will be Kaur’s harshest critic. In a hundred years, we may be talking about how she revolutionized poetry. More likely, though, people will be saying “Kaur who?” Either way, her success has once again gotten people talking about poetry as a genre. For me personally, thinking about this has galvanized my approach to writing, that I will continue to write regardless of judgment and criticism. If tomorrow I wake up and have 2 million people clamoring for my poetry, great. But if tomorrow I wake up, and the only one clamoring for me is my dog clamoring for food, I’m okay with that.

Works Cited

Benjamin, Walter. “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction.” Translated byHarry Zohn. 1936. Accessed 10 December 2017. 

https://www.marxists.org/reference/subject/philosophy/works/ge/benjamin.htm

Kornhaber, Spencer. “Bob Dylan Cheats Again?” The Atlantic June 14, 2017. Accessed 10 December 2017.

https://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2017/06/bob-dylan-nobel-spark-notes- plagarism/530283/

Anthony Palma teaches writing at Rowan University and Saint Joseph’s University. His creative work attempts to capture the hardship, despair, and isolation of modern life while showing that at the end of it all, there is always hope. He lives in West Chester, Pennsylvania

Carter Vance: From the Outside In

People finding out that I write poetry are oftentimes surprised, for any variety of reasons. Perhaps they don't think it accords with the other edges of my personality or perhaps it's because people with the set of other interests that I have are generally not seen as the poetic type. But, most of all, many are surprised at this because my academic background is not in any of what would commonly be called the creative arts. As a student of previously Psychology and now Social Work, it can sometimes be difficult to find the time, inclination, and, indeed, inspiration to pursue creative writing, having to work it in around my academic and professional pursuits rather than as an inherent part of them.

Experiences beyond those of the typical background of writers have much to bring in terms of informing the mediums their practitioners take on, and indeed we may in some sense have the advantage of novelty on our side. The key, then, is the maintaining of a balance between the various interests you have, being able to take constructive criticism on stylistic grounds into account and most of all asking what you bring to table as something of an “outsider” in terms of unique perspective.

You first might consider that, regardless of what you're pursuing in academic terms, you're probably already doing a lot of writing! True, you and perhaps others might not think of it as being creative, but, it's generally true that creativity is borne of the guidelines and limitations of what, why and for whom one is writing. In other words, it is ultimately about being able to convey one's ideas in a holistic and clear manner given the constraints of the form and instructions one is given.

Of course, writing is a medium like any other, where it is possible to improve and refine one's technique and style over time, and so it behooves one to first take stock of one's position regarding it; where you are coming from, in other words. What has your background, academic, professional and personal, made you passionate about? Is what you want to write about in a creative setting connected to your academics and your other passions, and how so? In other words, what can you bring in that someone without your specific academic background could not, and more specifically how would it differ from someone specifically training to be a writer as such?

Obviously, the answers to these questions will differ quite a bit depending on the exact program you are in and your own life outside of it, but they are important ones to ask regardless. You may also want to take up an analysis of the creative works that you have personally responded to in the past, and what exactly it was that made them so impactful. This is not to say one should merely copy the techniques of others, but this is often an immensely useful exercise to get a handle on how what one considers “good writing” really comes together in a concrete sense.

Nevertheless, as in anything else, getting better requires dedication and effort put in, and I can speak from personal experience that the satisfaction one gets from writing is directly proportionate to the time committed to the task. Thus, I've always found it good practice to dedicate a set section of time to writing each week; not long, just an hour or so, but the concentration it provides can help immensely. Moreover, get into the habit of recording the snatches of ideas, or particularly adroit turns of phrase that might come to you during the day. Some of the best and most creative ideas come to us because of our daily collisions with the realities of life, and it's a shame that so many of them remain ephemeral. The traditional way of accomplishing this would be via keeping a notepad, but typing out a quick jot on one's phone works just as well and seems a bit more apropos to our modern age.

The most important thing to remember, though, is that you are already a writer in your own way, with your own unique voice and style, regardless of if you define yourself as such or so. The perspective you bring will, of course, not be the same as theirs, but this should be a benefit rather than a detriment.  The interest you take in creative writing, just as with any other form of artistic expression, and how far you will ultimately go with it, is determined by the dedication you are willing to bring to bear.

