Posted by: spickering | June 13, 2007

Two Perfect Examples of the “Transparent Lyric”

These are two beautiful poems by W.T. Pfefferle, and a perfect examples of what in poetry is called the “transparent lyric.” What that means is that during the writing process the Ego almost totally drops out and you get observations based on the speaker’s emotional experience. His mind has absolutely no axe to grind. He’s not trying to change the past or future or to make an argument. He’s letting a moment in life flow through him and then come out in the poem without the interference of judgement. It’s like a meditation, and a very peaceful type of poem.

Hero

You know, things weren’t always like this.
There was furniture here once,
and I had a lot of it.
Couch, chair.
They had the same coloring, same pattern.
And a nice coffee table,
and an end table,
and then all the bedroom stuff,
queen size, lamp, the whole works.But you know how that is,
you’ve been through that.
You’re sleeping on the floor, too,
and you know what a room looks like without things.

I used to be her hero.
I used to drive a big car.

I used to know something about stars,
and planets and comets,
and we used to go out there at night,
look up at something.
There was something we used to say back then,
and sometimes,
sometimes when I’m here
wondering about my furniture,
sometimes, when I’m in here,
in what used to be a living room.

I can sometimes remember what it was

Emily At the Playground

I take them to the playground
at night.

Naomi, the oldest,
gets to play by herself.
She climbs the jungle-gym,
silent, moving through the bars
her hands slick on the steel.
I watch her for a second,
she’s nothing but blonde ringlets,
streetlights shoot off her.

And me and Emily go to our swings.
She’s the forgotten child,
our relatives say. The quiet one,
the one who we sometimes let disappear.
So I swing her here first, alone,
my hands on either side of her,
pushing, catching.

As she swings,
I stand behind her,
and sometimes I’d like to look inside her
small, dark eyes.
What’s going on in there.

Instead, I whisper things in her ear.

-Both by W.T. Pfefferle

*Also note that beautiful, natural use of line enjambment in line 20 of the second poem:
“and sometimes I’d like to look inside her…/small, dark eyes.” Notice how the “her” hangs out there, floating, making that line a contained meaning in itself, giving it an “eternal” feel. “Her” serves as a noun and then as an adjective at the same time as it flows into the the next line out of its enjambment. Cool stuff. Aquinas stuff. James Joyce stuff.

*Also note how there is a relaxed use of the grammer rules, a period where there should be a question mark, “me and Emily” instead of “Emily and I.” That’s a reflection of the relaxed attitude, the removal of the reasoning complex. In this type of poem there is no clear wall between life itself and the work of art. In Indian tradition, the goal of Art is to get to a place where there is no need for art. The artist blends in with life itself.

 

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