Runboard.com
You're welcome.
Community logo






runboard.com       Sign up (learn about it) | Sign in (lost password?)

 
dmehl808 Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
exploring the origins of free verse


Exploring the Origins of Free Verse and the Prose Poem, a Partial Summary and Dateline of Influences


Don, as you know I'm not a scholar, nor should I pretend to be and feel the need to underscore this is an informal conversation. I'll be back later to address your latest comments, but first I wanted to offer you this which I've been working on for the last few weeks. When you invited me to begin this conversation on the blog at “Now Culture” I started doing some research on the origins of free verse. I already knew something about prose poetry, and that it predated vers libre, but not so much about specifically how or why free verse developed. I agree with you that the prose poem has its genesis and roots in a tradition. In order to establish some groundwork pertaining to some beginnings of that tradition, here are some of the influential publications, scattered quotes by practitioners, dates, and some interpretive guessing along the way by me, which may seem arbitrary rather than exhaustive (because I am not a scholar). This is meant to offer a sketch of some of the dynamics at play historically. I would recommend reading Stephen Dobyns' book Best Words, Best Order, and especially his essay in that book, “Notes on Free Verse.” Here's some of what I found out and pulled together.

Free verse, as we know it today, arose out of primarily two geographic locations independently but at about the same time from what were two totally different reasons, in the mid to late nineteenth centuries—one was Paris, France, and the other was Walt Whitman's America. In France, it developed around a group of poets through what became the French Symbolist movement, while for Whitman it seems to have been from a search for a specifically American voice and sensibility that grew out of an exuberance, influenced by Transcendentalism of Emerson, a search for a more expansive and optimistic way to speak about a relatively new nation and a wild landscape still being explored. In Paris it was a convergence of many cultural forces and was an outgrowth of Romanticism and rebellion against the Academy (Parnassus) and neoclassical sensibility. What Baudelaire in Paris and Whitman in America agreed upon was the need in poetry for a movement toward individualism but their motivations were different—for Baudelaire it was subversion against a class and culture, while for Whitman it seems to have been optimism and celebration.

Around Baudelaire was the richness of an established culture in transition and he was influenced by the currents in music and painting, Wagner, the Impressionist painters, the philosophy of Swedenborg and Von Hartmann, the poetry and poetics of Edgar Allan Poe (the craftmanship, innovation and dark psychology) and what was happening in French poetry at the time, a gradual (or relatively quick) shift away from rigidity and rules associated with the alexandrine line beginning with vers librere (liberated verse), which began 200 years before in isolated instances to full blown vers libre in the 19th. Even vers libre is not the same as “free verse” that we think of in english now in post post modern times—it did away with the basis of the line on syllable count but retained rhyme and use of stress within the line. It was an attempt to align poetry with music, and the indirect way that music can affect the emotions. It was a movement toward the sub or unconscious, dreams, deeper correspondences, and movement away from narrative or linear, logical or chronological association and progression, which grew into Surrealism. Mallarme provided a salon setting for discussion and promotion of these ideas by having meetings in his home every Tuesday night between 1885 and 1895. In reaction to Romanticism it was a focus on the object and image against the lyrical “I” of the speaker which later grew into Imagism.

The prose poem predated vers libre (and free verse) and free verse may have been an outgrowth or moderation of the prose poem, but ironically free verse, especially in the U.S. through it's predominance over the last 75 years has marginalized and pushed and kept the prose poem to the sidelines (until the 1960's). For the prose poem's sake as a subversive hybrid this is not entirely a bad thing.

The poetry and wisdom literature of the Old Testament (2-4,000 BC), parables in the gospels and prophetic apocalyptic books in the Old and New testaments forshadowed free verse and prose poetry through it's lack of using devices such as meter and rhyme but incorporating others such as parallelism, repetition, figurative and rhetorical devices which influenced Western poets through the ages.

Matsuo Basho (1644-1694) Japanese poet combines prose with haiku and travelogue, in the form: haibun.