So, how have you come to writing, and how do you keep it in balance with your other interests, needs, and obligations?

Carter Vance is a student and aspiring poet originally from Cobourg, Ontario, currently studying at Carleton University in Ottawa. His work has appeared in such publications as The Vehicle, (parenthetical) and F(r)iction, amongst others. He received an Honourable Mention from Contemporary Verse 2's Young Buck Poetry Awards in 2015. His work also appears in his personal blog Comment is Welcome. 

Edgar Allan Poe: The Philosophy of Composition (1846)

Charles Dickens, in a note now lying before me, alluding to an examination I once made of the mechanism of "Barnaby Rudge," says- "By the way, are you aware that Godwin wrote his 'Caleb Williams' backwards? He first involved his hero in a web of difficulties, forming the second volume, and then, for the first, cast about him for some mode of accounting for what had been done."

I cannot think this the precise mode of procedure on the part of Godwin- and indeed what he himself acknowledges, is not altogether in accordance with Mr. Dickens' idea- but the author of "Caleb Williams" was too good an artist not to perceive the advantage derivable from at least a somewhat similar process. Nothing is more clear than that every plot, worth the name, must be elaborated to its denouement before anything be attempted with the pen. It is only with the denouement constantly in view that we can give a plot its indispensable air of consequence, or causation, by making the incidents, and especially the tone at all points, tend to the development of the intention.

There is a radical error, I think, in the usual mode of constructing a story. Either history affords a thesis- or one is suggested by an incident of the day- or, at best, the author sets himself to work in the combination of striking events to form merely the basis of his narrative-designing, generally, to fill in with description, dialogue, or autorial comment, whatever crevices of fact, or action, may, from page to page, render themselves apparent.

I prefer commencing with the consideration of an effect. Keeping originality always in view- for he is false to himself who ventures to dispense with so obvious and so easily attainable a source of interest- I say to myself, in the first place, "Of the innumerable effects, or impressions, of which the heart, the intellect, or (more generally) the soul is susceptible, what one shall I, on the present occasion, select?" Having chosen a novel, first, and secondly a vivid effect, I consider whether it can be best wrought by incident or tone- whether by ordinary incidents and peculiar tone, or the converse, or by peculiarity both of incident and tone- afterward looking about me (or rather within) for such combinations of event, or tone, as shall best aid me in the construction of the effect.

I have often thought how interesting a magazine paper might be written by any author who would- that is to say, who could- detail, step by step, the processes by which any one of his compositions attained its ultimate point of completion. Why such a paper has never been given to the world, I am much at a loss to say- but, perhaps, the autorial vanity has had more to do with the omission than any one other cause. Most writers- poets in especial- prefer having it understood that they compose by a species of fine frenzy- an ecstatic intuition- and would positively shudder at letting the public take a peep behind the scenes, at the elaborate and vacillating crudities of thought- at the true purposes seized only at the last moment- at the innumerable glimpses of idea that arrived not at the maturity of full view- at the fully-matured fancies discarded in despair as unmanageable- at the cautious selections and rejections- at the painful erasures and interpolations- in a word, at the wheels and pinions- the tackle for scene-shifting- the step-ladders, and demon-traps- the cock's feathers, the red paint and the black patches, which, in ninety-nine cases out of a hundred, constitute the properties of the literary histrio.

I am aware, on the other hand, that the case is by no means common, in which an author is at all in condition to retrace the steps by which his conclusions have been attained. In general, suggestions, having arisen pell-mell are pursued and forgotten in a similar manner.

For my own part, I have neither sympathy with the repugnance alluded to, nor, at any time, the least difficulty in recalling to mind the progressive steps of any of my compositions, and, since the interest of an analysis or reconstruction, such as I have considered a desideratum, is quite independent of any real or fancied interest in the thing analysed, it will not be regarded as a breach of decorum on my part to show the modus operandi by which some one of my own works was put together. I select 'The Raven' as most generally known. It is my design to render it manifest that no one point in its composition is referable either to accident or intuition- that the work proceeded step by step, to its completion, with the precision and rigid consequence of a mathematical problem.

