Like any other wild friday night my roommate and I were listening to some poetry recordings. I put on “An Album of Modern Poetry Vol.1” that I had bought for the Wallace Stevens and T.S. Eliot on it. First up, however, was Robert Frost; that “two roads” guy who I associated with all of those horrible token poetry days in middle school. I might have skipped forward if I wasn’t tired, and a generally lazy person. By the time he was reading a third poem, “Directive”, I was falling asleep because I wasn’t paying an attention. “Directive” demanded it.
I can’t find a recording of it online, which is a shame because Frost’s gravelly voice really adds to the experience, and the poem is a little long to copy paste entirely, so here are the first four lines. And <a href=http://hellopoetry.com/poem/1048/directive/>here’s</a> the poem for reading at your leisure.
Back out of all this now too much for us,
Back in a time made simple by the loss
Of detail, burned, dissolved, and broken off
Like graveyard marble sculpture in the weather,
The 4th line literally pulled me out of quasi-sleep. If it wasn’t for our quick lesson on meter I probably would have attributed this to the hard sounds of that beautiful cluster “graveyard marble sculpture”, which is certainly part of it, but more than that I think its how highly stressed the line is, how it breaks you out of the lulling first three lines with their slant rhyme. I had never really thought about meter before, so I had never really thought about it can be used to emphasize lines where I might have been trying to achieve the same effect with punctuation or italics. The idea of writing with meter is still daunting to me, but the more I find examples like this the more appealing it becomes to me.