“There neither is, nor can be, any essential difference between the language of prose and metrical composition”--William Wordsworth, “Preface to The Lyrical Ballads” (1802), speaking out against poetic diction, not meter, but laying groundwork for ordinary language and speech in poetry.

“If Poetry comes not as naturally as the leaves to a tree it had better not come at all.” --John Keats, from a letter, February 27th 1818, from Selected Poems and Letters, ed. Douglas Bush.

“The true ground of the mistake lies in the confounding mechanical regularity with organic form. The form is mechanic, when on any given material we impress a pre-determined form, not necessarily arising out of the properties of the material, as when to a mass of wet clay we give whatever shape we wish it to retain when hardened. The organic form, on the other hand, is innate; it shapes, as it develops, itself from within, and the fullness of its development is one and the same with the perfection of its outward form. Such as the life is, such is the form.” --Samuel Taylor Coleridge, from “Shakespeare's Judgement Equal to His Genius” (1808, published 1836)

Aloysius Bertrand (1807-1841)-- Gaspard de la Nuit was published in Belgium in 1842, was translated widely, influencing Baudelaire. Bertrand, in his preface to his book is not self-conscious in his use or creation of a hybrid form or poetics, while admitting he was attempting to create a “new genre of prose,” focused backwards on writing about Renaissance Flanders.

Baudelaire began Paris Spleen (Spleen de Paris) which he titled alternately Little Prose Poems (Petits Poemes en prose) in 1855 and was first published in full in 1869. In a letter to a friend he wrote, “Who among us has not, in his ambitious moments, dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without meter or rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the jolts of consciousness.” Baudelaire is identified by many critics, Eliot included, as the progenitor of Modern poetry, and the self-conscious originator of the prose poem form writing about his own modern Europe.

Arthur Rimbaud writes Illuminations in 1873, published in 1886 in “La Vogue,” edited by Kahn.

Gustav Kahn (b. 1859) claimed to be the earliest writer of the vers libre (this has been disputed), and explained his methods and the history of the movement in a preface to his Premiers Poemes (1897). “For a long time I had been seeking to discover in myself a personal rhythm capable of communicating my lyric impulses with the cadence and music which I judged indispensable to them.” (from the Preface)

'De Nouveaux Rythmes': The Free Verse of Laforgue's 'Solo De Lune' by Anne Holmes, from “French Studies: A Quarterly Review” (Vol. 62, Num. 2, April 2008, pp. 162-172). This article considers Laforgue's 'Solo de lune' in the light of the Symbolists' claim that their free verse was inspired by music. After referring to the views of two contemporary poets on the subject (that Laforgue's free verse was psychologically rather than musically determined) and outlining Laforgue's position with regard to music and his counter-claim, his practice is examined in two areas: first, 'Solo de lune"s double narrative and consequently contrapuntal structure, alternating free verse with an approximate 'quatrain populaire'; second, the use of other musical features which work against the random nature of free verse (parallelism, modulation, innovative phonetic repetition). The article argues that Laforgue's musical aspirations influence both the structure and the detail of the text. Finally, Laforgue's interest in connecting the three art forms — music, Impressionist painting, and liberated verse — and his awareness of a parallel modernity, are briefly illustrated.” quoted from the abstract: (http://muse.jhu.edu/login?uri=/journals/french_studies_a_quarterly_review/v062/62.2.holmes.html ) Jules Laforgue (1860-1887)--”Influenced by Walt Whitman, Laforgue was one of the first French poets to write in free verse. Philosophically, he was an ardent disciple of Schopenhauer and Von Hartmann. His poetry would be one of the major influences on the young T. S. Eliot (cf. Prufrock and other observations) and Ezra Pound. Louis Untermeyer wrote, 'Prufrock, published in 1917, was immediately hailed as a new manner in English literature and belittled as an echo of Laforgue and the French symbolists to whom Eliot was indebted.'” excerpted from wikipediaemoticonhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jules_Laforgue )

Jules Laforgue's translations from Walt Whitman appeared in “La Vogue,” June 1886.

