Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Three Beautiful Things 01/12/11: God Poems, After Making Love, Mucho Gracious

1. "If a person's going to write a poem about God," I asked my Intro to Literature: Poetry class, "what's the poet's first concern?"  "That they not offend anyone."  "Nope."  "That the poet take into consideration that the reader might not believe in God."  "Nope," I answered, "but I can see why you'd say these things."  Some others took stabs at my question.  Nope. Nope. Nope.  "Make music, " I said.  "No matter what the poet's subject matter,whether it's sex, peaches, ponies, Barbie Dolls, wild geese, or whatever, the poet's first concern is to make music."  I then indulged in a moment of ranting about all the crappy poems written about God that have no music, no images, no metaphors, but just say something about loving the Lord and he's the King or whatever that's been written a million times before.  So, raising this question about the poet's first concern when writing about God, and having my students all answer it kind of theologically and and kind of socially, and being wrong (!)  prepared my students to read the gorgeous music, the thrilling images, and the inventive metaphors of Gerard Manley Hopkins and I hope they believed me when I said that being thrilled by "God's Grandeur" and "Pied Beauty" and experiencing God in those poems is not dependent upon believing in God.  It's not dependent upon religious faith.  It's dependent upon believing poetry.

2.  One of my students was kind of thrilled by the way the child Fergus is awakened by his mom and dad's heavy breathing and come-cries in Galway Kinell's "After Making Love We Hear Footsteps" and comes bounding to their bed, how Fergus is "this one whom habit of memory propels to the ground of his making";  Fergus is like a salmon, propelled by memory back to where he was spawned, and my student had just been fishing for steelhead and caught one that was heading back to the ground of his making.  The image, the metaphor, the wonder of Fergus' being awakened and jumping into bed with his parents after they made love, back to the ground of his making,  made perfect sense to Tristan.  And well it should have!  It's one of the finest poems ever put to paper, in my humble opinion.

3.  The college-aged woman at Mucho Gusto was kind, understanding, prompt in her response, and of generous and good humor as she cleaned up the half a glass of Pepsi I managed to knock off the table and spill all over the floor.

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