Let us dismiss, as irrelevant to the poem, per se, the circumstance- or say the necessity- which, in the first place, gave rise to the intention of composing a poem that should suit at once the popular and the critical taste.

We commence, then, with this intention.

The initial consideration was that of extent. If any literary work is too long to be read at one sitting, we must be content to dispense with the immensely important effect derivable from unity of impression- for, if two sittings be required, the affairs of the world interfere, and everything like totality is at once destroyed. But since, ceteris paribus, no poet can afford to dispense with anything that may advance his design, it but remains to be seen whether there is, in extent, any advantage to counterbalance the loss of unity which attends it. Here I say no, at once. What we term a long poem is, in fact, merely a succession of brief ones- that is to say, of brief poetical effects. It is needless to demonstrate that a poem is such only inasmuch as it intensely excites, by elevating the soul; and all intense excitements are, through a psychal necessity, brief. For this reason, at least, one-half of the "Paradise Lost" is essentially prose- a succession of poetical excitements interspersed, inevitably, with corresponding depressions- the whole being deprived, through the extremeness of its length, of the vastly important artistic element, totality, or unity of effect.

It appears evident, then, that there is a distinct limit, as regards length, to all works of literary art- the limit of a single sitting- and that, although in certain classes of prose composition, such as "Robinson Crusoe" (demanding no unity), this limit may be advantageously overpassed, it can never properly be overpassed in a poem. Within this limit, the extent of a poem may be made to bear mathematical relation to its merit- in other words, to the excitement or elevation-again, in other words, to the degree of the true poetical effect which it is capable of inducing; for it is clear that the brevity must be in direct ratio of the intensity of the intended effect- this, with one proviso- that a certain degree of duration is absolutely requisite for the production of any effect at all.

Holding in view these considerations, as well as that degree of excitement which I deemed not above the popular, while not below the critical taste, I reached at once what I conceived the proper length for my intended poem- a length of about one hundred lines. It is, in fact, a hundred and eight.

My next thought concerned the choice of an impression, or effect, to be conveyed: and here I may as well observe that throughout the construction, I kept steadily in view the design of rendering the work universally appreciable. I should be carried too far out of my immediate topic were I to demonstrate a point upon which I have repeatedly insisted, and which, with the poetical, stands not in the slightest need of demonstration- the point, I mean, that Beauty is the sole legitimate province of the poem. A few words, however, in elucidation of my real meaning, which some of my friends have evinced a disposition to misrepresent. That pleasure which is at once the most intense, the most elevating, and the most pure is, I believe, found in the contemplation of the beautiful. When, indeed, men speak of Beauty, they mean, precisely, not a quality, as is supposed, but an effect- they refer, in short, just to that intense and pure elevation of soul- not of intellect, or of heart- upon which I have commented, and which is experienced in consequence of contemplating the "beautiful." Now I designate Beauty as the province of the poem, merely because it is an obvious rule of Art that effects should be made to spring from direct causes- that objects should be attained through means best adapted for their attainment- no one as yet having been weak enough to deny that the peculiar elevation alluded to is most readily attained in the poem. Now the object Truth, or the satisfaction of the intellect, and the object Passion, or the excitement of the heart, are, although attainable to a certain extent in poetry, far more readily attainable in prose. Truth, in fact, demands a precision, and Passion, a homeliness (the truly passionate will comprehend me), which are absolutely antagonistic to that Beauty which, I maintain, is the excitement or pleasurable elevation of the soul. It by no means follows, from anything here said, that passion, or even truth, may not be introduced, and even profitably introduced, into a poem for they may serve in elucidation, or aid the general effect, as do discords in music, by contrast- but the true artist will always contrive, first, to tone them into proper subservience to the predominant aim, and, secondly, to enveil them, as far as possible, in that Beauty which is the atmosphere and the essence of the poem.

Regarding, then, Beauty as my province, my next question referred to the tone of its highest manifestation- and all experience has shown that this tone is one of sadness. Beauty of whatever kind in its supreme development invariably excites the sensitive soul to tears. Melancholy is thus the most legitimate of all the poetical tones.

