Sunday, September 21, 2008

Miton's Parallels


by John Milton, 1637

Yet once more, O ye laurels, and once more,
Ye myrtles brown, with ivy never sere,
I come to pluck your berries harsh and crude,
And with forced fingers rude
Shatter your leaves before the mellowing year.
Bitter constraint, and sad occasion dear,
Compels me to disturb your season due;
For Lycidas is dead, dead ere his prime,
Young Lycidas, and hath not left his peer.
Who would not sing for Lycidas?
He knew Himself to sing, and build the lofty rhyme.
He must not float upon his wat'ry bier
Unwept, and welter to the parching wind,
Without the meed of some melodious tear.


-An excerpt from Milton's elegy of the drowning of a Cambridge schoolmate and friend.

Why Parallel?

The structure of a poem, its craft, alliteration, assonance, meter and emotion all have architectural relevance. The sadness of the poem, despite of Samual Johnson's opinion, rubs off on us. Lycidas, like all good poems, needs us in order to be, in order come alive when someone reads them. Just like warm coals glow bright and deep under the below's gust, a good poem allows us to precieve within them a world of our own; a world different from the author who created it, a world which can change and flutter with in our personal indisyncracies.

Good poems, like good buildings make us feel, think and question our existence. Why do we die, why do we grieve, why am I here? They are spatial, have corpreal presence, are metaphysical and are economical. For me, parallel means non-direct, non-frontal, tandem relationships.

Good poems have parallels.

This of course also calls into question what is 'good'.

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