Inspiration and research

 

For this exercise, in search of something that resonates with me but wasn’t in Dutch, I started reading some classic English poetry. Not only for this exercise, but I came to the conclusion that I know the names, but never read anything properly. Yates, Frost, Blake, Poe, picking the most referred ones of course, sometimes wandering off to lesser-known. I stumbled upon a short poem from Paul Lauwrence Dunbar:

We wear the mask that grins and lies
It hides our cheeks and shades our eyes. 
This debt we pay to human guile
With torn and bleeding hearts we smile
And mouth with myriad subtleties.

It is striking in these times of inequality and attention for racism, together with the strange coincidence of the mask-wearing COVID measurements. It would be low hanging fruit to use this in this exercise, I guess.

Nevertheless, I cannot help being drawn to Robert (Lee) Frost, B. 1874 D. 1963. Of course his famous and intense “The road not taken”, but even more on the compact: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

Massively imaginative with intense atmosphere. An Americana Poem, snowy feeling, deserted deep forests of New England, lonely contemplations but never heavy. The poem was written in 1922 after working a whole night on another poem,  stepping outside, looking into the Vermont forests and writing this in a single breeze of brilliance, as art should be in my opinion. Only then the emotion takes over, and only then the emotion can be transceived.

I doubted to use one of my favourite Dutch modern poets/writers, Jules Deelder with a short poem, close to my heart and motto in life:

Hetzelfde zien
Maar het zò zien
Zoals niemand het zag

J.A. Deelder – Euforismen Bezige Bij, 1991

(probably awfully translated by me in:

Seeing the same
But seeing it like this
As no one saw before)

 

But the imaginative, dark, sombre tones of Frost really get to me, I see his world in just a few lines. The interbellum, the ending with a high of the industrial revolution, the further uprising of the new world and world order. The loneliness in that vast American Vermont in New England with winters and forests we can now only dream of. The image is there instantly, with every line he writes. Enough to interpret, plenty to imagine, lots to guess, his intentions never entirely clear;

The only other sound’s the sweep
Of easy wind and snowy flake

 

Interpretation and execution

 

The winter atmosphere of Frost is physically almost opposite to mine at the time of this exercise. Frost wrote the poem in the mids of the Vermont winter, I’m working on this exercise in the blistering hot Spanish summer, in the dry inlands of the Valenciana region. However, the lonely contemplating feeling, the urge to move on, to keep promises, either intrinsically or to others, is very recognisable and occurs under equal situations. Being alone, struck by nature or loneliness itself, a flow of inspiration and reflection, all becomes clear yet with some hesitation and delay but nevertheless, no time to waste, so much to do, miles to go before I sleep. The bleached tones of this blistering hot country can strangely enough simulate the cold wintery feeling, especially  in reduced light.

 

The Road Not Taken :

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveller, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.

By Frost

 

Image selection

 

The woods are lovely, dark and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep.

 

Bibliography

 

English for Students. (2020). TOP 100 Poems : A POEM : Poem : English Poem. [online] Available at: http://www.english-for-students.com/TOP-100-Poems.html [Accessed 16 Sep. 2020].

Justus Anton Deelder (1991). Euforismen. Amsterdam De Bezige Bij Cop.

Literary  Hub. (2019). The 32 Most Iconic Poems in the English Language. [online] Available at: https://lithub.com/the-32-most-iconic-poems-in-the-english-language/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2020].

PoemHunter (2014). PoemHunter.com: Poems – Quotes – Poetry. [online] Poemhunter.com. Available at: https://www.poemhunter.com/ [Accessed 16 Sep. 2020].