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Randomness, Year 2
Issue 36


I find it humorous that over the summer I sent almost no issues and now I've sent two within a week or so. It makes me smile. :)

Today, the most popular and accessible form of poetry is lyric poetry. I mean REAL lyric poetry. Lyric poetry is something that, for Western Culture, goes back to ancient Greece. The word lyric actually comes from the word lyre--which was the ancient world's equivalent of the guitar. Lyric poems were originally poems which were meant to be sung. It is because of this fact that we talk about "song lyrics"--the words to a song. My high-school English teacher (I had her for 3 semesters in a row and four different English classes) recognised that in popular music we find a new sort of valid poetry. She allowed us to use song lyrics for our poetry study as long as they were meatyfor example, NOT "Baby, baby, whoa yeah, I love you girl," but something like, "And the moon is a sliver of silver like a shaving that fell on the floor of a Carpenters shop" (Mullins, "The Color Green"). Many songs have deep meanings and are at a level with some of the worlds best poetry--but obviously, songs like "Heartbreak Hotel"--though good songs--are not.

Song is the melding of poetry with music. It is an attempt of the soul to express its thoughts and emotions both in the medium of words and the medium of notes. Both poetry and music are wonderful arts. In song, the interpretation of the poem can be more easily conveyed, as is noted by Carolyn Arends when she talks about Rich Mullins song "Jacob and 2 Women". She says that "Rich claimed to like my version of Jacob and 2 Women--he said when he sang it he just thought it was funny, but sung from a female perspective it was a little heartbreaking." In the ancient world, this melding was performed by bards. In The Odyssey, there is the Phaeacian bard Demodocus, on whom "more than any other the god has bestowed the gift of song, to delight men on whatever theme he may be inspirited to sing." In the culture represented in Homer's epic poems, the bards tended to be members of a court, singing to the courtiers--noblemen, ladies, the king, and honoured guests. In the Middle Ages we have troubadours and minstrelstravelling musicians who went about from village to village or noble court to noble court. They were of the ancient tradition from the Germanic scop--the singer-poet--who would entertain his barbaric friends. Today, the ancient tradition of the bard, the scop, the troubadour is continued in popular music. Modern musicians have the advantage of the advantage of recording technology to make their sounds theoretically last for eternity.

Copyright 2001, Matthew Hoskin