Reconfiguring Romanticism (9): Some Outsider Poets

Posted by Lidya Endzo Kun iLLa On 3:41 PM
with Jeffrey C. Robinson

Is there for honest poverty / That hings his head, an a' that? / The coward slave, we pass him by - / We dare be poor for a' that! / For a' that, an a' that! / Our toils obscure, an a' that, / The rank is but the guinea's stamp, / The man's the gowd for a' that. (Robert Burns)

While the idea of a poetry outside-of-literature insinuated itself into the thinking of many within the nineteenth-century literary world, an actual but largely undervalued outsider poetry (many such poetries in fact) maintained its own semi-autonomous existence. With this split in the fabric of nineteenth-century consciousness (never wholly repaired up to the present) we enter the domain of the “self-taught poet,” separated from acknowledged literature by the accidents of class & region. Yet it was here where the bulk of poetry was written – or spoken & memorized – or where other works of language were created that did what poetry does but without a claim to being poetry as such. Though much of this – like most literature & poetry – was markedly derivative, there were also notable outcroppings of otherness & innovation, & in many instances a class-oriented political poetry that matched the workings of more established forerunners & contemporaries.

In the cluster of poems that follows we present a range of such works as written – with one notable exception – in English. That exception, who called himself “Raifteiri the Poet,” descended (not uniquely) from a line of bards outside the politically dominant English tradition but with autochthonous (Irish/Gaelic) sources of its own. Others, similarly situated, wrote in variants of English (dialects & creoles) that were themselves a challenge to the linguistic hegemonies around them. Yet something of that self-assertion also colored the writings of as purely English a poet as John Clare (too often taken as the stereotypical “outsider”), whose declaration of linguistic & grammatical independence is covered elsewhere in these pages. But the deeper incursions of outsider poets are exemplified here by the excerpts from Ernest Jones (1819-1869) &Thomas Cooper (1805-1892) – both of them political radicals but engaged concurrently in an attempt to participate in or to capture the high ground of literature as normatively practiced. For this their context was the mid-century Chartist movement of British laborers & artisans, that drew as well from the poetry & poetics of canonical figures such as Milton, Blake, Wordsworth, Byron, & most notably Shelley. (The Chartists’ publication of Shelley’s Queen Mab & its accompanying notes & essays led to its later reputation as “the Chartists’ Bible.”)

Still others, whom we might now think of as outsiders if not outsider poets, are represented here by the anonymous author of an American Revolutionary tract in Old Testament style; by the Nez Percé author of an 1880 history of his nation deposited in the cornerstone of a local tribal school & only recovered much later; & by “Uncle Jake” Carpenter who composed a series of beautifully lineated “obituaries” to celebrate deaths in the town of Three-Mile Creek, Avery county, in the western mountains of North Carolina (a kind of outsider’s Spoon River Anthology, as one of us once described them). In a more familiar mode, “The Boasting Drunk in Dodge” is a further example of anonymous, essentially oral/musical poems, while “The Honest Farmer’s Declaration” (1853) shows a divergent impulse toward typographical composition as practiced in a place far removed from any avant-garde pressures. And finally, the brief selection from Joanna Southcott’s prophetic writings – her poetry a vehicle for propehcy – gives a sense of the highly charged religious basis for what has come in our time to be named or misnamed “outsider art.”

[Three poems from this section follow]:

Antoine ó Reachtabhra (Blind Raftery) 1784-1835
I AM RAIFTEIRI

Mise Raifteirí, an file, lán dóchais is grál
le súile gan solas, ciúineas gan crá,
ag dul síos ar m'aistear le solas mo chroí,
fann agus tuirseach go deireach mo shlí;
féach anois me lem aghaidh ar Bhalla
ag seinm cheoil do phócaí falamh'

I am Raiftieri, the poet, full of courage and love,
my eyes without light, in calmness serene,
taking my way to the light of my heart,
feeble and tired to the end of the road:
look at me now, my face toward Balla,
playing my music to empty pockets!

