Friday, April 24, 2009

It's difficult to get the news from poems

yet men die miserably every day
for lack
of what is found there.

(Thank you, W.C. Williams.)

Here's something about dying, misery, and the news:

~Philip Larkin

I work all day, and get half drunk at night.
Waking at four to soundless dark, I stare.
In time the curtain-edges will grow light.
Till then I see what's really always there:
Unresting death, a whole day nearer now,
Making all thought impossible but how
And where and when I myself shall die.
Arid interrogation: yet the dread
Of dying, and being dead,
Flashes afresh to hold and horrify.
The mind blanks at the glare. Not in remorse
--The good not done, the love not given, time
Torn off unused--or wretchedly because
An only life can take so long to climb
Clear of its wrong beginnings, and may never;
But at the total emptiness forever,
The sure extinction that we travel to
And shall be lost in always. Not to be here,
Not to be anywhere,
And soon; nothing more terrible, nothing more true.

This is a special way of being afraid
No trick dispels. Religion used to try,
That vast, moth-eaten musical brocade
Created to pretend we never die,
And specious stuff that says No rational being
Can fear a thing it will not feel, not seeing
That this is what we fear--no sight, no sound,
No touch or taste or smell, nothing to think with,
Nothing to love or link with,
The anaesthetic from which none come round.

And so it stays just on the edge of vision,
A small, unfocused blur, a standing chill
That slows each impulse down to indecision.
Most things may never happen: this one will,
And realisation rages out
In furnace-fear when we are caught without
People or drink. Courage is no good:
It means not scaring others. Being brave
Lets no one off the grave.
Death is no different whined at than withstood.

Slowly light strengthens, and the room takes shape.
It stands plain as a wardrobe, what we know,
Have always known, know that we can't escape,
Yet can't accept. One side will have to go.
Meanwhile telephones crouch, getting ready to ring
In locked-up offices, and all the uncaring
Intricate rented world begins to rouse.
The sky is white as clay, with no sun.
Work has to be done.
Postmen like doctors go from house to house.

Like in the Yeats poem from the 1st, I'm interested in the adjectives modifying verbs, in 'grow light' and 'stands plain'--I'm not sure if those are both 'predicate adjectives' but I think they are. Seven hundred billion bonus points to anyone who can tell me I'm wrong.


T. Smitty said...

Wouldn't they just be adverbs? They don't have that -ly at the end, though it sounds to me like "it stands plain as a wardrobe" and "it stands plainly as a wardrobe" mean the same thing. I looked up predicate adjectives, and all the examples I saw had. I like how it sounds though. "I greatfully accept your offer" doesn't sound as cool as "I accept your offer grateful."

Max said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Max said...

The title of your post reminded me of this classic from the HS Creative Writing syllabus, whose author I'm unsure of:

Linda failed to return home from a dance Friday night.
On Saturday
she admitted she had spent the night
with an Air Force Lieutenant.
The Aults decided on a punishment
that would “wake Linda up.”
They ordered her
to shoot the dog
she had owned about two years.
On Sunday,
the Aults and
took the dog into the desert
near their home.
had the girl
dig a shallow grave.
Mrs. Ault
grasped the dog between her hands and
Mr. Ault
his daughter
a .22 caliber pistol
and told her
to shoot the dog.
the girl
put the pistol
to her right temple
and shot herself.
The police said
there were no charges
that could be filed against the parents
except possibly

(The text is taken verbatim from a 1968 AP article as it appeared in the NY Times.)

Aaron Nuttall said...

If it's an adjective, you can put it in this sentence: the sky was ____. --though it might not make sense. So, the 'sky was plain,' 'the wardrobe was plain,' and 'the sky was light' the 'curtain-edges were light.'

I their adverb forms, '*the sky was lightly' and '*the sky was plainly' ain't English.

So no, they're not adverbs.