Friday, November 11, 2011

Poetic prose into poetry: from Proust to Woodstock

I've been hanging around the Poetics section at dVerse-Poet's Pub, but today I thought I would join the group over at the section of the pub called Meeting the Bar: Critique and Craft. This week it is hosted by Claudia, who introduces us to Zsa at zumpoems. Zsa gives us a Poetic Prose into Poetry Challenge that is really something! For the full explanation please click the Meeting the Bar link above......but here is the nutshell portion of the challenge:
  • Pick a passage from a novel, essay or short story that qualifies as prose, but for you is particularly poetic.
  • Then, as a first step, without changing a word or punctuation mark, reformat that so it appears to be poetry.
  • Take your reformatted piece of prose and convert it into whatever meets your definition of poetry!
~~~

The passage I selected is from The Guermantes Way, by Marcel Proust.
            (Le Côté de Guermantes)
            [Vol. 3 of Remembrance of Things Past--
            (À la Recherche du temps perdu)]

At the age when a Name, offering us an image of the unknowable which
we have poured into its mould, while at the same moment it connotes
for us also an existing place, forces us accordingly to identify one
with the other to such a point that we set out to seek in a city for a
soul which it cannot embody but which we have no longer the power to
expel from the sound of its name, it is not only to towns and rivers
that names give an individuality, as do allegorical paintings, it is
not only the physical universe which they pattern with differences,
people with marvels, there is the social universe also; and so every
historic house, in town or country, has its lady or its fairy, as
every forest has its spirit, as there is a nymph for every stream. . .

And yet the fairy must perish if we come in contact with the real
person to whom her name corresponds, for that person the name then
begins to reflect, and she has in her nothing of the fairy; the fairy
may revive if we remove ourself from the person, but if we remain in
her presence the fairy definitely dies and with her the name, . . .
~~~

This is my reformatted version of the prose above into poetry:

At the age when a Name,
offering us an image of the unknowable
which we have poured into its mould,

            while at the same moment

it connotes for us also
an existing place,

forces us accordingly to identify one
            with the other
to such a point that we set out
                        to seek in a city for a soul
            which it cannot embody
but which we have no longer the power
            to expel
                        from the sound of its name,

it is not only to towns and rivers
that names give an individuality,
            as do allegorical paintings,

it is not only the physical universe
which they pattern with differences,
people with marvels,

            there is the social universe also;

and so every historic house,
in town or country,
has its lady or its fairy,
            as every forest has its spirit,
                        as there is a nymph for every stream. . .

And yet the fairy
            must perish
if we come in contact with the real person
to whom her name corresponds,
for that person the name then begins
            to reflect,
and she has in her nothing of the fairy;

the fairy
            may revive
if we remove ourself from the person,

but if we remain in her presence
the fairy definitely dies
and with her the name, . . .

~~~

Here is my poem. I think I should title it Forgive Me, Marcel ...... for the only thing I have in common with Proust is that, like him, I am a hopeless night owl who writes most frequently late at night and into the morning.

   
 
Woodstock

Nostalgie de la boue, a yearning
for the mud of the past;
the vast sweep of patchouli
Sexed sweetness, the stink of
Elimination and sweat;

The rasta patchwork of lovers
expecting days in the sun,
getting skunked by the rain;

And the fairy girl with a halo—

      Veronica! Veronica!

He whispered and screamed,
inhaled the sound of her name,
singing it into his soul
as he watched her from afar.

They all vanished into lore
after three days at the farm

and the mud dried in the fields,
time crusting in the letters of
      a name
carved into a rock.

Peace to the fairy girl,
May the music never die.

MLydiaM ~ November 2011


.

19 comments:

Claudia said...

oh goodness...this is so frickin' cool...i would've never expected that you end up woodstock with your poem after reading through the text and everything...loved it...and they never wore bras in the 70's --haha

Lydia said...

Claudia~ Thank you so much! I loved your comment. It came through just as I am ready to turn off this computer, take off my bra, and get some sleep!

Brian Miller said...

ha. excellent lydia, you made it your own...and took us in a different direction but it works and comes off lovely...the rasta patched lovers...ha...

all you ladies finding freedom though this piece as well...smiles.

rosaria said...

"...time crusting in..."
You've got some lovely lines here!

A great idea, indeed.

Kathleen said...

Loved, loved, loved this!

YogaforCynics said...

Hmmm...I just keep trying to picture Proust at Woodstock...nattily dressed and perhaps eating a madelaine, perhaps with a dollop of liquid acid on top...

The Cello Strings said...

love it.

Yousei Hime said...

Wow, Proust and Woodstock. I loved it too, especially since I'm not as familiar with Proust (as I should be). Rich offerings for me on all counts. Thank you and well done.

zumpoems.com said...

What a great text you chose! A brilliant metaphor by an amazing writer. Then you take this and materialize it in one of the great symbols of the baby boomer generation, capturing the spirit of that time (a time, by the way, when so many teens and young adults voraciously read authors like Proust.) Impressively done!

G-Man said...

Lydia...?
Forsaken and forgotten (sigh)

Catfish Tales said...

It just makes more sense your way; so much so that I think the playful Proust would forgive you, yes. :)

ds said...

Oh, brilliant! Proust and Woodstock, definitely not the first combination that comes to mind. But it works so well. Love your "reformatting"--and your own poem, wow. "time crusting in the letters of/ a name"
Oh, yes, Marcel would approve.
So well done, Lydia. Thank you.

Lydia said...

Brian~ Thanks for liking it in spite of my taking it in the different direction.
What a strong new profile pic!

rosaria~ Glad you liked the lines and appreciated the challenge. :)

Kathleen~ So, so, so pleased that you did!

YogaforCynics~ I woke up a few hours into my ridiculously-timed sleep, read your comment and laughed like crazy. That scene, where one that is beloved by many, is the one I recall distinctly: it is when I knew that I would read every word of the work.

The Cello Strings~ Thanks much.

Yousei Hime~ Thank you for your rich comments on all counts!

zumpoems.com~ Oh, how your comment delighted me. Thank you for these words, and thank you for such a fantastic challenge.

G-Man~ I am sorry G-Man, but there was a time limit on the Linky for this challenge, and I just really felt I needed to try this one. I felt horrible about missing FF55 this week. :(

Catfish Tales~ Thanks, and I like thinking that the playful Proust would get a kick of this. I wonder what he would have thought of Woodstock!

Lydia said...

ds~ Your wonderful comment crossed my replies, and what a happy surprise to find it. Thanks for mentioning the reformatted version. I took it as seriously as Proust's prose is so deserving of Time...and saw the passage with fresh eyes because of it. A great exercise given us this week.

kj said...

oh my god, lydia, i am with real writers here!

this is such a COOL idea it makes me giddy. i am skating through it right now: looking at your change to poetry and lines with such fascination and delight!!!

but i will have to come back to READ that poem and then yours. i will. xo

i LOVE this. i won't forget it!!

love
kj

Lydia said...

kj~ I totally get your excitement, as I feel the same way about the Poets Pub. I hope you left to visit the site and sure do expect to see you there soon. It is simply grand that you love the idea put forth in this challenge. :)

izzy said...

Oh my, nostalgia- sweet and sour, rain and mud...wow. I still enjoy the music.
On the re-lining of a favorite piece:
I can get lost in that particular
endeavor. When I was an editor for our H.S. publication and REALLY got into rearranging some pieces....In retrospect I was pretty destructive!
I like what you did though, thanks.

The Cello Strings said...

admirable job.

Lydia said...

izzy~ I still love the music, too.
You rearranged literature back in H.S.! That is fun info, especially in light of the fact that I just did it for the first time in my life. :)

The Cello Strings~ Thanks. I enjoyed your repeat visit. :)

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