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Friday, August 16, 2013

Swingin' along with ol' Bobby #Frost by John von Daler

                 I do love an extended metaphor, that which they used to call a "conceit" in seventeenth century English poetry - and possibly before. (Do not read this blog for facts! Facts always remind me of museum guards; they keep me from getting very close to the real picture.)
               A wonderful example of an extended metaphor is Robert Frost's "The Silken Tent". Now before you get all queazy and start googling, I've done that for you. Have a look, especially at the way he mentions the woman only once and then describes the tent throughout the rest of the poem. The reader just gets to know her better and better and is left with a wonderful picture of a tent and a stunning picture of a woman, a beautiful female, but also a moral entity. And the poem looks like her dress on the page!
                And on top of that, think of starting a poem with ""!

The #Silken Tent
She is as in a field a silken tent
At midday when the sunny summer breeze
Has dried the dew and all its ropes relent,
So that in guys it gently sways at ease,
And its supporting central cedar pole,
That is its pinnacle to heavenward
And signifies the sureness of the soul,
Seems to owe naught to any single cord,
But strictly held by none, is loosely bound
By countless silken ties of love and thought
To every thing on earth the compass round,
And only by one's going slightly taut
In the capriciousness of summer air
Is of the slightlest bondage made aware.

                My little secret - and this will probably not enthuse the literary crowd - is that I read - and hear - the poem as a really great drum solo by, say, a tasteful drummer like #Max Roach. He does not play it like a metronome, but takes liberties with the breaks. After starting with some rimshots "" he uses the brushes, goes through the "breeze" and the relenting ropes, uses a three/four feeling with the "guys it gently sways" and drives forward towards heaven, ending the first part of the solo at "soul", which, if you look at the poem itself on the page, is the waist of her dress.
                From then on he builds up and fills out her skirt on the page with increasing intensity, almost breathlessly until "taut", where he leaves the audience silently dangling in the air. Then he whispers the last two lines with the tips of his brushes on the cymbal, a little whimsically, subdued, and then he lets "aware" resonate into silence.
                Just to say this: the sonnet is music, picture, rhythm, philosophy and religion. Do your own interpretation. Swing away with Bobby Frost! Take it away, reader!

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