Let today’s post be a celebration of the wonderful poet, singer, memoirist, and civil rights activist Dr Maya Angelou. This is one my most favorite poems of all time (thanks, Google Doodle!). It reminds me of hope, courage, triumph over adversities, equality and the importance of self-acceptance. Maybe it’s timely, too, that I am reminded of it.
I owe much of my love for poetry to a certain TV series and actor Ron Perlman. Seriously.
In 1987, the series Beauty and the Beast (BATB) starring Ron and Linda Hamilton started airing. However, it did not immediately reach our shores, so to speak. Exactly when I saw it, I do not remember, although my guess would be in 1989. But its impact on me has lived with me since then.
It was a beautiful show and much of what made it beautiful to me, at least, was the premise of a “beast” with a golden voice always waxing poetic. He was a well-read creature always reading such lovely poems! And that voice!
Yes, that voice is forever embedded in my memory. That’s especially because when I reached college, someone introduced me to BATB’s Of Love and Hope official soundtrack. OF COURSE, I just had to borrow and listen to it. I did until I decided to have my own copy. Oh, bliss!!!
Ron really did justice to the poems. I fell in love with the poems. I hardly even remember the music, in fact, I often skipped the music to get to the poems! They were made more beautiful by his deep and romantic voice, romantic in the more sentimental way. I cannot read/recite any of those poems without being on “beast-mode” and reading them his way.
So if anyone ever notices why I watch some movies because Ron’s in it, it’s because I have somehow made him a friend.
If you miss the show and the poems, or would like to know what I am talking about, I have taken the liberty of finding videos for you where Vincent recites Cummings, Frost, Rilke and others. I tried to post them in an order based on what I most love, but there were those I could not decide on. So let’s just say they are in random order.
But first, the most popular audio from the show. This was the show’s theme song, The First Time I Loved Forever (sung by Liza Angelle). In-between parts are readings of excerpts from e. e. cummings‘ somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond. The whole poem follows the video. BTW, the list is not complete as I could not find vids of the others.
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond
somewhere i have never travelled, gladly beyond any experience,your eyes have their silence: in your most frail gesture are things which enclose me, or which i cannot touch because they are too near
your slightest look will easily unclose me though i have closed myself as fingers, you open always petal by petal myself as Spring opens (touching skilfully,mysteriously)her first rose
or if your wish be to close me, i and my life will shut very beautifully ,suddenly, as when the heart of this flower imagines the snow carefully everywhere descending; nothing which we are to perceive in this world equals the power of your intense fragility:whose texture compels me with the color of its countries, rendering death and forever with each breathing
(i do not know what it is about you that closes and opens;only something in me understands the voice of your eyes is deeper than all roses) nobody,not even the rain,has such small hands
She Walks in Beauty by Lord Byron (George Gordon Byron)
Acquainted with the Night by Robert Frost
Longing by Matthew Arnold
I Arise from Dreams of Thee by Percy Bysshe Shelley
This is the Creature by Rainier Maria Rilke
You, Darkness by Rainier Maria Rilke
That’s it. For sure, you loved them! I am virtually hugging Ron right now :>
And now, as bonus, we have here e. e. cummings actually doing a reading of his poem 🙂
I am creating a page for my A to Z Challenge 2017 posts. Meanwhile, to check for my past posts, kindly check out As Lovely as a Tree. Not for any other reason except that’s where I last listed down my post titles.
I believe that many have already encountered the word “ode”, but how many do know what it means? To define it simply, an ode is a lyric poem, or a poem meant to be sung. That was what I knew of it in high school. I became fascinated with the concept of it, so I wrote a very short one:
When I’m Gone
When I’m gone…
You may cry or grieve
Or look back to where the tears have been.
And when the crying is done
And the grief has gone,
Simply remember me
For I’ll take that smile with me
…When I’m gone.
I have always been a sentimental soul, so it is no wonder I made this sentimental ode. It was actually inspired by quotes from Michael Landon and Michael Mills.
What is Ode, Really
I realize now I most probably broke a lot of the rules for writing an ode. Actual dictionaries define the ode as the following:
Merriam-Webster: “a lyric poem usually marked by exaltation of feeling and style, varying length of line, and complexity of stanza forms”
Oxford: “1. A lyric poem, typically one in the form of an address to a particular subject, written in varied or irregular metre 1.1. A classical poem of a kind originally meant to be sung”
Vocabulary.com: “a lyric poem with complex stanza forms”
Dictionary.com: “1. a lyric poem typically of elaborate or irregular metrical form and expressive of exalted or enthusiastic emotion 2. (originally) a poem intended to be sung”
At least, I got that last one right.
To further explain,…
“‘Ode’ comes from the Greek aeidein, meaning to sing or chant, and belongs to the long and varied tradition of lyric poetry. Originally accompanied by music and dance, and later reserved by the Romantic poets to convey their strongest sentiments, the ode can be generalized as a formal address to an event, a person, or a thing not present.” (Poets.org)
Or simply put,…
“An ode is a form of lyric poetry — expressing emotion — and it’s usually addressed to someone or something, or it represents the poet’s musings on that person or thing…” (Vocabulary.com)
The Ode Ones
The ode’s stanza forms vary. The Poetry Foundation website tries to explain these the easiest way possible (the quotes are from their page, the links aren’t mostly):
Horatian ode – “written in quatrains in a more philosophical, contemplative manner”
Sapphic ode – “consists of quatrains,…unrhyming but with a strict meter.”
English Romantic ode – “vary in stanza form. They often address an intense emotion at the onset of a personal crisis…or celebrate an object or image that leads to revelation.”
There are various examples of odes. The poet that seems to be mentioned most is John Keats. Below is an excerpt from one of the odes he is famous for (if not the weirdest one). Click on the image to read the whole ode and even listen to the audio.
Aside from little children who may not have heard it yet in school, I think no fan of English poetry has never heard of American poet Joyce Kilmer‘s Trees. It may not have been the first English poem I ever encountered, but I remember being officially introduced to the English poetry in school through it. I remember being fascinated by the words and the imagery. I had hoped that one day, I could write something as simple yet beautiful as Trees.
Some critics hated the simplicity and sentimentality in his works, even inspiring parodies like Song of the Open Road by Ogden Nash. However, it is these same qualities that have endeared his most famous work to many.
Alfred Joyce Kilmer was a journalist, literary critic, lecturer, and editor. But he was best-known, perhaps, as a prolific writer and poet who loved to write about nature and beauty, even of his religious faith, all as evidenced by…
I think that I shall never see
A poem lovely as a tree.
A tree whose hungry mouth is prest
Against the earth’s sweet flowing breast;
A tree that looks at God all day,
And lifts her leafy arms to pray;
A tree that may in Summer wear
A nest of robins in her hair;
Upon whose bosom snow has lain;
Who intimately lives with rain.
Poems are made by fools like me,
But only God can make a tree.
Having had his poem published in Poetry magazinein August 1913, it sealed his fate as one of the great poets of his time. He published Trees and Other Poems the year after, and went on to write more until he died in a battlefield in July 1918, hit by a sniper’s bullet.