Translation from Irish by Thomas Kinsella

Ernest Jones 1819-1869
SONG OF THE LOW

We plow and sow, we're so very, very low,
That we delve in the dirty clay;
Till we bless the plain with the golden grain,
And the vale with the fragrant hay.
Our place we know, we're so very, very low,
'Tis down at the landlord's feet;
We're not too low the grain to grow,
But too low the bread to eat.
Down, down we go, we're so very, very ow,
To the hell of the deep-sunk mines;
But we gather the proudest gems that glow,
When the crown of the despot shines;
And when'er he lacks, upon our backs
Fresh loads he deigns to lay:
We're far too low to vote the tax
But not too low to pay.
We're low, we're low -- we're very, very low --
And yet from our fingers glide
The silken floss and the robes that glow
Round the limbs of the sons of pride;
And what we get, and what we give,
We know, and we know our share;
We're not too low the cloth to weave,
But too low the cloth to wear.
We're low, we're low, we're very, very low,
And yet when the trumpets ring,
The thrust of a poor man's arm will go
Through the heart of the proudest king.
We're low, we're low -- mere rabble, we know --
We're only the rank and the file;
We're not too low to kill the foe,
But too low to share the spoil.

Joanna Southcott 1750-1814
from the STRANGE EFFECTS OF FAITH

"But now I will come to Pilate's question, 'Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you?' the serpent, or the woman? Here is as just an inquiry as Pilate made. One of the two must be cast, before your full redemption can be accomplished. Now answer for thyself, O man! and I will for the woman. Did I not bear all the blame man cast on ME? (This refers to the Fall: 'The woman thou gavest to be with me, she tempted me and I did eat.') And is it not just, the serpent should bear the blame the woman cast on him? If ye judge this simple, read back, your Bibles, and ye will find all as simple. Simple was My coming into the world, and My manner through the world, and My going out of the world; all was as simple to the Jews as this appears to the Gentiles. Was I not born of simple parents, laid in a manger, and simply warned the wise men to return another way for fear of Herod, when I could have destroyed him? Did I not simply fly into Egypt, and full as simply returned again? For a God to be afraid of man, you must confess a simple thing."

And now in verse I shall begin
To echo back the lines to men.
Of simple parents I was born,
And worldly wise men did Me scorn;
Simply to Egypt I did fly,
And simply all was done,
And simply another way
I did turn back again;
Simply I oft Myself did hide
When man I could destroy;
Simply the manger made My bed,
While mankind did enjoy
Their beds of down, and wore their crown,
While I was forced to flee;
And simply shall their pride come down,
That every soul shall see.
Simple among the sons of men
I always did appear;
And simple in the woman's form
I've surely acted here.
Simple as these appear to be,
So simply all was done,
When on the Cross at Calvary
I gave My life for man.
For oh! how few regard My love,
Or to the manger go,
Just like the shepherds you have heard,
To know if it be true.
The manger here doth now appear
As much despised by man;
They cannot see the mystery clear -
The servant cannot come
No greater here for to appear -
Than was her Lord before;
And like the Jews the Gentiles are,
And open every pore.
Do I not see as well as thee
Thy poverty despised?
For like the Jews the Gentiles be,
And pride hath dimmed their eyes.
So now take care, I warn you here,
The natural branch did fall;
Then the wild olive sure must fear,
If none can judge the call.

[From Poems for the Millennium, Volume 3:The University of California Book of Romantic & Postromantic Poetry, scheduled for publication in January 2009. For further information check the following URL: http://www.ucpress.edu/books/pages/10540.php. Earlier excerpts from Volume 3 appeared on June 11, June 18, June 24, July 6, July 13, July 21, July 29, & August 7.]

