‘Magic mirror on the wall,
who is the fairest of them all?’
Snow White in her glass coffin
William Butler Yeats remains consistently rumored to have had a weakness about Eva Gore Booth and Constance Markievicz.
Looking to the contour of the ‘politics’, ‘seek’, ‘speak’, and ‘mix’, one might think that things were so, indeed:
['pä-lə-ˌtiks], ['sēk], ['spēk], ['miks]
Well, overcoming is part human life.
It happens that students need to overcome, so to speak, especially initial encounters with poetry.
I know not what the younger dreams -
Some vague Utopia – and she seems,
When withered old and skeleton-gaunt,
An image of such politics.
Many a time I think to seek
One or the other out and speak
Of that old Georgian mansion, mix
pictures of the mind, recall
That table and the talk of youth,
Two girls in silk kimonos, both
Beautiful, one a gazelle.
Honestly, the regular classroom practice is to tell the young people — gathered for reasons other than free will at times — that the matter is going to be about a great poet:
Brobdingnagian, Cyclopean, Establishment, OK, VIP, able, absolute, abundant, accomplished, ace, ace-high, active, acute, adept, adroit, aggrandized, anticipating, apotheosized, arch, ardent, arrant, artistic, ascendant, authoritarian, authoritative, authorized, autocratic, awesome, awful, bad, bang-up, banner, baron, basic, beatified, best, big, big gun, big man, big name, big with child, big-laden, big-league, big-name, big-time, bighearted, bigwig, bigwigged, bonzer, boss, brass, brass hat, breeding, brilliant, bull, bully, bumper, but good, canonized, capacious, capital, cardinal, carrying, carrying a fetus, celebrated, celebrity, central, champion, chief, chivalrous, choir, claviature, clever, close, clothed with authority, colossal, commanding, competent, comprehensive, consequential, considerable, console, consummate, controlling, cool, corking, countless, crackerjack, critical, crowning, crucial, cutting, dandy, dedicated, deep, deified, delicious, devoted, dignitary, dignity, distinguished, dominant, double-barreled, drastic, ducky, duly constituted, eager, earthshaking, echo, egregious, eighty-eight, elder, elevated, eminent, empowered, ennobled, enormous, enshrined, enthroned, enthusiastic, ex officio, exalted, excellent, exceptional, excess, excessive, exhaustive, exorbitant, expecting, expert, extensive, extraordinary, extravagant, extreme, fab, faithful, famed, famous, fast, fat, father, fierce, figure, fine and dandy, fingerboard, first, first-rate, first-rater, flagrant, focal, foremost, full, furious, gargantuan, gear, generous, genius, gestating, giant, gifted, gigantic, glaring, glorified, good hand, goodly, governing, grand, grave, gravid, great man, great of heart, greathearted, grievous, groovy, handsome, headmost, healthy, hear, heavy, heavy with child, heavyweight, hegemonic, hegemonistic, heinous, held in awe, heroic, high, high and mighty, high-minded, high-powered, horrendous, horrible, horrific, hot, huge, hunky-dory, husky, idealistic, illustrious, immense, immoderate, immortal, immortalized, imperative, important, important person, incomparable, influential, inordinate, intemperate, intense, interests, intimate, irresistible, ivories, jam-up, just dandy, keen, keyboard, keys, knightly, knocked up, large, large-scale, largehearted, leading, liberal, lion, lofty, lords of creation, loving, loyal, magician, magisterial, magnanimous, magnate, magnified, mahatma, main, major, mammoth, man of genius, man of mark, man-sized, manual, marked, marvy, massive, master, master hand, mastermind, matchless, material, maximum, mean, mighty, mogul, momentous, monocratic, monstrous, nabob, name, neat, nifty, nobby, noble, noble-minded, notability, notable, noteworthy, numerous, official, okay, openhanded, organ manual, out of sight, out-and-out, outrageous, outstanding, overruling, panjandrum, paramount, parturient, passionate, past master, peachy, peachy-keen, pedals, peerless, person of renown, personage, personality, piano keys, piercing, pillar of society, plenary, potent, power, power elite, powerful, practiced hand, predominant, preeminent, preggers, pregnant, preponderant, prestigious, prevailing, primal, primary, prime, princely, principal, prodigious, prodigy, proficient, profound, prominent, pronounced, puissant, ranking, remarkable, renowned, rigorous, ripping, rough, ruling, ruling circle, rum, sachem, sage, sainted, sanctified, scrumptious, self-important, senior, serious, severe, sharp, shrined, significant, sizable, skilled, skilled hand, slap-up, smashing, solid, solo, somebody, something, something else, sovereign, spacious, spectacular, spiffing, spiffy, splitting, star, stellar, strong, stunning, stupendous, sublime, substantial, superb, supereminent, superfetate, superimpregnated, superior, superlative, superstar, supreme, surpassing, swell, talented, tall, teeming, terrible, terrific, the great, the top, throned, tidy, titanic, top, top brass, top people, topflight, topnotcher, total, totalitarian, tough, transcendent, tremendous, TRUE, tycoon, unconscionable, unforgivable, vast, vehement, venomous, very important person, violent, virtuoso, virulent, weighty, well-known, whiz, with child, wizard, wonderful, world-shaking, worthy, zealous
Moby Project is in the public domain, everybody is therefore welcome to look up good poets, famous poets, and eminent poets, too.
