On First Looking into Chapman’s Homer

Much have I travell’d in the realms of gold,
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen;
Round many western islands have I been
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold.
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told
That deep-browed Homer ruled as his demesne;
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold:
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies
When a new planet swims into his ken;
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes
He star’d at the Pacific — and all his men
Look’d at each other with a wild surmise —
Silent, upon a peak in Darien.

– John Keats

The Thought Fox – An Examination

The Thought Fox has always been for me the poem, the poem which defines what a poem is while still purporting to be a poem of the type poem. It is aprocess and a product simultaneously and hits you with an unexpected force, “the hot stink of the fox”, as you marvel at its unraveling.

It is what I call recursive poetry, a poem within a poem. Perhaps self-referential is the right word. And also it perhaps adheres to the classic definition of poetry given by G.K.Chesterton, “all metaphor is poetry”, like.no.other.

Save for the two lines:

And this blank page where my fingers move.

……………………………………………………………

…………………………………………………………..

The page is printed.

there is really no indication of what is being described. Essentially a perfect merging of the literal and the metaphor, and only two lines to give up the game! A superior effort, on these lines, I have not yet seen. Perhaps there exists one, and the reader might bring it to my notice, so we can enjoy together the Muse in all her disguised glory.

Is such an effort even possible? Is it possible to write a poem, entirely metaphorical, yet in-spite of being pure metaphor, accurately maps to a literal reference point, discernible to the reader from the language, the subject being described and the tone and other indirect tools at the disposal of the poet, with which he never hesitates the tease the mind of the reader, suggesting without entirely revealing the meaning and even the purport?

The art of poetry is as much about a teasing and how far a poet can evoke thoughts in the minds of the reader than abrupt revealing of the truth. Hence poetry can properly defined as an art that invokes, inspires and evokes ideas in the recipient’s mind rather than being just a metaphor, metaphor is just the right tool to achieve the desired ends – evocation of ideas in the minds of the discerner. Thus, a certain degree of preparation is necessary to admire and appreciate poetry and this is an endeavour that never ends, for you can be sure that just when you have apprehended the context, connotation and content of the poem, another more sensitive and aesthete mind – and perhaps closer to the poets heart -would not come up with yet another idea, angle or notion, that probably never was even intended by the poet.

Hence this adventure in analysis by me would always be incomplete, and never do I presume to have “understood” a poem, for even should one live up to four score and ten years, there is bound to be an experience that one has not experienced and that lacunae would certainly deprive the individual of the full experience of the poem.

I would always like to know the ethos of her/his country, the milleu that she/he lived in, her/his tastes and hates and her/his dreams and nightmares, before I embark on a reading of any poet’s work and I wouldn’t be temerarious to suggest that I have done justice to her/his work until I had known her/him in full. Yet the desire to delve deep into another persons aesthetic product runs deep in my veins and I hope to mine gold as I focus my Davy’s Lamp on the “widening, opening cave” of clear thought.

With this elaborate defence, I venture furtively and scared, into the dangerous terrain of literary analysis.

to be continued……..

The Thought Fox

By Ted Hughes

I imagine this midnight moment’s forest:
Something else is alive
Beside the clock’s loneliness
And this blank page where my fingers move.

Through the window I see no star:
Something more near
Though deeper within darkness
Is entering the loneliness:

Cold, delicately as the dark snow,
A fox’s nose touches twig, leaf;
Two eyes serve a movement, that now
And again now, and now, and now

Sets neat prints into the snow
Between trees, and warily a lame
Shadow lags by stump and in hollow
Of a body that is bold to come

Across clearings, an eye,
A widening deepening greenness,
Brilliantly, concentratedly,
Coming about its own business

Till, with a sudden sharp hot stink of fox
It enters the dark hole of the head.
The window is starless still; the clock ticks,
The page is printed.

 

To be or not to be

The verb “be” expresses a state of existence.

It takes many forms and is the most inflected verb in English. In other words the verbs with the most number of different forms for different tenses, number and voice.

