Monday, November 3, 2014

MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day: "In a Restless World Like This Is" by Charles Bernstein

The Songs of Eretz Poetry Review MOOC ModPo Poem of the Day for November 3, 2014 is "In a Restless World Like This Is" by Charles Bernstein.  The text of the poem may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/poem/242798.

Charles Bernstein (b. 1950) is a founding member of the LANGUAGE poetry movement.  He is the Donald T. Regan Professor of English and Comparative Literature at the University of Pennsylvania where, along with ModPo lead instructor Professor Al Filreis, he helped found PENNsound.  Reference to this and additional biographical information may be found here:  http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/charles-bernstein.

"In a Restless World Like This Is" contains fourteen lines, but that is the only nod to the construction of a sonnet that is apparent.  There is no rhyme scheme and, due to the frequent use of enjambment, the poem does not divide itself easily into the Petrarchan 8 - 6 or the Shakespearean 4 - 4 - 4 - 2 pattern.

LANGUAGE poets are known for their blending of "poetry and critical writing about poetry" (op cit). This may be what is going on in "In a Restless World."  The entire poem seems to be trying to tell the reader something important, but the speaker gets distracted by constantly trying to remember how and when and where he learned that important something.  The poem seems to say in its conclusion that it is not the thing itself but the process of arriving at the thing that is important.

It is possible, given the title, that the entire poem is metaphor for the befuddlement, confusion, illogic, and amazement experienced when falling in love.  Listen to Nat King Cole (pictured) here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=D1Gu4Bad1xU and see if you agree.  If true, the theme, love, is another nod to the sonnet form.

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