Just as the week’s assignments started with an incredibly challenging task it’s ended with another assignment that presented an incredible chllenge although differently. That’s good, I arrived here to learn and for the challenge of attempting to uinderstand the formalised aspects f poetry.

Haiku, to write seventeen syllables in three lines of five, seven and five syllables. It seems like everyone else finds Haiku quite accessible but I found it incredibly difficult and had to take the long way around getting what felt like an understanding of the principle. I have also realised that to create a tanka requires only two lines of seven syllables adding to the founding Haiku – I have to remember my understanding from first reading what must be American English presentations of prompt that my brain’s not quite in gear properly and I misunderstand some things and can’t always blame the way the material is presented! I seem to have acquired mild dyslexia during my launch into aging and degeneration. Everything will change from here and it’s the most natural thing in the world.

Elegy. I’m not sure what my stumbling block with elegy was other than in not being a word in my dictionary (well, my daughter’s: The Peter Haddock Publishing “The New Choice english DICTIONARY” – exactly as it’s type-faced. My really good dictionary, Reader’s Digest Wordfinder was withheld by my malicious ex, even though she NEVER used the darn thing in the twenty years I owned it – she had however used her cheque to order it on my behalf and taken my cash while my bank didn’t offer a cheque book! GRIPE!, somewhere I have a Collins pocket dictionary but I’m not trawling for a dictionary for such small point!)

i wonder now if part of the problem is that the use of Elegy has been as a predominantly Christian device and the religion seems to me (with a methodist christian upbringing) to be of very little faith and certainly responsible for dire consequences in our world histories.

For the first task, I did no research reading, I wholly avoided anyone else’s examples and tried to just think my way around the issue is how it turned out by free-writing my sense of impossibility and having convinced myself I could NOT write a Haiku (and perhaps still have not – see effort Monday 16/2/15 if you like… maybe it past midnight and was 17th!)

For the final task of week one (and imagining coverage of studying these bite-size units hopefully extending into the future) … running away with myself… For Ass:5, again unable to write an elegy myself, and confused by lack of Eulogy in the Poetry Foundation glossary I decided to just google “elegy”. That brought me to a New Yorker article that I loved first for the illustration at the top of the page – I didn’t go any further into search results from that point and I didn’t read the article straight away either. I have a short attention span, but left the page open and awaiting while I flitted off to “google Scholar” where amongst citations and book adverts and preview book websites can sometimes be found entire chapters from academic books and in some cases longer documents (as PDF files).

Entering “UK poetry glossary” into googleScholar through up some surprising results and I ended up reading first an introduction to 9th and 11th Centrury Mannerism in Arabic Poetry:


Then a quick glimpse through a short piece about the teaching of Chaucer in universities:


I also found this glossary of Japanese Zen terms that I wondered might help my Haiku attempts, if I ever bother again, but I might…, but not read that yet:


I then returned to meet Edward Hirsch at the New Yorker article

I’ll return to this seperately, whenever, because it was both my first reading of an Elegy and it was also the first time I had even heard of Edward Hirsch, being so uneducated. However it was the most moving experience of reading poetry I have ever known in my lifetime (extracts in the article, now on my exploration awaiting list to read some more).I also loved the little I saw of this work because it doesn’t conform to the given constrained academic notion of Elegy as given in the assignment / elsewhere.

That experience, having been so moved, led to my small “paint” creation with the notebook snatch as a way of creating something vaguely elegiac, tho’ obviously not poetry writing! I also have some small poetry facts embedded in my mind now to help me build my learning about poetry and poets and all the things that can be learnt as a result of appreciating poetry. Later, having read the above article again i made a small visual poem (Elegy?) called “~Puppy Play~” you can find in previous pages if you wish.