Ralph Waldo Emerson, writes “The Poet,” between 1841 and 1843, published in Essays, in 1844. It is not about "men of poetical talents, or of industry and skill in meter, but of the true poet...Our logrolling, our stumps and their politics, our fisheries, our Negroes, and Indians, our boasts, and our repudiations, the wrath of rogues, and the pusillanimity of honest men, the northern trade, the southern planting, the western clearing, Oregon, and Texas, are yet unsung...Wherever snow falls or water flows or birds fly, wherever day and night meet in twilight, wherever the blue heaven is hung by clouds or sown with stars, wherever are forms with transparent boundaries, wherever are outlets into celestial space, wherever is danger, and awe, and love, there is Beauty, plenteous as rain, shed for thee, and though thou shouldest walk the world over, thou shalt not be able to find a condition inopportune or ignoble."
from Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Leaves_of_Grass ) : “Leaves of Grass has its genesis in an essay called The Poet by Ralph Waldo Emerson, published in 1845, which expressed the need for the United States to have its own new and unique poet to write about the new country's virtues and vices. Whitman, reading the essay, consciously set out to answer Emerson's call as he began work on the first edition of Leaves of Grass. Whitman, however, downplayed Emerson's influence, stating, 'I was simmering, simmering, simmering; Emerson brought me to a boil.' ...The first edition was very small, collecting only twelve unnamed poems in 95 pages...Whitman once said he intended the book to be small enough to be carried in a pocket. 'That would tend to induce people to take me along with them and read me in the open air: I am nearly always successful with the reader in the open air.'...There have been held to be either six or nine editions of Leaves of Grass, the count depending on how a given scholar distinguishes between issues and editions. Scholars who hold that an edition is an entirely new set of type will count the 1855, 1856, 1860, 1867, 1871-72, and 1881. Others add in the 1876, 1888-89, and 1891-92 (the "deathbed edition"). Whitman continually revised his masterwork, adding, shifting, and occasionally removing poems...By the time this last edition was completed, Leaves of Grass had grown from a small book of 12 poems to a hefty tome of almost 400 poems.”
“In my opinion the time has arrived to essentially break down the barriers of form between prose and poetry...The Muse of the Prairies, of California, Canada, Texas and of the peaks of Colorado...soars to the freer, vast, diviner heaven of prose...Poetry (like a grand personality) is a growth of many generations—many rare combinations.” Walt Whitman, from “Notes Left Over,” from “Ventures on an Old Theme,” (1892) Collected Prose.

Emily Dickinson (1831-1886) writes metrically regular, slant-rhyming verse based loosely on the iambic tetrameter of hymnal writers but with idiosyncratic use of punctuation and syntax looking forward to the Moderns who reached her creative peak in 1862, writing 366 poems in that year alone.

Gerard Manley Hopkins, in North Wales, was asked by his religious superior to write a poem to commemorate the foundering of a German ship in a storm, so in 1875 he was moved to take up poetry once more (after forsaking it when he took the vows of Jesuit priesthood) to write, “The Wreck of the Deutschland.” In 1877 he composed most of his most famous sonnets in what he called “sprung rhythm,” but which was really an intuitive return (and reinvention) to the older poetics of Anglo Saxon/Old English alliterative and accentual syllabics of Beowulf, which he couldn't have seen. He was searching for an idiom to match the voice and music he heard in his head that was both more prosaic and more musical (living) than the dead-end of Victorian verse of his contemporaries after 300 year tyranny of metrical and rhyming regularity instituted by Edmund Spenser.

Russian novelist, Ivan Turgenev, publishes Poems in Prose written between 1878-82.

Stuart Merrill's anthology of French prose poetry in English translation, Pastels in Prose appears in 1890 published in New York and influences the British Decadent, Oscar Wilde who published Poems in Prose (1894).

Ernest Dowson, another British Decadent and friend of Wilde's publishes Decorations in Prose (1899).

James Joyce, in 1902 made claims to Yeats in a Dublin restaurant to have “thrown over metrical form” in prose sketches he called “epiphanies,” and which he never published separately but later incorporated into novels.

