Saturday, November 14, 2009

"A Book of Verses underneath the Bough"

It was not my intent in the previous entry to be snootily dismissive of Mrs. Eddy as a poet. What was surely most important to her in her metaphysical poems was clearly conveying content, not displaying art. First rate poetry is often obscure and ambiguous, sometimes to the point of opacity. If one desires to be clear and unambiguous, he should write prose, which is, of course, what Mrs. Eddy usually did. Those seven of her poems which have become hymns plus "Christ and Christmas" are more than respectable, and I wouldn't wish to be without them.


I finally read the informative article in the November Journal on Mrs. Eddy's unpublished/unknown poems. It clarified one point on the comment that prompted the previous entry. The first of three quatrains on page 54 (the slightly modified stanza from "The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam") originally stood alone. It was later married up, for some unknown reason, with the other two quatrains, which I suspect are hers. The author of the article did not detect her borrowing, though I wouldn't have either since it's not one of the well-known (to me at any rate) verses from the "Rubaiyat".

If you like poetry there are a couple of featured poems in the November issue. "Sing gratitude's refrain" (page 57) is a Shakespearean sonnet with clunky, tin-eared rhymes, possibly in a clumsy attempt to breathe up-to-date life into the old form. Since it was an in-house effort, this lucubration apparently dodged the salubrious ministrations of an editor. Inexcusably, the writer seems ignorant of what the longshoremen, who figure largely in the poem, do. The result is as awkward and square-wheeled as the "misshapen steel" in the poem. I think Christian Scientists deserve better than this sort of stuff for their money, but if you see it differently let me know. The Peter J. Henniker-Heaton poem on page 31, a reprint, is much more satisfying to me, not that it's much of a contest.

I don't know if Journal/Sentinal even accepts unsolicited poems any more. Maybe they never really did, but if they do, here is an Xtreme challenge for those who like poetry and possess a touch of masochism. As you may suspect, my experiences in this bucolic field are like that of a Fuller Brush salesman [Is that far enough back for you?] who can't even get the lady of the house to come to the door. At least with articles, she came to the door and listened to my sales pitch before slamming the door in my face. My rejected poems came back, I'll swear, in the next day's mail. I don't know how they did it. Perhaps something like open the envelope, see that it's a poem, notice the name of that pesky author, add a standard rejection letter, and whoosh it's out the door without offending a single Olympian eye. Try it if they will accept unsolicited poems, and the bonus will be that after you have accumulated 40 or 50 rejections you'll have enough poems to publish your own book of verse for reading underneath the bough. You have nothing to lose but some hours of your time and some stamps--and maybe your poetic equanimity.

22 comments:

California dreamin' said...

Marvelously done, as usual. Terrific entry, one I'm going to recommend to several people I know.
Thanks!

H. W. said...

I do get a big kick out of the way you write, and what you choose to write. Love this particular one. So fresh.

Anon...for the time being said...

Good for you, blogger, for speaking what you feel about the periodicals. We need more like you who aren't afraid of titles, or are trying to curry favor with authority.
Keep going!

Ongoing fan said...

Golly, with the trouble I've had getting anything published along the lines of an article, can't imagine trying a poem. Wouldn't work for me. How interesting yours were turned back, with the talent you obviously have. Amazing to me.

A Brit said...

A delightful offering! Loved that part about the poem that escaped the efforts of the editors. (Of course, you said it better, and I got a chuckle out of it.)

D. L. said...

Really enjoyed reading this. I agree with you: I wouldn't want to be without our Leader's poems. Have been healed more than once, which is what I have read she expected to happen.
Thanks a lot.

Ohio CS said...

So very well done. A pleasure to read such clear blog posts. You are a help to many of your viewers I just know.
You have helped me more than once.

William said...

Visiting in California and had to check out my favorite blog. Can't help noting that in your case, God found an outlet for your talent and love of Christian Science.
So glad there's the Internet!

Arizona practitioner said...

It is plain for anyone to see who reads your essays that God is using you to reach far and wide. Bless you for wanting to present the truths of our religion as intelligently and freshly as can be done.

