Nov 1, 2010

Election Eve with W.B. Yeats and e.e. cummings

The two poems below acknowledge Election Day tomorrow. I was going to post words of my own, but they turned out rather grumpy about people from the other village (need a reminder about village people? see Oct. 27). The other village that wants to put paranoid hate-mongers in the C-place and substitute soundbites for reasons and phantom thrift for generosity, compassion, the public weal.

So I’ll let Yeats and cummings do the talkin’, although the Yeats is quite grave and cummings, the old hippie, sounds oddly Republican, with his anti-regulation theme. (e.e., Old Buddy, My Man, serpents and other critters also eat each other).

Competition can be healthy. Sensible games can be played hard by sensible people, under sensible rules. But without guidelines and their own purity of intent, athletes at sunset can end up feeling stranded on alien notions of a field of play. They feel bad; they've learned nothing good.

The Second Coming by William Butler Yeats : The Poetry Foundation [poem] : Find Poems and Poets. Discover Poetry.

when serpents bargain for the right to squirm... (22) - A poem by e.e. cummings - American Poems


Brenda's Arizona said...

These poems are about elections? Banjomyn, I love your weird brain wiring.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, me too. I'm rarely bored, even when left alone.

I think I finally got around to responding to an earlier comment or two from you as well. Like my brain wiring, your inquisitive comments often require some thought (which is highly unusual for you math types. LOL [is "LOL" obnoxious? Sometimes I'm concerned that someone won't hear me grinning or winking]).

Jean Spitzer said...

The eecummings refused to load. Did read the Yeats. Very funny, given your context. Not a poem I'd ever thought of as funny before.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Jean, your comment here drove me back to read Yeats again. Hmmm.
Spiritus Mundi just has to be an image, right? I did a 'google image' search on it. What a collection of odd images - including one of 8 banjos with a guitar and a mandolin.

So, best stick to the latin dictionary and the revelation at hand...

Banjomyn, your comments (from the football post?) were well digested, ingested, and shared. LOL here, too.

Banjo52 said...

Brenda, nice new icon and, at your place, new bio notes (right?).

Are you serious about 8 banjos? That's freaky.

All I know/remember about "Spiritus Mundi" is something like "Spirit of the World." I assume that Yeats found it related to his theories about cycles of history.

If memory serves, he thought history moved in cycles (or spirals, "gyres") of roughly two thousand years each; in 1919 when this was written, he saw a Christian epoch coming to an end, to be replaced by some other, scary unknown "phase" (a key word for Yeats) with a character opposite that of Christianity (so Jesus replaced by sphinx-like critter).

As a quasi-New Critic, I don't think any of that should be necessary to understand the core of "The Second Coming" or any poem. But once I have a handle on a poem (or not), I give myself permission to look into such . . . ancillary matters. That's what passes for orgy in BanjoBrain.

Of course this poem was delivered to me in college and grad school, so who knows what I've come to on my own?

Relevance to today's elections? If the predictions turn out to be right, I feel a "rough beast slouching" toward us.

Brenda's Arizona said...

Banjo - the reference photo is on this page:

Anonymous said...

I love my ee.

Pasadena Adjacent said...

My my Brenda, You've grown up right before my eyes

Banjo I'm read the Yeats line "Slouches towards Bethlehem" sounded very familiar so I looked it up and discovered it's connection to Joan Didion. Also by the tone I wasn't surprised to discover it written around WW1. Can't relate it to football/elections but I do see the DaDaist connection and earlier modernist movements that hadn't yet witnessed the horror of that particular war (Italian Futurist)

I didn't get around to the second poem and you haven't gotten around to visiting me. I expected you to weigh in on Moon River


...and wheres PJ/Paul these days?

Barbaro said...

I've eaten scones at Yeats' grave, but his poetry still eludes me.

The cummings is a classic, but I don't see it as anti-regulation. If you want to go that far out, might as well claim it's a paean to Quakerism, which eschews "bargaining" in favor of consensus (some Quakers think even "consensus" is too crass, preferring "sense of the meeting").

Banjo52 said...

PA, I think I tried the Didion and couldn't get into it. See, the nice thing about poetry is, no matter how grim it is, it doesn't last long.

Irony alert.

Yeats anddadaism. I don't know, but you're right, the timing fits.

Barbaro, doesn't "bargain"ing, when successful, lead to regulation, rules, agreements, compromises, signing on the dotted line, etc.? I think e.e. is saying we humans need such artificial constructs--negotiations and deodorant--but animals and plants don't.

And that's pretty facile, isn't it?

Your distance from Yeats always surprises me. I'm with you when he goes all Irish elf and fairy, and other mythology, like his gyres. And I probably wouldn't have liked Byzantium.

But so much of his good stuff is NOT about that, or it can be ignored . . . wheat, chaff, etc.

I almost wish the scholars had let Yeats' arcane stuff die a silent death, but then what would dissertations be about? Oh, does my cynicism know no bounds . . .

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