Beloved Sonnet

My rose

In a field of darkness there is one light

Alone I seek to grow this lonely rose

Promise of future petals that are white

My love is dirt from which my flower grows,

Await my rose’s bloom all so fast

My rose’s beauty alike Polaris

With powers to erase my neglected past 

Trauma I hope it will not inherit.

Oh no!–the wicked Devil does arrive

His breath possesses the heart of fire

My rose has become his eye of desire

He shouts, “I need your rose to stay alive,

For I will pay you all your heart desires!”

I slit the stem of my love and she dies…

For my Beloved blog post, I decided to write a sonnet depicting the situation that Sethe is put in when she decides to kill Beloved. Sethe is the speaker, and the object of the poem “the rose” is representative of beloved. The motif I payed close attention to throughout the book was birth and pregnancy, which was meant to portray how the next generation symbolized hope. This is a reason why I was so drawn to Sethe’s incredible dilemma.

I wanted to capture a situation in which someone would kill something that they loved to save it. The image I had in my head was a clearing in a forest that had only one flower growing in it amongst all of the grass. Before the flower ever gets a chance to bloom, fire surrounds it. The only way to “save” that flower so that it can eventually blossom is to cut its stem like slitting a throat.

John Denver's Nostalgic Ode to West Virginia

John Denver’s famous hit country song “Take Me Home, Country Roads” was released on April 12th, 1971. Considered as John Denver’s signature song, it was co-written by himself and his good friend Bill Danoff and surprisingly isn’t truly about West Virginia.

To show the poetic meaning of the song, one must look into the context of the writing of the song, as is similarly seen in poems. Bill wrote the song about his home state Maryland, reminiscing about its curving, winding roads. In a state of nostalgia mixed with home sickness, Danoff wrote the piece and presented it to his friend and artist, John Denver. Adding his own twists and turns, Denver created his now most prominent piece, “Take Me Home, Country Roads”.

Almost Heaven, West Virginia

Blue Ridge Mountains, Shenandoah River

Life is old there, older than the trees

Younger than the mountains, growing like a breeze

Denver singing to a simple beat, starts his piece with a quatrain. Right away, Denver compares West Virginia to heaven. Denver is using imagery to paint a picture to his listeners. He describes oddly describes life as old followed by describing a breeze as “growing”. I find this odd use of language combined with his detailed features of West Virginia as poetic to his listeners. His singing gives the feeling of nostalgia, a bright look on the past of a country he loved.

Denver’s lines in his hit song also reach multiple dimensions such as the imaginative, sensual, and emotional. This can be seen in the following lyrics.

Misty taste of moonshine

West Virginia, mountain mama

The line “Misty taste of moonshine” gives the listener a sensual feeling. Taste is not normally described as misty, thus the listener imagines the moonshine as misty. The following line “West Virginia, mountain mama” also oddly describes the state as the mother of mountains. Upon hearing this line the listener imagines the mountainous state and can feel the nostalgia that Denver is singing about. This nostalgia is emotional for the listener themselves as they start to recall their own hometown or other matters they are nostalgic about.

Overall, John Denver and Bill Danoff created a poem of nostalgia, that shakes the bones of the listener, painting a picture within their head, and emotionally calling upon their own nostalgic experiences and past.

You Can Drown Yourself In Metaphors: Vanilla Curls

I first listened to Teddy Hyde’s song “Vanilla Curls” by accident, when it showed up in my Spotify recommended, but the seemingly simple happy song had more depth than I thought, and is a clear example of a musical poem. Telling of it’s inner poetry, the songs first line states the literary device used throughout:

I could drown myself in metaphor

I could crown your head and catch the floor

Lookin’ up at a yellow girl

She won’t cut me free of her Vanilla Curls

Hyde uses these opening lines as just a glimpse into the atmosphere he creates with the rest of the song. He does indeed use a plethora of metaphor throughout the lyrics, describing an almost dying relationship that has left him set in confusion, but also uses clever literary devices such as personification:

Equipped with private eyes, her stare declared me missing

Tried to talk myself out of it, but I never listen

Hyde’s use of literary devices isn’t the only thing that makes this song very poetic, but I would argue his use of diction and imagery does as well. He juxtaposes the melancholy feelings and doubt he has regarding his relationship with playful and silly imagery. Such as describing his significant other as food.