The length, the province, and the tone, being thus determined, I betook myself to ordinary induction, with the view of obtaining some artistic piquancy which might serve me as a key-note in the construction of the poem- some pivot upon which the whole structure might turn. In carefully thinking over all the usual artistic effects- or more properly points, in the theatrical sense- I did not fail to perceive immediately that no one had been so universally employed as that of the refrain. The universality of its employment sufficed to assure me of its intrinsic value, and spared me the necessity of submitting it to analysis. I considered it, however, with regard to its susceptibility of improvement, and soon saw it to be in a primitive condition. As commonly used, the refrain, or burden, not only is limited to lyric verse, but depends for its impression upon the force of monotone- both in sound and thought. The pleasure is deduced solely from the sense of identity- of repetition. I resolved to diversify, and so heighten the effect, by adhering in general to the monotone of sound, while I continually varied that of thought: that is to say, I determined to produce continuously novel effects, by the variation of the application of the refrain- the refrain itself remaining for the most part, unvaried.

These points being settled, I next bethought me of the nature of my refrain. Since its application was to be repeatedly varied it was clear that the refrain itself must be brief, for there would have been an insurmountable difficulty in frequent variations of application in any sentence of length. In proportion to the brevity of the sentence would, of course, be the facility of the variation. This led me at once to a single word as the best refrain.

The question now arose as to the character of the word. Having made up my mind to a refrain, the division of the poem into stanzas was of course a corollary, the refrain forming the close to each stanza. That such a close, to have force, must be sonorous and susceptible of protracted emphasis, admitted no doubt, and these considerations inevitably led me to the long o as the most sonorous vowel in connection with r as the most producible consonant.

The sound of the refrain being thus determined, it became necessary to select a word embodying this sound, and at the same time in the fullest possible keeping with that melancholy which I had pre-determined as the tone of the poem. In such a search it would have been absolutely impossible to overlook the word "Nevermore." In fact it was the very first which presented itself.

The next desideratum was a pretext for the continuous use of the one word "nevermore." In observing the difficulty which I had at once found in inventing a sufficiently plausible reason for its continuous repetition, I did not fail to perceive that this difficulty arose solely from the preassumption that the word was to be so continuously or monotonously spoken by a human being- I did not fail to perceive, in short, that the difficulty lay in the reconciliation of this monotony with the exercise of reason on the part of the creature repeating the word. Here, then, immediately arose the idea of a non-reasoning creature capable of speech, and very naturally, a parrot, in the first instance, suggested itself, but was superseded forthwith by a Raven as equally capable of speech, and infinitely more in keeping with the intended tone.

I had now gone so far as the conception of a Raven, the bird of ill-omen, monotonously repeating the one word "Nevermore" at the conclusion of each stanza in a poem of melancholy tone, and in length about one hundred lines. Now, never losing sight of the object- supremeness or perfection at all points, I asked myself- "Of all melancholy topics what, according to the universal understanding of mankind, is the most melancholy?" Death, was the obvious reply. "And when," I said, "is this most melancholy of topics most poetical?" From what I have already explained at some length the answer here also is obvious- "When it most closely allies itself to Beauty: the death then of a beautiful woman is unquestionably the most poetical topic in the world, and equally is it beyond doubt that the lips best suited for such topic are those of a bereaved lover."

I had now to combine the two ideas of a lover lamenting his deceased mistress and a Raven continuously repeating the word "Nevermore." I had to combine these, bearing in mind my design of varying at every turn the application of the word repeated, but the only intelligible mode of such combination is that of imagining the Raven employing the word in answer to the queries of the lover. And here it was that I saw at once the opportunity afforded for the effect on which I had been depending, that is to say, the effect of the variation of application. I saw that I could make the first query propounded by the lover- the first query to which the Raven should reply "Nevermore"- that I could make this first query a commonplace one, the second less so, the third still less, and so on, until at length the lover, startled from his original nonchalance by the melancholy character of the word itself, by its frequent repetition, and by a consideration of the ominous reputation of the fowl that uttered it, is at length excited to superstition, and wildly propounds queries of a far different character- queries whose solution he has passionately at heart- propounds them half in superstition and half in that species of despair which delights in self-torture- propounds them not altogether because he believes in the prophetic or demoniac character of the bird (which reason assures him is merely repeating a lesson learned by rote), but because he experiences a frenzied pleasure in so modelling his questions as to receive from the expected "Nevermore" the most delicious because the most intolerable of sorrows. Perceiving the opportunity thus afforded me, or, more strictly, thus forced upon me in the progress of the construction, I first established in my mind the climax or concluding query- that query to which "Nevermore" should be in the last place an answer- that query in reply to which this word "Nevermore" should involve the utmost conceivable amount of sorrow and despair.

