Thursday, April 30, 2009

Robert Frost rocks my face off.

I'm taking the literature SAT subject test this Saturday, and in preparation I was looking through my old file box from that fateful American literature class. (Oh, the monstrous birth and leaves of grass! Good times.) I had written up cards on literary terms, authors we studies, different periods of literature, and vocabulary words relevant to the time period. (Basically whatever Mrs. Bankston told us to make cards on. I didn't question it, I just did it.) And flipping through these, I get all the way to "S" and find a card labeled "sound of sense." This card says, "A theory of Robert Frost according to which a poem moves between the two poles of sound and sense and says something to the listener before it is understood." My note on the card says, "Wow."

For the record, I do not remember studying this at all. At all.

Which is a terrible pity that I didn't remember the literal meaning when I wrote about the imparted meaning here. Because what Frost actually meant by it was far more interesting! Mixing the sounds of words with the beat of the meter and the boundaries of the feet, how the audible and the meaning (the sound and the sense) blend to form the dual nature of a poem. SparkNotes says of it, "The words, the form of the words, and the sounds they encode are as much the subject of the poem as the subject is." And Donald Hall (yeah, I know) explains it in an even cooler way: "People used to argue about where a poem exists: on the page, or in the ear? The answer is neither. . . The ear and the eye, listening and reading, are devices for receiving signals that are dispersed throughout the body. The poem is its sounds, and its sounds are the code which allows the mind to slip back into old and poetic ways of thinking."

Do not tell me that's not fascinating. I have a whole new appreciation for Robert Frost's poetry now, recognizing how painstakingly he sought to add the auditory aspect to his poems that matched the literal message of the words. I'm going to go back to studying now. [/impulsive fangirl post]

1 comment:

Micah E. said...

I like this concept even better when applied to music, August Rush.