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Poetry Archives > Poetry Corner - March

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message 1: by Peter (new)

Peter We are moving from Tennyson's Dramatic Monologue "Ulysses" to the Sonnet this month with a look at Browning's "How Do I Love Thee?" which is arguably the best known of her poems. Our discussion may well stay centred on this sonnet or it may range to her other sonnets as well if anyone feels so inclined.

I selected this sonnet because it was well known and hopefully many of us have encountered it, or at least some of its lines before. While I do not intend to always reflect upon the novel we are reading concurrently, Lady Audley's Secret does offer us many differing views on the nature of love. We need to be cautious not to provide any direct spoilers to that novel, but the entire concept and question of love, how it is defined and how it is manifested is one that is central to many, if not most novels.

If anyone has any Victorian poem that they would like to discuss please let me know. The poem needs only be of a reasonable length. I think a maximum length of 100 lines is appropriate. A buddy-read may be possible for longer poems.

https://www.poets.org/poetsorg/poem/h...


message 2: by Peter (new)

Peter Here is some information on the Sonnet form. The good news is we need not discuss the form or the inner workings at all to enjoy most poems. Our discussions can be technical, general, or as wide-ranging as we wish.

Here are some questions to begin.

To what extent do you find this poem too mushy? Too outdated? Too impractical for today's society?

Does the sonnet form help or hinder the poet's message?

What character from a novel you have read could have penned this poem?

Is it possible to love someone who is now dead more than when that person was alive?

http://www.sonnets.org/basicforms.htm


message 3: by Renee, Moderator (new)

Renee M | 1877 comments Mod
Oh I love this one! You're right, it has been repeated so many times that we forget how truly great it is. I'm going to take it apart this weekend. Your questions are great, Peter.


message 4: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Peter wrote: "Here are some questions to begin.

To what extent do you find this poem too mushy?"


I wouldn't use the term mushy, but I think absurdly extravagant. Exaggeration in poetry can have power, but when it is overdone it loses its power and, it seems to me, becomes weak and loses whatever power it could have gained from being reasonably exaggerated. My primary reaction to this poem, by the time I get to the end, is almost to giggle at how silly it has become. It's like putting a ten foot ostrich feather on a lady's hat. A one foot feather is appealing. A two foot would impress by exaggeration. A ten foot is just plain silly.


message 5: by Peter (new)

Peter Everyman wrote: "Peter wrote: "Here are some questions to begin.

To what extent do you find this poem too mushy?"

I wouldn't use the term mushy, but I think absurdly extravagant. Exaggeration in poetry can have p..."


Sounds like you agree with Monty Python about something starting out nice but just getting silly. The Brownings were an interesting couple. Surely there must be a skit somewhere that plays with the notions of this poem and Robert Browning's "My Last Duchess."

It is interesting to compare notions of love and how love has been expressed in poetry. (I blush to consider my own adolescent attempts to impress a girl or two.)

Shakespeare's "dark lady" sonnets offer the reader a much different method and expression. One of the interesting points of comparison between Shakespeare and Browning is how they went about the construction of their thoughts and expressions within the sonnet forms.

While Lady Audley would no doubt choke over E B Browning's poem I can see her husband penning one much like it to her.


message 6: by Peter (last edited Mar 09, 2016 07:45AM) (new)

Peter Renee wrote: "Oh I love this one! You're right, it has been repeated so many times that we forget how truly great it is. I'm going to take it apart this weekend. Your questions are great, Peter."

Yes. I do love this poem. While I can see Everyman's point of this poem being rather openly excessive, frothy and thus perhaps silly, I'm planted firmly in the Victorian mindset. Heck, I even like Little Nell.

I look forward to your comments. One of our other discussion points in another thread is what books have made one cry. There was a time of loss in my life where I turned to this poem and, yes, I did cry.

"...with the breath
Smiles, tears, of all my life..."


message 7: by Everyman (new)

Everyman | 2531 comments Peter wrote: "Heck, I even like Little Nell."

So you would have been one of those on the dock waiting for the last installment to arrive, eh?


message 8: by Peter (new)

Peter Naturally. :-))


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