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tonyv

The Astronomers of Mont Blanc (Edgar Bowers)

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tonyv

Who are you there that, from your icy tower,
Explore the colder distances, the far
Escape of your whole universe to night;
That watch the moon’s blue craters, shadowy crust,
And blunted mountains mildly drift and glare,
Ballooned in ghostly earnest on your sight;
Who are you, and what hope persuades your trust?

It is your hope that you will know the end
And compass of our ignorant restraint
There in lost time, where what was done is done
Forever as a havoc overhead.
Aging, you search to master in the faint
Persistent fortune which you gaze upon
The perfect order trusted to the dead.


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aleksandra

It is your hope that you will know the end

And compass of our ignorant restraint

There in lost time, where what was done is done

Forever as a havoc overhead.

Aging, you search to master in the faint

Persistent fortune which you gaze upon

The perfect order trusted to the dead.

 

How wonderful sound of poetry Tony. I loved this poem.

I have never read before by Edgar Bowers I think. But I like what I read now.

 

Thank you for sharing Toni.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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goldenlangur

Hi Tony,

 

 

Thanks to your discussion about this poet's discipline and patience in his writing, I can appreciate better his use of images and language, particularly these lines:

 

 

"

...Ballooned in ghostly earnest on your sight;

 

 

And compass of our ignorant restraint

There in lost time, where what was done is done

Forever as a havoc overhead..."

 

 

 

Certainly a poet to explore more.

 

Thank you,

 

 

 

goldenlangur


goldenlangur

 

 

Even a single enemy is too many and a thousand friends too few - Bhutanese saying.

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summayya

To be honest I think I have to give this more time I am not good enough to understnad it fully icon_redface.gif

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tonyv

Thanks, friends. I made a topic for Edgar Bowers in Favorite Poets. I hope you like my selections there.

 

Summayya, don't despair. This poem is difficult, but it's not obscure. I, too, had to read it many times, but doing so was worth it. When I have to re-read, I learn and become better each time, provided the writing is good ... and this is.

 

Tony icon_smile.gif


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aleksandra

I don't agree with you Tony and Summ. I think this poem is easy ( for me ) maybe always I am different, some easy poems sounds difficult for me icon_eek.gif

But this one I think it worked so good for me.

 

I am sorry for interrupt in the conversation for the poem, Tony and Summ. icon_smile.gif

 

Ok make sure Tony to help as always, be kind as you are.

Summ we are lucky always there is Tony to help

 

See you my Friends.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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tonyv
I don't agree with you Tony and Summ. I think this poem is easy ( for me ) maybe always I am different, some easy poems sounds difficult for me icon_eek.gif

But this one I think it worked so good for me.

 

I am sorry for interrupt in the conversation for the poem, Tony and Summ. icon_smile.gif

 

Ok make sure Tony to help as always, be kind as you are.

Summ we are lucky always there is Tony to help

 

See you my Friends.

 

Aleksandra

But Alek, you don't need help with this one. icon_biggrin.png And if this poem was easy for you, I am even more impressed than I usually am with you. icon_biggrin.png I always said you had a better eye for art than I have and a more acute mind, to boot! I love the poem, too, but I admit it was difficult for me. icon_redface.gif I hope you will like the others in Favorite Poets.

 

Tonyy


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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Aleksandra

Yes I don't need help with this one Tony. And not need to be much impressed maybe I'm just saying that was easy for me, just because to look better sometimes than you,or summ etc icon_biggrin.png. so maybe you will ask sometime some help from me too ab some of yours poems icon_rolleyes.gif

 

Thanks for your kindness, and yes I love some of your favorite poets.

 

Aleksandra


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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dedalus

Thanks for the link, Tony -- a very apt addition to the discussion on poetic language!

 

Brendan


Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim

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Aleksandra
Who are you there that, from your icy tower,

Explore the colder distances, the far

Escape of your whole universe to night;

That watch the moon’s blue craters, shadowy crust,

And blunted mountains mildly drift and glare,

Ballooned in ghostly earnest on your sight;

Who are you, and what hope persuades your trust?

 

It is your hope that you will know the end

And compass of our ignorant restraint

There in lost time, where what was done is done

Forever as a havoc overhead.

Aging, you search to master in the faint

Persistent fortune which you gaze upon

The perfect order trusted to the dead.

 

Whenever I read this poem, it's getting more and more beautiful each time I read it. It's good to find something new in a poem that you read many times already. I simply fall in love with the poem.


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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Aleksandra

And again, I loved it.


The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth - Jean Cocteau

History of Macedonia

 

 

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tonyv
5 hours ago, Aleksandra said:

And again, I loved it.

Yes Alek, I always come back to this. It's one of my favorite poems. :happy:


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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A. Baez

The language and the "feel" created here are powerful, and the rhyme scheme is unusual and taut, but the ideas seem to resist clarity the way that minnows pulled out of water resist staying in one's hands. I find myself thinking that there must have been a way that Bowers could have delivered the same degree of rhetorical power here without the sacrifices he made to clarity. These sacrifices tempt this reader to wonder whether the poet was trying to dupe us into believing that there is profound meaning where perhaps there isn't. However, the basic premise of his theme is intriguing, and I'm very happy to have learned of this poet who is much to my liking in terms of overall gestalt.  

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tonyv
10 minutes ago, A. Baez said:

The language and the "feel" created here are powerful, and the rhyme scheme is unusual and taut, but the ideas seem to resist clarity the way that minnows, pulled out of water, resist staying in one's hands. I find myself thinking that there must have been a way that Bowers could deliver the same degree of rhetorical power without the sacrifices he has made to clarity. These sacrifices tempt this reader to wonder whether the poet was trying to dupe us into believing that there is profound meaning where perhaps there isn't. Nonetheless, I'm very happy to have learned of this poet who is much to my liking in terms of "feel." 

