Friday, May 20, 2011

Poetry vs. music

In class, Kate said that when she hears poems read, she feels like something's missing--the music. I usually feel a different lack--the text. The formatting, the arrangements of words and letters--and of course the punctuation.

For instance, look at this poem by E.E. Cummings:

why must itself up every of a park
anus stick some quote statue unquote to
prove that a hero equals any jerk
who was afraid to dare to answer "no"?
quote citizens unquote might otherwise
forget(to err is human;to forgive
divine)that if the quote state unquote says
"kill" killing is an act of christian love.
"Nothing" in 1944 AD
"can stand against the argument of mil
itary necessity"(generalissimo e)
and echo answers "there is no appeal
from reason"(freud)--you pays your money and
you doesn't take your choice. Ain't freedom grand

It impresses me on a visual level (the density of the text compared to a lot of the poet's other work hits me immediately) and communicates through patterns of punctuation and capitalization in ways that sound can't. I can't remember sound, so the written techniques can make more of a lasting impression on me. Actually, I often remember sound as static visual impressions of space, movement, color, and so on, so I perceive something like Emily Dickinson's dashes as rhythmic, as reflecting the way I experience a noisy punk song.

This leads me to something Kate and Rosalie both talked about: music as a universal language. The only problem is that the same type of music doesn't speak to everyone. The right sounds can speak to someone regardless of their language, but it's influenced by their cultural background and individual taste.

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