Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Shaped Poetry

“Easter Wings” by George Herbert
Lord, who createdst man in wealth and store,
Though foolishly he lost the same,
Decaying more and more,
Till he became
Most poor: 5
With Thee
O let me rise,
As larks, harmoniously,
And sing this day thy victories:
Then shall the fall further the flight in me. 10

My tender age in sorrow did begin;
And still with sicknesses and shame
Thou didst so punish sin,
That I became
Most thin. 15
With Thee
Let me combine,
And feel this day thy victory
For, if I imp my wing on thine,
Affliction shall advance the flight in me. 20

Until last Friday, I didn’t know shaped poems existed. In class, we looked through different poems that bridged the gap between visual art and poetry. Sometimes shaped poetry is represented in words that resemble an object (for example, writing apple repeatedly and cutting some parts of the word out so that the main shape of the words is an apple). Other times, the meaning of the poem resembled the object directly, or in other words, it was mimetic.

George Herbet’s “Easter Wings” is very fascinating in that the poem has a pattern that resembles two birds taking flight. Originally, the two stanzas were printed on two pages and had a different arrangement that made the imagery more clear. Even so, without the original arrangement, the poem still presents the same idea.

I really like this poem because, as you read down each stanza, it’s as if you can envision a bird spreading its wings. This is because as you read the stanza and it becomes thinner, a saddening tone is given off. For example, in the second stanza in lines 13-15, the tone is expressed, “Thou didst so punish/ That I became/Most thin.” Then, all of a sudden, the poem starts to become fat again, like a bird spreading its wings. However, this time, the mood is uplifting: “With thee/Let me combine/And feel this day thy victory/For if I imp my wing on thine/Affliction shall advance the flight in me” (lines 16-20).

This poem was a very new experience for me and reading the poem gave me chills because it moved me as I was reading it. The first half of each stanza brought broke down my spirits. However, the second half of each stanza turned my mood around and filled me with a bit of happiness.

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