12 January 2017

Poetry Thursday - Sonnet 55 by William Shakespeare

In Artful, Ali Smith talks about form, asking why prose can't manage "greater verbal exactitude" than poetry:
Simply because we don't allocate to prose the lingual attention, the aura, the essentiality, that we do to poety: Because we want the forms to be different?

Then she quotes Shakespeare's Sonnet 55:
Not marble nor the gilded monuments
Of princes shall outlive this powerful rhyme;
But you shall shine more bright in these contents
Than unswept stone, besmear’d with sluttish time.
When wasteful war shall statues overturn,
And broils root out the work of masonry,
Nor Mars his sword nor war’s quick fire shall burn
The living record of your memory.
‘Gainst death and all-oblivious enmity
Shall you pace forth; your praise shall still find room,
Even in the eyes of all posterity
That wear this world out to the ending doom.
    So, till the judgment that yourself arise,
    You live in this, and dwell in lovers’ eyes.

and she goes on:
The power of the artform is stronger than stone, the poet says, and chooses the sonnet, a form concerned with argument and persuasion, to say so. This sonnet, he says, will last longer than any gravestone - and you'll be made shinier, brighter, by it. In this form it will - and therefore you will - avoid destruction by war, history, time generally; it'll even keep you alive after death; in fact it'll form a place for you to live, not die, where you'll be seen in the eyes of and the context of this love right to the end of time.
But there's always another story, there's always another way to see the shape of things: up against Shakespeare's overweening gorgeous sweet arrogant protective and still very well functioning preservative form
It's here (page 68) that she presents a "jarring anecdote from Wallace Stevens". This poem, about the jar and the hill.... (Get the book to read more...)

As for the photo - Adam Buick has placed some of his well-shaped moon jars on hills to weather -
He says: "Placing your work in a kiln, relinquishing control of its final aesthetic takes a certain mind set, patience and a certain amount of faith. Placing a jar on a hill to weather away is a similar process. I am still committing the jar to the elements, air and water instead of fire and there is still a transformation."

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