And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.

枫十二

Senior Member
Mandarin
Someone started a thread in Chinese forum, here.

And the houses ran along them laughing out of square, open windows.

Can you help me to understand this sentence in September, 1918

Does the poet personify houses?

I can't understand the bold part.
 
Last edited:
  • Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    Can you tell us if the poet mentioned lanes/roads/streets that the houses were on, just before this line?
     

    Copyright

    Senior Member
    American English
    That's a really nice poem. It is a happy poem in the beginning with uplifting images and verbs – glittered, shone, and then houses laughing. I think the laughing is there to reflect the happiness of the people inside, and the square, open windows are like mouths from which the laughter escapes into the world.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Can I understand it this way:
    This sentence is like seeing from a children's eye.
    The houses have just had a big party, and laughing happily back to home(sideways) from square, and open windows appear on the house because of laughing.

    I think I find my problem.
    what is laugh out of.

    a laugh out of b

    1.a comes out of b, in the meantime a is laughing.
    2.b comes out of a's mouse, when a is laughing.

    which one is right?
     
    Last edited:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I think I get the meaning.

    the houses are laughing, and their voice(laughters) goes beyond square and open windows.

    Is this right?
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I think you are misunderstanding the word "square". It is not the word "square" that means "open public space", such as "Trafalgar Square." It is instead the word that describes the shape of the windows: the windows are not round, or rectangular, but are instead square.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I think you are misunderstanding the word "square". It is not the word "square" that means "open public space", such as "Trafalgar Square." It is instead the word that describes the shape of the windows: the windows are not round, or rectangular, but are instead square.
    Thanks for reading my thread carefully and pointing this out, it saves my life.
     

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    The windows are both open and square - and they are metaphorically the mouths out of which comes the laughter of the houses (just as people laugh out of their mouths).

    Also it may be helpful to note that "ran along them" in this case does not seem to imply the houses are moving, even metaphorically, because it follows the line about sidewalks.

    We say houses "run along" sidewalks meaning they are placed adjacent to the sidewalk all the time, so I think that is the intended meaning.

    Example: Live large, pay small in Panama City - CNN.com "The oldest section of the city, Panama Viejo was burned to the ground in the late 17th century by British pirate Sir Henry Morgan. The crumbling remains of towers, forts and houses run along the coast waiting to be explored. The visitors center has a model showing the city before Morgan showed up."
     
    Last edited:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thanks for all your kind helps. Now I think I totally get the poem, but I don't like it anymore.

    I feel sorry for action of 5 September 1918, America suffered from that. But using it as an excuse to encourage americans to take part in the war is not right!

    For I have time for nothing
    But the endeavour to balance myself
    Upon a broken world

    Yes, world was broken at that time,
    "I can't balance myself upon that broken word."
    "I only have time for the endeavour to balance myself upon a broken world"
    what is the endeavour? to become a hero, to encourage every americans to become heros?

    The world doesn't need anyone to balance!

    The poet really played a nice word game.I thought this was an anti-war poem at first. I admit it is well-written but I felt really ugly when I realized this!
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I thought this was an anti-war poem at first. I admit it is well-written but I felt really ugly when I realized this!
    The poem is neither pro-war nor anti-war. The poem is instead about Amy Lowell's appreciation of the beauty of a particular day in September of 1918, at a time that the world was at war. During September of 1918. the United States was fighting against the German Empire during World War I (and I am puzzled as to why you think it was wrong for America to fight against Imperial Germany during this war, and that opposition to the forces of Kaiser Wilhelm makes you feel "ugly". Do you know anything about the history of this war?), but there were many battles in many places, and I doubt that the particular naval battle of September 5 has anything to do with this poem. (For example, newspaper stories about the Hundred Days' Offensive would have dominated war reporting.) Because the world is at war, Lowell calls the world "broken", and is unable to appreciate the full beauty of the day. However, one day there will be peace again, and Lowell says that she will then be able to contemplate her memory of the beauty of the day with her full attention.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    The poem is neither pro-war nor anti-war. The poem is instead about Amy Lowell's appreciation of the beauty of a particular day in September of 1918, at a time that the world was at war. During September of 1918. the United States was fighting against the German Empire during World War I (and I am puzzled as to why you think it was wrong for America to fight against Imperial Germany during this war, and that opposition to the forces of Kaiser Wilhelm makes you feel "ugly". Do you know anything about the history of this war?), but there were many battles in many places, and I doubt that the particular naval battle of September 5 has anything to do with this poem. (For example, newspaper stories about the Hundred Days' Offensive would have dominated war reporting.) Because the world is at war, Lowell calls the world "broken", and is unable to appreciate the full beauty of the day. However, one day there will be peace again, and Lowell says that she will then be able to contemplate her memory of the beauty of the day with her full attention.
    I understand you, but you didn't get me, and I think I didn't express myself cleary too :)