In a minute she already put my feelings in their place

I hate vegetables, but I’d put that stringbean on my plate.

His use of “stringbean” in this line has a deeper meaning as well, as in other songs of his stringbean is used as a term of endearment, like “honey” or “baby”. His seemingly silly wording and phrases creates a sense of childishness, which is interesting as the lyrics have a more to them. For example, near the end of the song he says:

She caught me by the ear and left me lying here in writhing fear

If I get any deeper, I might need diving gear

Hyde has a wonderful way of playing with wording and internal rhyme, while also telling a story of conflict and hurt. But, without looking closer at the lines, you would never guess the precision and thought put into the structure of the sentences, something shrouded by the light airy melody that shapes the song as a whole. Hyde does a seamless job of making the complexity of the lyrics and poetry seem easy and natural, culminating in a lovely tune with a hidden emotional meaning.

"Taro"

Gerda Taro and Robert Capa

The song “Taro” by Alt-j is about a real man. His name was Endre Ernő Friedmann, though he worked under the alias of Robert Capa. He was a traveled photographing many wars until his death at the age of 40. 

This song is set at the occasion of his death. He was covering the First Indochina war (referenced by the first word of the song: “Indochina”) after being convinced to photograph it. This was not the first war he had been to, from 1936 to the end of his life he photographed a total of 5 wars the first being the Spanish Civil War. He and his girlfriend Gerda Taro went there and working under the shared alias of Robert Capa documented the war in photographs. However, tragedy struck when his girlfriend, Gerda Taro, for whom the song is named, was killed. He was deeply affected by the loss and never married. A big part of the song is about his reunion with Taro after his death, however, that is not what I will be focusing on.

The first verse contains some of the best imagery I have ever heard in a song:

“(Ooh) Very yellow-white flash!

A violent wrench grips mass

Rips light, tears limbs like rags”

The line “Very yellow-white flash!” in the context of the song leads the listener to first think of a camera flash, however, the next line “A violent wrench grips mass” reveals it to be an explosion. I think the line captures the feel of an explosion well (at least how someone whose never been in one might imagine it to feel like) with its word choice. Wrench is a word you can almost feel in your stomach, it captures the feeling of sudden interruption and disturbance, like your insides are still going forward after your body has been suddenly stopped. Mass makes it feel like the change is not just the person is being wrenched, but something more fundamental. “Rips light” furthers this idea as only something large and powerful on a giant scale could really manipulate light to that extent. In short, these lines gives a feeling of greatness to an explosion nowhere near that scale, unless of course you are caught in it. 

Another example of the amazing imagery in this song is the way he describes Capa’s death:

Quivers, last rattles, last chokes

All colours and cares glaze to grey

Shriveled and stricken to dots

He provides both an external and internal view of the same event. Quiver sounds like a quiver and by repeating the word last it reminds the listener that Capa is dying. It then shifts inward to Capa and has three pairs of words starting with the same letter and separated by the word ‘and’. This emphasizes what is being said and stretches the moment in time. I think the focus on visual imagery works very well here considering how he dedicated his life to photography.

The careful control of language used in this song to tells the story of Capa and Taro very well and vividly. I believe that this song is definitely poetry.

https://genius.com/Alt-j-taro-lyrics

If you are interested here are some of the photos from his time in Indochina: https://www.magnumphotos.com/newsroom/conflict/ropert-capa-indochina-war/

Grinding Meat

By Miles Hirshman

MF Doom is a lyrical genius. A master of hidden meanings, he makes amazing sounding music that screams with meaning through every line. Listening to him is almost like a game, trying to point out every time that a possible double meaning has been said. His use of literary devices, rhythm, and double meanings makes his raps seem extremely poetic. That being said, let the games begin.

First off, MF Doom makes use of many literary devices to make his music, and Meat Grinder is no exception.

