For the longest time I have wanted to read a specific poem from which, to date, I have only been able to read a few verses. The first two verses of the poem are included in a book I have about meter. Though I have searched online, I have not been able to find the poem reproduced in its entirety anywhere.
I am super excited to report that yesterday I had occasion to re-visit an institution from which I have been estranged for decades: the public library. I obtained a library card and borrowed three books. The books are, of course, from the poetry section, and one of them is a collection which includes the poem I have wanted to read. The collection is called Touch (The University of Chicago Press, Chicago/Faber and Faber Limited, London, 1967) by Thom Gunn , and the poem I have been looking for is called "Pierce Street."
My latest publication here at Poetry Magnum Opus is an aubade called "Vintages." It begins Brown sunlight creeps through slats around/edges and tans her naked shoulder ... I am considering the possibility that I was influenced, subconsciously, by the first lines of "Pierce Street" where Gunn writes, ... Long threads of sunlight slant/Past curtains, blind, and slat ... " I would not deny or try to hide being influenced by someone from anyone. To the contrary, I have wanted to share "Pierce Street" in PMO's A Poem I Read Today forum for several years, and now that I have the complete poem available to me, I can even use it as an example to expound upon this matter of influence.
For the sake of example, take the words and image in the lines cited above from Gunn's "Pierce Street" and compare/contrast them with the requisite words and image in tonyv's "Vintages." Both are talking about window dressings, about daylight making its way into a room. There are two words in common: "sunlight" and "slat(s)." But I will posit that that is where the similarities end. "Vintages" is an aubade, whereas "Pierce Street" is something else.
I found it uncanny that in a part of "Pierce Street" which I had not read when I wrote "Vintages," Gunn wrote, Out of night now the flesh-tint starts to dawn. When composing "Vintages" I searched for a while for a word or expression to convey "flesh-tint" and settled on "tans her naked shoulder." I wonder had I read all of "Pierce Street" before I wrote "Vintages" would I have subconsciously pilfered "flesh-tint"? Probably not. I considered "tints" on my own and chose "tans."
I am drawn to the works of poets from several eras, one of which includes Edgar Bowers and Thom Gunn. Both were students of Stanford University's Yvor Winters. It is their writing, their style which attracts me. To some degree it is the subject matter of their poems, but mostly it is their use of contemporary language in metrical verse. From other schools I admire Larkin and the loveliness of Tuckerman. I have other sources of inspiration from fine art to music, but theirs is the writing to which I aspire.
Wikipedia has an interesting, though I suspect elementary, article on plagiarism. There is even a section on "self-plagiarism" which could be an issue if one has assigned the rights to his own work to someone else. So far, I have only showcased my work here at Poetry Magnum Opus, not elsewhere. That said, I will rip off my own work as much as I please and with impunity.
Now, you all have your own recognizable styles. Who are your influences and to what degree do you emulate them? Disclose. Don't hold back.
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