Cymbals (Symbols)

M. Fennell 11/92

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A note IS needed for this one.

I deliberately put symbolism in this poem, and made it more vague, to make a point.

 

In classes, we are constantly bombarded with symbolism. I think art that has symbolism is bad art - if an author has a point, just say it. We're not going to get the symbols he puts in unless we share his culture and references. Learning those references and disecting books is much of what literature classes are about, just so we can "enjoy" a book. I don't think that's right.

 

HENCE, this is poem is deliberately vague, my version of those vague symbolism poems.

It also makes a point in some verses: that the best art is made so it is understood and felt at immediately, and yet has layers.

 

As for interpretation stuff in this poem...Ponder it...and you can find the answers to those puzzles at the end of the poem!

 
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Cymbals (Symbols)

M. Fennell 11/92

 

Cymbals
A crash to wake us in the night
You don't have to see the man
To know it sounds right

Bottles
Clear or colored glass
You can easily see what's inside
There's no need to smash

Peter, John and Mark
Gifted writers, simply telling what is true
Many an audience tries to play detective
You know they haven't got a clue

Springtime
Peaceful green with fragrance in the air
The net effect of the complex and subtle
Is man feeling the beauty there

Critics
They will never understand
Always reading between the lines
Instead of looking in our hands

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Interpreting the poem:

(a verse, then explanation)

 

"Cymbals
A crash to wake us in the night
You don't have to see the man
To know it sounds right"



- Cymbals and Symbols are homonyms

- you shouldn't have to know the author's history, what he's read, and what he ate for breakfast, just to interpret his work

 

"Bottles
Clear or colored glass
You can easily see what's inside
There's no need to smash"

- please don't take apart a great work, it loses a lot when you take it apart.

 

 

"Peter, John and Mark
Gifted writers, simply telling what is true
Many an audience tries to play detective
You know they haven't got a clue"

 

- Ah! I usually get people with this one!

First, Peter, John, and Mark were apostles in the Bible. Each had some way of writing or talking about Christ. And anything regarding Christ and religion is a situation for interpretation and symbolism. But you knew that part.

 

Second (and this is where I get people by surprise) is that those names stand for other writers, all of which have been misunderstood and/or used symbolism in their own writing:

Peter - is of Peter, Paul, and Mary. He wrote "Puff the Magic Dragon." Peter himself tells this story in concert how his simple song about childhood and growing up was misinterpreted and some people thought it was a reference to drugs.

Again - take the story he wrote at face value, not the supposed symbolism!!

 

John - is for John Lennon. John has some great songs, some clever lyrics, but lets face it, he's got some weird ones to. "I am the Walrus" ?! Whoa John, what were you smoking? There is so much symbolism in that song alone, its been giving people heated discussions for decades!

Then there is Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds. Is that a song about LSD? Symbolism - oh my. Or is it, as the story I've heard from Ringo, inspired by a simple picture that John's son made? Hmm.

 

Mark - is for Mark Twain. I don't have the book in front of me, though I did when I originally wrote this poem. I think it is in "Huck Finn," where Mark Twain basically says "Don't look for any symbolism in this book, because you wont find any." Which of course sent all the English teachers searching for symbolism in every page of the book, like some hidden treasure which we were told was there.

Was there really symbolism, and Mark Twain was pointing it out? Or was he, in his classic witty style, saying symbolism is a bunch of hooey? We'll never know for sure. (And yet it is still one of my favorite books, symbolism or not)

 

There is also a play on words with the word "True." In religion, people often talk of the Bible as "Truth"

Then there is Mark Twain - was he telling us the truth or not?

And what was the "truth" behind some of John Lennon's bizarre songs? I am the Walrus, Goo Goo G' Joob.

 


"Springtime
Peaceful green with fragrance in the air
The net effect of the complex and subtle
Is man feeling the beauty there"

 

- a good work of art is complex and subtle. But no need to take it apart to see it. If its a good work, you'll feel it, you'll see it.

 

"Critics
They will never understand
Always reading between the lines
Instead of looking in our hands"

 

- again, look for the obvious instead of reading between the lines.

 

 

That's all.