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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Sat Apr 30, 2011 10:30 pm    Post subject: Western/eastern styles of poetry and other literature  Reply with quote

In the beautiful book I am reading about roses, there is the following paragraph:  "Many of the early Arab rulers and members of the privileges castes were great collectors - of birds, beasts, plants, precious books and treasures, knowledge and ideas.  They were also great gardeners, revealing their human and metaphysical aspirations in exquisite paradise gardens borrowed from the conquered Persian empire, and in a whole genre of poetry the rawdiya or garden poem."

In western poetry or drama I know of romances, war poetry, bawdy or sexual plays, eroticism, narrative poems, tragedies, medieval mystery plays, songs, and perhaps mostly recently very personal poetry.  In Japan I know of haiku, and Himadri has talked of Indian poetry, though I can't remember just what forms that takes.  

But we don't have a tradition of a genre of poetry that could be called 'garden poetry'.  What other cultures' genres are quite different from what we are used to in the west?  Are there genres somewhere that honour babies, or buildings, or animals, or farming, or even travel, which we have plenty of in non-fiction prose, but doesn't seem to have become a poetry style, I think?

Cheers, Caro.


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Mikeharvey



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 3374


Location: Lancashire

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 2:10 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Hello Caro. There my not be a recognised genre of Garden Poems, but there are certainly hundreds of poems about gardens, I have a couple of anthologies of such.  Do you know Anrew Marvell's 'The Garden'? And there is a book-length poem by Vita Sackville-West' The Garden.  And there is that well-known anthology warhorse that starts 'A garden is a lovesome thing, God wot..' And Tennyson's 'Come into the garden, Maud'.


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TheRejectAmidHair



Joined: 19 Nov 2008
Posts: 3864


Location: Staines, Middlesex

PostPosted: Sun May 01, 2011 3:28 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

The garden has very specific associations in the West: it recalls the Garden of Eden, and, by association, the Fall. Marvell specifically makes use of these associations in his poem "The Garden" that Mike refers to above. I'd imagine that in Persian poetry, the garden will have associations purely of beauty and of pleasure, unshadowed by considerations of the fall from grace: but I do't know much about Persian culture, and am only guessing here.

Poetry relies to a great extent not merely on the strict literal meaning of words, but also of associations, and many of these associations are cultural. For instance, in Indian cultures, the bamboo flute is traditionally the instrument played by the god Krishna, so references to the flute has associations with divinity; and, naturally, this tends to get lost in translation. For similar reasons, I'd guess that a translation of Marvell's "The Garden" into an Indian language would lose much if the reader weren't aware of the association the garden has with the Fall of Man. But then again, we're so quickly losing touch with our cultural roots, that I can't help wondering how much longer this association will remain even in Western minds.

But be that as it may - I really ought to try out some of the translations of persian poetry. Those who know it speak of it as being among the highest of cultural peaks. I know there are many highly acclaimed translations available of Rumi, and I know also that Penguin Classics publish a translation of the Shahnameh (Book of Kings) by Ferdausi. There's too much to read...



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Caro



Joined: 22 Nov 2008
Posts: 2997


Location: Owaka, New Zealand

PostPosted: Mon May 02, 2011 12:06 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I have read a little further in my book (a chapter entitled The Virgin's Bower; next one is Sex and Sorcery) and she talks of "extraordinary garden poems written by another benedictine monk, Walahfrid Strabo...generally know as Tortulus or 'The Little Garden'" and inspired by Virgil. Written around 842.   She then talks of Dante's end of the Divine Comedy where he uses a pure white rose as an allegory for Paradise.  She ends the chapter with, "Through the triumpant imagery of the rose, Dante's great epic uses earthly love as a stepping stone to spiritual love, uniting late medieval mysticism with new ideas of courtly love and looking forward to the early Renaissance that would transform Italy a century or so later.  It was an astonishing performance."

Jennifer Potter in this book talked about how the rose and flowers generally were shunned by early Christian writers, as pagan and not suitable for garlands and chaplets.  She said flowers had no place in the early Christian Church which valued asceticism and martyrdom.  "There are no flowers in the Eden of Genesis, and very few in either the Talmud or the Bible as a whole.  In their rituals the Hebrews preferred sheaves and leaves to flowers...associated with idolatory."  And 'obscene revellings'.  "Roses, especially when woven into crowns and garlands, carried the taint of drunkenness, verery, idolatory and unspeakable pagan practices."  And she quotes Isaiah.

But there was am ambivalence quite early on, and eventually the rose became a symbol of the purity of Mary in particular.  

It's all very interesting, though I am not familiar with many of the Greek and Roman writers and identities she speaks of and quotes.  It's a wonderful history and cultural record.  

Cheers, Caro.



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