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View Poll Results: The MR Literary Club January 2012 Vote
The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins 3 27.27%
Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman 4 36.36%
The poems of John Keats 0 0%
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge 2 18.18%
Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, translated by Seamus Heaney 2 18.18%
Voters: 11. You may not vote on this poll

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Old 01-09-2012, 05:40 PM   #1
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Post The MR Literary Club January 2012 Vote

Help us choose the January 2012 selection to read for the MR Literary Club! The poll will be open for three days.

In the event of a tie, there will be a one-day run-off poll. In the event that the run-off poll also ends in a tie, the tie will be resolved in favour of the selection that received all of its initial nominations first.


Select from the following works:

The poems of Gerard Manley Hopkins
Spoiler:
English poet especially known for his use of sprung rhythm and was considered an early Modern poet, ahead of his time in his use of language.


Gerard Manley Hopkins was born in London in 1844. His father was a writer and poet, and both of his parents were very religious Anglicans.

Hopkins went to Oxford to study classics. Later he underwent a conversion to the Catholic Church which estranged him from his family and some of his friends. In pursuit of his new faith he gave up poetry and began teaching until deciding to become a Jesuit Priest.

His gradual acceptance years later that writing poetry was not inconsistent with his devotion to God led him to produce some of his finest poetry. However the return to teaching and his move to Dublin to became a professor of Greek literature led to periods of depression until his death in 1889.

Very little of his poetry was published in his lifetime; it was only after his death that a friend published a collection of his poetry.

In the 20th century Hopkins’ poetry was acclaimed for its striking imagery and use of language which contrasted greatly with the general trends of 19th century poetry. He was seen as a precursor of modernist and free verse poetry which would greatly influence later poets such as T.S. Eliot, W.H. Auden and Dylan Thomas.

Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman
Spoiler:
"I celebrate myself,
And what I assume you shall assume,
For every atom belonging to me as good belongs to you.

I loafe and invite my soul,
I lean and loafe at my ease....observing a spear of summer grass."



So begins Leaves of Grass, the first great U.S. poem and indeed, arguably the greatest poem in all U.S. literature.

The publication of Leaves of Grass in July 1855 was a landmark event in literary history. Nothing like the volume had ever appeared before. Everything about it - the unusual jacket and title page, the exuberant preface, the twelve free-flowing, untitled poems embracing every realm of experience - was new. The 1855 edition broke new ground in its relaxed style, which prefigured free verse; in its sexual candour; in its images of racial bonding and democratic togetherness; and in the intensity of its affirmation of the sanctity of the physical world.

It was a small volume, self-published by a failed Brooklyn journalist and carpenter. At first a commercial failure, this book was the first stage of a massive, lifelong enterprise by Whitman as he continued to expand it throughout his life. Six editions and thirty-seven years later, Leaves of Grass had been recognized as one of the central masterworks of world poetry. It was unprecedented in its unapologetic joy in the physical and its inextricable link to the spiritual.


“The most extraordinary piece of wit and wisdom America has yet contributed." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

"Whitman's best poems have that permanent quality of being freshly painted, of not being dulled by the varnish of the years." - Malcolm Cowley

The poems of John Keats
Spoiler:
“I think I shall be among the English Poets after my death,” John Keats (1795-1821) soberly prophesied in 1818 as he started writing the blankverse epic Hyperion. Today he endures as the archetypal Romantic genius who explored the limits of the imagination and celebrated the pleasures of the senses but suffered a tragic early death. Over the course of his short life, Keats honed a raw talent into a brilliant poetic maturity. By the end of his brief career, he had written poems of extraordinary beauty, imagination and generosity of spirit.

His work has survived better than that of any of his contemporaries. T. S. Eliot has paid tribute to the Shakespearean quality of Keats' greatness and Edmund Wilson counted Keats as “one of the half dozen greatest English writers.”


