The Big Question

Lord teach us to care and not to care. TS Eliot

“What is poetry?”

Roses bouquet dropped into water cpt Fernando Weberick sxc.huWill we meet it – a stranger, bouquet of roses in hand – at romantic junctions; will we feel a flash of recognition because of a connection with some old acquaintance; or will it be words that quietly accompany the descent of those roses  – fallen, crushed and left to wither?

What if we feel moved to make a poem – what trade descriptions’ regulations do we need to follow; and to whom do we apply to request that the out-moded be repealed?

And after manufacture, how to bring it to the artistic marketplace? What well-worn paths in the imagination might we count on to encourage those new to poetry to partake; and what ‘shock of the new’ tactics can we bring to bear for the conservative to comptemplate a new way of experiencing this poetry?

How can all this be considered without a working definition, for now, of what poetry is?

And how is anything to be written without first walking away from that question?

7 thoughts on “The Big Question

  1. Not really related to the above post, but I’d LOVE to read the original Japanese for ‘Pearl Diver’ (and also a readable (by which I mean something written in ‘modern’ Japanese) version of it – since I expect I haven’t a chance in hell of reading anything written 1300 years ago). Do you know where I can get my hands on a copy of the original and/or a readable version please?

    • Yes, me too, now that you mention it. I don’t know whether, even if I googled it I’d know whether I’d found it, but I remember when I did some ‘internet research’ around it that there were some side-by-side translations – so I’ll try!

  2. Sadly, we beloved Pearl Divers isn’t coming up anywhere (except the Graeme Wilson Manyoshu Translations) but you might like these references for seeing the Japanese versions of Manyoshu poems:

    (1) (not sure whose done the actual translating but some really lovely pieces)

    (2) The Japanese Text Initiative (University of Virginia Library collaboration) –

    and for my next birthday (as it is rather expensive – though there is an e-version which I haven’t seen the cost of): The Manyoshu, a new English Translation containing the original text, Kana transliteration, glossing and commentary. Author – Alexander Vovin (E-book version here: )

    But (from no 1 source above – trans of anon poem of Manyoshu) Hunting fish / the diver girls’ / sleeve soaked / sodden clothes / will never dry, try though the may.

    Hope useful anyway!

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