"The Parnassus" by Raphael‘In Praise of the Poet’ by James A. Tweedie The Society September 24, 2021 Beauty, For Educators, Poetry 17 Comments . __Of Helen, Menelaus, war, Achilles, Paris and his treachery, __Of Agamemnon, Troy, and more, I wrote the Iliad and Odyssey. __Of Saracens and Charlemagne, Of Roland and his tragic, fateful day, __Of gallant loss and nobler gain I wrote and oft-performed my epic lay. __From Florence, and all that it hides, I went to Heaven, Hell, and in-between, __With Virgil, Beatrice as my guides And wrote in tercets all that I had seen. __When fickle love spit in my eye And charged my true heart false, and swore upon it, __Instead of challenging the lie. I praised my True Love’s beauty in a sonnet. __Of Flanders’ fields where poppies blow Between the crosses, row on row on row, __And of the men who lie below I grieved and honored them with a rondeau __When terrorists flew in and swept Away the peace and swapped it for a curse __I prayed and grieved and mourned and wept, But also wrote my feelings down in verse. __“What good is poetry?” you ask. “It changes nothing” . . . “Just a waste of time.” __And yet it is the poet’s task Through formal rhythmic meter, wit and rhyme __To capture for posterity The beauty, truth and other unseen things __That lie behind the mystery Of history in ways so that it sings. __And when it sings to us, we hear The distant voice of those who lived and walked __About with open eye and ear— Who sang their words instead of merely talked. . . James A. Tweedie is a retired pastor living in Long Beach, Washington. He has written and published six novels, one collection of short stories, and three collections of poetry including Mostly Sonnets, all with Dunecrest Press. His poems have been published nationally and internationally in The Lyric, Poetry Salzburg (Austria) Review, California Quarterly, Asses of Parnassus, Lighten Up Online, Better than Starbucks, WestWard Quarterly, Society of Classical Poets, and The Chained Muse. NOTE TO READERS: If you enjoyed this poem or other content, please consider making a donation to the Society of Classical Poets. NOTE TO POETS: The Society considers this page, where your poetry resides, to be your residence as well, where you may invite family, friends, and others to visit. Feel free to treat this page as your home and remove anyone here who disrespects you. Simply send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Put “Remove Comment” in the subject line and list which comments you would like removed. The Society does not endorse any views expressed in individual poems or comments and reserves the right to remove any comments to maintain the decorum of this website and the integrity of the Society. Please see our Comments Policy here. CODEC News:Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to print (Opens in new window)Click to share on LinkedIn (Opens in new window)Click to share on WhatsApp (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window)Click to share on Pinterest (Opens in new window) 17 Responses J D Wallace September 24, 2021 For some reason, I was desperate to cease the talking altogether. I had been thinking about his very sentiment so it made my day thank you. -jd _And when it sings we hear The distant voice of those who walked __About with open ear— Who sang their words instead of talked. Reply James A. Tweedie September 24, 2021 JD, Singing is, of course, a stylized way of talking so it’s hard to “cease the talking altogether” while making no sound at all! I’d be interested to know what you mean by the phrase. Thanks for the comment. Reply Paul Freeman September 24, 2021 I really like this poem, James. It gallops along without any of the convoluted hiccups poetry sometimes has that make us reread anything ambiguous. ‘In Flanders Fields’ is one of my favourite poems (as you might have realised from ‘At Brighton Beach’ – plug, plug!), though I’m aware that the message of the poem – that the fight must continue no matter what, the baton handed over by those that fall, until victory – was not shared by everyone. Just recall the sentiment in Wilfred Owen’s same era poems. What I’m saying is, yes, it’s important for poets to record their perspective on history for the sake of both posterity and future generations to debate – which I suppose makes the penultimate stanza my fave. Thanks for an extensive, exhaustive and thought-provoking trip through poetic history. Reply James A. Tweedie September 24, 2021 Paul, I like your use of the words, “their perspective on history” since I intended the word “history” to be understood in exactly that way–not being limited to merely “historical events.” But inclusive of the more intimate “reflective history” of the poet’s thoughts, feelings, and experience of life as well as larger