Thursday, October 12, 2006

Souring on Paglia; Sweetness from Swenson

Well, it's that time of the quarter: the Slough of Midterm Despond, when every plan, every class, every poem just sits there. Like that.

Today. For example. I taught. Two poems. By Yeats.

Yeats! You'd think that Yeats would spark some passion in the students--at least I would, since he usually does. Alas, the only Yeats poems Paglia supplies are "The Second Coming" and "Leda and the Swan."

Have you ever noticed how depressing those poems are? I don't know--maybe I just spent too much time pursuing Romantic echoes in the first one, and bored them. (A little Blake, a little Shelley, some fun contrasts with Wordsworth. I thought we were doing fine.) Maybe it's just that Paglia's essays, day after day, are taking the fun of discovery out of the course for the students. (They do seem a little more energized when I just give them a poem and set them questions. Maybe that's how I should run things again next quarter.)

On to Stevens and Williams next week. Maybe that will liven things up.

And now, to sweeten the deal for you, having read this far, a little treat from May Swenson: the closest thing I know to a Georgia O'Keefe painting in a poem:

Blue, but you are Rose, too,
and buttermilk, but with blood
dots showing through.
A little salty your white
nape boy-wide. Glinting hairs
shoot back of your ears' Rose
that tongues like to feel
the maze of, slip into the funnel,
tell a thunder-whisper to.
When I kiss, your eyes' straight
lashes down crisp go like doll's
blond straws. Glazed iris Roses,
your lids unclose to Blue-ringed
targets, their dark sheen-spokes
almost green. I sink in Blue-
black Rose-heart holes until you
blink. Pink lips, the serrate
folds taste smooth, and Rosehip-
round, the center bud I suck.
I milknip your two Blue-skeined
blown Rose beauties, too, to sniff
their berries' blood, up stiff
pink tips. You're white in
patches, only mostly Rose,
buckskin and saltly, speckled
like a sky. I love your spots,
your white neck, Rose, your hair's
wild straw splash, silk spools
for your ears. But where white
spouts out, spills on your brow
to clear eyepools, wheel shafts
of light, Rose, you are Blue.
Ooh! Maybe I should have given my students some answer poems to the Yeats, like Mona Van Duyn's "Leda" poems. Sweeten the deal for them, as I just did for you.

1 comment:

flashflood said...

thats a really cool poem!