Here then the poem may be said to have had its beginning- at the end where all works of art should begin- for it was here at this point of my preconsiderations that I first put pen to paper in the composition of the stanza:

    "Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! prophet still if bird or devil!
    By that Heaven that bends above us- by that God we both adore,
    Tell this soul with sorrow laden, if, within the distant Aidenn,
    It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore-
    Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
                    Quoth the Raven- "Nevermore."

I composed this stanza, at this point, first that, by establishing the climax, I might the better vary and graduate, as regards seriousness and importance, the preceding queries of the lover, and secondly, that I might definitely settle the rhythm, the metre, and the length and general arrangement of the stanza, as well as graduate the stanzas which were to precede, so that none of them might surpass this in rhythmical effect. Had I been able in the subsequent composition to construct more vigorous stanzas I should without scruple have purposely enfeebled them so as not to interfere with the climacteric effect.

And here I may as well say a few words of the versification. My first object (as usual) was originality. The extent to which this has been neglected in versification is one of the most unaccountable things in the world. Admitting that there is little possibility of variety in mere rhythm, it is still clear that the possible varieties of metre and stanza are absolutely infinite, and yet, for centuries, no man, in verse, has ever done, or ever seemed to think of doing, an original thing. The fact is that originality (unless in minds of very unusual force) is by no means a matter, as some suppose, of impulse or intuition. In general, to be found, it must be elaborately sought, and although a positive merit of the highest class, demands in its attainment less of invention than negation.

Of course I pretend to no originality in either the rhythm or metre of the "Raven." The former is trochaic- the latter is octametre acatalectic, alternating with heptametre catalectic repeated in the refrain of the fifth verse, and terminating with tetrametre catalectic. Less pedantically the feet employed throughout (trochees) consist of a long syllable followed by a short, the first line of the stanza consists of eight of these feet, the second of seven and a half (in effect two-thirds), the third of eight, the fourth of seven and a half, the fifth the same, the sixth three and a half. Now, each of these lines taken individually has been employed before, and what originality the "Raven" has, is in their combination into stanza; nothing even remotely approaching this has ever been attempted. The effect of this originality of combination is aided by other unusual and some altogether novel effects, arising from an extension of the application of the principles of rhyme and alliteration.

The next point to be considered was the mode of bringing together the lover and the Raven- and the first branch of this consideration was the locale. For this the most natural suggestion might seem to be a forest, or the fields- but it has always appeared to me that a close circumscription of space is absolutely necessary to the effect of insulated incident- it has the force of a frame to a picture. It has an indisputable moral power in keeping concentrated the attention, and, of course, must not be confounded with mere unity of place.

I determined, then, to place the lover in his chamber- in a chamber rendered sacred to him by memories of her who had frequented it. The room is represented as richly furnished- this in mere pursuance of the ideas I have already explained on the subject of Beauty, as the sole true poetical thesis.

The locale being thus determined, I had now to introduce the bird- and the thought of introducing him through the window was inevitable. The idea of making the lover suppose, in the first instance, that the flapping of the wings of the bird against the shutter, is a "tapping" at the door, originated in a wish to increase, by prolonging, the reader's curiosity, and in a desire to admit the incidental effect arising from the lover's throwing open the door, finding all dark, and thence adopting the half-fancy that it was the spirit of his mistress that knocked.

I made the night tempestuous, first to account for the Raven's seeking admission, and secondly, for the effect of contrast with the (physical) serenity within the chamber.

I made the bird alight on the bust of Pallas, also for the effect of contrast between the marble and the plumage- it being understood that the bust was absolutely suggested by the bird- the bust of Pallas being chosen, first, as most in keeping with the scholarship of the lover, and secondly, for the sonorousness of the word, Pallas, itself.

