[continued from postings on 10/17/10 and 10/29/10]

But there is another side to improvisational poetics, one that seems to gender the whole phenomenon: the poetry of the improvvisatrici calls attention to improvisation’s ephemerality--a poetry that cannot be preserved--and, by an inevitable metonymy, to the poet’s own mortality. The improvvisatrici and even more their followers in written poetry sometimes wedded improvisation to the death of the performer. In this regard women’s poetry as improvisation becomes embedded in two popular 18th-century and Romantic paradigms for the woman poet: the nightingale and, even more, Sappho. In both cases, and unlike the Byronic model, poetry and human life become mutually exclusive. Unlike a Byron or a Procter, the “annihilation,” in Keats’s negatively capable term and in the experience of the improvvisatore totally absorbed in his or her performance, seemed for some woman poets a reality. As L.E.L., often given the epithet Sappho, wrote of a woman’s poetic career: “Your songs sink on the ear, and then they die, / A flower’s sweetness, but a flower’s life.” The ephemeral sweetness produced tragically, like the songs of Sappho, equates to the brevity of the life of its author. Similarly, of Felicia Hemans’s superb late lyrics about poetry as ephemeral sweetness, the 19th-century’s George Gilfillan said: “the sweet sounds often overpowered the meaning, kissing it, as it were, to death.” What counts here as her particularly poetic effect is something non-semantic, erotic; meaning, like the life of the poet as improvvisatrice, dies in and of poetry’s embrace. Hemans, it might be added, also saw her own life as a “waste,” again the wasted life equating to a poetry of supplement (music, kisses, not meaning), what Bataille calls “sacred waste.”

At this point, I wish to rethink this what I might call Sapphic economics as something less lugubrious, less tragic, and more indicative of a new poetics, based upon the principles and associations of improvisation. What, let us ask, constitutes the trajectory of this poetry? Given its performative origins, it most pointedly establishes registers of success by the response of the audience; in other words it directs itself away from the performer-poet. In the imagery of the poetry of improvisation, the falling cataract permanently leaves its source, “a fine mind,” in L.E.L.’s [Laetitia Landon's] words, that “wastes itself away,” to end up “A noble stream which, unconfined / Makes fertile its rich banks, and glads the face / Of nature round; but not so when its wave / Is lost in artificial waterfalls.” (History of the Lyre) Elsewhere she refers to “the hand / That can call forth the tones, yet cannot tell / Whether they go, or if they live or die.” This other-directedness, fertilizing river banks, refuses to replenish the poet herself, just as the ecstatic performance becomes a self-annihilation. But suppose that a female poet could replace the Sapphic poetic economy of scarcity with a comic one? One feels in the late lyrics of Hemans and the poetry of L.E.L., and in the fact that people perceived them as improvvisatrici, that part of what wants to die off is the very idea of self as a necessary fact of lyric celebration. The history of experimental or open-form poetry by women would indicate the possibility of a different outcome from the Sapphic one, one in which the mobility, the libidinal onrush, the spontaneity and ecstasy, the supplemental quality of the verse, would put forth not a self in an act of self-depletion but rather a mind-in-motion. No one equates the destabilized self as a poetry of the ephemeral better than Felicia Hemans in “The Dying Improvisatore”; even the quatrain, with its distended middle of two five-stress lines and slighter first and fourth lines of three stresses, images a passing wave:

Pouring itself away
As a wild bird amidst the foliage turns
That which within him triumphs, beats, or burns,
Into a fleeting lay. . . .

Similarly L.E.L. in Erinna, a long poem based on the ancient Greek lyric woman poet, proposes “to trace the thoughts which are the workings of the poet’s mind.”

One must note here that the imagery of “flowing” belongs generally to Romantic improvisational poetics and should not be equated with an essentialist feminism. “Flow,” in this instance is a metaphor, as it were, for metonymy as juxtaposition, contiguity, linkages—what Landon and, as we shall presently see, the contemporary poets Lyn Hejinian and Rae Armantrout all argue for in a feminist poetics.