0 Response to 'Reconfiguring Romanticism (9): Some Outsider Poets'

Post a Comment

Tattoos Picture Page 1 Tattoos Picture Page 2 Tattoos Picture Page 3 Tattoos Picture Page 4 Tattoos Picture Page 5 Tattoos Picture Page 6 Tattoos Picture Page 7 Tattoos Picture Page 8 Tattoos Picture Page 9 Tattoos Picture Page 10 Tattoos Picture Page 11 Tattoos Picture Page 12 Tattoos Picture Page 13 Tattoos Picture Page 14 Tattoos Picture Page 15 Tattoos Picture Page 16 Tattoos Picture Page 17 Tattoos Picture Page 18 Tattoos Picture Page 19 Tattoos Picture Page 20 Tattoos Picture Page 21 Tattoos Picture Page 22 Tattoos Picture Page 23 Tattoos Picture Page 24 Tattoos Picture Page 25 Tattoos Picture Page 26 Tattoos Picture Page 27 Tattoos Picture Page 28 Tattoos Picture Page 29 Tattoos Picture Page 30 Tattoos Picture Page 31 Tattoos Picture Page 32 Tattoos Picture Page 33 Tattoos Picture Page 34 Tattoos Picture Page 35 Tattoos Picture Page 36 Tattoos Picture Page 37 Tattoos Picture Page 38 Tattoos Picture Page 39 Tattoos Picture Page 40 Tattoos Picture Page 41 Tattoos Picture Page 42 Tattoos Picture Page 43 Tattoos Picture Page 44 Tattoos Picture Page 45 Tattoos Picture Page 46 Tattoos Picture Page 47 Tattoos Picture Page 48 Tattoos Picture Page 49 Tattoos Picture Page 50 Tattoos Picture Page 51 Tattoos Picture Page 52 Tattoos Picture Page 53 Tattoos Picture Page 54 Tattoos Picture Page 55 Tattoos Picture Page 56 Tattoos Picture Page 57 Tattoos Picture Page 58 Tattoos Picture Page 59 Tattoos Picture Page 60 Tattoos Picture Page 61 Tattoos Picture Page 62 Tattoos Picture Page 63 Tattoos Picture Page 64 Tattoos Picture Page 65 Tattoos Picture Page 66 Tattoos Picture Page 67 Tattoos Picture Page 68 Tattoos Picture Page 69 Tattoos Picture Page 70 Tattoos Picture Page 71 Tattoos Picture Page 72 Tattoos Picture Page 73 Tattoos Picture Page 74 Tattoos Picture Page 75 Tattoos Picture Page 76 Tattoos Picture Page 77 Tattoos Picture Page 78 Tattoos Picture Page 79 Tattoos Picture Page 80 Tattoos Picture Page 81 Tattoos Picture Page 82 Tattoos Picture Page 83 Tattoos Picture Page 84 Tattoos Picture Page 85 Tattoos Picture Page 86 Tattoos Picture Page 87 Tattoos Picture Page 88 Tattoos Picture Page 89 Tattoos Picture Page 90 Tattoos Picture Page 91 Tattoos Picture Page 92 Tattoos Picture Page 93 Tattoos Picture Page 94 Tattoos Picture Page 95 Tattoos Picture Page 96 Tattoos Picture Page 97 Tattoos Picture Page 98 Tattoos Picture Page 99 Tattoos Picture Page 100 Tattoos Picture Page 101 Tattoos Picture Page 102 Tattoos Picture Page 103 Tattoos Picture Page 104 Tattoos Picture Page 105 Tattoos Picture Page 106 Tattoos Picture Page 107 Tattoos Picture Page 108 Tattoos Picture Page 109 Tattoos Picture Page 110 Tattoos Picture Page 111 Tattoos Picture Page 112 Tattoos Picture Page 113 Tattoos Picture Page 114 Tattoos Picture Page 115 Tattoos Picture Page 116 Tattoos Picture Page 117 Tattoos Picture Page 118 Tattoos Picture Page 119 Tattoos Picture Page 120 Luxury Villa and Home Page 1 Luxury Villa and Home Page 2 Luxury Villa and Home Page 3 Luxury Villa and Home Page 4 Luxury Villa and Home Page 5 Luxury Villa and Home Page 6 Luxury Villa and Home Page 7 Luxury Villa and Home Page 8 Luxury Villa and Home Page 9 Luxury Villa and Home Page 10 Luxury Villa and Home Page 11 Luxury Villa and Home Page 12 Luxury Villa and Home Page 13 Luxury Villa and Home Page 14 Luxury Villa and Home Page 15 Luxury Villa and Home Page 16 Luxury Villa and Home Page 17 Luxury Villa and Home Page 18 Luxury Villa and Home Page 19 Luxury Villa and Home Page 20 Luxury Villa and Home Page 21 Luxury Villa and Home Page 22 Luxury Villa and Home Page 23 Luxury Villa and Home Page 24 Luxury Villa and Home Page 25 Luxury Villa and Home Page 26 Luxury Villa and Home Page 27 Luxury Villa and Home Page 28 Luxury Villa and Home Page 29 Luxury Villa and Home Page 30 Luxury Villa and Home Page 31 Luxury Villa and Home Page 32 Luxury Villa and Home Page 33 Luxury Villa and Home Page 34 Luxury Villa and Home Page 35 Luxury Villa and Home Page 36 Luxury Villa and Home Page 37 Luxury Villa and Home Page 38 Luxury Villa and Home Page 39 Luxury Villa and Home Page 40 Luxury Villa and Home Page 41 Luxury Villa and Home Page 42 Luxury Villa and Home Page 43 Luxury Villa and Home Page 44 Luxury Villa