PERIPETEIA


                                                        A site for students studying English at 'A' Level/University. Discussion Forums and unique 
                                                  Online Seminars to build confidence, creativity, and individual analytical style.

Forums

Post Reply
Forum Home > Poetry > Taming the unseen

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 835

Dr Will May's seminar will take place here on weds. evening at 7pm.

April 25, 2017 at 4:44 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Neil Bowen
Administrator
Posts: 835

The Unseen Poem


Read the following poem by the British poet Stevie Smith from the 1930s. What strikes you as interesting, distinctive, or unexpected about it? [Smith's arrangement of the words can be seen in the documents section of this website]  I look forward to discussing this with you tonight!



‘The Bereaved Swan’


Wan

Swan

On the lake

Like a cake

Of soap

Why is the swan

Wan

On the lake?

He has abandoned hope.

 

Wan

Swan

On the lake afloat

Bows his head:

O would that I were dead

For her sake that lies

Wrapped from my eyes

In a mantle of death,

The swan saith.


 

Stevie Smith, ‘The Bereaved Swan’, A Good Time Was Had By All (1936)

 

April 26, 2017 at 4:15 AM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

Good evening. Trust all are well.

April 26, 2017 at 2:01 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Hello Rob! Welcome to the seminar.


April 26, 2017 at 2:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

For this evening's unseen poetry seminar, I've chosen a poem by the British poet Stevie Smith. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:06 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

It's short, but intriguing. What were some of your responses to the poem? What did you find surprising?

April 26, 2017 at 2:07 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Is anyone else able to join us this evening? 

April 26, 2017 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

There are ususally quite a number!

April 26, 2017 at 2:08 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

A good way to start thinking about this poem is by looking a tone. What do people think about the tone of the poem? It's often a difficult thing to pin down, but does it sound like a poem about grief?

April 26, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

JamesInk98
Member
Posts: 14

Hello! 

April 26, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

What do you think Rob?

April 26, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Priscilla
Member
Posts: 12
Hello, good evening
--
April 26, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Evening James!

April 26, 2017 at 2:09 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

Mourning perhaps rather than grief.

April 26, 2017 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

And hello Priscilla - welcome to the seminar. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

JamesInk98
Member
Posts: 14

I agree that grief seems a prominent theme, starting with the title, but then continuing with the mournful "O" and the fact that Wan is interestingly one letter removed from Swan - it has lost something. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:10 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Mourning is an interesting idea. Normally, we'd expect a poem that's mourning to be an elegy: melancholic, but using poetic vocabulary to celebrate the thing that's being mourned. 

April 26, 2017 at 2:11 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

Yes, James, the link between wan/swan is telling: it's a literally 'cutting-off'. What does wan mean - does anyone know?

April 26, 2017 at 2:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Will May
Member
Posts: 141

And why might it be a strange way to describe a swan?

April 26, 2017 at 2:12 PM Flag Quote & Reply

Rob Marshall
Member
Posts: 56

Pale or ashen. I like the idea of the removal of the S - could be interpreted as a swan's head.

April 26, 2017 at 2:13 PM Flag Quote & Reply

You must login to post.