events common to all. Reply Joseph S. Salemi September 24, 2021 A good interweaving of tetrameter and pentameter in ABAB quatrains. May I make one suggestion? In quatrain 3, the first line can indeed be scanned in the tetrameter pattern, but it is awkward. I’d consider revising it to From Florence, and what Florence hides The reason for the awkwardness of the original version is that the idiomatic pull of the words “and ALL that it hides” exerts itself to stress the word ALL in a way that interferes with a smooth reading. The above revision would take advantage of the solid trochaic force of “Florence,” by doubling it: From Florence, and what Florence hides ( x / x / x / x / ) This makes it fit in perfectly with all the other odd-numbered lines in the poem. Reply James A. Tweedie September 24, 2021 I appreciate and accept the suggestion. I also agree that the repetition of the word, Florence, significantly strengthens the image. Reply C.B. Anderson September 24, 2021 James, though I don’t know whether all of the propositions raised in the poem are true propositions, you have nonetheless instilled in many of us scribblers a deep sense of obligation. Sometimes I wish I were a calimaro, which can spill ink practically at will. Reply James A. Tweedie September 24, 2021 C.B. At times my calamaro overflows I don’t know why. And yet, it seems, at other times it goes Completely dry. But every time the ink runs dry, I then Pick up a pencil and I try Again. Until the newborn poem comes in view. But how this works I’ve not a clue. Do you? Reply C.B. Anderson September 27, 2021 Yes, I think I do. It’s because your soul is imbued with the cardinal virtue of fortitude. Susan Jarvis Bryant September 24, 2021 James, if ever there was a reason to write poetry – this is it, the closing stanza especially. Reply Margaret Coats September 24, 2021 James, your “Ars Poetica,” declaring that poetry captures what lies behind the mystery of history, very effectively (and rightly) lets poetry itself remain a mystery. I like the historical structure, starting with early epics, proceeding to not name Dante while you mention his work–and name Virgil while not mentioning his. Then come the sonneteers whose line still continues, and McCrae and others who address war and violence, especially in our own time. When you end with beautiful notions of what poetry accomplishes, I recognize you as literary theorist. And when I see that these accomplishments are to benefit posterity, I have to identify you as a Renaissance man. Such a characteristic of thinkers in that period to concern themselves with posterity! If an ideal is necessary, I like this one better than self-expression. Well done poem that puts you in the company of so many others who have had taken the trouble and the care to convey their opinions on the art. Reply James A. Tweedie September 25, 2021 Margaret, “Literary theorist” & “Renaissance man” are major epithets for the author of a nine-stanza poem! Perhaps I can use the quotes on the back of some future book of poetry–with your name attached to them so as to not give the impression that I am self-aggrandizing! Seriously, though, I do appreciate your affirming and complimentary comments. Reply Peter Hartley September 24, 2021 James – thank you for telling me why I, why we, write poetry, and for putting it so succinctly for us. A truly splendid apologia for the sonneteer and as usual, when I have read one of your offerings, I have to admit I could not have put it better myself though I would take twice as long going about it. Reply James A. Tweedie September 25, 2021 Peter, I may be quicker on the draw, but your poetry has more firepower–especially when it has to do with vocabulary! Thanks for the cheery comment. Reply David Watt September 25, 2021 James, your poetry invariably provides pause for reflection and expresses truths with clarity and economy. This poem is no exception. Reply James A. Tweedie September 25, 2021 Thank you, David. Your compliment is also expressed with clarity and economy! I’m glad you found something true to reflect on. Reply Roy E. Peterson October 1, 2021 As a political scientists and historian your penultimate verse rang true: “To capture for posterity The beauty, truth and other unseen things __That lie behind the mystery Of history in ways so that it sings.” There is more to politics and history than meets the eye of the reader. It would be an amazing feat to match traditional historical writings with the perceptions and promulgations of the the poets of that time and age. Reply Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYour email address will not be published.CommentName* Email* Website Notify me of follow-up comments by email. Notify me of new posts by email. Δ This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.