I’d carried myself away with a flit off to find out about Thomas Gray, as although i had heard of Gray I’m note sure I’ve ever read or heard any, though it might transpire that i’ll find a recognisabe example if ever I have time enough to read more. I first read an article by John J. Miller writing about  Thomas Gray, “Elegy Written in a Country Church-Yard” … apparently Leslie Stephen, father of Virginia Woolf, wrote that it “includes more familiar phrases than any poem of equal length in the language.”…32 stanzas…”Far from the madding crowd’s ignoble strife” is one I like best from this article and also that it shared the term “graveyard poetry”… describing it’s arrival at a moment of popularity in poetry writing and receipt, of mixing death, gloom and Christian themes. The article states…’Yet Gray’s “Elegy” also rose above the ghetto of a genre…” which quite hit home for me. I also had to jog my brain and remember that “mantle” means chimney…

Being me, I decided to question validity of sources so far and check something english to make sure I’m not offering what I believe to be a quote from Thomas Gray’s elegy when it could be anything else (unlikely given the source but always a good idea!) I’m now also wondering about historical facts because there is some incongruity and so questioning further, but for now I’ll run with what i’ve found so far, regardless… (I forgot playlist – radio- earlier, Macy Gray, always a favourite, fits the elegiac theme … “I try to say goodbye and I choke, try to walk away and I stumble…”) over to…

article by Carol Rumens 17/1/2011(re: first 15 stanzas) – where, other than being bored with the writing style, I learnt that “curfew” was a fire precaution and meant “lights out” – referring to Thomas Gray’s attendance at Eaton College, Cambridge, but this article links to the full text available at the Guttenberg archives

“Eulogy Written in A Country Church Yard” apparently began in 1742…
first published 1751. The full text archival edition linked to above contains this information from the PREFACE: “EBOOK SELECT POEMS OF THOMAS GRAYfrom Preface edited EDITED, WITH NOTES,
FORMERLY HEAD MASTER OF THE HIGH SCHOOL, CAMBRIDGE, MASS. “It is a curious fact that the most accurate edition of Gray’s collected poems is the _editio princeps_ of 1768, printed under his own supervision. The first edition of the two Pindaric odes, _The Progress of Poesy_ and _The Bard_ (Strawberry-Hill, 1757), was printed with equal care, and the proofs were probably read by the poet. The text of the present edition has been collated, line by line, with that of these early editions, and in no instance have I
adopted a later reading. All the MS. variations, and the various readings I have noted in the modern editions, are given in the notes.”

So there’s a lot that can be read there and of course and I wish I ws a machine because I’ve other things to do, and do everything quite slowly … I distracted a bit downloading Mark Twain, whose work i loved as a young child and then a Spanish and an Italian text, even though I don’t speak either language, but the result of entering random numbers to online archives and seeing what treasures I find by chance – and maybe it’s not too late to learn a new European language, they tend to have similarities and I learnt French and German at school, so, refreshments needed and for another day maybe…

When I was checking back through my history later (last session, yesterday) for one or two missing links in my notes, I found there was a UK poetry glossary came up but I’d not trawled far through open pages in hold before closing them. So a basic UK glossary as used for teachers:

basic glossary of poetic terms – 2003- contains elegy but not eulogy(!) typical!  and I now know that a “lyric poem” just means “expressing the thoughts and feelings of the poet” – handy to break the song connotation…

(I also downloaded a cultural text remarking on terrorism from this poetry glossary search results! couldn’t resist some wider future reading!)

****my choice couplet from this elegy (Thomas Gray, E.W-in-a- C.C.Y.)…
“With uncouth rhymes and shapeless sculpture deck’d,
Implores the passing tribute of a sigh”

I’m not writing more about Edward Hirsch at this point in time, because I’ve only read extracts represented  in the New Yorker article – it said a lot that I wouldn’t wish to know and that i choose not to necessarily believe. I believe a poet’s work says enough about them and speaks volumes in truth far more than any report might. So i really hope to be reading some again soon, as I’m far more interested in contemporary poetry, although historical poetry has it’s place for sure – cemented and remains, so sticking moreso with contemporary times for study focus…