minstrel: Re: apeing vs. creating (longish)

Nicholson, Drew DNicholson at tasc-il.org
Mon Apr 28 12:33:47 PDT 1997

Yaakov wrote:

<< I'll pose the following question.
I recently posted a new poem in the style of a Shakesperean sonnet.
Nothing in the poem was modern, except that I wrote it.  Was it "aping a
dead tradition?"  If not, does it not demonstrate the possibility of
creating new, dynamic, original work in a period format?>>

It seems to me the phrase "aping a dead tradition" should mean "mimicing a thing
that you don't understand."  In other words, highschool students writing a
sonnet because their teacher has assigned it to them, will more often than not
be "aping a dead tradition."  However, those of us who understand (as much as a
20th century person can understand a poetic form 300 years old) sonnets (or
anything that falls within the gamut) aren't aping.  (By the way, Yaakov, I
would contend that everything in your poem was modern, except the form -- THIS
IS NOT BAD, and I'm not flaming.  But you're a 20th century person, attempting
to recreate a victorian interpretation of a medieval mindset.)  

This, I think, is one of the reasons why bardic (whatever THAT includes) is so
hard to judge.  I can take a shakespearan sonnet -- for instance, 

Sonnet XVIII

     	Shall I compare thee to a summer's day?
     	Thou art more lovely and more temperate:
    	 Rough winds do shake the darling buds of May,
     	And summer's lease hath all too short a date:
(etc., edited for brevity)


	shall I compare you to a springtime wind?
	you are not blustery nor full of rain
(ect., edited because it would suck :)

THAT's aping.  However, if I learn to work within the shakespearian tradition, I
can come up with something else -- something original, that merely uses a form
that has been used before.  Remember, Shakespeare didn't invent the sonnet
himself.  He took the form from Spenser (I think) who stole it from the
Continent, who took it from... and so on and so forth.  

I can create within a period context.  It's not "apeing," or "copying" or

The hardest part is coming up with the creative stuff.  That's why the forms are

I submit, for enjoyment and commentary:

an Elizabethan sonnet by Andrew Blackwood MacBaine the Purple, OW

The deep hue of the blossoms that you hold
transfer sweet shade of rose unto your face,
and now with speed of young and grace of old,
the world around falls simply into place.
Your hair is muted fire upon your back...
like embers that do wait for hurried wind
or else they might expire for the lack
of care that some good someone must now lend.
I've heard long tales of love, tangled and true.
Yet ne'er believed until my heart took wing,
the day I turned around and I saw you...
the day that my cold winter turned to spring.
The roses in your heart will never die,
may we yet be together, you and I?

and, 18 months later

We two have now been wed for one full year
And if I had the choice I'd keep it all
Through hardship and great toil I've held you dear
E'en through despondent fogs I've heard love's call

Your beauty reigns supreme, your light undimmed
And by that light I see the love you hold
For though my show of love is roughly trimmed
I'd rather go with you than all earth's gold.

We stand beside each other on the road
A road that leads not aft, but only fore
We two as one can carry both our loads
We two as one can pass through love's thin door

I know we both have had our troubles ill...
I also know that we can make them well.

I am

Andrew Blackwood MacBaine the Purple
Tree-Girt-Sea, MidRealm
Omnes Defaecatorum
"The world doesn't need more politics, it needs more lunch."  PJ O'Rourke
"Want a Twinkee Gengis Kahn?" Bill S. Preston, Esquire
"Strange things are afoot at the Circle-K..."  Ted "Theodore" Logan
http://www.geocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/8457  {The Green Scarf Tavern}

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