Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Dearest of Dedications

Every time I get a new book, I crack it open and look for a dedication.  These brief lines usually tell a story all of their own, apart from the book’s premise.  I love them, because they can provide us with a quick glimpse into the personal lives of the writers we follow.  

Sometimes, dedications are short and sweet, just “For you” or “To my love…”  Other times, they are long lists of helpers and inspirations.  And still, there are more that cryptic and mysterious – an inside joke only to be understood by those they’re meant for.

This semester I heard about a little book completely regarding dedications and the stories behind them.  I knew I had to have.  A quick click on Amazon and a few days later, it arrived on my doorstep!
Published in 2008, Marlene Wagman-Geller’s “Once Again to Zelda: The Stories Behind Literature’s Most Intriguing Dedications,” is a perfectly light and interesting read.  

Of course, you all know now that even if I didn’t like dedications, I probably would have given in to buying it simply because it references both my beloved F. Scott Fitzgerald and his Great Gatsby! 

As the title suggests, Wagman-Geller does, indeed, discuss FSF’s dedication in her book.  Relying on research, she writes of the tumultuous relationship between Scott and Zelda.  Furthermore, she delves into the ways that his life experience leaked into all of his stories.  “Once again to Zelda” stands not only as Fitzgerald’s dedication of The Great Gatsby, but also as a resounding declaration of his eternal love for Zelda.  Wagman-Geller’s recounting of their lives drives home the poignancy of FSF’s dedication.

In total, the book dissects 50 different literary dedications.  Some of my favorites, including To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath, and The Joy Luck Club by Amy Tan, are among those discussed.  Each of the entries is easily-readable, well-researched, and provides insight into our most beloved authors.

Marlene Wagman-Geller, of course, included a dedication of her own to the book’s prefacing pages: “To my Js – And to the writers whose fictionalized worlds have forever enriched our own.”  It’s a lovely dedication, I think.

But my favorite part of the particular used copy I received comes from a handwritten note scrawled across some blank pages.  It reads: “To the most avid reader we know – Emilie.  Much love, Mom & Dad. 07/02/09.”  At first, I felt saddened to think “Em” had received this gift only to give it away, but thinking about now, I feel like maybe she passed it along so other avid readers could experience it…

If any of you wishes to read it, simply let me know and I’ll send it along!

Gaga over Gatsby

As promised in my last post, I am still talking about the work of F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Some of you might have wondered why I only gave The Great Gatsby a meager nod last go-around.  The answer, which will be abundantly obvious in a few moments, is that I feel the book deserves its own post.

For many, The Great Gatsby is FSF’s best work.  The book continues to be used in high school classrooms and book clubs.  It is praised around the world as a classic and definitive novel about the lifestyles of the rich and famous in the Jazz Age. 

The book’s iconic cover even graces some clothing and other items on the trendy and very current website:  This shirt {and others like it}, plus an iPhone cover and tote bag, are some of the items available from their Gatsby store:

In keeping with all of his writings, Gatsby is filled with events and characters that mirror those on Fitzgerald’s personal life.  Perhaps, it is this intimacy that makes the story so strong and memorable. 
I mentioned in my last post that I love the way that FSF describes things.  

Some of my favorite scenes in The Great Gatsby are ones that give details of JG’s lavish parties.  The first one, read in Chapter 3, is depicted deliciously with lines like:

  • “Men and girls came and went like moths among the whisperings and the champagne and the stars…” 
  • “On buffet tables, garnished with glistening hors d’oeuvre, spiced baked hams crowded against salads of harlequin designs and pastry pigs and turkeys bewitched to a dark gold…”
  • “Laughter is easier minute by minute, spilled with prodigality, tipped out at a cheerful word…”

We can also examine Gatsby for the recurring themes of Fitzgerald’s work: beauty, fame, money, love – or a lack thereof.  As with many of his pieces, The Great Gatsby is a constant mix of emotions.  There is lust and passion, anger and greed, jealousy.  There is love, kindness, friendship.  FSF takes us on a rolleroaster, careening around sharp turns, leading us high into the clouds, only to dash our hopes with a quick fall to the bottom.  It is a fabulous ride!

If you haven’t read it, you should.  If for no other reason than to be more aware of the storyline before you see the newest release of The Great Gatsby on film.  I will be in the seats on opening night {May 10th}, hoping against all hope that director, Baz Luhrmann, was able to capture the greatness of Fitzgerald’s literary masterpiece.

