It has taken me a while to gather my final thoughts on the Cincinnati conference. On Friday (April 20), I attended two sessions that pertained to literary analysis, walked the vendor floor in its entirity twice (oh my feet!), and was blown away by a talk given by MCT (Michael Clay Thompson) on poetics. Poetics!
I have to say that I hated poetry when I was a child. I could certainly appreciate a good poem every now and then, but I hated writing poems and I hated studying the mechanics of poetry. And, I think that my english teachers disliked their poetry units too. After attending this lecture, though, I am sad that I did not pay more attention to those studies and I know that my reading experience has not been as full as it could have been, for poetry always works its way into prose, especially in the great classics.
According to MCT, poetics should be a core component of language study and that study is, in itself, rigorous. Poetry is “not just prose lines with ryhmes at the end”, but it is the technical content that reveals what poetry really is. From his standpoint as an educator, poetry is an incredible model for careful writing, a model of complex thought, and training for prose.
For a good portion of his talk, MCT related how the techincal aspects of poetry gives us some of the most memorable/touching lines. I cannot even begin to recall how many poems we flew through as he broke down the sounds and rythms that were used to achieve the perfect effect. There are all sorts of terms that we could throw about now, such as stopped consonants, iamb, trochee, etc. However, I thought that I would end with a fun poem that covers many of those terms within.
Metrical Feet – Lesson for a Boy by Samuel Coleridge
Trochee trips from long to short;
From long to long in solemn sort
Slow Spondee stalks; strong foot! yea ill able
Ever to come up with Dactyl trisyllable.
Iambics march from short to long;–
With a leap and a bound the swift Anapaests throng;
One syllable long, with one short at each side,
Amphibrachys hastes with a stately stride;–
First and last being long, middle short, Amphimacer
Strikes his thundering hoofs like a proud highbred Racer.
If Derwent be innocent, steady, and wise,
And delight in the things of earth, water, and skies;
Tender warmth at his heart, with these metres to show it,
With sound sense in his brains, may make Derwent a poet,–
May crown him with fame, and must win him the love
Of his father on earth and his Father above.
My dear, dear child!
Could you stand upon Skiddaw, you would not from its whole ridge
See a man who so loves you as your fond S. T. COLERIDGE.