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He sat in the cathedral, had some lunch by the river and returned to the station at 3 pm.

The train wound down through evening and the dark until at 6 am it arrived at a town that apparently had no name. Here they were told they could not get off and had to sit on board until 11 am. When, at last, the train pulled away it plunged almost at once into a thick green wood. This was now Wednesday. The nightingales sang in the wood at noon. Findley The host with someone indistinct Converses at the door apart, The nightingales are singing near The Convent of the Sacred Heart,.

And sang within the bloody wood When Agamemnon cried aloud, And let their liquid droppings fall To stain the stiff dishonoured shroud. Eliot Many other Georgian poets have cameo parts in the Garsington-like world of Stourbridge St. Not only do poems provide a kind of background music to his narrative, but they make tragic what to the military historian would have appeared as a relatively simple tale of disgrace. But it was not until that the Canadian critic Mary Louise Pratt used Speech Act theory to demonstrate that poetry was not a different language from prose but a different use of language.

We can illustrate this with a few examples from The Wars. I can only briefly draw attention to a few devices. Several come into the traumatic scene with which the novel opens and which is then repeated Likeness in the form of repetition is in itself a fundamentally poetic device. Findley does this frequently, so arranging the words as to literally slow down our reading and so gather into our minds some experience of the trauma he wishes to convey. She fell. It was Sunday. Findley 15 7. Poetry is an attention-seeking use of language, not for itself, not for its own sake, but in order to express what is as Larkin put it "almost being said.

Examples of what is broadly termed catachresis are "The moon rose red" and "One day bled into the next. Findley draws our attention to the case of the painting "With Wolfe at Quebec" Findley 49 in which there is no blood but "His wounds are poems.

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We all use poetic devices, even in everyday language: that does not make all that we say poetry. Rather, the question we need to ask is why Findley chose to write a novel that was almost-poetry. What do poems do better than novels? Stories were first told in verse and only afterwards in prose.

In other words, the fundamental difference between the two forms is historical: the novel is linked to the rise of the written word, the printing press, improvements in print technology and literacy levels.

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Both poetry and novels are what the Canadian critic Harold Innis called time-biased forms of communication, but they work differently in terms of fixing memories. Novels appeal to our visual imagination but, as Plato pointed out, the written word is mute. The Wars , like the illustrated histories of the s, is saturated with images and an awareness of the strengths and weaknesses of images. Throughout the twentieth century attempts were made—by Pound and the Imagists among others—to arrest that decline by fitting poetry into the newly-dominant written culture which was developing the visual imagination.

Interestingly, one of the latest—and perhaps least expected—studies of the culture of trench warfare is a collection of haikus, 8 En pleine figure.


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Haikus de la guerre de Haikus are interesting because they combine the oral 17 syllables with the visual the Japanese etching and the discovery that the haiku form flourished in the French trenches throws an entirely new light on our view of that war. Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux. E-mail this site to a friend. Useful poetry anthologies have one of two virtues: either they gather an informative selection of the canon they represent or, by their eccentricity, they illustrate amendable elisions in the canon from which they deviate.

Although it includes some verse that is little known to most Anglophones, the book is essentially a gathering of the most accomplished modern poetry in the German language. It is not devoted exclusively to German writers, although they predominate over the Swiss, Austrians, and others who chose to write their poems in German.

One might reasonably expect that twentieth-century poetry in German, particularly that poetry by Germans themselves, would bog down artlessly in war, death, guilt, blame, and retribution. Germany did not have an easy century. Two hideous wars, the enormity of National Socialism, the crematoria and national division are all ineluctable themes here.

This book does not avoid these horrors.

War Poems: An Anthology of Unforgettable Verse: An Anthology of Unforgettable Verse

Some of the poets represented in this collection gave those subjects their most accomplished and painful expression. Another poet—the wonderfully inventive Ernst Jandl—offers a poem that, in only two words, creates an unforgettable impression. Yet what is most impressive and startling about this collection is the strength and artistry of German-language poetry outside of the expected political realms. Love poems without cynicism here appear beside humorous verses, creating an unexpected and curiously positive sensation when juxtaposed brusquely with more somber poems about history and crime.

Something different, less offensive—humanity? As to the translation itself, it is, in a word, poetic.

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One does not here note with despair that all the translations rhyme in English: the translators have attempted to reproduce the German originals with fidelity and precision, but have not striven to make self-consciously English poetry out of non-English source material. The result is that the poems remain persuasive as verse, and are commendable examples of that infernal task, the translation of poetry. The translators themselves are a large and distinguished body, with many of the translations coming from the editor Hofmann himself. If one wanted an absolutely representative collection of German-language poetry of the twentieth century, one would have to include much that does not appear in this volume.

Yet we should note the general artlessness of all these potential inclusions. These omissions may diminish the truly representative character of the collection, but they are works that are more valuable to the sociologist than to the admirer of poetry. Hoffmann has assembled an informative, useful, and pleasing collection of the most artistically accomplished twentieth-century poetry in German. Collections of this sort are easy to disparage: one may dislike the poets represented, or wish that others appeared, or contest the choices a translator has made.


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Yet this volume deserves praise. It has two distinct, but interrelated, accomplishments: it provides a strong introduction to readers with little knowledge of the subject, whilst also helpfully compiling, in one volume, many of the poems informed readers will wish to have on their shelves.

Full text of "Anthology of magazine verse for and year book of American poetry"

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