Happy reading {and watching}!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Falling for Fitzgerald

One of the big reasons I decided to take this Literature class was its inclusion of some F. Scott Fitzgerald material.  Since my middle school exposure to his work, I have adored all things FSF!  He is, hands-down, my favorite American writer – far above my second favorite, Steinbeck.  

I love the way that he describes textures, colors, and tastes. I love how brutally honest he can get when discussing things like lost love, fading beauty, lonely riches, and empty fame.  I love how his stories can transport me back to the eras in which they were written.  

His characters range from the romantic to the vapid from the honest to the evil.  Each of them has their own set of problems.  But, best of all, the characters are accessible – They seem to represent people we actually know in our current lives.  Furthermore, these characters give us a glimpse into his own personal and tragic life with his beloved Zelda.

{I love Fitzgerald so much that I’ll be talking about him/his work in some way for each of my final three posts!}

If you haven’t read much Fitz, you should definitely get on it. While The Great Gatsby might be the most popular of his works, FSF has a treasure trove of other gems.  I own a collection of his stories edited by Matthew J Bruccoli and published in 1989.  It includes over forty of his delectable short stories.

Here are my top ten picks {in alphabetical order}:

  • Bernice Bobs Her Hair
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button
  • The Diamond as big as the Ritz
  • Head and Shoulders
  • The Ice Palace
  • Last Kiss
  • More than Just a House 
  • The Sensible Thing
  • The Swimmers
  • Winter Dreams

Before summer makes its official debut, pop into your local library to check-out a Fitzgerald collection.  Find a cozy spot in the shade, make some iced tea, and settle in for the ultimate in American literature!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Glorious Goodbyes

This past week, one of my cousins was involved in a tragic car accident that took her life.  She had just turned twenty-one in January and left behind a gorgeous and giggly baby girl.  As news of the accident spread through my family, I was struck again by just how fragile our lives are.

We hear of so many terrible events like this.  Always accompanying these headlines are phrases that echo the idea that life is too short.  Our end often come after what seems was just our beginning.  In the most rapid of blinks, we have lived and died.  We are here and gone.

When my cousin was born, she had a hole in her heart.  At just 6-weeks old, doctors at Riley Children's Hospital performed open heart surgery.  Her whole life had been a struggle, ups and downs, smiles and frowns.  Somehow, she always seem bent on optimism.  She loved anything tie-dye.  She lived the words to her favorite Lion King song, Hakuna Matata - which in case you don't know, means "no worries"!

When I woke up this morning, my heart was heavy.  I, indeed, had worries.  I logged onto Facebook and wrote this status:

"... Today, my family will gather to say "Until next time..." to my cousin. For Christians like us, it is bittersweet. We will mourn our earthly loss, but rejoice in heaven's gain. Please send your thoughts and prayers - particularly to her mother, brother & sisters, boyfriend, and 10-month-old daughter. May joy for her life win over sorrow for her death, may peace triumph over pain, and may laughter echo among the tears! ♥ Rest now, until we meet again..."

Afterwards, I sat reading through a variety of poems about death and goodbyes.

Here are some of my favorite findings.  They are comforting and rich.  Each of them reminds me that death cannot end the impact of our lives.  As such, we should maintain happiness and hope.  We should focus not on our troubles, but on our triumphs.  We should have no worries...

A song of living

Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.
I have sent up my gladness on wings, to be lost in the blue of the sky.
I have run and leaped with the rain, I have taken the wind to my breast.
My cheeks like a drowsy child to the face of the earth I have pressed.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I have kissed young love on the lips, I have heard his song to the end,
I have struck my hand like a seal in the loyal hand of a friend.
I have known the peace of heaven, the comfort of work done well.
I have longed for death in the darkness and risen alive out of hell.
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

I gave a share of my soul to the world, when and where my course is run.
I know that another shall finish the task I surely must leave undone.
I know that no flower, nor flint was in vain on the path I trod.
As one looks on a face through a window, through life I have looked on God,
Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die.

-Amelia Burr

I fall asleep

I fall asleep in the full and certain hope
That my slumber shall not be broken;
And that though I be all-forgetting,
Yet shall I not be forgotten,
But continue that life in the thoughts and deeds
of those I loved.

