The Importance of Ambiguity in Poetry

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Rocky Acres- By Robert Graves
This is a wild land, country of my choice,
With harsh craggy mountain, moor ample and bare.
Seldom in these acres is heard any voice
But voice of cold water that runs here and there
Through rocks and lank heather growing without care.
No mice in the heath run nor no birds cry
For fear of the dark speck that floats in the sky.

He soars and he hovers rocking on his wings,
He scans his wide parish with a sharp eye,
He catches the trembling of small hidden things,
He tears them in pieces dropping from the sky:
Tenderness and pity the land will deny,
Where life is but nourished from water and rock,
A hardy adventure, full of fear and shock.

Time has never journeyed to this lost land,
Crakeberries and heather bloom out of date,
The rocks jut, the streams flow singing on either hand,
Careless if the season be early or late.
The skies wander overhead, now blue now slate:
Winter would be known by his cold cutting snow
If June did not borrow his armour also.

Yet this is my country beloved by me best,
The first land that rose from Chaos and the Flood,
Nursing no fat valleys for comfort and rest,
Trampled by no hard hooves, stained with no blood
Bold immortal country whose hill-tops have stood
Strongholds for the proud gods when on earth they go,
Terror for fat burghers in far plains below.


Now this poem is every bit ambiguous but that is what brings meaning to it. You would think that it is going to be about the nice walk in the countryside, but the sharp use of adjectives shows that there is conflict in the narrative. The speaker is in fact relating back to his experience in the first world war conflict.  From what I can deduce there are two meanings to the poem ”I like getting hurt” and ”I like being safe”, the ambiguity here reflects the speakers own psychological ambiguity and confusion of feelings. The mixed messages in the poem is somewhat political, the confusion between nature and a destructive force which is threatening nature through war is one that questions social ideologies and nationalism. In 1948, William Empson said that poems show the conflict of the social ideologies, and Karl Marx would also echo similar ideas.

Here’s to a hopeful 2017- Happy new year.

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Under the stars

Travelling as marauders, not knowing it is star that we seek. But one day you see that the shadows were always present lurking near with there will be youth no more, where have the stars run to? You’ll ask. Though they say you realise too late, remember its truly never too late. Till the sun takes the position of the moon it’s never too late. Till the ocean takes the position of the desert it’s never too late. So don’t fret, within incongruity you find the congruent.


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Their glows are kept secret till the hazy summer days,
I’d like one for the winter kept in a jar.
It’ll rise in the morning with a heart only for me,

But how long will they glow, whilst away from the gentle breeze.
Slowly their echoes will fade into time as will their light.

Soon winter comes faster than I’d hope it would

Soon I realise that it is my own doing that is making them miserable while trying to make my own heart sing

Soon I realise that it is I that is holding back their true vivacity in life

Soon it will be time to let them free into the light which they were born in.

I shall be content with that and cherish the moments that I lived with them in the hazy summer days.

The latest earthquake in Japan was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 tremor — Quartz

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Early on Nov. 22, the residents of Fukushima, Japan were woken by loud sirens. At 6am local time, a magnitude 6.9 earthquake had struck off the coast. Authorities issued a warning that a tsunami, estimated to be about 3 meters (10 feet) high, could hit the coast within hours, and resident were asked to evacuate…

via The latest earthquake in Japan was an aftershock of the devastating 2011 tremor — Quartz

This should be our headlines..

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India’s Consumerism Effects – Living & Working In A Wasteland –

Value Of Old Notebooks

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I love going through my old notebooks, they contain the person I used to be and they contain the transition I took to become who I am today.  From cheesy quotes to little sketches I find myself coming across all sorts of things which represent moments in my life that meant something.  There is something special about taking your time out to reflect and express yourself and I am glad I knew the value of that at a young age. Now I can enjoy re-living and learning from these moments in my life.

Philip Larkin- This be the Verse.

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Philip Larkin – This be the Verse

They fuck you up, your mum and dad.
They may not mean to, but they do.
They fill you with the faults they had
And add some extra, just for you.

But they were fucked up in their turn
By fools in old-style hats and coats,
Who half the time were soppy-stern
And half at one another’s throats.

Man hands on misery to man.
It deepens like a coastal shelf.
Get out as early as you can,
And don’t have any kids yourself.


What fascinates me about this poem is how the words deliberately juxtaposes the underlying rhythm of the poem. The poem is about the hatred of children and one’s own childhood yet the four iambic tetrameters which alternate between the three verses,  mirrors a nursery rhyme. The inversion of rhythm gives the poem an entirely new perspective and makes it interesting to dissect.

The title of the poem takes us back to the classical Renaissance era when poetry was the height of civilisation, “This be the Verse” tells us that the speaker is making a statement about the seriousness of the poem.  In the first stanza Larkin is saying that his parents have condemned him, and that they are only good for giving him life but they do not teach you how to live life properly; rather they pass their faults down to you. The second stanza talks about the “fools in old style hats and coats” who are not his parent but the generation before him, they are his grandparents. His grandparents have passed their bad traits down to his parents and his parents down to him, there is a digression in human nature through time. There is no sense of hope in this poem only a downward spiral of corruption. The tone is unchanging in the final stanza: “man hands on misery to man” and “it deepens like a coastal shelf” which means that we are trapped by society and mankind around us. This is promoting an anti-individualistic approach to human nature, ultimately, saying that we are only societal beings. The speaker is self-aware of the inner workings of society yet he chooses to not change it rather the ending of the poem is very much the speaker being a coward. The irony of his hatred for children is within the fact that he was once a child himself, if he is self-aware he can break the cycle, but he chooses not to. When considering the rhythm of the poem I found  there to be two particular interpretations that appealed to me most. The first interpretation of the nursery-rhyme rhythm is that is used to satirise the speakers view. This is because it is in the essence of human nature to reproduce and give birth and for the speaker to want to hinder this cycle is to challenge nature. This view is supported by the regular four beats per line structure which indicates the never-ending cycle of reproduction. The second interpretation of the nursery-rhyme rhythm is that it is a constant reminder of the idealisation of childhood and such a reminder is being alternated with the words of the speaker who tells the brutal truth of his version of reality. This interpretation supports the speakers view but the former does not. Eventually I opted with the former because the speaker  seems to be more detached from reality by trying to persuade people from wanting children. Ultimately, our childhood defines us and is integral to who we are so the speakers view seems nonsensical, thus, the internal rhyme allows us to mock the speaker.