Monday, September 17, 2012

Miss-Poemed

I've been thinking quite a bit about the connection/disconnect between thought and perception - like what Sid mentioned in the end of his last post.

I'm currently taking a class on verse-speaking through the RC.  It's better described as an independent study, as the class consists of two students working on the reading and then performance of various poems.  Our last assignment was to find an Edgar Allen Poe poem of our choice and to prepare it for presentation.  I selected "A Valentine," which I found particularly cool due to the hidden message in the poem - start at the first line first letter, second line second letter, etc. until the end and it spells out the full name of the woman to whom Poe was writing the poem - neat, eh?

As I performed the poem, my prof followed along in a collected works of Poe he had on hand. Throughout the reading, he kept giving me bizzarre looks (granted, he is a theater prof with dramatic facial expressions).  When I finished, he brought his copy of the poem over to compare to mine.  My version was riddled with typos, errors, or different words altogether which, consequently, led to a very different presentation of the poem.

In truth, this occurred because it was an entirely different poem.  Then I began to wonder, who owned this new poem? That is, the "incorrect" one I found online.  Then I realized there had to be a third poem - a mid tine poem - the poem that was spoken by me and heard/perceived by my prof.  This poem that only existed once, in that very first instant that I performed the poem (without knowing it differed from the original by Poe) and my prof heard it (expecting the original by Poe).

This "mistake" became alive and then was...lost...?

I'm curious about this unique realm of perception and limited creation.  I wonder if my project could somehow involve delving deeper into this...though I'm not entirely sure how....thoughts? comments? suggestions?


Here are the two versions of the poems (sorry, the "third" poem can't be captured and typed :) )


Version 1 - the "incorrect" one

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that nestling lies
Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines!- they hold a treasure
Divine- a talisman- an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure-
The words- the syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor
And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
Of poets, by poets- as the name is a poet's, too,
Its letters, although naturally lying
Like the knight Pinto- Mendez Ferdinando-
Still form a synonym for Truth- Cease trying!
You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do. 
Edgar Allan Poe

---from PoemHunter.com,http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/a-valentine/

Version 2 - the "correct" one 

A Valentine

For her this rhyme is penned, whose luminous eyes,
     Brightly expressive as the twins of Leda,
Shall find her own sweet name, that, nestling lies
     Upon the page, enwrapped from every reader.
Search narrowly the lines! – they hold a treasure
     Divine – a talisman – an amulet
That must be worn at heart. Search well the measure –
     The words – they syllables! Do not forget
The trivialest point, or you may lose your labor!
     And yet there is in this no Gordian knot
Which one might not undo without a sabre,
     If one could merely comprehend the plot.
Enwritten upon the leaf where now are peering
     Eyes scintillating soul, there lie perdus
Three eloquent words oft uttered in the hearing
     Of poets, by poets – as the name is a poet’s too.
Its letters, although naturally lying
     Like the knight Pinto – Mendez Ferdinando –
Still form a synonym for Truth – Cease trying!
     You will not read the riddle, though you do the best you can do.

-Edgar Allen Poe 

2 comments:

  1. That's amazing! No "meanings", new meanings. Your story reminds me of this poem called "On Reading Poorly Transcribed Erotica." It's in an anthology of erotic poetry, but it's effect is hilarious!

    http://bookkake.com/2008/12/22/on-reading-poorly-transcribed-erotica-by-jill-alexander-essbaum/

    ReplyDelete
  2. The poem is a metarepresentation of your story, don't you think? How much can be missed between different readings/versions of this poem. Poe plays with this idea. He knows that there is no possible way to encapsulate all of the meaning that he ever intended, though he baits you into it, calling it a treasure, talisman, amulet. But just as with everything, whatever meaning you take out of it is worn at heart—it comes from your own interpretation and you give it your own meaning.

    ReplyDelete