Essentially the verb be takes the following eight forms:

be, am, is, was, are, were, been, being

The infections of BE in three tenses and two numbers:

 

The Many Forms of Be

 

Apart from these, the “been” combines with helping verbs “has” and “had” and “will” to denote the perfect & progressive (continuous) aspect of the three tenses and also the future tense.

For example:

He has been in Germany for a long time.

He had been to England last year.

Next year, at the same time, I will have been doing my doctoral thesis in Languages of the Orient.

He will be fine tomorrow.

 Being can be taken as the present progressive variant of “be” denoting an action in the present tense and that is continuous and progressing.

He is being nice to everyone.

Being also plays many other roles, such as a participle. That is a more advanced topic that we will deal with later.

 

Subject – Verb Agreement – 1

A verb should agree with its subject in number.

In other words, a singular subject takes a singular verb, a plural subject takes a plural verb.

He plays cricket very well.

He is the singular subject and plays is the singular verb.

They play cricket very well.

They is the plural subject and play is the plural verb.

The horse runs faster than the mule.

Horse is the singular subject and it takes the singular verb runs.

The horses run faster than the mules.

Horses is the plural subject and it takes the plural verb run.

Notice that while we turn a noun into its plural form by adding an -s after it, a verb is turned into its singular form by adding an -s.

Tips to find out if a verb is singular or plural

  1. One way to remember is, a singular verb ends with -s (s for singular).
  2. Or you can try to use the verb in the third person to find out if it is singular or plural.

For example:

Is “cooks” singular or plural?

“He cooks”  or is it  “He cooks” ? Clearly “He cooks” is the correct one. He is                         singular. Therefore cooks is the singular form of the verb cook.

Note: are is the plural form of the word is.

 

Verbs – Inflection

Verbs are words that are used to denote action, an occurrence or a state of being. Primarily, they are known as action words and used to denote actions.

Some Examples:

Vignesh plays cricket.

Shrikanth eats ragi balls for breakfast.

Anil Kumble bowls well.

In the above examples, the words plays, eats & bowls are verbs. They describe the actions the subjects were doing.

Verbs change their form to denote tense, aspect, mood & voice. This change of form is called inflection.

For example:

He plays cricket – Present Tense

He played cricket – Past Tense

He will play cricket – Future Tense

In the above examples, the verb play changes form to indicate when the action took place. The verb can be inflected for all the three persons:

Verbs Inflected for Tenses

And for the two numbers in the Present Tense

Verbs Inflected for Number for the Present Tense

And for both tenses and number:

The Verb Play inflected for Person & Number

 

Or more elaborately:

The Verb Play inflected for Person & Number - Elaborate

Notice that the verbs change form only for the Third Person Singular. This is true for all Action Verbs.

 

Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night

by Dylan Thomas
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieved it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Dylan Thomas, “Do Not Go Gentle into That Good Night” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas. Copyright 1939, 1946 by New Directions Publishing Corporation. Reprinted with the permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1957)

The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower

By Dylan Thomas

 

The force that through the green fuse drives the flower
Drives my green age; that blasts the roots of trees

Is my destroyer.
And I am dumb to tell the crooked rose
My youth is bent by the same wintry fever.
The force that drives the water through the rocks
Drives my red blood; that dries the mouthing streams
Turns mine to wax.
And I am dumb to mouth unto my veins
How at the mountain spring the same mouth sucks.
The hand that whirls the water in the pool
Stirs the quicksand; that ropes the blowing wind
Hauls my shroud sail.
And I am dumb to tell the hanging man
How of my clay is made the hangman’s lime.
The lips of time leech to the fountain head;
Love drips and gathers, but the fallen blood
Shall calm her sores.
And I am dumb to tell a weather’s wind
How time has ticked a heaven round the stars.
And I am dumb to tell the lover’s tomb
How at my sheet goes the same crooked worm.

Dylan Thomas, “The Force That through the Green Fuse Drives the Flower” from The Poems of Dylan Thomas.Used by permission of David Higham Associates, London as agents for the Trustees of the Copyrights of Dylan Thomas.

