My favorite subject is English. I love to write poems but I am not a big fan of poetry. What I never quite understood was how my teachers were able to get inside the head of a poet and understand exactly what they were trying to convey in their poem.
O Lady Moon
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the east:
Shine, be increased;
O Lady Moon, your horns point toward the west:
Wane, be at rest.
Christina Georgina Rossetti
Take that poem for example, my English teacher could tell us that Christina was not actually talking about the moon but something else. (I am not sure what else it could be). To me that is not even a poem. I could come up with that in a drunken stupor, yet this poem is famous. But that’s not the point, how did my teachers know what Christina meant by this short poem? It’s not just her, they could take any poem and do the same trick!
“Class, the writer is telling us about a lover who is not returning her love”. And how do you know that, teacher? ”From the tone of the poem, we can see she is forlorn and is asking him to increase his love for her”.
How do we translate a poet’s language with such confidence. How do we know that their words are not literal? Just words. With long-dead writers who are not around to explain the true meaning of their work, how could we decipher their poems? So, was my poetry teacher just bs’ing?