-Samuel Butler

Miss me, but let me go

When I come to the end of the road,
And the sun has set for me,
I want no rites in a gloom filled room
Why cry for a soul set free?
Miss me a little - but not for long.
And not with your head bowed low.
Remember the love that once we shared.
Miss me, but let me go.
For this is a journey we must all take,
And each must go alone.
It's all part of the master plan,
A step on the road to home.
When you are lonely and sick at heart,
Go to the friends we know,
Laugh at all the things we used to do.
Miss me, but let me go.


Sunday, March 24, 2013

Literary Passports

I guess that I should clarify my earlier post about not being too keen on poetry.  I should have said that I don’t really care for American poetry.  Because the course I’m currently taking is an “American Literature” one, I sometimes forget that there is a whole world of stories, poems, and essays available to me.

And in the case of world literature, there are actually a number of poets that I adore.

Maybe you’re sitting there and asking “What’s the difference?”   Well, I’m getting to that; however, before I do, let’s look my numero uno when it comes to poetry apart from the United States: Pablo Neruda.

{About the Author} 

In addition to being a splendid poet, Neruda had a riveting life away from the writing desk.  Born and raised in Chile, Neruda began contributing articles to his local paper at just thirteen years old.  In 1924, my favorite of his collections - Veinte Poemas de Amor y una Cancion Desesperada {English translation: Twenty Love Poems and a Song of Despair} – was published.  He later became a politician, traveling to places like Burma {now Myanmar}, Singapore, and Barcelona.  Eventually, Neruda was given assignment in France, where he penned a socially- and politically-minded collection of poetry called España en el Corazón {English translation: Spain in the Heart}.  Upon returning to Chile, Neruda became an activist protesting against Chile’s President González Videla.  He was forced to live and work underground for two years.  Neruda’s writing continued to inspire and enlighten.  His accomplishments were most notably recognized in 1971 when he was awarded a Nobel Prize

{The Selections for Today’s Discussion}

I’ve chosen two pieces from Neruda. 

The first is Poema XX from Veinte poemas de amor y una cancion desesperada.  This collection is well-known by many as erotic and dramatic.  Neruda was only nineteen at the time it was published, but the poems certainly seem more mature. 

The second is entitled Soneto LXXIX from Neruda’s collection Cien sonetos de amor {English translation: One-hundred Love Sonnets}.  Despite being thirty-six years older than when Veinte poemas... was published, Neruda still manages to capture the sensuality and intimacy of love.

I think they’re best when read in Neruda’s native language of Spanish, but I fully realize that not everyone can read Spanish.  As such, I’m including them in both languages.  Not that the poems need any help in the romance department, but trust me when I tell you that they are the most delicious in Spanish.  But I digress – English will suffice!  {Can’t read Spanish, but wonder what they sound like?  Make a trip to YouTube.  You can find both of these recited in Spanish there!}

{En español}

Poema XX

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Escribir, por ejemplo: "La noche está estrellada, y tiritan, azules, los astros, a lo lejos".
El viento de la noche gira en el cielo y canta.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Yo la quise, y a veces ella también me quiso.

En las noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos.
La besé tantas veces bajo el cielo infinito.

Ella me quiso, a veces yo también la quería.
Cómo no haber amado sus grandes ojos fijos.

Puedo escribir los versos más tristes esta noche.
Pensar que no la tengo. Sentir que la he perdido.

Oir la noche inmensa, más inmensa sin ella.
Y el verso cae al alma como al pasto el rocío.

Qué importa que mi amor no pudiera guardarla.
La noche está estrellada y ella no está conmigo.

Eso es todo. A lo lejos alguien canta. A lo lejos.
Mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.

Como para acercarla mi mirada la busca.
Mi corazón la busca, y ella no está conmigo.

La misma noche que hace blanquear los mismos árboles.
Nosotros, los de entonces, ya no somos los mismos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero cuánto la quise.
Mi voz buscaba el viento para tocar su oído.

De otro. Será de otro. Como antes de mis besos.
Su voz, su cuerpo claro. Sus ojos infinitos.

Ya no la quiero, es cierto, pero tal vez la quiero.
Es tan corto el amor, y es tan largo el olvido.

Porque en noches como ésta la tuve entre mis brazos, mi alma no se contenta con haberla perdido.
Aunque éste sea el último dolor que ella me causa, y éstos sean los últimos versos que yo le escribo.

{In English}

Poem 20 

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
Write, for instance: "The night is full of stars, and the stars, blue, shiver, in the distance."
The night wind whirls in the sky and sings.

