Okay. How many of you out there were forced to memorize this “thrilling” poem in Junior High? How did it improve your life? Or did it turn you away from poetry forever?
Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.
In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.
Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll.
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.
– By William Ernest Henley
David Orr writes about the best books of poetry published in 2015. Interestingly, Orr must follow editorial policy and not include a few excellent contemporary poets because the Times must avoid even the hint of favoritism which might be demonstrated by naming one’s friends or acquaintances to a top 10 list.
Although I still contend that my literary focus has been traditionally poetry, I did take a turn into drama when at graduate school and I have been concentrating on all the novels I missed along the way for 20 or 30 years now. Since I have been reading novels to catch up, I have neglected keeping up with the world of poetry and it’s lists such as Orr’s that help me keep my interest alive.
I recently stumbled onto an avid reader who openly stated that she enjoyed “poetic prose.” Is this like “military intelligence”? I unhesitatingly dashed off a snide request for an exact definition of “poetic prose” but to be fair, I knew what she meant and her opinion was reasonable, but her word choice was faulty: what she should have said was that she enjoyed “figurative prose.”