A few weeks ago after writing an English Literature essay on religious poetry and William Blake, my tutor gave me a very high mark (yay!) and had two ‘how to improve’ points for me. The first was to include more on Blake’s personal life and era. The second came with him quoting a bit of my essay and telling me, “Don’t try and create mysteries Rachael, your’re meant to be solving them!”
If you know me well or have been reading this blog for a while, you’ll know I tend to go off on philosophical ramblings with no real conclusion other than that life is about trusting and living and loving. Which is a bit deep for an essay where you’re meant to be more concise and write something understandable (the essay I’m talking about included me talking about the Greek panentheos, and the diversity in Christianity).
Now I’ve got another essay to write. The title is this: “While great poetry may be rooted in the culture of its time, its true greatness lies in its capacity to appeal to readers of all times.” Discuss this view. Well. I’m wondering how to not spiral into philosophical rambles as I’m faced with this question.
I’m thinking I could draw parallels with the Bible and how its context is important but still appeals and relates to readers of all times, and I’m thinking I could think about what ‘great poetry’ really is, and how love and pain are central to all time and produce similar outcomes regardless of culture.
Hmm. I’ll have a think and I’m sure I’ll come up with something decent. I am rather good at English Literature. But I’m struggling with this concept of mystery and solving them.
One of my Classical Civilisation teachers also recently commented on the same: “Stop using rhetorical questions in your essays!” Me: “But I like them” (smiling). Tutor: “Yes I’ve noticed that… but you need to stop asking questions and give a straight-forward argument for answering the question you’ve been given!”
Argh. Creating mysteries and solving mysteries. I’ve also fallen so much in love with the poetry of William Blake that whilst I’m not struggling in any way to talk about his message and his brilliance, I’m struggling to solve mysteries when Blake’s whole world was about leaving some things to mystery and not putting things in boxes, about cultivating childhood imagination. Argh.
Life is mystery. There are things which we can solve, and things which wisdom imparts on us, things which become clearer, but how do I solve the mystery of great poetry surviving through time without asking questions…
What is great poetry? I’d say that great poetry is a stream of consciousness, a flow of life, a message that was written from the expression of a soul perhaps to another’s soul or simply to oneself, words that pinpoint an important moment in existence. Great poetry is beautiful. Great poetry creates connections. And, rather unfortunately for the present moment, it creates Mystery…
…Tiger, tiger, burning bright
In the forests of the night,
What immortal hand or eye
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
[The Tiger, William Blake]