shared philosophy among voices

Working with multiple voices within one poem is strange enough, yet that skill becomes more difficult when each speaker is riddled with sarcasm, and neither take a distinct form. I worked with D.H. Lawrence’s “To Be Superior.” Each voice in the first three stanzas make a distinct commentary on “superiority,” yet each allude to their own superiority among “everyone else.” Yet at the same time, I found there to be hardly any difference of voice between the speakers/the monologue of a solitary speaker. The question I addressed was “What makes people find themselves inferior among the so-called superior/’normal’ demographic?” Rather than re-write the poem from the perspective of the superior, each phrase intended on giving a voice to the bumbling, awkward inferior.

I suppose the most obvious poetic device I used was re-defining each speaker’s voice, into a similarly structured poem. I began with imitating the poem from the “superior’s” point of view, yet this only led me in a completely different direction. I originally wanted to incorporate both the inferior and the superior and end with the apathetic normal/apathetic superior that Lawrence ends with. Though the last three lines aren’t quite so indifferent because the speaker states “I should like to” and this gives us reason to believe there may be a sequel to this unanswered question. What I found most interesting about Lawrence’s use of the dialectical argument structure is how different this poem felt from the other samples. Each stanza disagrees with each other, but only to an extent. There is still an agreement that each speaker has sought betterment, therefore superior than whomever. However, the use of “people like you and me” led me to believe that this was a discussion among poets, or in broader terms, the writing community.

Voice may seem like a very basic poetic element or device, yet capturing three voices that are in agreement, yet also disagree only on philosophy but not of truth went just slightly over my head and abilities. However, I do think that the dialectical argument structure is an interesting technique, and certainly not one that I’ve used in my poetry before, unlike the emblem structure (without being conscious of what structure I was unknowingly using).

2 Responses to “shared philosophy among voices”

  1. I, too, think that the dialectical argument structure is the first that I’ve we’ve learned that I’d like to use, but am pretty sure I’ve never used consciously before. It seems to me that that has been the most exciting part of this class–learning ways to arrange thoughts that could turn something that is kind of a poem into something that is a directed poem.

  2. Mary-Kate Says:

    I completely agree. I did the same poem and I was so caught on how to trick the voice of the poem to be 2 speakers and then ultimately both at the same time when they come to an agreement. Voice definitely plays an enormous role in recreating this poem because it has somewhat of a joking tone/sarcastic tone throughout the speakers in the poem. I felt like this poem was a ‘whirlwind’ because it kept leading me back to the same point, but yet it lead me to discover different points about ‘superiority’/’inferiority’ that were used in the poem and with what I had used myself in recreating it.

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