“No one else in English poetry, save Shakespeare, has in expression quite the fascinating felicity of Keats, his perception of loveliness. In the faculty of naturalistic interpretation, in what we call natural magic, he ranks with Shakespeare.” - Matthew Arnold


This nomination opens any of his poems to reading and discussing but suggests a central list:

Bright star, would I were steadfast as thou art
La Belle Dame sans Merci
Ode on a Grecian Urn
Ode to a Nightingale
To Autumn
Endymion: A Poetic Romance
The Eve of St. Agnes
Hyperion
On First Looking into Chapman's Homer
When I have fears that I may cease to be


Also, not as a central list but as additional possibilities if so inclined (though any of his poems could be read):

Spoiler:

To Hope
The Human Seasons
On Seeing the Elgin Marbles
On the Grasshopper and the Cricket
This Living Hand
To Haydon with a Sonnet Written on Seeing the Elgin Marbles
A Song About Myself
First Love
The Fall of Hyperion: A Dream
Isabella or The Pot of Basil
Lamia
Meg Merrilles
Ode on Indolence
Ode on Melancholy
Ode to Psyche
Sleep and Poetry
Staffa
Stanzas
To Kosciusko
You say you love; but with a voice

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
Spoiler:
One of the great poems written in simple, haunting and very beautiful language. At the same time it embodies profound feelings and themes.


"water, water, every where,
and all the boards did shrink;
Water, water, every where,
nor any drop to drink"



Coleridge's masterpiece is this classic 1796 epic poem from the Romantic period, one of the 19th century’s most enduring narrative poems. It’s a chilling tale told in magnificent language involving clashes with sea monsters, a boat swarming with zombies and a dice game with Death; a story of ghostly adventure, terror, retribution, and in the end a work of penitence.

Samuel Taylor Coleridge is one of the greatest of English writers, and a world of fantasy that nevertheless reflects the human condition emerges from his famous tale of a doomed sea voyage.


“He prayeth best, who loveth best
All things both great and small.”

Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, translated by Seamus Heaney
Spoiler:
First written in Anglo-Saxon in the eight century, Beowulf is the classic Northern epic and one of the world’s most famous epics, of a hero’s triumphs as a young warrior and his fated death as a defender of his people. This is the story of a young man who travelled far across the sea to fight two terrifying monsters-one who could rip a man apart and drink his blood, the other who lived like a sea-wolf at the bottom of a dark, blood-stained lake.

The poem is about encountering the monstrous, defeating it, and then having to live on, physically and psychically exposed in the exhausted aftermath. It is not hard to draw parallels in this story to the historical curve of consciousness in the twentieth century, but the poem also transcends such considerations, telling us psychological and spiritual truths that are permanent and liberating.

The translator, Seamus Heaney, is also a poet and playwright, and is a Nobel Prize Winner 1995 and winner of the Whitbread Award.
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Old 01-09-2012, 06:04 PM   #2
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i voted for my own nomination, but I'll commit to reading whatever wins.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:07 PM   #3
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What Issybird said, except that I may not read all of Whitman and only commit to reading the list of Keats poems listed under that selection. I put in a request for Beowulf and the collection of poems by Tranströmer with my local library when I first nominated those two books, and so now that I have them in hand I will take the opportunity to read both as well.
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Old 01-09-2012, 07:48 PM   #4
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Beowulf for me. I've always wanted to read it, never quite got there.
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Old 01-09-2012, 08:52 PM   #5
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I've always meant to read it also. I would prefer not to read it in conjunction with The Iliad, but if it plays out that way, so be it.
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Old 01-10-2012, 11:15 AM   #6
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Gotta' be Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Not only does it encompass just about every aspect of life, but in many passages, it's downright erotic as well.

Spoiler:
Quote:
The young man that wakes deep at night, the hot hand seeking to
The mystic amorous night, the strange half-welcome pangs, visions, sweats, The pulse pounding through palms and trembling encircling fingers...
Quote:
Hair, bosom, hips, bend of legs, negligent falling hands—all diffused .... mine too diffused, Ebb stung by the flow, and flow stung by the ebb .... loveflesh swelling and deliciously aching, Limitless limpid jets of love hot and enormous .... quivering jelly of love .... white-blow and delirious juice, Bridegroom-night of love working surely and softly into the prostrate dawn, Undulating into the willing and yielding day, Lost in the cleave of the clasping and sweetfleshed day.
Quote:
The curious roamer the hand roaming all over the body, the bashful withdrawing of flesh where the fingers soothingly pause and edge themselves.
Quote:
Sex contains all, bodies, souls, Meanings, proofs, purities, delicacies, results, promulgations, Songs, commands, health, pride, the maternal mystery, the seminal milk, All hopes, benefactions, bestowals, all the passions, loves, beauties, delights of the earth, All the governments, judges, gods, follow’d persons of the earth, These are contain’d in sex as parts of itself and justifications of itself. Without shame the man I like knows and avows the deliciousness of his sex, Without shame the woman I like knows and avows hers.
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Old 01-10-2012, 12:24 PM   #7
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I'll go with my nominated choice, but really the list is very good and I'll be happy with whatever is chosen.
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Old 01-10-2012, 01:13 PM   #8
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C'mon, folks; Leaves of Grass! Am I going to have to tear my family away from watching Jerry Springer to get them to register and vote?
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:01 PM   #9
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I am interested in all five nominees and will be happy with any of them winning.

