Saturday, April 07, 2007

National Poetry Month

It's National Poetry month. I'm not a huge fan of poetry, being of a far too literal bent to understand most of the imagery and subtlety that poetry contains. I'm sure that says something about me, but I'm not going to delve into it.

Anyway. This is one of my favourites, so I thought I'd share it with you.


THE VOICE YOU HEAR
WHEN YOU READ SILENTLY

is not silent, it is a speakingout-
loud voice in your head: it is spoken,
a voice is saying it
as you read. It's the writer's words,
of course, in a literary sense
his or her voice, but the sound
of that voice is the sound of your voice.
Not the sound your friends know
or the sound of a tape played back
but your voice
caught in the dark cathedral
of your skull, your voice heard
by an internal ear informed by internal abstracts
and what you know by feeling,
having felt. It is your voice
saying, for example, the word barn
that the writer wrote
but the barn you say
is a barn you know or knew. The voice
in your head, speaking as you read,
never says anything neutrally – some people
hated the barn they knew,
some people love the barn they know
so you hear the word loaded
and a sensory constellation
is lit: horse-gnawed stalls,
hayloft, black heat tape wrapping
a water pipe, a slippery
spilled chirr of oats from a split sack,
the bony, filthy haunches of cows . . . .
And barn is only a noun – no verb
or subject has entered into the sentence yet!
The voice you hear when you read to yourself
is the clearest voice: you speak it
speaking to you. - Thomas Lux, New And Selected Poems, 1997

3 comments:

Lara said...

hooray for poetry! thanks for sharing, because i've never read that one before. :)

and i don't think there's anything wrong with being literal necessarily. often it's the literal interpretations that give you the feelings that lead to the figurative ones. that probably made no sense to anyone but me, but there it is. :-P

daysgoby said...

That poem! It's perfect for you!

Misti said...

That is a great poem! I'm the same way when it comes to poetry, I have a hard time with the symbolism & imagery too. ~ Misti from Mommy Zone