Source: The Collected Poems of Dylan Thomas (1957)

 

The Pronoun Table

A classification of Pronouns on the basis of person, case and number.

A classification of Personal Pronouns

A classification of Personal Pronouns

 

A more detailed and discerning classification is found below

A classification of Pronouns on the basis of person, case and number.

A classification of Pronouns on the basis of person, case and number, showing Possessive Adjectives distinctly

In the above chart, Possessive Adjectives are shown as distinct and different from Possessive Pronouns.

Possessive Adjectives modify nouns, hence they are called Adjectives.

It is Alice’s car.

It is her car

“her” replaces “Alice’s”

It is John’s book

It is his book

“his” replaces “John’s”

It is our school

It is their property

In all the above cases, the possessives (her, his) modify a noun (car, book) and hence they are Adjectives. Since they also replace nouns (Alice’s, John’s) in the possessive case, they referred to as pronouns.

On the contrary, pronouns such as ours, mine, theirs, his, hers are called Absolute possessives because they can stand on their own.

(Note: his and its perform both roles of Absolute Possessive and Possessive Adjective).

Restrictive & Non-Restrictive Clauses

The park that we visited last week was very crowded.

In the above sentence the bolded parts describe the type of park we visited. It describes the park – the subject of the sentence – that we visited last week. Therefore it is termed an adjectival clause or a relative clause, because it relates to the noun that the adjectival clause modifies.

If we look at the sentence that we visited last week is important to the meaning of the sentence.  It limits and modifies the type of park we visited.

Q:which park was very crowded?

A:the one that we visited last week.

Let us take another example:

The train which was newly introduced attracted a lot of passengers.

In the above sentence the bolded parts describe the type of train that attracted a lot of passengers

If we look at the sentence which was newly introduced is important to the meaning of the sentence.  It limits and modifies the type of train which attracted a lot of passengers.

In both the cases, the bolded parts are essential to the meaning of the sentence and modify the noun that precedes them. Hence these clauses are termed restrictive clauses as they restrict the meaning of the noun that precedes them.

Restrictive clauses can begin with – that, which, who, whom, whose.

The person who called me yesterday was my brother.

The lady whom I mentioned in my letter was my school teacher.

The policeman whose car was damaged in a crash is a going after the suspect.

The park that we visited last week was very crowded.

The train which was newly introduced attracted a lot of passengers.

However, there are sentences in which the relative clause merely provides additional information about the noun, but does not modify, limit or restrict the noun. For example:

My sister, who lives in Canada, is a doctor.

Here who lives in Canada only provides additional information and does not modify sister. The sentence would still be meaningful if you eliminate who lives in Canada.

My sister, who lives in Canada, is a doctor.

My sister is a doctor (still meaningful).

We can see that the second sentence above still makes perfect sense. It does not lose its meaning when we remove the relative clause. Such relative clauses are called non-restrictive clauses, because they do not modify, limit or restrict the subject (my sister) of the sentence.

And to show that they merely provide extra information, we surround the clause with a comma.

The bike, which was stolen yesterday, was recovered by the police.

which was stolen yesterday provides additional information, and does not modify the type of bike. So we surround them with commas.

The lady, whom you saw yesterday, is my wife.

The aircraft, whose propeller was damaged, landed in Geneva.

In all the above examples, who, which, whom & whose, provide additional information, and are therefore surrounded by commas and are known as non-restrictive clauses.

However, that can never be used in a non-restrictive clause.

that is always used in a restrictive clause. It is never used in a non-restrictive clause

Non-Restrictive clauses can begin with – which, who, whom, whose.

The same clause can be both restrictive or non-restrictive.

My sister, who lives in Canada, is a doctor

who lives in Canada is a non-restrictive clause. It provides additional information.

The sentence does not lose its meaning when we remove the relative clause

But if we write it as:

My sister who lives in Canada is a doctor

who lives in Canada is a restrictive clause as it describes the subject (sister). I have many sisters and the sister who lives in Canada is a doctor. (note: we did not use commas as it modifies the subject). The sentence we lose its meaning if we drop the clause.