L. R. said...

Excellent blog posting. And on the topic of poetry, do you still write poetry? If so, why not post some on your website. I'd love to see what you do with this form of expression.

Patrick said...

A most enjoyable read. Where does your title come from?

Cambridge said...

Following on a previous comment's query, if we can't know your real name, at least post some poems for us out here! I'd love to see what Boston turned down so hastily.

Not far from Boston said...

To my favorite blogger,
Another outstanding entry. You are certainly staying attuned to God these days, and we are benefitting.
Thanks heaps!

Long-time viewer said...

Well said, through and through. I agree with you that we in the Field need better fare than we're getting in the periodicals (why I don't subscribe), but given that there seems to be not much love for the contributor -- only for their favorites -- it seems to me this inhibits what otherwise might be a free flow of inspiration from working CS's. Just what I think about the situation.

Washington, D.C. said...

What I tell my patients, many of whom have been frustrated at wanting to serve the Cause and not wanting to go through bowing down to mere people is something Mrs. Eddy said (and proved to an astonishing degree), that when we're deeply desirous of serving God and His children, He always opens a way. It often is something we never thought of, but what cannot He do when we're sincere about helping others?
Your website and its success bears this out, in my view of things.

I'll be back said...

Hi there,
I'm a new viewer and I can see why my friend mentioned your blog. Has a lot of life to it, and I like the way you express your thoughts.

Dorothy (PA) said...

Well, at least we have one source to go to for superior pieces on Christian Science issues -- The Broken Net.
Keep up the good work you are doing!

Greetings from Australia said...

I second what Dorothy said. How fortunate we are to have you blogging (whoever you are, which doesn't really matter to me.)
Like this posting a lot.

St. Louis said...

A very interesting blog post. As to those who care about achieving worthwhile things, that is, contributing to the Cause our Leader left us, I recall something a friend said. Think his teacher was Dr. Tutt. But anyway, he always said to this pupils, "Remember, God is succesful; God's Son is successful; I am God's son, therefore I am sucessful." Note the present tense of this.
It's true, of everyone one of us.

Oxford regular said...

Done by an expert, obviously--all the way through.
Keep 'em coming; I look forward to each new posting.

LowlyWise said...

Thanks, Christian, for this thoughtful look at MBE as a poet. It has been a challenge as reader to do her poems thoughtfully and not just as ritualistic sounding brass. I've come to appreciate her incredibly sophisticated use of poetic devices and techniques. I counted it high praise one Sunday when a substitute organist noted my rendering of the enjambment between stanzas in "...earth-born fear,/ Through God ...". I began a study of MBE's uses of others' poetry several years ago but it is stymied for lack of time and easy access to the MBE Library.

Thanks for all you are doing.

Nancy in Portland OR said...

In the '50's and earlier many sonnets--good, well-crafted sonnets--were published in the Journal. If you go to a CS Reading Room and look in the database index of the periodicals (whose name escapes me) for William Aubert Luce you'll find some excellent ones. I discovered him in a perusal of poems in the bound volumes when looking for "real" CS poems, not simply prose clich├ęs cast artificially and awkwardly into pseudo-metric lines. Godfrey John, Joy Dell, Max Dunaway, and most of the time Peter Henniker-Heaton have all contributed "real" poetry.

I don't know what the editors accept any more. I did meet with a former editor some years ago and showed her several I had done, including a CS vilanelle. She, in effect, flipped it off.

Enough already. Thanks for your attention to this. I'll bet you two bits that next month the Journal will publish one or more Letters to the Editor (which it probably solicits) praising the "excellent" Sonnet in the November issue.

"The Moving Finger writes and having writ
Moves on; nor all your Piety nor Wit
Shall lure it back to cancel half a Line,
Nor all your Tears wash out a Word of it." Rubaiyat, LXXVI.

Thanks to you, Christian, even more than to the CSJ, for prompting a romp through the Rubaiyat. I rerereread it at http://www.bartleby.com/41/623.html