and Home Page 45 Luxury Villa and Home Page 46 Luxury Villa and Home Page 47 Luxury Villa and Home Page 48 Luxury Villa and Home Page 49 Luxury Villa and Home Page 50 Luxury Villa and Home Page 51 Luxury Villa and Home Page 52 Luxury Villa and Home Page 53 Luxury Villa and Home Page 54 Luxury Villa and Home Page 55 Luxury Villa and Home Page 56 Luxury Villa and Home Page 57 Luxury Villa and Home Page 58 Luxury Villa and Home Page 59 Luxury Villa and Home Page 60 Luxury Villa and Home Page 61 Luxury Villa and Home Page 62 Luxury Villa and Home Page 63 Luxury Villa and Home Page 64 Luxury Villa and Home Page 65 Luxury Villa and Home Page 66 Luxury Villa and Home Page 67 Luxury Villa and Home Page 68 Luxury Villa and Home Page 69 Luxury Villa and Home Page 70 Luxury Villa and Home Page 71 Luxury Villa and Home Page 72 Luxury Villa and Home Page 73 Luxury Villa and Home Page 74 Luxury Villa and Home Page 75 Luxury Villa and Home Page 76 Luxury Villa and Home Page 77 Luxury Villa and Home Page 78 Luxury Villa and Home Page 79 Luxury Villa and Home Page 80 Luxury Villa and Home Page 81 Luxury Villa and Home Page 82 Luxury Villa and Home Page 83 Luxury Villa and Home Page 84 Luxury Villa and Home Page 85 Luxury Villa and Home Page 86 Luxury Villa and Home Page 87 Luxury Villa and Home Page 88 Luxury Villa and Home Page 89 Luxury Villa and Home Page 90 Luxury Villa and Home Page 91 Luxury Villa and Home Page 92 Luxury Villa and Home Page 93 Luxury Villa and Home Page 94 Luxury Villa and Home Page 95 Luxury Villa and Home Page 96 Luxury Villa and Home Page 97 Luxury Villa and Home Page 98 Luxury Villa and Home Page 99 Famous People Page 1 Famous People Page 2 Famous People Page 3 Famous People Page 4 Famous People Page 5 Famous People Page 6 Famous People Page 7 Famous People Page 8 Famous People Page 9 Famous People Page 10 Famous People Page 11 Famous People Page 12 Famous People Page 13 Famous People Page 14 Famous People Page 15 Famous People Page 16 Famous People Page 17 Famous People Page 18 Famous People Page 19 Famous People Page 20 Famous People Page 21 Famous People Page 22 Famous People Page 23 Famous People Page 24 Famous People Page 25 Famous People Page 26 Famous People Page 27 Famous People Page 28 Famous People Page 29 Famous People Page 30 Famous People Page 31 Famous People Page 32 Famous People Page 33 Famous People Page 34 Famous People Page 35 Famous People Page 36 Famous People Page 37 Famous People Page 38 Famous People Page 39 Famous People Page 40 Famous People Page 41 Famous People Page 42 Famous People Page 43 Famous People Page 44 Famous People Page 45 Famous People Page 46 Famous People Page 47 Famous People Page 48 Famous People Page 49 Famous People Page 50 Famous People Page 51 Famous People Page 52 Famous People Page 53 Famous People Page 54 Famous People Page 55 Famous People Page 56 Famous People Page 57 Famous People Page 58 Famous People Page 59 Famous People Page 60 Famous People Page 61 Famous People Page 62 Famous People Page 63 Famous People Page 64 Famous People Page 65 Famous People Page 66 Famous People Page 67 Famous People Page 68 Famous People Page 69 Famous People Page 70 Famous People Page 71 Famous People Page 72 Famous People Page 73 Famous People Page 74 Famous People Page 75 Famous People Page 76 Famous People Page 77 Famous People Page 78 Famous People Page 79 Famous People Page 80 Famous People Page 81 Famous People Page 82 Famous People Page 83 Famous People Page 84 Famous People Page 85 Famous People Page 86 Famous People Page 87 Famous People Page 88 Famous People Page 89 Famous People Page 90 Famous People Page 91 Famous People Page 92 Famous People Page 93 Famous People Page 94 Famous People Page 95 Famous People Page 96 Famous People Page 97 Famous People Page 98 Famous People Page 99 Famous People Page 100 Famous People Page 101 Famous People Page 102 Famous People Page 103 Famous People Page 104 Famous People Page 105 Famous People Page 106 Famous People Page 107 Famous People Page 108 Famous People Page 109 Famous People Page 110 Famous People Page 111 Famous People Page 112 Famous People Page 113 Famous People Page 114 Famous People Page 115 Famous People Page 116 Famous People Page 117 Famous People Page 118 Famous People Page 119 Famous People Page 120

Blog Archive