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Some quotes

I read some of John Clare’s letters and opinions.

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He too, then, obviously, would express such sentiments. Somehow it hadn’t solidified in my mind. Also, butter flye struck me as a very charming way of spelling. But what truly made me chuckle is this little narrative:

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I think that’s terribly sweet! I think everyone should be entitled to a silly way of seeing the world if it harms no one. Yes, there is no play called “Shakespeare”, but if you’ve only seen one, it might as well be called Shakespeare. And yes, turncoats, no one should change their opinion if it’s such an endearing one, and especially not if its explained by such a deliciously silly principle that defies all everyday logic. It reminds me of my favourite scene in cinematic history – Kaspar Hauser rolling apples and arguing with the priest about whether the apple has a soul and will of its own or whether the apple goes where Kaspar wants it to go, thus having no will or soul. Of course I was cheering for Kaspar’s interpretation and booing the priest’s lack of imagination.

It is some strange kind of whimsicality of mine, which I remember being possessed of even at the age of 7 when I cheered my little sister on in silly behaviour, but that kind of alternative takes – that strike at the roots of common sense and acceptable thinking – I truly adore them. No exaggeration. They make my eyes glow with pleasure every time.

Poetry

The world that comes off from the poetry of John Clare is so wholesome and inviting. I want that world to be mine one of those days. And even if I cannot write in words, because written poetry is really not my forte, I can experience the poetry of things and learn the names and ways of various birds and plants and trees. I can live in that world instead of reading about it and sighing and pretending the little forest grove and meadow near my ugly house is countryside. Well, I suppose it kind of is countryside, but regardless. I want to see that:

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……when I look out of the window.

And this poem is ever so pretty:

All nature has a feeling: woods, fields, brooks
Are life eternal: and in silence they
Speak happiness beyond the reach of books;
There’s nothing mortal in them; their decay
Is the green life of change; to pass away
And come again in blooms revivified.
Its birth was heaven, eternal it its stay,
And with the sun and moon shall still abide
Beneath their day and night and heaven wide.

Having grown up lived on poetry like this and nothing modern, the challenge of writing contemporary nature poetry has a strange appeal. But.

Irreverence

I was quoting Blake, but couldn’t remember the exact words, so took out his book of poems and had a browse.

And the illusion of greatness was shattered. I thought he was more of an eccentric, now revered disproportionately to his talent by people who don’t get his work, than he was a great poet. And as an exercise, I will henceforth criticise some poets and writers I like as mercilessly as I can. No intelligence or fairness intended.

Keats

Too beautiful, a man should not write as beautifully as Keats. I don’t have a lot to say against Keats, because my favourite flowers are lilacs and lilies-of-the-valley, which means I can handle beauty and sweetness in excessive doses compared to most people, and Keats is really perfectly fine by my standards. I’d be quite glad to be listening to nightingales with him under the cherry tree and compose odes later. I just wish he wouldn’t be so obsessed with the Greek culture, because it makes my head spin the way he refers to them. I suppose it was his youthful Arcadia and he never grew old enough to be tired of it.

Shelley

If Shelley lived in our time, he’d be a liberal hipster. Definitely vegan, definitely bearded, and with a collection of vinyls by obscure bands. He’d think himself a great revolutionary, urge people to protest against discrimination and be prolific on social media.  The only reason we know him today is that he lived 200 years too soon. Presently, he’d be a very common type.

Byron

Byron is not a Romantic poet and academics should eventually realise that. The only thing that is Romantic is his life and the white open-buttoned shirts he wore. The fact academics confuse a poet’s life with his work points to the feeble-mindedness of that particular brain group. His poetry is false and his emotion is not sincere. I never believe a word he says, but I do believe Keats and Wordsworth and Shelley.  This is the test of the Romantic. Be believable or perish and be banded together with the Augustan writers.

Wordsworth

No poet can beat Wordsworth in self-centredness. Reading his Prelude is hilarious. How did people get away with this sort of vanity and self-admiration? He thought he, and he alone, was the true great poet and there was absolutely no other way to be a poet but in the way he was. I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud is a very mediocre poem to be primarily known for too.

T.S. Eliot

He too thought he was the true great poet. There was only his way of writing poetry and inferior ways of writing poetry. He and Wordsworth are two sides of the exact same coin.

George Eliot

A dull moralist who ought have used her unusual life to inspire her work rather than let it revert to moralistic preaching and showing-off of her learning. Deeply insecure person.

W. Shakespeare

His jokes are absolutely not funny. And Kenneth Bragnach’s 4-hour version of Hamlet is every student’s worst punishment. I wish he had written less of kings. It’s very unimaginative of him.

Rolland

Telling a story to preach your own ideas is cheap. Art should exists for art’s sake, not for spreading one’s ideology. And Jean-Christophe strong? He? He’s an absolute neurotic. Writing like this at the turn of the century is also very dated. One should have written like the modernists to be hip.

And to finish it off with a particularly infantile poem by William Blake, which happens to be one of my favourites:

A flower was offered to me,
Such a flower as May never bore;
But I said ‘I’ve a pretty rose tree,’
And I passed the sweet flower o’er.

Then I went to my pretty rose tree,
To tend her by day and by night;
But my rose turned away with jealousy,
And her thorns were my only delight.