Let me think about language matter and Dante.
A faithful witness. Thou shalt leave each thing
Beloved most dearly: this is the first shaft
Shot from the bow of exile. Thou shalt prove
How salt the savor is of other’s bread;
How hard the passage, to descend and climb
By other’s stairs.
(Paradiso, XVII; The Harvard Classics series edited by Charles W. Eliot, translation by Henry F. Cary, Grolier Enterprises, Danbury, Connecticut, 1980.)
Naturally, talking metaphors, many students become “emotionally and intellectually exiled”, having to repeat pret-a-porter opinions and analyses. Returning to Yeats, I would not duel with a lover of his poetry. It is yet fair to say he was tone deaf and … well, a narcissist.
My arms are like the twisted thorn And yet there beauty lay; The first of all the tribe lay there And did such pleasure take; She who had brought great Hector down And put all Troy to wreck.
The piece indicates Maud Gonne, who wrote him, … I have prayed and I am praying still that the bodily desire for me may be taken from you too.
I am not going to quote Moby for narcissism, as the set is strictly non-complimentary, let us delicately say. I believe the author of the thesaurus may not be blamed. Yeats may be blamed for his unfavorable picture of female aging: Some vague Utopia – and she seems, When withered old and skeleton-gaunt …
In 1923, the Nobel Committee awarded Yeats the Nobel Prize in Literature as the first Irishman. The Committee described his work as “inspired poetry, which in a highly artistic form gives expression to the spirit of a whole nation.” Well, later in life, Yeats wrote three songs for Eoin O’Duffy‘s Blueshirts.
Poetry or verse does not have to bring grandeur. It does its job excellently, encouraging language skill, I say.
part my poetry project, ‘Letters From Over the Fall’, about the letters of the alphabet; this one is about the letter H
the Englishes of the world have differed interpreting the sound; some would have a history, some an history…
ha’p'orth is a short form for ‘half a penny’s worth’, meaning a trivial amount; colloquial American English has the American one cent piece for a ‘penny’, a name to derive from the British coin; the American plural ‘pennies’ corresponds with the British form ‘pence’
search engines for ancient languages would have results according to word frequency statistics
Explaining all verse could only kill it, hence the hints only I enclosed with my book of verse, Marvels for a Wednesday Dawn.
I was born on a Wednesday, which remains the only inexplicable matter here to need no rationale, however.
The statistic Helen, though intent,
wasn’t born Hippolyta to befriend:
in common such a little bit
ha’p'orth so petite
an illiberal, bigoted detail
provincial, greatness to belittle
often just a voiceless glottal
and not a stop –
shouldn’t we just have it chopped?
Hidebound like a numerical fact
hesitation to occasion vowel double act
put to note time and again post-haste
would it have vexed also Theseus’ taste?
Arisen of mid-vanity
bore yet to eternity
should this simple letter humane
make one siege Troy, or hold the mane?
If Yeats expressed the spirit of the nation, did he render the spirit of the Irish English language? Or, could we say there is one English language, THE English language? If not, would there be the better and prettier, or the uglier and worse — varieties of English?
The inferiority complex contradicts the nature of language. The same applies to the superiority complex, as well as narcissism. Implying a superior or inferior status about any of the Englishes is like putting the Snow White in her glass coffin.
A language variety can be an independent language within a group of languages of the same kind. American English is a variety of English coequal with British, Canadian, Australian, New Zealander, Scottish, Irish, and other recognized Englishes of the world; none is superior or inferior (Travelers in Grammar 2).
Not only does the beauty I beheld
Transcend our lives, but truly I believe
Its Maker only may enjoy it all.
(Paradiso XXX, Project Gutenberg, translation by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, e-text prepared by Dennis McCarthy, Atlanta, GA).