Crossways

An Online Literary Magazine

Tag Archive for ‘poetry’

On the Nature of Poetry: Treading the path already taken.

“It was the month of May. Trees in Harvard Yard Were turning a young green. There was whispering everywhere.”   In Canopy Heaney describes how someone had installed speakers amongst the branches of a tree in Harvard and how the whispering voices emanating from these speakers seemed to become the voice of the leaves, the tree, the earth itself, rising up and reminding us of its dominance. One of the […]

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Form and Content: The Art of Editing

  According to Stephen King, to write is human, to edit divine. Anyone who writes will see sense in this. Especially poets. The Old English word for a poet is ‘Scop’ which translates literally as ‘shaper’. What else is poetry but an exercise in constant editing? And what else is editing but shaping and giving form to something? That is why Stephen King calls it divine. It is the most […]

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Notes on Literature as Play

  As far as I can make out, there is only one rule to the game of literature that we can say with any degree of certainty. That rule is play. Play consists of saying much without really saying anything. It is not the job of poetry to clarify. Poetry should suggest and ambiguate. To play with words, to juggle with concepts and ideas is the business of the poet. […]

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The Wife’s Tale by Seamus Heaney

This is one of my favourite Seamus Heaney poems. It’s from his 1969 collection, Door into the Dark. I think the key to understanding the poem is the Eleusian mysteries practised by the ancient Greeks. The man in the poem is basically giving the role of the corn goddess, Demeter, to the woman, though she doesn’t know it. It’s a measure of how much he loves her but she is mystified. I think […]

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How to Approach the Classics

Many people have trouble reading the Classics, both ancient and modern. This is because we live in a culture of instant gratification. We are used to  reading passively. The key to understanding literature prior to the age of instant gratification is ‘active’ reading. People must change the way they approach these works. They need to change their mindsets. They need to read actively. Think of all the great literature that […]

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