Monday, February 25, 2013

Pronunciation - Some Problem Words

Pronunciation: Some Problem Words …
1 … The following is a word which has different meaning and pronunciation depending on the context of associated text …

TEAR by itself is undefined
However, in the following sentence it is clear how each occurrence of TEAR should be pronounced.

The TEAR in her blouse brought a TEAR to her eye.

It may not be so obvious when reading other text and could easily bring a TEAR to the ear of any listener.

2 … CORPSE and CORPS are two words which are very similar but with entirely different pronunciation.
You could say the CORPS in CORPSE is not core.

3 … Just because some words end in the same sequence of letters does not mean that they will necessarily rhyme

BOUGH will rhyme with DOUGH and BOW but if you COUGH there is irritation.
To CUP it all a HICCOUGH is very different from a COUGH.

RETAIN and GAIN is the same but BRITAIN just has to be different. And those that climb a MOUNTAIN have no thought that it could be a mount ten.
QUERY and VERY are, of course, VERY different.
LIVE is never like being ALIVE – if you are not ALIVE you will LIVE to make mistakes.
I’m sad to say that GRIEVE and SIEVE also fall through this same hole.
BEAK may rhyme with SPEAK but BREAK and STEAK ache to be different.
4 … Two words which I sometimes mispronounce and misspell are PLAGUE and PLAQUE. One reason is distinguishing between letters when reading. I hope to be more attentive in the future and not be so PLAGUED.
5 … Place names are always difficult - consider ISLINGTON and ISLAND, and in Australia MANUKA is certainly not a MANCHESTER.

The above was written after reading the work of G. Nolst Trenité who explored the many idiosyncrasies of the English language. Below are some lines from one of his poems exploring pronunciation … words to be read carefully as distinct from the castle at Caerphilly

Petal, panel, and canal,
Wait, surprise, plait, promise, pal.
Worm and storm, chaise, chaos, chair,
Senator, spectator, mayor.
Tour, but our and succour, four.
Gas, alas, and Arkansas.
Sea, idea, Korea, area,
Psalm, Maria, but malaria.
Youth, south, southern, cleanse and clean.
Doctrine, turpentine, marine.
Compare alien with Italian,
Dandelion and battalion.
Sally with ally, yea, ye,
Eye, I, ay, aye, whey, and key.
Say aver, but ever, fever,
Neither, leisure, skein, deceiver.
Heron, granary, canary.
Crevice and device and aerie.
Face, but preface, not efface.
Phlegm, phlegmatic, ass, glass, bass.
Large, but target, gin, give, verging,
Ought, out, joust and scour, scourging.
Ear, but earn and wear and tear
Do not rhyme with here but ere.
Seven is right, but so is even,
Hyphen, roughen, nephew Stephen,
Monkey, donkey, Turk and jerk,
Ask, grasp, wasp, and cork and work.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

A Vision of Sin - A Different Tennyson

Most people think of Tennyson in terms of poems such as -

'The Lady of Shallot', 'Mariana', 'The Eagle', 'Break, Break, Break', 'Ulysses'  and 'In Memoriam'... however he did pen a much different type of work in poems such as - 'A Vision of Sin' and 'The Palace of Art'

This links to a Website containing much of Tennyson's work including the above mentioned poems.

Below are a just few stanzas from 'A Vision of Sin' ...

"Wrinkled ostler, grim and thin!
Here is custom come your way;
Take my brute, and lead him in,
Stuff his ribs with mouldy hay.

"Bitter barmaid, waning fast!
See that sheets are on my bed;
What! the flower of life is past:
It is long before you wed.

"Slip-shod waiter, lank and sour,
At the Dragon on the heath!
Let us have a quiet hour,
Let us hob-and-nob with Death.

"I am old, but let me drink;
Bring me spices, bring me wine;
I remember, when I think,
That my youth was half divine.

"Wine is good for shrivell'd lips,
When a blanket wraps the day,
When the rotten woodland drips,
And the leaf is stamp'd in clay.

"Sit thee down, and have no shame,
Cheek by jowl, and knee by knee:
What care I for any name?
What for order or degree?

This poem gave me the impression of a bawdy pub song dripping with escape into the pleasure of the moment and ignoring all else in the enjoyment of the company of a friend integrated with drink.

Compare this with the intensity of his most noted work - 'In Memoriam'  - a lamentation and search for meaning created over 17 years in tribute to the loss of his friend Arthur Hallam.

Perhaps the most known lines from this work are -

I hold it true, whate'er befall;
I feel it when I sorrow most;
'Tis better to have loved and lost
Than never to have loved at all.

Friday, February 15, 2013

Christchurch Earthquake - A Public Poem

It is coming up to the two year anniversary of the Christchurch earthquake that occured on 22 Febuary 2011. The quake took 185 lives. Kirsty Dunne won the right to have the following verse on the exterior of the empty shell that was 'Sedley Wells Music Works' as part of poetica - a project that adorns unexpected places with art and verse.