Gertrude Stein, American expatriate in Paris abandons conventional narrative (“Picasso”;1902;1909), creates impersonal portraiture, uses abstraction and repetition which builds through incremental addition of detail to get at essentials of character, uses the paragraph as a compositional unit, redefines poetic language through the removal of nouns as an attempt to get at a language that signifies meaning after years of poetic language becoming derivative and meaningless( Tender Buttons 1913; 1914). Attempts to categorize her writing range from Cubist, Surrealist or Symbolist. She is often quoted, “What is poetry and if you know what poetry is what is prose.”

Ezra Pound writes in 1917, “I think there is a 'fluid' as well as a 'solid' content, that some poems may have form as a tree has form, some as water poured into a vase. That most symmetrical forms have certain uses. That a vast number of subjects cannot be precisely, and therefore not properly rendered in symmetrical forms.”

In 1917, T.S. Eliot wrote the essay, “The Borderline of Prose,” in which he reviewed the prose poems of Robert Aldington, a British Decadent which he saw as “charlatanism” in contrast to the more favorable work and experiments of the French poets Baudelaire (Paris Spleen) and Rimbaud (Illuminations). In 1921, from another essay, “Prose and Verse,” he took to task the term “prose poem” by writing, “The distinction between 'prose' and 'verse' is clear; the distinction between 'poetry' and 'prose' is very obscure....I object to the term 'prose poetry' because it seems to apply a sharp distinction between 'poetry' and 'prose' I do not admit, and if it does not imply this distinction, the term is meaningless and otiose, as there can be no combination of what is not distinguished,“ from “Prose and Verse” (1921). He preferred to call prose poems “short prose.” It is surmised by Michel Delville that Eliot's criticism of the form in these essays was directly responsible for slowing the progress and acceptance of the form in English—certainly in redirecting the form back and away from versions of the Decadents to varieties and uses it has hybridized into today as it was begun to be repracticed in the States, in the 60's.

In 1917, T.S. Eliot also wrote in his essay, “Reflections on Vers Libre,” “...the ghost of simple metre should lurk behind the auras in even the 'freest' verse; to advance menacingly as we doze, and withdraw as we rouse. Or, freedom is only true freedom when it appears against the background of artificial limitation.” (This is an advocation of vers librere, liberated verse or loosening of some but not all restraints)

“Rhythm and its specialized form meter, depend upon repetition, and expectancy. Equally where what is expected recurs and where it fails, all rhythmical and metric effects spring from anticipation...the mind after reading a line or two of verse, or half a sentence of prose, prepares itself ahead for any one of a number of possible sequences, at the same time negatively incapacitating itself for others. The effect produced by what actually follows depends very closely upon this unconscious preparation and consists largely of the further twist which it gives to expectancy.” I.A Richards, from “Rhythm and Meter” (1924)

Edward Estlin Cummings (ee cummings 1894-1962), is notable for his large body of work, range of influence and the melding of tradition and form with wild ranging experiments with syntax, typography, playfulness and lyric sensibility and sound. Many of his poems are variations on the sonnet, and as a painter, he paid particular attention to the look of the poem on the page, and often the look seemed at odds with readability or meaning, if read aloud became clear. “While his poetic forms and themes share an affinity with the romantic tradition, Cummings's work universally shows a particular idiosyncrasy of syntax, or way of arranging individual words into larger phrases and sentences. Many of his most striking poems do not involve any typographical or punctuation innovations at all, but purely syntactic ones.” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._E._Cummings )