About the middle of the poem, also, I have availed myself of the force of contrast, with a view of deepening the ultimate impression. For example, an air of the fantastic- approaching as nearly to the ludicrous as was admissible- is given to the Raven's entrance. He comes in "with many a flirt and flutter."

  Not the least obeisance made he- not a moment stopped or stayed he,
  But with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door.

In the two stanzas which follow, the design is more obviously carried out:-

  Then this ebony bird, beguiling my sad fancy into smiling
  By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore,
  "Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no
    craven,
  Ghastly grim and ancient Raven wandering from the Nightly shore-
  Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore?"
                Quoth the Raven- "Nevermore."

  Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
  Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
  For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
  Ever yet was blessed with seeing bird above his chamber door-
  Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
                  With such name as "Nevermore."

The effect of the denouement being thus provided for, I immediately drop the fantastic for a tone of the most profound seriousness- this tone commencing in the stanza directly following the one last quoted, with the line,

  But the Raven, sitting lonely on that placid bust, spoke only, etc.

From this epoch the lover no longer jests- no longer sees anything even of the fantastic in the Raven's demeanour. He speaks of him as a "grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt, and ominous bird of yore," and feels the "fiery eyes" burning into his "bosom's core." This revolution of thought, or fancy, on the lover's part, is intended to induce a similar one on the part of the reader- to bring the mind into a proper frame for the denouement- which is now brought about as rapidly and as directly as possible.

With the denouement proper- with the Raven's reply, "Nevermore," to the lover's final demand if he shall meet his mistress in another world- the poem, in its obvious phase, that of a simple narrative, may be said to have its completion. So far, everything is within the limits of the accountable- of the real. A raven, having learned by rote the single word "Nevermore," and having escaped from the custody of its owner, is driven at midnight, through the violence of a storm, to seek admission at a window from which a light still gleams- the chamber-window of a student, occupied half in poring over a volume, half in dreaming of a beloved mistress deceased. The casement being thrown open at the fluttering of the bird's wings, the bird itself perches on the most convenient seat out of the immediate reach of the student, who amused by the incident and the oddity of the visitor's demeanour, demands of it, in jest and without looking for a reply, its name. The raven addressed, answers with its customary word, "Nevermore"- a word which finds immediate echo in the melancholy heart of the student, who, giving utterance aloud to certain thoughts suggested by the occasion, is again startled by the fowl's repetition of "Nevermore." The student now guesses the state of the case, but is impelled, as I have before explained, by the human thirst for self-torture, and in part by superstition, to propound such queries to the bird as will bring him, the lover, the most of the luxury of sorrow, through the anticipated answer, "Nevermore." With the indulgence, to the extreme, of this self-torture, the narration, in what I have termed its first or obvious phase, has a natural termination, and so far there has been no overstepping of the limits of the real.

But in subjects so handled, however skillfully, or with however vivid an array of incident, there is always a certain hardness or nakedness which repels the artistical eye. Two things are invariably required- first, some amount of complexity, or more properly, adaptation; and, secondly, some amount of suggestiveness- some under-current, however indefinite, of meaning. It is this latter, in especial, which imparts to a work of art so much of that richness (to borrow from colloquy a forcible term), which we are too fond of confounding with the ideal. It is the excess of the suggested meaning- it is the rendering this the upper instead of the under-current of the theme- which turns into prose (and that of the very flattest kind), the so-called poetry of the so-called transcendentalists.

Holding these opinions, I added the two concluding stanzas of the poem- their suggestiveness being thus made to pervade all the narrative which has preceded them. The under-current of meaning is rendered first apparent in the line-

  "Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my
                                                      door!"
           Quoth the Raven "Nevermore!"

It will be observed that the words, "from out my heart," involve the first metaphorical expression in the poem. They, with the answer, "Nevermore," dispose the mind to seek a moral in all that has been previously narrated. The reader begins now to regard the Raven as emblematical- but it is not until the very last line of the very last stanza that the intention of making him emblematical of Mournful and never ending Remembrance is permitted distinctly to be seen:

  And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting,
  On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
  And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon that is dreaming,
  And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
  And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
                   Shall be lifted- nevermore.