Armantrout has written about the special advantage of a truly feminist poetics: women poets may choose to reject a poetry of the unitary subject which, ironically, reinforces the stable view, positive or negative, that patriarchy has of them, and instead may consider writing a poetry of their actual, perhaps less comfortable but more generative, subject-position on society’s periphery—a poetry of destabilizations, in the language of improvisation, of flowings, in the words of Lyn Hejinian, a metonymic poetry: “Metonomy moves attention from thing to thing. . . .Compared to metaphor, which depends on code, metonomy preserves context, foregrounds interrelationship. . . . the metonymic world is unstable.” Hejinian’s poetry, says Armantrout, speaks to the experience and the vision of many women in that, with a critical allusion to the Coleridgean imagination, “opposites and discordant life experiences can be encompassed without being distorted by resolution.” The poems of Lorine Niedecker, she says, “achieve a brilliant clarity, not because of the predominance of a single image or a subordinating metaphor, but because they follow the labyrinthian twists of thought and circumstance with great agility.”

For the later Romantics poetry is a pouring forth of words that reside at the periphery of ordinary consciousness and supplemental to it, at the threshold of speech, the lips, at the break of day, but authentic as the fluctuations, the “changes,” as L.E.L. says, of being. Words are not discrete from but blend with thought, just as they blend with bird song and nature sounds. “I feel / My spirit would have pour’d itself in song, / Have learn’d a language from the rustling leaves, / The singing of the birds, and of the tide.” Landon and Shelley, moreover, speak of poetry in terms of links and chains, so that the tracing of the thoughts of a person occurs as metonomy. As Landon says: “Thoughts are Life’s great human links, / And mingle with our feelings.”

A metonymic poetry functioning to image the mind-in-motion seems to have two important outcomes in later Romantic poetry: the first as a sign of a feminist poetry of the destabilization of self and the second, more generally, as taking the form of blank verse in a function new for Romanticism. Mme. De Stael’s Corinne (1811) embraces both outcomes. In the midst of her performance in the Naples Countryside, the protagonist and female genius, Corinne, an improvvisatrice, abruptly stops her song on the tragic masculine history of Italy: “Corinne was suddenly gripped by an irresistible emotion; she looked round at the enchanting place and wonderful evening, at Oswald who was there but perhaps would not always be there, and tears flowed from her eyes. Even the common people, who had just applauded her so noisily, respected her emotion, and they all waited silently for her words to tell them of her feelings. For a time she played a prelude on her lyre, and no longer dividing her song into eight-line stanzas, in her poetry she gave herself up to an uninterrupted flow”—an exchange, presumably of ottava rima for something akin to blank verse (or perhaps even “free” verse), more obviously a verse image of the linkage of thoughts. The next phase of her song features the history of women. It is as if she is proposing a subversive poetry of and by women, one that refuses fixed identities and meanings and instead follows the labyrinthian twists of female thought and circumstance.

The British Romantic women poets associated with improvisation do not choose the ottava rima form. Instead they opt for shorter, less complicated, stanzas and occasionally blank verse (see L.E.L.’s Erinna)—forms that move more quickly down the page. This suggests to me that they are more interested in the movement of mind, link by link, “now” to “now,” than they are in the freedom of mind as registered by extravagant play marked by the foregrounding of non-semantic elements. It is striking to me that Erinna and the strange poem “Orpheus,” thought to have been improvised by P. B. Shelley and transcribed by Mary Shelley (both in blank verse), recast the function of blank-verse monologues from the 1790s—from a domestic poem of quotidian meditation by an actual person in real time to a monologue from history or mythology, a voice from the collective. Here blank verse seems to function less to solidify in a monumental (Miltonic) verse form the democratic person as free-standing agent and more to catch before they vanish the ephemeral energies of one going out of his or her own nature. At such moments the risk-taking side of Romanticism urges poetry and its readers towards an “unwinding of imagination,” the habit of mind required for the perpetual reconsideration of our world.

Giorgio Agamben, Potentialities; Gioia Angeletti, “Byron, Improvisation, and Romanticism”; Charles Bernstein, ed.; Close Listening; Mme. De Stael, Corinne; or, Italy; Denis Diderot, Rameau’s Nephew, trans. Jacques Barzun; Felicia Hemans: Selected Poems, Letters, Reception Materials, ed. Susan Wolfson; Steve McCaffery, “Language Writing from Productive to Libidinal Economy”; Friedrich Schiller, On Naïve and Sentimental Poetry

0 Response to 'Reconfiguring Romanticism (45), Part Three: Jeffrey Robinson, from “Romantic Poetry, The Possibilities for Improvisation”'

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