Wednesday, January 19, 2005

I Digress...

This often happens to me. I find myself going off on tangents; be it in conversation with people, my writing, or just my own thoughts. This digression comes to you by way of The Iliad. I know, you're thinking: "Sidd should be talking about love poetry, not the stupid Iliad, I haven't looked at that thing in months!" But the passage I want to talk about really makes me want to blog!

The passage comes in Book 16 ('A Ship Fired, A Tide Turned') and it starts at about line 845 and goes to 861. It happens right before Patroklos gets killed. A brief synopsis: Pat takes a special stone that he has been saving and throws it at Hektor's chariot, it hits his driver Kebriones. Keb quickly dies and tumbles out of the chariot; Pat makes fun of him as he tumbles on to the ground, dead. Here's the description of Keb getting killed.

...He [Pat] aimed and braced himself and threw the stone
and scored a direct hit on Hektor's driver,
Kebriones, a bastard son of Priam,
smashing his forehead with the jagged stone.
Both brows were hit at once, the frontal bone
gave way, and both his eyes burst from their sockets
dropping into the dust before his feet,
as like a diver from the handsome car
he plummeted, and life ebbed from his bones.

Man this poem is graphically violent!
Now, before you all think I'm sick for thinking this part of the story amusing, you must read what Pat says to the dying Keb. He's the sick one for saying this!

"God, what a nimble fellow, somersaulting!
If he were out at sea in the fishing grounds
this man could feed a crew, diving for oysters,
going overboard even in rough water,
the way he took that earth-dive from his car.
The Trojans have their acrobats, I see."

Wow! Pat thinks this is the most amusing thing in the world! Watching a man who just got his eyes smashed tumble to his death. Besides being ridiculously facetious, violent and kinda funny, Pat does use some interesting metaphors. Like comparing the way Kebriones falls to a fisherman diving for oysters. We've all seen (and/or tried) diving (of some kind or another), at least once in our lives. This metaphor paints a clear image of a man diving, head first, into the ground. The other metaphor I like is the way Pat compares the battlefield to rough water. One can imagine the battlefield looking like a choppy sea, and it is just as perilous. And with all the hewn bodies around them, the battlefield may literally look like a sea of blood.
I'll leave you all with that image in your mind!

Monday, January 10, 2005

Out Of Love Song/Poem

Speaking about love poetry these last two weeks I feel like commenting on an example of out-of-love poetry (along the lines of doom and gloom).
One of my favourite bands right now is Muse. If you don't know who Muse is, I suggest you find out and listen. If you enjoy them, great, if not, great as well; just don't tell me they sound like Radiohead! Anyway...They have a song called "Falling Away with You." When I first read the title, I thought it was going to be a love ballad, or some other kind of slow song. When the song started playing, I heard it was in a major key (the major keys are generally associated with happiness and other positive things), and had a pretty sounding melody; I thought for sure I was in for a cheesy love song.
Boy was I wrong!
Here are the lyrics, reading them without the music does not take away from the melancholiness that Matthew Bellamy (singer and songwriter of this song) is telling us about in the song.

Falling Away With You
I can’t remember when it was good,
Moments of happiness elude,
Maybe I just misunderstood.

All of the love we left behind,
Watching the flash backs intertwine.
Memories I will never find.

So I'll love whatever you've become.
Forget the reckless things we've done,
I think our lives have just begun;
I think our lives have just begun

And I’ll feel my world crumbling
I'll Feel my life crumbling now.
I'll Feel my soul crumbling away,
Falling away...
Falling away with you.

Staying awake to chase the dream.
Tasting the air you’re breathing in,
I hope I won’t forget a thing.

Promise to hold you close and pray,
Watching the fantasy decay.
Nothing will ever stay the same.
Nothing will ever stay the same.

And all of the love we threw away;
And all of the hopes we’ve cherished fade.
Making the same mistakes again,
Making the same mistakes again.

Memories I will never find,
Memories I will never find.

It's pretty sad and melancholic (and pretty poetic too, no?). I feel for the guy. When I hear this song or read the lyrics, I imagine a guy in a relationship who wants to work things out with his sweetie, but knows, at the end of the day, the relationship must end. It was good while it lasted, but now both parties have changed too much to continue. Having said that, the first line is very interesting: "I can't remember when it was good..." Maybe this was a relationship of infatuation, that was lust driven and never anything more. Also, looking at the technical aspects, it is very rhythmic as well. You might not be able to see that when reading the poem, but when you hear the song, you'll hear how Bellamy annunciates almost every syllable; you'll also hear how the music follows that same rhythmic pattern of the syllables.
Listen to the song; how it's sung and how the music helps to create meaning.


Let me know what ya'll think?

P.S.: To all my fellow music geeks: The juxtaposition of the major key signature and the dark lyrics make for one very interesting musical experience. Listen to the synthy-guitar and bass lines in the chorus...Delay anyone?

Monday, January 03, 2005

Love, Love, Love

Softly falling into your hands,
I care not to care.

There!
My stab at a love poem!

Like we talked about in tutorial, a very difficult thing to do; this simple two line poem took me the better part of an hour. I tried other longer pieces, blank verse, free verse, haiku, but eventually settled on this simple two-liner. It best captures how I feel about my sweetie; besides the longer pieces I was quickly encountering the enemies of love poetry (for those of you reading this who are not in Prof. Kuin's tutorial, they are: Sincerity, cliche, vocabulary, history and shyness).
Let me know what you all think; the good, the bad and the ugly!

Sunday, January 02, 2005

Nature and Book 11

So here is my obligatory blog on nature and 'The Iliad.' I say obligatory because I was browsing around other blogs and see that many people have posted on the correlation between nature and the events, dialogue and narration in 'The Iliad.' So without further adieu, here are my thoughts:

I found that Book 11 had more than the usual allusions to nature. Take the stanza starting at line 73 and continuing for 10 lines. The narrator compares reaping wheat to the action on the battle field. I don't know if any of you have seen wheat being harvested by hand, but basically, people walk through the field with a big hooked knife (the scythe), and mow the wheat down. This paints a pretty gruesome picture if you replace the wheat with people. Imagine, a big open field where the battle is taking place, warriors are being mowed down, neither side retreating nor giving way and Strife looking on from the clouds, with a big grin on its face. Not very pretty.
Another example comes in 334th line when Hektor is rallying his troops; he is compared a hunter sending hounds to catch a lion or boar (see Prof. Kuin's Livejournal entry on boars and the new year) . The stanza continues by comparing the way Hektor's kills to an ocean gale! I haven't been caught in an ocean gale, but according to my uncle, who captains ocean going ships, I wouldn't want to.
There are many more examples, of course, but I think I will stop with these two.
I think the ancients were so concerned about nature because it was such a big part of their lives. They were at the mercy of weather. They didn't have central heating, they didn't drive their chariots to the local grocery store to buy food -- they may have gone to market, but they could only get was available locally. Many people, including great commanders and kings like Agamemnon, had their own flocks of sheep. In short, it was a do it/grow it yourself culture. This means that nature and its effects was the biggest factor in the ancients' lives. So no wonder the poem is filled with so many allusions and comparisons to nature!

P.S.: Hope Santa was good to everyone!