Monday, 21 January 2013

Narrative Poem Challenge

I'm joining the Narrative Poem Challenge hosted by Listra at Half-Filled Attic. Here it is.

I've been very interested in challenges lately, and I myself have joined several of them, and still, am planning to join more. But that's another business.

I have always loved narrative poems. I do, I like them. But somehow reading narrative poems is more challenging than reading normal poems or normal narratives. Looking at my TBR list, there are many narrative poems that I promise to read, both from the Classic Club's Project, and also from my own curiosity.

So, to share the joy of reading narrative poems, I'd like to propose a challenge: What about reading narrative poems in 2013?


I know that some of you must have joined several reading challenges by now. It can be hectic, reading all those book in a year. To make sure that everybody has fun instead of burden, instead of giving a number of poems you have to finish, I'd just give the levels of reading. Feel free to read just as much as you can. The point of all this is having fun, anyway.

Levels of reading:
  • Homer (< 4 narrative poems)
  • Orpheus (5 – 8 narrative poems)
  • Muses (9 – 12 narrative poems)
  • Apollo (> 12 narrative poems)

Rules:
  • You don't have to follow this blog to participate (though I would love it if you do).
  • The challenge will start on January 2013 and end on December 2013.
  • Only narrative poems will be counted. If it's just a good poem, but not a narrative poem, it doesn't count (though I would happily read your reviews about poems).
  • The length of the poems may vary, from long epics such as Illiad and Odysseyto Poe's The Raven. Don't worry about it. If you read a collection of narrative poems, you may write a review for each poem or as a group of it. But please put all reviews in the master post that will come later on.
  • Please put the button in your blog.
  • You don't have to choose your books now, so have fun along the year.
  • Please sign up through the Linky below.

    My list of intended narrative poems (if I can finish them!) are:
    1. The Eve of St Agnes by John Keats
    2. Lamia by John Keats
    3. Endymion by John Keats
    4. Rime of the Ancient Mariner by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    5. Christabel by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    5. Kubla Khan by Samuel Taylor Coleridge
    6. The Goblin Market by Christina Rossetti
    7. Paradise Lost by John Milton (a really long read)
    8. The Princess by Alfred Tennyson
    9. Manfred by Lord Byron

    I don't know if La Belle Dame Sans Merci by Keats and Coleridge's "Love" count, but I'll read those too, because they are pretty and somehow related. I realise the repertoire is mainly Romantic, without the Greek greats, but then I know nothing whatsoever of Greek history and mythology.

    I've also bought a Wordsworth volume (think it has Prelude in it).  It is disgustingly prosaic but then I want to know how it was like to live in that exciting era, so I'll bear with it.  The Excursion might be a better bet, but I don't have the text. 

    Some may be wondering where's Homer? As I said, I don't know Greek history. Besides, I read not merely for the plot and themes, but for the language. I don't understand Greek so it would be useless for me to appreciate the beauty of Homer. I might read the translated prose version of Odyssey but that's all. 

    Another good contended for narrative (or shall I say dramatic?) poetry is Robert Browning. I can't stomach him. He lacks melody - and I can't live without melody, unless it is of course prose. One short unmelodious poem is bad enough. Several books are too much. I think Christina Rossetti wrote The Prince's Progress  I love her style so I can stomach any nonsense she writes. But sense from Browning is enough to kill my remaining brain cells, and I need those for science.  Matthew Arnold wrote Empedocles at Etna, but as I said, mythology is beyond me. Besides, he's dull and allusive, not natural and unrestrained. 

    Other recommendations? I haven't tried Cowper's The Task, considered his masterpiece, but I have read The Castaway, or bits of it, which I might review. I don't know if it's strictly a narrative poem, but it sounds like a short version of Rime of the Ancient Mariner's plot (well not really, but it involves a sea.) I wouldn't consider Arthur Hugh Clough's Where Lies the Land? a narrative poem, which has some similarities to Castaway.

    I might try John Clare, peasant poet of Northamptonshire, who wrote Cottage Tales. Whatever. But I will not give way on my belief that Wordsworth's Idiot Boy sucks. So does Peter Bell, which was parodied by John Hamilton Reynolds. Stick to his sonnets and the Lucy poems. But over-simplicity and rural characters are really idiotic and overrated.

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