I set a record last semester. For the first time in my college career, I actually came close to failing a class.
It was a graduate-level poetry class. Modern poetry. I’d stay up late and get up early to read something like this:
“I caught this morning morning’s minion, king- / dom of daylight’s dauphin, dapple-dawn-drawn Falcon, in his riding…” (Gerard Manley Hopkins, “The Windhover,” in case you care).
…aaaand then I’d try to figure out who died in the poems for the day. Because it’s entirely possible to miss big things–like suicides–even on a close reading of some of this stuff, but you could usually count on someone dying. In between poems, humbled by my lack of understanding, I’d spend a chunk of time complaining to anyone who’d listen that language is supposed to communicate, not obscure meaning.
Psssht, so much for poetry. I’d stick to the real literature that actually carried some weight.
But… in another convicting, perspective-changing class this semester, I took a look at the story and art of the Bible, like I mentioned in my last post.
The Bible is 1/3 poetry. Not fluff or nonsense. What’s more, God inspired poetry in a language in which poetry actually translates into parallel structures and forms that bridge centuries of language change (interesting facts on biblical Hebrew poetry here).
I guess maybe poetry is a little important to an Author who’d design that kind of beauty in words and then use it to tell us about Himself. Maybe I shouldn’t pass it over as a literary lightweight.
But I’m still never taking another poetry class.