Pathetic Fallacies

People in the poetry world sometimes talk about “pathetic fallacies.” You might think this means that the poet needs to stop writing love poems to her cat in dreary perfectly rhymed couplets. But actually it means giving inanimate objects human feelings or sensations. I think it has its place in poetry. Who doesn’t love the following:

April is the cruellest month, breeding

Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing

Memory and desire, stirring

Dull roots with spring rain.

Winter kept us warm, covering

Earth in forgetful snow, feeding

A little life with dried tubers.

(Sorry about the extra spaces. WordPress, like so many others, doesn’t understand poetry.)

If you don’t like Eliot, how about some Neruda:

The night is fractured
and they shiver, blue, those stars, in the distance

The weather folks are the worst for pathetic fallacies.

The hurricane spent its rage on the Bahamas before turning north.

Actually, the hurricane did what hurricanes do. They spin around and cause a lot of rain and wind. If we’re looking for someone to blame, how about all those people who caused carbon emissions that melt the ice caps and warmed the ocean waters (not to mention raise sea levels), which causes hurricanes to be stronger and more dangerous.

Here’s some more entertaining commentary on how we talk about storms.


4 responses to “Pathetic Fallacies

  1. Is it wrong that I hate poetry and then married a man who loves it? He tried to read me Naruda when I was in the tub one time when we were first dating. He thought it was romantic. I wanted to read my magazine in peace and kicked him out.
    I’m SO not romantic.

  2. Highly suspect, Thirty-Something. I always tell poetry haters (including my dear departed mum) that you don’t have to “get” poetry, you just have to let it go by and catch something you like.

    I’m not a romantic person either. I have a whole rant about marriage proposals and romanticism (which I probably should vent elsewhere). Let’s just say the whole idea of women waiting for men seems backward to me.

  3. Pingback: I said no, once more with feeling | Fangs and Clause

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