Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Eliot, Coleridge, and Interesting New Year's Eve Mash-ups

Yesterday, I had all sorts of fun encounters on Facebook.  One of the joys of my new laptop is its speed, which means that I can go to Facebook without the computer freezing, as my old desktop does.  I can have interchanges with friends who are online. 

I must confess that I've never been fond of the phone, so Facebook works for me.  I love a long e-mail or letter as much as the next person, but I understand why we don't have time to write them.

Plus, I love that Facebook becomes a place of poem inspiration for me.  Yesterday I wrote 2 poems that might have slipped away had I not written a Facebook post.  On Christmas Day, I wrote that I needed to deadhead the marigolds, which I thought should be a metaphor for something.  Yesterday morning, I wrote a poem, a poem that I might have never had without that Facebook post.  Sure, maybe I'd have written the inspiration on a scrap of paper.  But I doubt it.

Similarly, in the afternoon, I wrote another poem based on a friend's Facebook post a few days ago.  She was thinking of the Holy Family's flight into Egypt, which made me think of T. S. Eliot's "Journey of the Magi."  I wrote the poem, and then made a Facebook post.  What happened next felt magical to me.

A friend wrote to express her disbelief that anything could be better than the Prufrock poem.  I gave her the link to "Journey of the Magi" and suggested that she let Eliot read it to her.  She and I exchanged our favorite lines from the poem, and that made me think of Coleridge's "Kubla Khan."

I wrote "I'm now envisioning a mash-up of this poem and Coleridge's "Kubla Khan"--stately pleasure domes and cold, hard journeys, hmmmmm."  And then I wrote, "Are we New Romantics? Would our grad school professors approve? Or would they be appalled?"

I'm Facebook friends with one of my grad school professors, and I tagged her in that last post.  And she wrote back!  She said she approved and that she thought Coleridge would be intrigued.  And all of this is happening fairly quickly, within minutes of each post.

I couldn't resist.  I cut and pasted copies of each poem into a Word doc, and then I started a new document where I mixed 2 lines from each poem starting from the end, starting with Coleridge.  It's an interesting juxtaposition:

For he on honey-dew hath fed
And drunk the milk of Paradise

With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation

And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!

But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.

That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,


I went on for a few lines further, but it feels like a huge project.  At first, I thought I'd just mix the whole thing, 2 lines by 2 lines.  And what would I do next?  Mix in some lines of my own?  Do an erasure poem, like so many people seem to be doing? 

These are decisions for a later day, which may mean I'll see them as an experiment that interested me for an afternoon.  Or will I mash up other poems?  I did a few more Facebook exchanges which made me think of other possibilities:  Christina Rossetti with a pre-Raph poet.  Elizabeth Barrett Browning and Tennyson.

Again, part of me thinks, to what end?  Why do this?  But I'm often amazed at the poems that come to me after I've been playing this way.

And even if I get no poems that are useful, I had fun playing.  And I had a great time reporting on my playing on Facebook and having some interactions with friends that reminded me of my favorite aspects of undergraduate and graduate school.  And what a joy to have one of our grad school professors write a comment.

I understand all the ways that Facebook irritates people, that many posts don't seem that vital or interesting.  But I've said it before, and it bears repeating, I like hearing about different aspects of people's lives, from the tiny details, like what was for breakfast, to the big stuff.  I'm aware that Facebook may have a tendency to make everyone's life sound better than mine, and I try not to do too much comparing.

Sometimes I long for a deeper connection, a big farm, where we'd each have our small cottages, and we'd gather for dinner.

But maybe we already have an electronic version of that.  And even if it's not the same, I'll take connection in whatever form I can get.


Maureen said...

Just want to say that I've enjoyed your posts and poetry. Wishing you the very best in 2014.

Maureen said...

Just want to say that I've enjoyed your posts and poetry. Wishing you the very best in 2014.

Kristin said...

Thanks, Maureen. I wish you a wonderful 2014 too!