“William Carlos Williams was born in Rutherford, New Jersey, in 1883. He received his M.D. from the University of Pennsylvania, where he met and befriended Ezra Pound. Pound became a great influence in Williams' writing, and in 1913 arranged for the London publication of Williams's second collection, The Tempers. Returning to Rutherford, where he sustained his medical practice throughout his life, Williams began publishing in small magazines and embarked on a prolific career as a poet, novelist, essayist, and playwright. Following Pound, he was one of the principal poets of the Imagist movement, though as time went on, he began to increasingly disagree with the values put forth in the work of Pound and especially Eliot, who he felt were too attached to European culture and traditions. Continuing to experiment with new techniques of meter and lineation, Williams sought to invent an entirely fresh—and singularly American—poetic, whose subject matter was centered on the everyday circumstances of life and the lives of common people. His influence as a poet spread slowly during the twenties and thirties, overshadowed, he felt, by the immense popularity of Eliot's "The Waste Land"; however, his work received increasing attention in the 1950s and 1960s as younger poets, including Allen Ginsberg and the Beats, were impressed by the accessibility of his language and his openness as a mentor. His major works include Kora in Hell (1920), Spring and All (1923), Pictures from Brueghel and Other Poems (1962), the five-volume epic Paterson (1963, 1992), and Imaginations (1970). Williams's health began to decline after a heart attack in 1948 and a series of strokes, but he continued writing up until his death in New Jersey in 1963.” (excerpted from the bio on Poets.org: http://www.poets.org/poet.php/prmPID/119 )

Here are some excerpts from Williams writing, “We have had a choice either to stay within the rules of English prosody, an area formed and limited by the English character and marked by tremendous masterwork, or to break out, as Whitman did, more or less unequipped to do more. Either to return to rules, more or less arbitrary in their delimitations, or to go ahead; to invent other forms by using a new measure...It is the refusal of English (especially American English) to conform to standard prosody which has given rise to free verse...The crux of the question is measure. In free verse the measure has been loosened to give more play to vocabulary and syntax—hence, to the mind in its excursions. The bracket of the customary foot has been expanded so that more syllables, words or phrases can be admitted into its confines. The new unit thus created may be called the 'variable foot'...it rejects the standard of the conventionally fixed foot and suggests that measure varies with the idiom by which it is employed and the tonality of the individual poem. Thus, as in speech, the prosodic pattern is evaluated by criteria of effectiveness and expressiveness rather than mechanical syllable counts.” --William Carlos Williams from “Notes on Free Verse,” Best Words, Best Order, Stephen Dobyns

Michael Benedikt in his groundbreaking and international collection of prose poetry, The Prose Poem, an International Anthology (outlined in 1964, but not published until 1976—and now long out of print) writes in his introduction, “The central figure in this historical puzzle (the isolation of American poetry from international currents) is certainly T.S. Eliot. What makes this singling out of Eliot so necessary is that he is the virtual beginning, with his incomparably influential writings, of the fundamentally English-based, anti-internationalist critical approach which dominated in America until the early 1960's. For, despite his recognition of the contribution of the French, Eliot's interests essentially lay elsewhere than in international directions. In his most influential essay, “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” (1919), Eliot asserted: “Every nation, every race has not only its own creative, but its own critical turn of mind.” For Eliot, an American emigre to England, it seemed that the American “turn of mind” and the English must be virtually identical. For forty years, Eliot's critical assumptions lasted as axioms, particularly among the leading group of the so-called New Critics in the U.S.--one wing of which called themselves, significantly, The Fugitives. They were fleeing cosmopolitan forces; prescriptive and rigid, self-professedly neoclassical in direction and generally recommending traditional or British literary links, their critical perspectives filled the best-known literary and scholarly quarterlies until late in the 1950's. By that decade, Randall Jarrell, a poet-critic who was more adventurous than many of his critical contemporaries, could rightfully, if uneasily refer to the entire period as “The Age of Criticism.” In effect American poetry was in a kind of psychic slavery to overweening English influences (particularly neoclassicist English 'restraint'), from which it should have been free, at least in theory, for roughly two hundred years—and certainly since the time of Whitman.”

Steven Monte considers John Ashbery's publication of the long prose poems, Three Poems (1972) a crucial influential step for the prose poem in the U.S.

David Lehman in his introduction to his anthology of prose poems, Great American Prose Poems: From Poe to the Present (2003), states that a turning point for the prose poem's acknowledgement for validity by the academy as a form or genre in the U.S. Was Charles Simic's publication of The World Doesn't End and the winning of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 1991, when Mark Strand's The Monument (1978) was chosen to receive the prize by two judges on the Pulitzer committee but because of the third judge's (Louis Simpson) vehement rejection of the book as a candidate, did not win the prize.