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
I loved her, and sometimes she loved me too.

On nights like this, I held her in my arms.
I kissed her so many times under the infinite sky.

She loved me, sometimes I loved her.
How could I not have loved her large, still eyes?

I can write the saddest lines tonight.
To think that I don't have her. To feel that I have lost her.

To hear the immense night, more immense without her.
And the poem falls on the soul as the dew on the grass.

So what if my love couldn't keep her.
The night is full of stars, and she is not with me.

That's all. In the distance, someone sings. In the distance.
My soul is troubled after having lost her.

As if to bring her near, my eyes search for her.
My heart searches for her, and she is not with me.

The same night that whitens the same trees.
We, we who were, we are the same no longer.

I no longer love her, true, but how much I did loved her.
My voice searched the wind to touch her ear.

Someone else's. She will be someone else's. As it was before my kisses.
Her voice, her white body. Her infinite eyes.

I no longer love her, true, but perhaps I do love her.
Love is so short and oblivion so long.

Because on nights like this I held her in my arms,
my soul is troubled after having lost her.

Although this may be the last ache she causes me,
and this, the last poem I write for her.


{En español}

Soneto LXXIX

De noche, amada, amarra tu corazón al mío
y que ellos en el sueño derroten las tinieblas
como un doble tambor combatiendo en el bosque
contra el espeso muro de las hojas mojadas.

Nocturna travesía, brasa negra del sueño
interceptando el hilo de las uvas terrestres
con la puntualidad de un tren descabellado
que sombra y piedras frías sin cesar arrastrara.

Por eso, amor, amárrame el movimiento puro,
a la tenacidad que en tu pecho golpea
con las alas de un cisne sumergido,

para que a las preguntas estrelladas del cielo
responda nuestro sueño con una sola llave,
con una sola puerta cerrada por la sombra.

{In English}

Sonnet 79

Tie your heart at night to mine, love,
and both will defeat the darkness
like twin drums beating in the forest
against the heavy wall of wet leaves.

Night crossing: black coal of dream
that cuts the thread of earthly orbs
with the punctuality of a headlong train
that pulls cold stone and shadow endlessly.

Love, because of it, tie me to a purer movement,
to the grip on life that beats in your breast,
with the wings of a submerged swan,

So that our dream might reply
to the sky's questioning stars
with one key, one door closed to shadow. 


{The Difference}

What was that?!  Did you just let out a sigh?  If so, you’re not alone.  Every time I read one of Neruda’s love poems, I find myself sighing out of contentment, despair, or nostalgia.  His work is moving and emotional.  It can be swoon-inducing and full of romance.  It can be heart-breaking and scream of loneliness and longing.

In his capabilities at capturing the wild torrent of emotions that are often love, Neruda is not alone.  Many other poets from around the world do this with equal precision and skill.

These poems are a small sample that showcases one of the major differences between American poetry and its foreign counterparts:  Emotionality.

Pieces like Poema XX and Soneto LXXIX display a sleekness and romance that is sometimes hard to find in American poetry.  When I do come across similar modes in American writing, they are often portrayed with a sort of clumsiness.  They are heavy, awkward, and shallow.  Here, however, we glimpse love with softness.  There is certainly passion.  There is certainly mystery.  There can even be despair.  But whatever the emotion is, it is portrayed with an art and grace that masterfully surpasses the best of American poets.

Of course, this is just an exploration of one sort of emotion.  Other emotions – say anger or injustice – work just fine in American pieces.  But for romance or wistfulness, get your passports and library cards ready for a trip outside on our fifty states!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Paper Hug

Lately, I've been going through a pretty rough patch.  Anything that could go wrong, has.  Everything that seemed to be going well, suddenly decided not to. 

To keep myself from falling to pieces, I've been seeking out comfort, consolation, and companionship in all sorts of places:  I phoned old friends, begging them to remind me I had survived worse in the past.  I had hour-long chats with my two cats.  I cooked fabulous meals and tried to forget.  I curled into my fiancé at night and cried in the satin of my pillowcase.  I wrote in a journal.  I turned on my favorite comedies and tried to laugh.  I threw myself into my work, writing lesson plan after lesson plan.  I went to extra yoga classes and tried to sweat it all out.  I prayed until I was out of words. 

Earlier in the week – as my Lit class was immersed in poetry – I desperately turned to Google in hopes of finding something, anything that made me feel like I wasn’t the only person on the planet struggling to keep it all together. 

