Fortress of Legos

"We must have the stubbornness to accept our gladness in the ruthless furnace of this world"

Category: A Poet’s Guide to Poetry

Home is so Sad

Philip Larkin

Home is so sad. It stays as it was left,
Shaped to the comfort of the last to go
As if to win them back. Instead, bereft
Of anyone to please, it withers so,
Having no heart to put aside the theft

And turn again to what it started as,
A joyous shot at how things ought to be,
Long fallen wide. You can see how it was:
Look at the pictures and the cutlery.
The music in the piano stool. That vase.

I’ve always associated Larkin with his poem about parents, but never bothered to read further. Then Kinzie referenced him in her Guide and I’m remembering why I love his work so much.

Kinzie uses his poem as an example of fragments and their effectiveness, asserting that Larkin uses the minimal form to “emphasize the diminished hardness and wistful visibility of the things referred to.” I certainly feel the sense of nostalgia he’s creating with the images he’s chosen. Do you?


A Drinking Song

William Butler Yeats

Wine comes in at the mouth
And love comes in at the eye;
That’s all we shall know for truth
Before we grow old and die.
I lift the glass to my mouth,
I look at you, and I sigh.

That was a little treat I found in Kinzie’s  A Poet’s Guide to Poetry, which I’m still slowly making my way through. Her writing is illustrative and dense. Slogging through her rich sentences is rewarding, but I have to work hard to get there.

The chapter on “Syntax and Whole Meaning” is certainly covering basics I’ve been taught before, but with a depth I’ve only experienced when reading her book. Rife with examples and definitions, she ensures I am gaining both knowledge and exposure.

Reading A Poet’s Guide to Poetry

Having majored in English while focusing on poetry, it’s perhaps unsurprising I came away with a love for my textbook A Poet’s Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie. Embarrassingly though, I never spent enough time with the book while still in school. I’ve made myself the pact that I will finally read the entire book through, completing the exercises and reading her suggestions as I go.

One of the first suggestions I read was “His Rooms In College” by Thomas Gunn. It was suggested as an example of blank verse that presented a scene, which prompted the speaker to meditate, which then allowed the speaker to come to a different opinion about the original scene, one with understanding or resolution.

All through the damp morning he works, he reads.
The papers of his students are interrupted
Still by the raw fury, the awkward sadness
His marriage has become. The young serious voices
Are drowned by her remembered piteous wail
‘Discovering’ the one unfaithfulness
He never did commit.

Be more specific.
What do they have ahead of them, poor dears,
This kind of thing?

Today no supervisions;
But though he meant these hours for his research
He takes a book, not even in his ‘field,’
And some note touches him, he goes on reading
Hours long into the afternoon from which
The same low river fog has never lifted.
If every now and then he raises his eyes
And stares at winter lawns below, each time
He sees their hard blurred slopes the less. He reads,
He reads, until the chapel clock strikes five,
And suddenly discovers that the book,
Unevenly, gradually, and with difficulty,
Has all along been showing him its mind
(Like no one ever met at a dinner party),
And his attention has become prolonged
To the quiet passion with which he in return
Has given himself completely to the book.
He looks out at the darkened lawns, surprised
Less by the loss of grief than by the trust.