Amidst the shards of glass
& twisted steel
beside the fallen brick
& shattered concrete
we began to understand
that there is beauty in the broken
Strangers do not live here anymore

It's a spot-on snapshot of the Christchurch experience two years on after the earthquake - according to Julietta Johnson reporting in the Canberra Times (Sat 9 February) after a visit to the city to report on the state of the city. Here is a link to the article from the Sydney Morning Herald.

Just as in the creation of the Arboretum in Canberra following the bushfires beauty can be created from natural disaster, but what I think Kirsty is talking about is above the material broken. It is in the last line - community relationships have developed bringing people together to face the future and this is the emerging beauty.

Footnote -
In my mind a public poem should...
. be accessible to a general audience
. relate to the public place of presentation
. be brief with immediate impact
. make a statement of relevance
. promote thought

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The Invisible Thread - 100 Year of Words - Canberra Anthology

The Invisible Thread is an anthology created for the Canberra Centenary in 2013 and launched at the end of 2012. There are 75 contributors all with a Canberra connection and the work includes a wide variety of genre.

The Invisible Thread: One Hundred Years of Words, edited by Irma Gold, is an anthology by writers who have an association with the Canberra region. Wide-ranging in its subject matter and themes, The Invisible Thread showcases 75 works by writers like AD Hope, Roger McDonald, Bill Gammage, Alex Miller, Judith Wright, Blanche d’Alpuget, David Campbell, Jackie French, Robin Wallace-Crabbe, Rhyll McMaster, Jack Heath, Garth Nix, Rosemary Dobson, Ken Inglis, Alan Gould, Manning Clark, Dorothy Johnston, Omar Musa, Don Watson, Geoff Page, and Marion Halligan.

With illustrations by Judy Horacek, a foreword by Robyn Archer, and a mix of short stories, novel extracts, poetry, essays and non-fiction, The Invisible Thread is a flagship publication for both the National Year of Reading 2012 and the Centenary of Canberra 2013.

Reading and music associated with this publication can be heard on 27 April 2013 …

Alex Miller, Alan Gould and Sara Dowse have chosen two musical compositions to bookend their poem or prose. These will be performed by an ensemble specifically compiled for the evening in collaboration with the Canberra Symphony Orchestra.

On reading Barbara Blackman’s contribution … she introduced me to a new word … ectoplasm … the Wikipedia definition is …

Ectoplasm (from the Greek ektos, meaning "outside", and plasma, meaning "something formed or molded") is a term coined by Charles Richet to denote a substance or spiritual energy "exteriorized" by physical mediums.[2] Ectoplasm is said to be associated with the formation of spirits; however since World War II reports of ectoplasmic phenomena have declined and many psychical researchers doubt whether genuine cases ever existed.[3]

She uses this word in conjunction with an amusing story based on using the home of friends while they were away on holiday … does ‘the spirit within the home’ have impact when she takes up temporary residence

… similarly, we may ask does the ‘spirit of the poet’ have any influence on us when we read poetry – especially when we have great rapport with the text read. I am sure you will find something of interest within the wide variety presented in this collection - to what extent the personae of the author flows into your veins is another matter entirely.

Footnote …
This anthology is by no means exhaustive of the literary talent that exists, or that has come from Canberra – but it is a great entry point for exploring or picking up a literary thread to some of the well-recognised writers that have had connection with the Capital.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

The Oak - Tennyson

The Oak
Live thy life,
   Young and old,
Like yon oak,
Bright in spring,
   Living gold;
   Then; and then
   Gold again.
All his leaves
   Fall’n at length,
Look he stands,
Trunk and bough,
   Naked strength.
Alfred, Lord Tennyson (1809 – 1892)
Stanza 1 – young and old should live like the oak in springtime … be bright
Stanza 2 – then in summer be rich in life like the full foliage of summertime, followed by the autumn gold but in more sober fashion please
Stanza 3 – then in winter when all foliage is gone be pure naked strength – what is left of you after living a full life – what is spiritually left when all the superficiality falls away?
Looking at the meter …
Iambic = unaccented then accented syllables e.g. today
Trochee = the reverse – e.g. daily
Both iambic and trochee are double meters … each bar is of two syllables
Triple meters involve three syllables to the bar
Anapest = unaccented, unaccented then accented e.g. beauti ful
Dactyl = accented, unaccented then unaccented e.g. sugar loaf
Laurence Perrine in his book Structure Sound and Sense asks whether the double meter for Tennyson’s poem The Oak should be iambic or trochee – or does it matter?
He suggests it is more important to distinguish between double and triple meter.
Gabriel Oak is a famous character in a novel … the name fitting the nature of the character if you excuse the pun.

Here is a link to another Blog Site giving analysis of the above poem.