Monday, June 4, 2018

Poetry in Motion

Johnny Tillotson (MGM)
One can be prosaic which refers to a deficiency of poetic transcendence, but prosody actually refers to the stuff from which great poems are made. In Shakespeare’s plays people speak in poetry which is often filled with similes, metaphors and other figures of speech that Elizabethans would unlikely have used in their everyday speech. Few murderers in any age summon up the eloquence of Lady’s Macbeth’s, “Out, damned spot! Out I say!” Marc Anthony’s “Friends, Romans and Countrymen, lend me yours ears” from Julius Caesar is often sighted as an example of the bard’s use of iambic pentameter. Imagine if Donald Trump had had an inspiring English teacher at the New York Military Academy and instead of simply discountenancing the matter of collusion with the Russians was able to reach to poetic heights in his Tweets. Of course, sometimes very beautiful passages from novels are referred to as poetic and when Roosevelt sang “the only thing we have to fear is fear itself,” he was rendering a speech that soared to Shakespearean heights of poetry as did Churchill when he said "Never was so much owed by so many to so few.” Everyone has their own private language, which is more often than not tantamount to the kind of doggerel produced by Ogden Nash like for example,  “the cow is of the bovine ilk, one end is moo, the other milk” and people lull themselves into a kind of benign stupor with dirty little ditties like “pee pee comes out of my big fat snout, it comes out of my snout no doubt.” Remember Johnny Tillotson's “Poetry in  Motion” which was a big hit in l961?

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