Interesting observations and remarks. While extreme clarity isn't what I aspire to in my own poetry, I find this one to be clear. Then again, I've read it about a hundred times and have it committed to memory. Don't forget to also check out the Bowers Favorite Poets topic.


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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A. Baez

I'd be interested to hear you break down into plain English what Bowers has said in each line, particularly in the second stanza! The best I can do is guess. I did check out the Favorite Poets topic. Overall, my reaction to the other poems you posted is similar. I found v#5 (from "Wandering") to be to be a startlingly trenchant depiction of the surreal dissociated feeling of being badly ill. Still, even there, I wrestled with "Waking from a delirium, a pure/ self which suffers the dream of happiness,/ I lie content" for some time before I divined what its true and logical meaning must be. In the group of poems, "The light's archaic and divine indifference" is a standout phrase to me. I profoundly "get" what Bowers is trying to say here. His is a rather cold and alienated view of life, for sure. While I relate to this in terms of what my own outlook was in younger years, my better half recoils from it, having found myself what I feel is a more fulfilling meaning in life. 

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tonyv
1 hour ago, A. Baez said:

I'd be interested to hear you break down into plain English what Bowers has said in each line, particularly in the second stanza!

In the second stanza, Bowers answers the question(s) he asks in the first.1 In lines eight and nine, he (Bowers himself) recognizes that mankind's knowledge of life's meaning/purpose, its direction/outcome, etc. (as represented by its studied universe in this poem) is limited and cannot be scientifically explained ("the ignorant restraint"), and he suggests in lines ten and eleven where the astronomers are hoping to find the answers to their questions: in what they observe.2

In lines twelve and thirteen, he observes that the astronomers are "aging," which he contrasts with the persistence of the universe, which despite its constant state of change (the "havoc") seems to be much longer lived than any astronomer. Then, in line fourteen, Bowers blends the scientific and the theological/spiritual by characterizing all of it, the universe, the meaning of life, etc. as a "perfect order" that is "trusted to the dead." This is a remarkably unscientific admission that there is an order to life and its unknowns, the understanding of which is "trusted to the dead." It raises the questions by whom? How does Bowers know this? Again, not scientific.

A lot of this happens to coincide with my own view to the extent that I believe it arrogant of mankind to think it should, or that it even could, be able to explain, scientifically, all of the mysteries of life and the universe. I can explain this computer I'm using to a dog. I can talk about it and demonstrate it all day, every day for the dog's entire life, but he still won't understand the computer. His brain is only so big. The difference is, that man could have the capacity to understand, and if one is a believer, he eventually will; somewhere in the Bible it says that all will be revealed.

I've said many times on this site that I don't have formal training in English, literature, or poetry, that I'm mostly self-taught. This is the best I can do with this one.


________________________________

1. After describing in the first stanza what the scientist/astronomers actually see through their telescope lenses, in their "sights," what he really wants to know is what they are looking for and what they actually hope to find. Reading between the lines, I think he is in effect asking why they study the skies and the distant universe.

2. The starlight we see tonight originated a long time ago, hence the "lost time," and the stars that emitted the light could have even burnt out by the time the light reaches us, hence the "havoc" in the universe above. Stars are born and eventually burn out and die. Not that I do, but some people theorize that the universe itself began with such a "big bang," an explosion of sorts. 


Here is a link to an index of my works on this site: tonyv's Member Archive topic

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A. Baez

Okay,  I think you have helped to shed some light on this for me. "Ignorant restraint" had eluded me, because when applied to a person, "restraint" implies "unemotional, dispassionate, or moderate behavior; self-control"--which hardly seems ignorant--rather than the word's other meaning, "a measure or condition that keeps someone or something under control or within limits"--a meaning which is typically applied only to abstract things, but which you are saying is here being applied to humankind. If so, I would simply have to consider this phrase, in this context, to be clumsy verbiage. More broadly, if we accept your interpretation of "restraint" here, "the end and compass of our...restraint" is an odd construction; it seems like the parameters of something that's limited should not, by definition, be hard to determine; but then again, maybe Bowers means that there is a limit to how limiting limitation can be, and that's what the astronomers are seeking!? Adding to this confusion are the dual ways one may interpret the word "end"--it could mean "termination," but also "goal," which would give this phrase an entirely different twist. Similarly, "lost time" had mystified me, but I like your explanation of this. "...what was done is done/Forever as a havoc overhead" turned me in knots because "as" here seems like it's being used as an adverb, but here, it's followed by a noun, and a quaintly used one, at that. "Havoc" used in this way connotes such a sense of the present tense, yet this seems to conflict with the preceding "done forever," which implies something that is completely done--done for good. Yet maybe, as you imply, it actually means that something is done over and over again ad infinitum. If so, this, too, is another awkward turn of phrase in this context that has me feeling like I do when trying to make sense of an Escher drawing of stairs that lead two opposite ways and yet neither. By "trusted to the dead," are you saying that Bowers means that all life's hidden mysteries will be revealed to the dead? If so, I can't agree, as I think that deeper understanding must be earned by more than an involuntary action. Like you, I do agree with Bowers' premise that people tend to put undue weight on the power of science to confer such understanding, but I feel that Bowers should go farther--he should acknowledge that, as you said, we the living are indeed capable of understanding life's mysteries--just not through the limited instruments of the senses and the intellect. I am recalled of Hamlet's words, "There are more things in heaven and earth, Horatio, than are dreamt of in your philosophy."


 

 

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