Today's picture is from 1882, and shows Oscar Wilde. A very strange character, if you do a little research on him. Below, I present his poem, "By the Arno". To be honest with you, I don't get it.
OK, so three days in a row, I have admitted that I don't get the poem, even after reading it carefully. You are probably thinking that I could have never made it through college literature with three "I don't get it's" in a row. I will have you know that I did make it through college literature, and I am going to share my secret with you right now. When I was in college, I was doing well in all my hard classes . . . getting A's in Science, Engineering, and Math classes. I was, however, struggling in literature. I talked to one of my engineering professors, and he shared with me the secret to doing well in literature.
Lets take yesterday's poem for example, "Beat! Beat! Drum!". We had lots of comments on it, and three basic interpretations emerged . . . it was against the war, it was for the war, and it was neutral on the war. I will tell you that ANY of those three responses would have gotten you a solid "C" or perhaps at best a "B". In order to get an "A" you would need to follow my engineering professors advise. You see, he told me that to get a really good grade, you needed to come up with a really ridiculous interpretation that was nothing like what the poem was about, and make sure the interpretation had some perverse angle to it. When I started doing that, I started getting all A's. So, for the Whitman poem, here is the winning interpretation.
The poem has nothing to do with war, it represents Whitman's childhood. The drum represents his father, and the bugle his secret love for his mother. He resented his father as the father was the object of his mom's physical affections. The beating of the drum represents his inner desire to beat his father and the blowing the bugle represents his desire to declare his secret love of his mother.
Yes folks, that is the type of interpretation that will get you an A in college literature.
Anyway, for your amusement, I present Wilde's "By the Anon". Maybe you could try your hand at interpreting now that you know the secret formula.
BY THE ARNO
- THE oleander on the wall
- Grows crimson in the dawning light,
- Though the grey shadows of the night
- Lie yet on Florence like a pall.
- The dew is bright upon the hill,
- And bright the blossoms overhead,
- But ah! the grasshoppers have fled,
- The little Attic song is still.
- Only the leaves are gently stirred
- By the soft breathing of the gale,
- And in the almond-scented vale
- The lonely nightingale is heard.
- The day will make thee silent soon,
- O nightingale sing on for love!
- While yet upon the shadowy grove
- Splinter the arrows of the moon.
- Before across the silent lawn
- In sea-green vest the morning steals,
- And to love's frightened eyes reveals
- The long white fingers of the dawn.
- Fast climbing up the eastern sky
- To grasp and slay the shuddering night,
- All careless of my heart's delight,
- Or if the nightingale should die.