However, I do have different levels of interest, those being basically: interested, very interested and very, very interested.

I'm interested in Hopkins. I don't know much about him though and nothing jumped out at me while reading the description, but still would be interested to read his poems.

I'm very interested in Mariner and Beowulf. Both classic epic poems I would love to read.

And I'm very, very interested in Leaves and of course my own nomination Keats, Leaves seeming joyous and celebrating the pleasures of life while Keats seeming romantic and achingly beautiful.

I've had such a hard time deciding what to vote and so now I will take advantage of the open poll and wait to see how it plays out first, so that perhaps my vote may be put to the best use. Or, I may decide just to vote for my own achingly beautiful nominee!
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Old 01-10-2012, 03:26 PM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamlet53 View Post
...I may...only commit to reading the list of Keats poems listed under that selection...
Oh yes, certainly, that's why I made the list. The nominated list totals about 150 pages I think.

Here's a taste of Keats for anyone interested, one of his most famous, about wanting to lay his head forever on his sleeping lover's chest (and if you read it, you'll already have read part of the nomination!):

Spoiler:
Bright star, would I were stedfast as thou art—
Not in lone splendour hung aloft the night
And watching, with eternal lids apart,
Like nature's patient, sleepless Eremite,
The moving waters at their priestlike task
Of pure ablution round earth's human shores,
Or gazing on the new soft-fallen mask
Of snow upon the mountains and the moors
No—yet still stedfast, still unchangeable,
Pillow'd upon my fair love's ripening breast,
To feel for ever its soft fall and swell,
Awake for ever in a sweet unrest,
Still, still to hear her tender-taken breath,
And so live ever—or else swoon to death.
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Old 01-10-2012, 06:36 PM   #11
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gosh, I have found it so hard to decide - in the end, I've voted Leaves of Grass.
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Old 01-12-2012, 05:56 PM   #12
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So victory goes to Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

Spoiler:
A poem by Whitman about poets, victory, and maybe poets through the ages, including Homer?


As I ponder’d in silence


As I ponder’d in silence,

Returning upon my poems, considering, lingering long,

A Phantom arose before me with distrustful aspect,

Terrible in beauty, age, and power,

The genius of poets of old lands,

As to me directing like flame its eyes,

With finger pointing to many immortal songs,

And menacing voice, What singest thou? it said,

Know’st thou not there is but one theme for ever-enduring bards?

And that is the theme of War, the fortune of battles,

The making of perfect soldiers.



Be it so, then I answer’d,

I too haughty Shade also sing war, and a longer and greater one than any,

Waged in my book with varying fortune, with flight, advance and retreat, victory deferr’d and wavering,

(Yet methinks certain, or as good as certain, at the last,) the field the world,

For life and death, for the Body and for the eternal Soul,

Lo, I too am come, chanting the chant of battles,

I above all promote brave soldiers.
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Old 01-12-2012, 09:14 PM   #13
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Cool! I'm already "reading" it via the Librivox podcasts. I also bought the Leaves of Grass - Death Bed Edition (Illustrated and Annotated) (Literary Classics Collection) from Amazon for quoting ($1.99).
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Old 01-14-2012, 12:59 AM   #14
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There's a lot of versions of it...is it generally recommended to read the final version?
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Old 01-14-2012, 01:26 AM   #15
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I would think so, as he worked on Leaves of Grass all his life; continually expanding it.
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