I snuggled into my familiar spot on the couch, closed the blinds to keep the sunshine from disturbing my melancholy, pulled my oldest and softest blanket up to my chin, and balanced my laptop on my legs.  I stared into the screen blankly, thinking What good can this do?  How is anything I find here going to make me feel any better?  After a few minutes, I typed phrases like these:

“Literature for the brokenhearted”
“Poetry for the downtrodden”
“Quotes to inspire”

Some of the results were a bit too much for me – a good amount were straight out of the self-help section of the bookstore, and others seemed written for the most devout and religious among us. 

There were also a number that offered little substance – I've blogged about these types of “inspirational quotes” before, see:  “What It Means to Dream” from December 2012.  My mood definitely wasn't going to be lightened by those little “gems”; on the contrary, I imagine I might have become angry.

But, alas, just as I wanted to give up and take a year-long nap, I came across three selections that made me feel the first twinges of hope.  I’m sharing them with you today, just in case you’re feeling lost like I was.  You’ll also find a few of my responses to them in italics

Bad Morning

Here I sit
With my shoes mismated
I’s frustrated

-Langston Hughes

*I know this one seems silly, and maybe it isn't your idea of consolatory, but it made me smile.  Have any of you ever done something so routine only to turn around and realize you completely mucked it up?  I certainly have.  I once went to work with inside-out pants and a backwards shirt on {I had gotten up late and hurriedly dressed in the dark}.  Obviously, the problems I've been dealing with lately far surpass little slip-ups like this, but perhaps I can consider them in this way.  Perhaps, I can simply stand up, go find the mated shoes, put them on, and go on my way, forgetting I ever erred in the first place.

A Winter Dawn

Above the marge of night a star still shines,
And on the frosty hills the sombre pines
Harbor an eerie wind that crooneth low
Over the glimmering wastes of virgin snow.

Through the pale arch of orient the morn
Comes in a milk-white splendor newly-born,
A sword of crimson cuts in twain the gray
Banners of shadow hosts, and lo, the day!

-Lucy Maud Montgomery

*L.M. Montgomery wrote a series of books about the beloved Anne of Green Gables.  Those books hold very special and sweet memories for me.  Her writing has always provided me with entertainment and cheer.  As such, I actually amended my search to include her name.  I came across this poem, which gently reminded me that every dark night is soon replaced by a new, bright day.

The Armful

For every parcel I stoop down to seize
I lose some other off my arms and knees,
And the whole pile is slipping, bottles, buns --
Extremes too hard to comprehend at once,
Yet nothing I should care to leave behind.
With all I have to hold with hand and mind
And heart, if need be, I will do my best
To keep their building balanced at my breast.
I crouch down to prevent them as they fall;
Then sit down in the middle of them all.
I had to drop the armful in the road
And try to stack them in a better load.

-Robert Frost

* I've never been a big Frost fan, but this poem reminded me of my life right now.  It is so much like carrying a tower of things.  One thing falls down, prompting another to follow, and another – and soon, you find yourself staring at a pile of broken eggs, torn bags, and smashed bread.  And what else is there to do, but stoop over and pick up the pieces?

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Poetry with a Pulse

I’ve never been one for poetry.  As much as I love reading, I have just never felt very connected to this particular genre.  Don’t get me wrong:  I completely understand that it is an art, a fluid expression of thoughts and ideas, sometimes imaginative, sometimes all-too-real.  I am capable of appreciating these characteristics, but I would never opt to read it over other forms of literature.

Today, while driving along on my two-hour commute from my home to my office, I realized there actually is a form of poetry that I wholeheartedly and unreservedly adore – MUSIC. 

I listen to music almost all of the time.  If I’m awake, there must be music.  Even as I’m teaching, there is music.  When I take a shower, I turn on music.  If I can’t sleep at night, I sing to myself!  Music is a huge part of my life.

To many, music might simply seem like beats of bass or extra sound; but, in fact, music is both an art and a science.  It is comprised of precision as well as chaos.  It is rhythm, but it is also lyrics {most of the time}. 
I am a lyrics person.  While I love a good beat or killer guitar riff, I need and seek out good words.  To me, songwriting is a whole lot like poetry.  The rhythm is just the accompanying track to the literature from the songwriter.

Like poetry, music includes a wide array of styles.

