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Literature, Poetry, and Books

The Oak

The Oak, Tennyson

Live thy life,
Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
Living gold;

Then; and then
Soberer hued
Gold again.

All his leaves
Fall'n at length,
Look, he stands,
Trunk and bough,
Naked strength.

I came across it in an obscure explanatory volume of poetry, the sort I generally don't like because such are written to check further questions, you know, like a bad high school English teacher.  Also, they never have the effect of getting you to love the thing it is trying to explain.  It was therein explained that "The Oak" is an example of "Cretic (or Amphimacer), a trisyllabic foot whose sequence is accented-un-accented-accented.  Poems in English amphimacers are rare and are mostly novelty items in monometer."  I like the poem.

Discussions - 9 Comments

Trees, yes, words hardly do them justice. One wonders what they would say if they could talk.

The poem is almost naked, itself -- especially for a Tennyson.

I was just reading a writer complaining that people did not "get" her work. She meant that they did not "get" it as she "got" it. Selfish, I thought. As if anyone could read her work through her eyes. Such directive or explanatory books about literature of any sort seem so rude and without even the rights of creator that an author might claim.

Thank you for the lovely poem, nice to think about when, shortly, driving through winter's grim spareness.

Kate: I had a conversation with a poet once (a Hungarian). I was twenty-two. I read a poem of his and asked him to explain what it meant. He simply said, I wrote it, you read it; now let's get back to talking about these damned fat angels of Ruebens and why they are pissing on our fair city (It was raining in Munich). Poets!

Poetry is the attempt to encapsulate transcendent emotions in the written/spoken word. When done well, it spurs such emotions in the reader/listener.

Redwald, is the response always emotional? If it is for you, then we are proof that different people approach or apprehend poetry differently.

PWS, we can never think of "acid rain" in the same way, again.

Kate, I would argue that the power to trigger difficult-to-describe and/or transcendent emotions is the essence of good poetry. I suppose it can also spur logic and insight, but I suspect prose do a better job of that.

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