With the advent of the cultural revolution (social, political, sexual) and the Beats in the 50's and 60's in the US reacting against the poetry of Modernism, the academy of the New Critics, many poets working in fixed forms and meter begin experimenting in open forms and free verse: most notably Robert Lowell, James Wright, Robert Bly, Donald Justice. At the same time translations of Eastern writing from China and Japan beginning with Pound begin to take hold and become influential, particularly on the West Coast—as seen in the work and translation of Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder and others. In the midwest practitioners such as Robert Bly were turning their eyes internationally and toward the prose poem in their own writing. I believe the translations of Chinese poetry proved an influential factor toward the trend toward the confessional lyric which predominates American poetry from the 60's to the present, though I'm not sure I could prove that.
May/23/2009, 12:40 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
Re: exploring the origins of free verse


Good stuff, Daveman. You've made a dual post on the related topics. I am going to post some of what I've come to here.

First off, the free range of sources and interpretations you draw on is attractive to me. The range itself demonstrates just how varied are the sources and the early, deliberate experiments in prose poetry, vers libres, and free verse. It rather points to the cultural and aesthetic matrices out of which the three forms grew. In brief, something must have been in the air. It is all the product almost of a certain zeitgeist, which is pretty much how I view these developments, and points to a kind of organic growth.

Regarding prose poetry, in my view, the one essential definition is the Baudelaire comment you supply from his intro to his collection of prose poetry. “Who among us has not, in his ambitious moments, dreamed of the miracle of a poetic prose, musical without meter or rhyme, supple enough and rugged enough to adapt itself to the lyrical impulses of the soul, the undulations of the psyche, the jolts of consciousness.” This is prose poetry's starting point, what fundamentally distinguishes it from any other form or genre. Especially this: it is musical without meter and supple enough to respond to certain lyrical impulses. It is worth noting that many novelists have incorporated prose poetry's essential finding, that of poetic prose. V. Woolf comes to mind, for example. Again in my view getting prose poetry really is as simple as getting Baudelaire's definition literally. His comments read several times over brings across what he was after. Reading his prose poetry illustrates the same.

Now for a distinction I am going to draw, one I find all too frequently missed in these discussions. Vers libres and free verse are not at all interchangable terms. They each point to a distinct poetic form qualitatively different from each other.

The earliest use of vers libres of which I am aware goes back to the 17th C. It employed "subtle variations of line and stanza length and alternations of masculine and feminine rhymes." La Fontaines "Fables" demonstrates the use. In the late 19th C vers libres was viewed this way: "It abandoned certain traditional principles; especially the rules which prescribed recurrent metrical patterns and a certain number of syllables per line. Rhythm, and the division of verse into rhythmical units, was held to be the essential foundation of poetic form. This rhythm was to be personal, the particular expression of the individual poet." Notice the emphasis placed on rhythm and on rhythmical units.

Free verse, on the other hand, eschews all deliberate patternings of rhythmical units, however irregularly employed. Rather, it relies entirely on natural speech rhythms, what rhythms, so to speak, come out of the language itself when certain word combinations are made.

I cannot cite an authority on the distinction my ear makes between vers libres and free verse. But I am certain of the distinction. Vers libres imposes a rhythmical pattern on the verse, however irregularly it shows. Free verse relies wholly on natural speech patterns for its rhythm while, at the same time, accentuating the same through a kind of counterpoint of stressed and unstressed syllables.

I cannot think of a better way to contrast what I view as a qualitative distinction between the two forms then to suggest a back to back reading of T.S. Eliot and Robinson Jeffers. Both master poets. One working in vers libres. The other working in free verse.