For instance, we can consider that pop music is the “Roses are red, violets are blue…” of the lyrical world.  The word choices and structure of these songs might be simple, end in rhymes, and come to a predictable conclusion, but they still require some writing skill as well as an understand of what might catch a listener’s ear.  {Please don’t take my comments here as an affront to pop music.  I channel my inner Kelly Clarkson on an almost daily basis while dancing around in my car.} 

Examples of this approach to lyrics {and poetry} can be found in several current pop songs.

K$sha’s “C’mon” includes lines like the following:

Feeling like I'm a high schooler
Sipping on a warm wine cooler 

Hot 'cause the party don't stop
I'm in a crop top 
… … … …
We been keeping it PG
But I wanna get a little frisky

Rihanna’s “Stay” includes similar rhyme-ending lines:

Round and around and around and around we go
Oh now tell me now tell me now tell me now you know
It takes me all the way
I want you to stay
Ooh the reason I hold on
Ooh ‘cause I need this hole gone
Funny you're the broken one but I'm the only one who needed saving
Cause when you never see the light it's hard to know which one of us is caving

More advanced songwriting can be compared to less obvious rhythms and themes in poetry.  Literary devices like metaphor or personification might be utilized.  Word choice may be highly varied and creative.  

Like their poetic counterparts, these sorts of songs may prove to be complex and quite deep.

My favorite band of all-time will forever be Led Zeppelin.  I find their songs rhythmically and lyrically interesting.  One of their most popular tracks is the highly-successful “Stairway to Heaven.”  The song – while certainly appealing based solely on Jimmy Page’s guitar work, John Paul Jones’ bass recorder and electric piano work, and John Bonham’s ever-stunning drums – is ultimately made by Robert Plant as he sings thought-provoking lyrics like the following:

There's a lady who's sure all that glitters is gold
And she's buying a stairway to heaven.
When she gets there she knows, if the stores are all closed
With a word she can get what she came for.
Ooh, ooh, and she's buying a stairway to heaven.

There's a sign on the wall but she wants to be sure
'Cause you know sometimes words have two meanings.
In a tree by the brook, there's a songbird who sings,
Sometimes all of our thoughts are misgiven.

Other complex lyrical schemes can be found in all genres of modern music.

Ben Folds, another favorite of mine, penned these lyrics to his song “The Luckiest”:

What if I'd been born 50 years before you
In a house on the street where you live?
Maybe I'd be outside as you passed on your bike
Would I know?

And in a wide sea of eyes
I see one pair that I recognize
And I know
That I am…
The luckiest

I love you more than I have
Ever found a way to say to you

Next door there's an old man who lived to his 90s
And one day passed away in his sleep
And his wife, she stayed for a couple of days
And passed away
I'm sorry, I know that's
A strange way to tell you
That I know we belong…

Literature has often inspired musicians to either allude to or outright mention certain works or authors.

Regina Spektor – who I think is some sort of modern-day musical genius – mentions authors in at least two of her songs.

In “Poor Little Rich Boy,” she sings:

Poor little rich boy, all the world is okay
The water runs off your skin and down into the drain
You're reading Fitzgerald, you're reading Hemmingway
They're both super smart and drinking in the café…

In “Pound of Flesh,” she alludes to Shakespeare’s Merchant of Venice and also mentions a poet from our current text:

Ezra Pound'll sit upon your bed
ask you which books as of late you have read
ask you if you've read his own
and whether you could spare a pound
of flesh to cover his bare bones
You'll say, man, take a pound, take two
what's a pound of flesh between
friends like me and you?
What's a pound of flesh among friends?...

To me, these lyrical examples illustrate the commonalities that music and traditional poetry share.  Writers, whether song or literary ones, aim to express an idea and elicit some sort of emotional response from their readers {or listeners}.  Even pop songs or elementary poems seek to achieve this.  Their goal may simply be to entertain or lighten a dark mood.  More complex poems and songs may strive to communicate a vision or express an intricate concept.  They may hope to force their audience to consider alternate worlds or visionary ideas.

Ultimately, the success of these goals depends on the appeal of the work.  Skill, while clearly necessary, is not usually the determining factor for an audience.  Instead, the audience seeks connection to the message.

I can read volumes of poetry and find only a small number that spark connection; however, I can name many songs that have provided this.

To each his own, of course.  Some might feel that pulsating rhythm overshadows lyrics, making music more of distraction than a means of communication.  But for now, I will choose musical poetry over the textbook kind any day of the week!