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Unread 11-28-2022, 03:45 PM
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RCL RCL is offline
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Default Poetic Prose? Prose Poems?

From Thoreau’s Journal (The entire Journal is online)

https://www.walden.org/what-we-do/li...al-collection/


The Snake in The Stomach
August 1851, 393

Thirst. Nut Meadow Brook where it crosses the road beyond Jenny Dugan's that was. I do not drink in vain. I mark that brook as if I had swallowed a water snake that would live in my stomach. I have swallowed something worth the while. The day is not what it was before I stooped to drink. Ah, I shall hear from that draught! It is not in vain that I have drunk. I have drunk an arrowhead. It flows from where all fountains rise. How many ova have I swallowed? Who knows what will be hatched within me? There were some seeds of thought, methinks, floating in that water, which are expanding in me. The man must not drink of the running streams, the living waters, who is not prepared to have all nature reborn in him, - to suckle monsters. The snake in my stomach lifts his head to my mouth at the sound of running water. When was it that I swallowed a snake? I have got rid of the snake in my stomach. I drank of stagnant waters once. That accounts for it. I caught him by the throat and drew him out, and had a well day after all. Is there not such a thing as getting rid of the snake which you have swallowed when young, when thoughtless you stooped and drank at stagnant waters, which has worried you in your waking hours and in your sleep ever since, and appropriated the life that was yours? Will he not ascend into your mouth at the sound of running water- Then catch him boldly by the head and draw him out, though you may think his tail be curled about your vitals.


Snake and Toad

August 1851, 423

Causeway Bridge near the second stone bridge. There was [a] man in a boat in the sun, just disappearing in the distance round a bend, lifting high his arms and dipping his paddle as if he were a vision bound to land of the blessed, - far off, as in picture. When I see Concord to purpose, I see it as if it were not real but painted, and what wonder if I do not speak to thee, I saw a snake by the roadside and touched him with my foot to see if he were alive. He had a toad in his jaws, which he was preparing to swallow with his jaws distended to three times his width, but he relinquished his prey in haste and fled; and I thought, as the toad jumped leisurely away with his slime-covered hind-quarters glistening in the sun, as if I, his deliverer, wished to interrupt his meditations, -without a shriek or fainting, - I thought what a healthy indifference he manifested. Is not this the broad earth still? he said.
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Last edited by RCL; 11-29-2022 at 01:06 PM.
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Unread 11-29-2022, 12:53 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Hi Ralph,
That's a very good question - and one that is tricky to answer as the subject is so debatable, but you sent me off on a Googling trip I enjoyed, in search of others' opinions on the matter.

At school I was taught (putting it very simply) that poems rhyme and prose doesn't. Being a lover of metrical poetry since my childhood that suited me fine back then, and I didn't even come across the phrase "prose poem" until I started to write poems myself.

However, if I was forced to choose one or the other I would cite these examples as "Poetic prose". Others may disagree.

Jayne
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Unread 11-29-2022, 01:15 PM
Roger Slater Roger Slater is offline
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I don't know why it's so important to categorize and try to nail things down to precise dictionary definitions. Those of us who have engaged in such discussions should understand by now that the arguments and disagreements that result are not going to change minds or shed much light. If, for example, you are of the "there's no such thing as free verse" mindset, since it's just "lineated prose", you will remain that way no matter how many times I cite the Princeton Encylopedia of Poetry to the contrary,

So why not just acknowledge that there is a form of writing that many writers call "prose poetry" even though others allow themselves to be horrified that the word "poetry" is being used this way?

The question is whether, when I read the block of text someone had the temerity to call a "prose poem", I enjoy it and am glad to have read it. Not whether I have pigeon-holed it correctly.
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Unread 11-29-2022, 02:53 PM
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Jayne Osborn Jayne Osborn is offline
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Bob,
I think Ralph was asking specifically about those two examples, rather than sparking off a general discussion, or arguments and disagreements. At least, that's how I saw it.

But, although I write only metrical poetry myself, I've read lots of beautiful prose poems. I just happen to think those Thoreau pieces - because Ralph asked - were more in the category of poetic prose. It was a 50/50 choice!

Jayne
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Unread 12-11-2022, 12:27 AM
John Riley John Riley is offline
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I'm not usually this forward but if you want to read the short piece I posted in Fiction and tell me if you think it's poetic prose or prose poem or whatever. As I posted it there I started to think it it's a poem. I don't know and as Roger said I'm not really interested in drawing lines but when it comes to submission most journals have their definitions.

Anyway, if you have a moment. Thanks.
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Unread 12-28-2022, 03:29 PM
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Jayne, Ann, Roger, and John, I don't think it matters, and I finally remembered that Thoreau answered my question with this:

My life has been the poem
I would have writ,
But I could not both live
and utter it.

His prose is all about how he lived; his poems are mostly bad echoes of thee and thy Victorian junk.
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Last edited by RCL; 12-28-2022 at 07:33 PM.
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