Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Living the Poetic Life

A.E. Housman is considered one of the famous poets (and one of my favorites) of the 19th and 20th centuries for his works like the A Shropshire Lad. However, in his lifetime, he considered himself more of a classical scholar than a poet. Therefore, he didn't speak about his poetry publicly until the end of his life in The Name and Nature of Poetry, a lecture he gave in 3 years before he died. Despite Housman's issues, when he speaks, I listen. And when he was given the opportunity to speak of poetry after all he had written, his main argument was that poetry was intended to appeal to the emotions and not to intellect.

When I began to think about this, I started to notice the concept in his poetry, but I also began to notice it in my life. How much of my life do I try to live poetically? Or how much of my life, apart from school, do I live based off my emotions and not on intellect. This brings me back to an age old questions, and that is whether we should act more upon emotions/feelings or on intellect/reason. I can definitely say that my friends and I, in our senior year of college, have chosen the former. We stay up late every night, we have as many 'parties' as possible, we randomly go to the creek/river, we never miss an opportunity to eat together, play Mario Kart 64, have a jam session, talk about something controversial, and procrastinate on homework. Senior year is good, but just like all good things besides our salvation, it will come to an end. Maybe we should start using our heads a little more, but we're dreamers, and I'm not seeing a definitive ending to our poem anytime soon.

XLIX. Think no more, lad; laugh, be jolly

THINK no more, lad; laugh, be jolly:
Why should men make haste to die?
Empty heads and tongues a-talking
Make the rough road easy walking,
And the feather pate of folly
Bears the falling sky.

Oh, ’tis jesting, dancing, drinking
Spins the heavy world around.
If young hearts were not so clever,
Oh, they would be young for ever:
Think no more; ’tis only thinking
Lays lads underground.

-A.E. Housman, from A Shropshire Lad

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