But I think the really interesting question, maybe the most interesting, has to do with the zeitgeist out of which the three forms emerged. I mean, what exactly was in the air, so to speak, in the second half of the 19th C.? Was it a rebellion by poets of traditional forms, and, by extension, a rejection of a certain bankruptcy of dominant values. Maybe. And to this extent the development(s) can be viewed politically. But I think it involved something more. I think it involved a certain insistence on poetic individuality and personal liberty, what all these Romantic types would have inherited from Shelley, that came to be seen as an antidote to both traditional values (forms) and to the increasing commercialization of value. As such it became less an act of rebellion and more an affirmation of poetry's capacity for getting behind falseness and mediocrity. This, at least, is how I've always interpreted the dictum from the same period: art for art's sake.

Here is what I think was really in the air, the zeitgeist out of which prose poetry, vers libres, and free verse sprang. Here is where I locate the soul of each of the new inventions. It is from a letter Van Gogh wrote to his brother towards the end of September, 1888.

"We shall end by having had enough of cynicism and scepticism and humbug, and we shall want to live more musically. How will that come to pass, and what will we really find? It would be interesting to be able to predict, but it is better still to be able to feel that kind of foreshadowing, instead of seeing absolutely nothing in the future beyond the disasters that all the same are bound to fall like terrible lightening on the modern world and on civilization, through a revolution or a war, or the bankruptcy of worm-eaten states."

This is the spirit in which I take the three forms discussed. Funny how it seems as relevant now as it must have in 1888.

Tere
May/23/2009, 4:44 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
dmehl808 Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
Re: exploring the origins of free verse


thanks Tere--I knew you'd have opinions and sources to quote on the subject all your own from years of having worked out what I just am coming to recently. Nice to see you tie in van Gogh. (which reminds me, and I forgot to say--you and L.D. remind me a little of van Gogh and Gauguin, living and working off one another in the yellow house in Arles).

the distinction for me between fixed traditional forms seems very like the distinction between the symphony and a jazz--it's the same impulses translated to music--not necessarily a matter of one being more or lacking sophistication as the structure and purpose behind the translation of experience and emotion.

grand to get your take on it.
May/23/2009, 5:23 pm Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
Re: exploring the origins of free verse


Daveman, I've reread your listing of sources several times. It is impressive. Especially, since, as you say, the search is recent. You are definetely making the effort to ground yourself in it all.

Maybe you've found this out already. But when Rimbaud first read Baudelaire's "Paris Spleen" he was blown away. Seriously blown away. This would have been almost immediately after its appearance. Rimbaud may have been the first to both recognize the fertility of what Baudelaire had invented and to follow its lead. Within two years or so he would make his own collection of prose poetry, "Illuminations." The point being their is a direct line of descent from one to the other.

Happy hunting. If there is more to your exchange I would be interested in following along still.

Tere
May/24/2009, 12:37 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
dmehl808 Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
Re: exploring the origins of free verse


Thanks Tere--as it happens, I picked up a new translation of Rimbaud at a bookstore that sells remaindered books cheap, and am reading Illuminations right now. It could have been written yesterday--it's startling in how it looked that far ahead. I've always thumbed my nose at french poets--as alternately too formal or too crazy wild. what a stupid thing to do, am trying to catch up now.
May/25/2009, 11:07 am Link to this post Send Email to dmehl808   Send PM to dmehl808
 
Terreson Profile
Live feed
Blog
Friends
Miscellaneous info



Reply | Quote
Re: exploring the origins of free verse


Well, Daveman, I sure envy you the discovery. I wish I could discover all that Frog poetry for the first time again. Mighty rich stuff it is. Mighty rich.

In a sense I came late to Rimbaud too. I had read him, almost all of him I think, a good twenty-five years ago. But I kind of wrote him off. I figured what could a 17 year old poet tell me, even if he was a genius. Fast forward a couple of decades and for some reason I came to him again, this time with comprehension of his methods and objectives. And I was blown away. Just blown away. The biggest thing for me is the extent to which he was not only a poet whose perceptions were authentic, he was also a deliberate linguist looking to shake down words to where they could start saying authentic things again. That was his genius.

By the way, Rimbaud also had a close friendship with a fellow poet with whom he collaborated. The Symbolist Paul Verlaine. The collaboration lasted for two years but ended badly.

Happy hunting.

Tere
May/25/2009, 12:50 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


Add a reply





You are not logged in (login)