Sep 18, 2016

Lady of the Lake

I'm on a King Arthur kick - have been for awhile actually (I totally blame the BBC show Merlin) - and so downloaded Lady of the Lake by Walter C. Scott via Google Books.

I couldn't finish it and I blamed my phone. With my font settings, I couldn't fit a full verse on my screen and that's just no way to read epic, romantic poetry.

So I borrowed it from the library and gave it another whirl, cuz I really wanted to get to the part about Avalon.

Cover and first page of Sir Walter Scott's romantic poem The Lady of the Lake.

I realized several things sitting on the Metra, reading this.

1) It is easier to read poetry on paper. I went through it faster, and the little notes in the back were super helpful.

2) This is not, actually, about The Lady of the Lake of Avalon from Arthurian legends. It's based on historical events in the Scottish highlands and the 'lady' is a exiled noble-sorta-person whose hand is up for grabs.

3) Epic poetry is super, super hard to both read and understand. I'd read a line, be confused, and have to go back and read the previous verse. I would read, but not comprehend, and did a lot of rereading. Also, archaic language. The whole process of reading was very different from a fiction book - it wasn't a fun ride, it was an active reading experience similar to reading magazine articles about trends in my profession. 

Number 3 is the main reason I stopped reading this - for a second time. Determined to at least 'finish' it, I tried to find a novelized version to pick up (there isn't one????) and then visited Wikipedia. Where I learned that I didn't just miss small things, I had a wrong understanding of who characters were and the plot.  

It makes me ashamed as a reader, but also reinforced the idea it was good I stopped. 

How many of you have completely misunderstood poetry?


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