Hackthoo’ing songs lit, in the booth, with the best host

Doing bong hits, on the roof, in the West Coast

First off, Doom makes use of an onomatopoeia with the first word. At first, I didn’t understand what this word meant, but after looking up the lyrics it dawned on me that that word is another word for spitting. When a person spits, the sound they make often sounds like that, if you pronounce hacktooth, you can see exactly what he’s trying to say, it sounds the same as someone who is about to spit. Spitting is often used as a another term for good rapping, so in this line, Doom is saying that he’s spitting raps, in the booth( which is the studio), with the best host. The best host in this case is Doom’s producer, Madlib, who, in my opinion, is one of “the best hosts”.

Another line that I like is

Still back in the game like Jack LaLanne

Think you know the name, don’t rack your brain

Like the first line, I didn’t really understand what this line meant because of the mention of Jack Lalanne. After looking him up, it makes sense, and it’s a creative way of bragging. A common theme for older rappers is to claim how long they’ve been rapping for, and how long they have been successful.

Doom is no exception, except he does so in a way that most don’t. Jack Lalanne was a fitness instructor. The special thing about him though was that he continued to release fitness videos while he was old, which was different then most people. Jack Lalanne stayed “in the game” for a long time, in fact, he died at 96, and he was instructor until around 87. When it comes to bragging, MF Doom does it differently.

What is a Trapeze Swinger?

Poetry and music usually come hand and hand, however, sometimes we just sing the lyrics of a song and never really appreciate or understand them. The song “Trapeze Swinger” by Iron & Wine has been one of my family’s favorites for a while; it’s a beautiful nine minute song, that is so easy to get to get lost in, but I have never really thought of the lyrics as poetic.

https://genius.com/16097927

The song is someone speaking to a friend throughout the stages of life. The audience is never told the gender, race, or age of the speaker or the person the speaker is talking to, which is very lovely.

From analyzing the song and going deeper into the lyrics, I found a lot of devices I would find in a poem. For example, there is repetition of the line “please, remember me” at the beginning of each stanza. Whoever the speaker is talking to, he really wants them to not forget about him, and he makes that clear by repeating it.

There are also a lot of metaphors used throughout the song, but the most important metaphor is “trapeze act” and “trapeze swinger” which appears in verses 5,7, 8, and the title:

“A fleeting chance to see a trapeze
Swinger high as any savior”

“The trapeze act was wonderful
But never meant to last”

“A monkey and a man, a marching band
All around a frightened trapeze swinger”

There are a couple analyses, like in all poems about the meaning of the metaphors. One analysis is about how a trapeze act needs two people, and in verse 7, the artist states “but never meant to last,” meaning he could of gone through a break up and wants his significant other to remember him. Another idea in verse 8 suggests that the world is as crazy as a circus and he is just a scared trapeze swinger. There are many other ways to interpret this poem, which makes it such a interesting piece to read over and over again.

Sober Up

Sober Up” by AJR featuring Rivers Cuomo from their album The Click is a song about losing yourself in adulthood. The song evokes a feeling of innocence, and the lyrics describe someone searching for their young love and innocence that has been swept away by adult life.

The song starts with:

Hello, Hello

I’m not where I’m supposed to be

I hope that you’re missing me

‘Cause it makes me feel young

Last time I saw your face

Was recess in second grade

The song is introduced with the speaker lost in his surroundings. His one lifeline is remembering a person from his past because they remind him of happier times in his life. The connection between them has been distant for some time, yet he still yearns for it.

The second verse includes lines like:

‘Goodbye, goodbye,’

I said to my bestest buds

We said that we’d keep in touch

And we did our best

The speaker begins to give more background on the situation he was in and the situation he finds himself in now. He uses “bestest buds” to describe their old friends because they were all truly close, but their communication fell through once they all went their own ways. The song then transitions over to describing the new people in his life by saying,

All my new friends

We smile at party time

But soon we forget to smile

At anything else

The new people are just “friends” because they don’t really have a genuine, heartfelt connection. The speaker tried to fill the gap of friends with new friends, but those friendships do not last. Smiles are a way to express happiness, and when smiling around people usually means that they make you happy. The speaker only smiles with his new friends during parties, so they don’t really make him happy. 

Throughout the song the lines “Won’t you help me sober up?” and “And I want to feel something again” repeat multiple times. The speaker is calling out for help. He realizes that he is in a toxic lifestyle and reflects on the last time he was happy: his childhood. This song is not only a cry for help, it is a reminder to search for your own happiness and that it is okay to ask for help.