Sunday, May 5, 2019

The "World's Language" meets Poetry

Music is the world's language. It doesn’t matter who you are or where you are from, anyone can understand music. Now I don’t consider myself to be bilingual because of this fact, but it certainly holds true. Another form of art that is equally as expressive as music, but takes a good understanding of a language to grasp is poetry; there is more parallels that you’d think. Things like structure, rhyme scheme, and similar themes all carry over in each art form. Here are some examples of that.

When we look at “Whoever You Are Holding Me Now in Hand” by Walt Whitman, you see a poem about love that has a dark side. A love that the narrator does not think will work out, and the person they love is going to get the metaphorical shaft. A response for this song was written by Alice Cooper in the song “Poison.” The lover writes back, “I wanna love you but I better not touch / I wanna hold you, but my sense tell me to stop / I wanna kiss you but I want it too much / I wanna taste you but your lips are venomous poison.” They also separate their longer sections of their works with a two line expressive interjection. Whitman writes “Who is her that would become my follower? / Who would sign himself a candidate for my affections?” to Coopers “One look, could kill / My pain, your thrill.”

Bruce Springsteen takes a poem out of Emily’ Dickinson's anthology, when he wrote “Born to Run.” As the title suggests, the couple in this epic four and a half minute song are getting away from society. The society that “rips the bones from your back” and is “a death trap, it’s a suicide rap.” Dickinson writes in “I’m Nobody! Who are you?” about nobody. Nobody does not want to be part of their society, one that forces you to connect with people who aren’t inspired. It’s a place where nobody does not like one bit and wants to escape just like Bruce and Wendy. These two works share a similar rhyme scheme as well. Dickinson writes “How dreary - to be - Somebody! / How public - like a Frog - / To tell one’s name - the livelong June - / To an admiring Bog!” This is an ABCB rhyme scheme, while bruce does the same thing in the end of his last verse. He sings “Where we really wanna go / And we’ll walk in the sun / But till then tramps like us / Baby we were born to run.”

I think Dickinson would have gaged if she listened to Ray Charles’s “I Got a Woman.” In his last verse he says “She’s there to love me / Both day and night” and “She knows a woman’s place / Is right there, now, in her home.” In her poem “I’m ‘wife’ - I’ve finished that -” she responds to this. Instead of using profuse profanity, like myself and many others would have, and exclaiming why Ray Charles needs to rethink how he sees woman, she says “How odd the Girl’s life looks / Behind this soft Eclipse -.” She is exactly right. You do not define a woman as being a housewife who is there to love you, that covers up her shining self, life an eclipse. I don’t know how charles missed that lesson.

“I’m a shooting star, leaping through the sky / Like a tiger defying the laws of gravity … There’s no stopping me.” This is exactly what I picture Dickinson sang after “A solemn thing - it was - I said -.” She writes, “And then - the size of this ‘small’ life … swelled - like Horizons - in my vest - / And I sneered - softly - ‘small’!” The other thing swelling in her vest was her lungs ready to belt out this epic song that shares the same rhyme scheme. They both don’t use one. Freddie Mercury sings “time … yeah … ecstasy … me … time,” at the end of the lines in his first verse, while dickinson says “said … be … fit … mystery.”

I don’t think Dickinson was the legendary theatrical heavyweight champion of the world, but he poem “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” shares a similar message as Rocky’s theme song. “Gonna Fly Now,” is all about perseverance and the grind. Its poem length lyrics read “Trying hard now / It’s so hard now / Trying hard now / Gettin’ strong now / Coming on, now / Gettin’ strong now / Gonna fly now / Flyin’ high now / Gonna fly, fly, fly.” Those inspiring words, completed with a second to none guitar solo, backup vocals, brass, and sound production really give you the feeling you will not stop for anything. The narrator in this poem must have just watched Rocky run up the stairs of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, because they are on the same page. Death has “kindly stopped for me-” just like Rocky’s doubts and hardships he overcame. They also don’t use a rhyme scheme to develop their poem, its straight to the point with how they feel.

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