May 16, 2005

Did We Really Read the Same Thing?

Blog daughter Sissy has a post up of a dream that disturbed her greatly HERE. It’s bothered her enough that she went on a dream site to see if she could figure out what was going on. I’ve done that before. I hate these recurring dreams where I’m going bald. (Is that some sign I’m losing my virility? Wait, do women have virility?) Or the dream where I’m on a bridge going 90 to nothin’ and suddenly the bridge is out and I’m surrounded by water. (I don’t really want to know what that one means. I just always wake up in a pool of cold sweat.) I hate those dreams.

Anyway, when I was a freshman in college, taking English Lit, we were studying poetry. Let me state first, I LOVED my professor. He died last year of cancer, when I was home, and if there had been a funeral, I would have attended. He was one of the best professors I’ve ever had… and he let me argue with him. Which I did. A lot. (I made A’s too. What a great guy.)

Also, I don’t like poetry. I know, some of you big brain big thinker types love it. You understand it. I do not. Plain and simple, I don’t get it. I struggle with it. If you need to tell me something, don’t beat around the bush, put it out there straight forward. Poetry beats around the bush. I suck at poetry interpretation.

My Prof… he ate that stuff up. Couldn’t get enough of it.

We start to study Robert Frost’s Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening. In this poem there is a frozen lake. My Prof states that water is a symbol of sexuality and in this poem, the guy walking through the woods, he is mourning the loss of his ability to sexually function. You know… frozen water… dead sexuality… something like that.

I’m listening to this and think, ‘You have GOT to be kidding me.’ Being one to not hold back, I raised my hand and called BS. Pretty much. But I was polite. I told him there was no way in the world he was going to convince me that when Robert Frost sat down to write this poem he fully intended to include in it the loss of this man’s sexual function or sex life or whatever in the world my Prof meant, that it was a nice poem, kind of sad, and I’m sure Robert Frost would be horrified if he knew that’s what people thought.

We argued about it for a good 10 minutes. Neither of us budged.

I still don’t think that’s what Robert Frost meant. I could be wrong, but I don’t think so.

Posted by Boudicca at May 16, 2005 10:12 PM

Wow, I felt so coldhearted in high school and college. I'm glad I wasn't alone in calling BS on that stuff!!

Posted by: Sissy at May 16, 2005 10:16 PM

I think Frost was thinking of a frozen pond and incorporated it into his poem for the imagery. Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar.

Posted by: Jim at May 16, 2005 10:20 PM

.. try the low-brow poets, Bou... Nash and Service.... they require less brain power.... and they are entertaining...

Posted by: Eric at May 16, 2005 10:46 PM


Eric... I love Robert Service... because... he puts it out there. No big interpretation. He's a poet telling a story. Good stuff.

Posted by: Boudicca at May 16, 2005 11:20 PM

That's my favourite poem. As far as I'm concerned, it's about a bloke stopping in the woods because they look purty :-)

Posted by: Sally at May 17, 2005 07:01 AM

Agreeing with Sally - Having written a lot of stuff over the years, it's easy to go back later and try to ascribe all kinds of subtle themes to what hits the paper.

But none of them were put there on purpose. During the creation, it's about transcribing the picture in your head to give the reader the same feeling you have.

Posted by: Harvey at May 17, 2005 07:25 AM

I'm just far too blunt of a person, someone has a frozen lake in a poem and I'm thinking about ice fishing....

Posted by: Graumagus at May 17, 2005 01:41 PM

"I’m sure Robert Frost would be horrified if he knew that’s what people thought."

Yeh, postmodern deconstructuralism is crap. The outcome of thinking like your English prof esposed results in what real authors who sell books people actually read call "suckitudinous" writing...


...for the perspective of a truly creative _working_ writer of fiction.

But, Bou, if you'd visit and sit a while for Kipling Tuesday over at my blog, you might just find a few poems that ring a bell with you. Most posted for Kipling Tuesday ought to be rad aloud, of course. Some would almost require some historical or literary perspective, but most, not. "A Study of Elevation in Indian Ink"

( easily read even if one avoids making the obvious comparison of its subject to the typical civil servant of today.

Just a thought.

Posted by: David at May 17, 2005 09:52 PM