Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter

One more post in our poetry series about relationships. This time, we’re looking at the broken relationship in Sting’s “Fortress Around Your Heart”.

Barbed wires and high walls and a dangerous chasm protect a heart wounded so many times before.

You can find the Lyrics here and the video is HERE!

Sting is above other songwriting poets for this singular reason >

He never seeks the mundane metaphor that everyone else is selecting.

Continue reading “Barbed Wires from a Master Songwriter”

Brotherly Love

Writers Ink continues our series of blogs on poetry: sharing & examining, analyzing & interpreting.

Different Types of Love

WE’RE CONTINUING A LOOK AT LOVE, THIS TIME WITH BROTHERLY LOVE.

The Greeks have four different words for love, each representing a different type.

Eros :: the love that includes sexual passion.  This is the love that we usually mean, the miraculous and mysterious love that joins two hearts in a relationship

Storge :: the love between parents and children, familial love.  It has expanded to include the love we feel toward a protective patron (such as patriotic love for our nation) or fan-based love (“That’s my sports team”).

Agape :: the love of God for people and of people for God;  the charity of Corinthians 13.

Philia :: “brotherly love” which is loyalty, comradeship, affectionate friendship;  community compassion.

Philia is our focus on Love in this blog.  Many of us have experienced that desirous connection to family and community that drives us to reach out to those in need.

This brotherly love forms the basis of Rufus Wainwright’s “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s my Brother,” the 1969 hit by the Hollies.

Lyrics here and the video here:

Ideas in the Poem

In our road of life, with its twisting turns and steep hills and declines, we do need the occasional support of others.  If we have the philia — brotherly love — when we see someone troubled, we want to help.  We are all equal, linked together by ties as strong as blood.

And those we help, they do not seek to “encumber” or overly burden us.  They are equally on the road.

Unfortunately, we must admit that some people’s dysfunction means they want to share misery rather than hope and gladness.

Remember, Wainwright, tells us, it’s memento mori, not carpe diem.  We all come to the same dark mysterious end, and when considering that end, we should reach out to others.  Then our own burdens will not “weigh [us] down”.

Structure

Easy metaphors, easy alliteration, easy repetition.  One interesting line is the 2nd about the road that “leads us to who knows where who knows when”.  That oblique line is more clearly expressed in the 1st line of the last stanza :: Death.  That’s depressing.

Which is Wainwright’s point.  With death at the end, life is depressing enough.  Make it brighter by connecting to family and community.

Help others, for we are then helping ourselves.  Love others, for we are then loving ourselves.

Ain’t that the truth?

Coming Up

Broken Hearts on March 15 before we launch into the fertility of March and the rebirth of Spring.

Brand your Books with Classic Tropes

Used in discussing market copy and branding in Discovering Your Author Brand by M.A. Lee

Covers for Tony Hillerman’s first novel featuring Jim Chee and Detective Leaphorn
Cadfael — the first book in the 20-book series, A Morbid Taste for Bones, by Ellis Peters
Amelia Peabody — the first book in the series by Elizabeth Peters
Head-boiled Detective Covers
Action Adventure with Louis L’Amour and Lester Dent
three covers for my favorite writer Mary Stewart ~ these are the covers that sold me.
Classic Mystery Pulp Writers of the 1930s to 1950s
Victoria Holt ~ vintage gothic
More vintage gothic

Greatest Love Poem in the World

Appropriately for February, we’re looking at love poems, starting with lost love then enduring love. Now it’s time for the Greatest Love Poem in the World.

What should love be?  Insta-Lust?  No, love is lasting.

Weak when faced with problems?  No, love is strong.

Selfish and self-focused?  Love is mutually focused.

True love is integral to the soul.  It colors and brightens our world and gives us guidance in the other spheres of life, helping us survive the professional slog and the communal drivel.  It gives potential to the elements necessary for growth and abundance.

This poem expresses all of that.

[i carry your heart with me(i carry it in]

i carry your heart with me(i carry it in

my heart)i am never without it(anywhere

i go you go,my dear;and whatever is done

by only me is your doing,my darling)

i fear

no fate(for you are my fate,my sweet)i want

no world(for beautiful you are my world,my true)

and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant

and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows

(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud

and the sky of the sky of a tree called life;which grows

higher than soul can hope or mind can hide)

and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart(i carry it in my heart)

Personally, cummings is one of the few poets who still intrigues me.  This poem is proof that he is more than the gimmick of unusual punctuation and capitalization.

What does the poem say?

Speech and thought go hand in hand, side by side, just as a couple should.  “Whatever is done by me” is not me alone.  The other half of the whole contributes just as much, just not in the same way.  Each powers the other, even when each is alone in the brutal world.

They are destined, fated, to be together.  The moon of romance and the sun of living are intrinsically within each other for each other.

The power of the third stanza is the meaning carried beyond the words.  The nourishing and spreading root, the blossoming and nectar-filled bud, the over-arching and all-covering sky—these represent love and still do not say it all.

Love is wondrous and inexplicable.  cummings’ word choice calls upon us to figure out the riddling miracle that can never quite be untangled from its mystery.

Line structure plays its own part in that riddling mystery. 

Why is “i fear” on a line alone and thrown to the right side? Is it intended to join the two equal stanzas?  That is what love does:  it joins two equal and independent selves and sets them on a journey forward, together.

Alone in the world, a person does fear.  Linked with another, we “fear no fate”.  Yet why is that line thrown to the right?  To be rightly joined—is that the answer?  To be not “unequally yoked” but rightly joined.  That’s logical.

Punctuation gives more meaning.

cummings pares his punctuation down to parentheses (6 uses), two semicolons, four commas, and two apostrophes.  Is he “speaking to us” with these marks?

Commas link.  Okay, that’s easy to connect to the meaning.

Semicolons link equal and independent statements.  That echoes the linkage of the first two stanzas, rightly and equally joined.

Parentheses are for additional information not considered necessary but deemed by the writer as needing to be added.  Wow.  Just—wow.

Apostrophes—both contractive, not possessive.  Oh, my.  Love brings two people together, yet neither “owns” the other.  They remain equally independent, together by choice.  Not necessary to each other but needed by each other. 

That’s—that’s—well, I did not see it truly until I examined it.

Yes, the Greatest Love Poem

cummings certainly has more going on than a gimmick—and his explanation of a heart-filled relationship is the definition of love.

Coming Up

The Greeks have four separate words for love, each expressing a different type.  We’ll examine these in the next post, March 5th.  Join us.