Featured Post


I am posting this as a benchmark, not because I think I'm playing very well yet.  The idea would be post a video every month for a ye...

Wednesday, February 1, 2023

So what do people like about language?

 People like language that's direct, honest, and concrete, not motivated by cowardice, even when it's ambiguous. 

Here's a poem by Weldon Kees I like:

(For H.V. 1910-1927) 

I remember the clumsy surgery: the face

Scarred out of recognition, ruined and not his own. 

Wax hands fattened among pink silks and pinker roses. 

The minister was in fine form that afternoon. 

I remember the ferns, the organ faintly out of tune,

The gray light, the two extended prayers, 

Rain falling on stained glass; the pallbearers, 

Selected by the family, and none of them his friends.   

The phrase "in fine form" is brilliant, because it is a cliché and the poet know it.  That alerts the reader to the sarcastic tone here. Fine is the only overtly positive word in the poem, so it has to be mean the opposite.  Imagine if he had written: "the minister droned on and on." The poem would be ruined if it used words like church, or funeral.  

Poetic analysis, my craft, makes me attuned to uses and misuses of language.  

No comments: