The Slow Language Movement

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Yesterday I came across an article by Author/Poet Nick Laird, about how the Internet, social networks, and texting are affecting the way we process the written word. He writes about the difficulty that he has had lately in re-reading Dr. Johnson and Henry James, and suggests that in a world that is moving so fast, we forget what it is to sit and ponder the subtleties of language.
I agree. Often the constant bombardment of information, noise and technology that I absorb leaves me feeling overstimulated and dull-witted, and at the end of the day I am left with little patience for heavy language, turning instead to fluffy novels for entertainment.
So, how are we to combat this apathy of thought? Laird suggests that poets, and those who read poetry, are part of a Slow Language Movement (a nod to Italy's Slow Food Movement). Poetry is a medium that does not lend itself to speed. Poetry is not something that can be devoured, it must be savoured; each word and every sentence rolled around inside of our minds before the full meaning can take root.
In honor of the Slow Language Movement, I have decided to feature a poem on this blog every Friday. I hope you will take a moment to sit and ponder the poetry with me.
Let's start with one of my very favorite poets, and one of my very favorite poems:

E.E. Cummings
October 14, 1894 – September 3, 1962

anyone lived in a pretty how town
anyone lived in a pretty how town
(with up so floating many bells down)
spring summer autumn winter
he sang his didn't he danced his did

Women and men(both little and small)
cared for anyone not at all
they sowed their isn't they reaped their same
sun moon stars rain

children guessed(but only a few
and down they forgot as up they grew
autumn winter spring summer)
that noone loved him more by more

when by now and tree by leaf
she laughed his joy she cried his grief
bird by snow and stir by still
anyone's any was all to her

someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream

stars rain sun moon
(and only the snow can begin to explain
how children are apt to forget to remember
with up so floating many bells down)

one day anyone died i guess
(and noone stooped to kiss his face)
busy folk buried them side by side
little by little and was by was

all by all and deep by deep
and more by more they dream their sleep
noone and anyone earth by april
wish by spirit and if by yes.

Women and men(both dong and ding)
summer autumn winter spring
reaped their sowing and went their came
sun moon stars rain


jenn said...

I love this. Why am I not surprised by your taste in poetry?? Have you read LXX? The last line ("only by you my heart always moves") is engraved in my husband's wedding ring. e.e. cummings is wonderful.

A professor once told me not to bother reading Henry James until you're over 30. It completely makes sense now. Though I agree with the Slow Language Movement. I need to overcome my impatience and keep reading dense, difficult things, so long as they're also ultimately rewarding (unlike Thomas Pynchon...).

Aelysium said...

Thanks, Jennifer. I hadn't heard of that one before, but I just looked it up. It's a lovely poem. I've never read Henry James, myself. I have considered it, but maybe I'll take your professor's advice, and wait until I'm over 30 as well. :)