Pop vs High PoetryPosted: November 16, 2011
Upon reading poems from Duffy’s Mean Time shed light on Duffy’s comment on how Mean Time is more traditional and The World’s Wife is more popular. I am not a poetry expert but there are a few things that even I noted. The poem in Mean Time that drew my attention the most was “Confession.” In “Confession” and many other poems in the tome, the most obvious difference between these poems and in World’s Wife the lack of an obvious rhyme. As Dr. Croxall pointed out contemporary poetry in the literary tradition does not usually rhyme. Poems of Mean Time clearly fit this criteria. Furthermore there was a difference in the what I will call the “rhythm” of the poem. I will use “Confession” as my example. In the poem each line ends in what feels like the middle of a statement or phrase. The line will end with the first word of the phrase it continues into. Examples like: “Come away into this dark cell and tell, your sins….” or “Just how bad have you been there’s no water, in hell…”
This sort of rhythm and the lack of rhyme scheme may be off putting to a reader of popular literature. It would require recalibration of your mind to get used to reading such poetry for leisure. As far as the actual content of the poem I did not think a poem such as “Confession” or “Pilate’s Wife” had anything striking that would instantly make me think of “high vs low poetry.” I saw similarities like her play with the phrase “Mother of God” in “Confession” similar to “My God” in “Pilate’s Wife.”
This brings me to an interesting thought: In “high” vs “low” poetry how much do form versus content make the difference. I assume there is a little bit of each but it seems to me in comparing these two tomes by Duffy, the form seems to be more of the defining force than the actual images or messages the poem conveys.