Thursday, October 25, 2007

Hopkins and prosody

I did a presentation for my prosody class on Hopkins and I think that went well; I scanned it first according to his own prosody, or at least I tried to, and then according to how I thought it ought to be scanned. I'm down with the idea of feet of 1, 2, 3, or 4 syllables, but it just does not make sense to me to always break the feet so that the stressed syllable is first in the foot. He apparently chose that in part because music is scored that way, but I don't think it accurately represents language, and you have to do some weird stuff to even scan it like that.

I struggle with how to break feet. My way makes sense to *me,* but I'm not sure how much of a priority pauses and clause-breaks and stuff are, in traditional scansion, and I do end up with some sort of weird feet that are based more on old Latin quantitative stuff than they are on English, which is accentual.

Maybe we need something new, for English. The 2 and 3 syllable, 1 stress per foot thing is not quite cutting it for me. I will have to work this out well though and make sure it's really better than traditional scansion, and not confusing or overly complex. I am still a noob now, though. A young upstart in the wide, controversial world of scansion. :P

I also read the poem, of course (The Leaden Echo and the Golden Echo; such a wonderful poem). K said it was the best reading of Hopkins he'd ever heard. So that was very flattering of course. He said if there was a way to make a living reading Hopkins, I should do it.

Is there a way? Because if so I totally would (originally typed "wood").

I am thinking of trying to make street-money off of poetry. Writing poems from my little table for a dollar a line, or reciting Hopkins poems for 50 cents until my voice wears out or something. I could hand out a sheet so people could follow along, and then they could keep the sheet, so they'd feel like they were getting something besides just my reading.

I did the typical "So let's scan the poem, guys!" thing, and everyone was like "Uhhh," and shook their heads no. Hopkins' prosody isn't *that* scary, is it? I mean, sure, there are a lot of stresses. Just make them one syllable feet like he did :D Or make them spondees next to regular feet.

I just read some Hopkins poems I hadn't before. Some really amazing lines, and also a good deal of "not really sure what you're talking about there." Knowing that would help (out loud) reading. And comprehension/enjoyment, obviously.

I did for the first time wish that his poems weren't all so Christian. Not just Christian, because plenty of other poems/poets were, but like... it seems like the 2nd stanza of like every poem sort of diverges off onto God, and it seems overall relatively uniform in form and content in that respect. Not that he didn't struggle with his own religious beliefs, and not that his beliefs/portrayal of God and so on weren't nuanced at all, but I guess I wonder about the range of thoughts and sentiments and ideas and implications that he *could* have expressed, or rather, perhaps, that a different poet with such remarkable skills could have expressed. He is so unique that it's almost a bit hard for me to separate the poet as an idea-maker from the poet as a language-user, here. But my god, that could be breathtaking.

He is so amazing, all the same. Oh Gerard. *sigh*

Soaring sighs deliver, etc. But to his poetry, rather than to God--sorry GMH.

Oh, I also felt a bit of Auden's whole problem with the beautiful poetic untruth. Like Hopkins' work can affect me emotionally and I can feel/imagine a bit of those religious sentiments, even though I don't actually believe them. So yeah, there's an example of that for me.

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