    Did America take part in those two wars? Did American politicians want to take part in the those two wars? Did This Lowell give all americans the feeling to take part in the those wars?
    I admit doing those things were all good for America, it also did good to the whole world.
    But when I realized this, I suspected the purpose of the poem.It felt like her sadness of the broken world was fake, she just needed to arouse all americans' feeling of taking part in the wars. that was what the politic needed at that time!
    She even played a word game at those last three lines.

    For I have time for nothing
    But the endeavour to balance myself
    Upon a broken world

    You can understand them as "I am having hard time balancing myself upon that broken word", you can also understand them as "I only have time for the endeavour to balance myself upon a broken world"

    So I asked "what is the endeavour?" Is it really as pure as "balance myself upon a broken world" or "to become an unknown hero, to encourage every americans to become heros"

    Doing other things holding the flag of peace is not!
    That balance now to me looks as if "we America will balance everything"
     
    Last edited:

    Myridon

    Senior Member
    English - US
    World War I ended in November of 1918. Assuming the poem wasn't published until at least October, I don't think it would have been in time to change anyone's opinion about World War I.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    World War I ended in November of 1918. Assuming the poem wasn't published until at least October, I don't think it would have been in time to change anyone's opinion about World War I.
    it can be used as a preparation for anything that comes in the future(second world war)
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    But when I realized this, I suspected the purpose of the poem.It felt like her sadness of the broken world was fake, she just needed to arouse all americans' feeling of taking part in the wars. that was what the politic needed at that time!
    I have to say, I find your comments puzzling. Why do you think that this poem is encouraging people to take part in the war? Where do you find this stuff about heros?

    So I asked "what is the endeavour?" Is it really as pure as "balance myself upon a broken world" or "to become an unknown hero, to encourage every americans to become heros"
    "For I have time for nothing / But the endeavour to balance myself / Upon a broken world." = All she can do is try to stay "upright" (sane, under control, rational) in a world that is falling apart due to the war.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I have to say, I find your comments puzzling. Why do you think that this poem is encouraging people to take part in the war? Where do you find this stuff about heros?

    American was far far from those two wars. At that time, most people were trying to find a place to hide from the war. you in the opposite, were really willing to take part in it?

    Just by reading this poem again and again, trying to understand the meaning of balance.I really liked this poem, I am feeling cheated now.

    "For I have time for nothing / But the endeavour to balance myself / Upon a broken world." = All she can do is try to stay "upright" (sane, under control, rational) in a world that is falling apart due to the war.
    I don't agree with your understanding with these three lines.
     
    Last edited:

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    I
    Did America take part in those two wars?
    What "two wars"? There was only one war in which America was involved in September 1918, and that was the First World War.

    Did American politicians want to take part in the those two wars?
    This is something easily discovered through reading history. In short, the general sentiment in America had been for neutrality, and President Woodrow Wilson tried to keep America out of the First World War for as long as he could. However, after Germany resumed unrestricted submarine warfare against Atlantic shipping (including American ships), and the sending of the Zimmerman telegram, by which Germany tried to get Mexico to ally with them against America, the American people were outraged, and America entered the war in 1917.
    Did This Lowell give all americans the feeling to take part in the those wars?
    America was already involved in the First World War in September of 1918. Lowell simply acknowledges the fact.

    But when I realized this, I suspected the purpose of the poem.It felt like her sadness of the broken world was fake, she just needed to arouse all americans' feeling of taking part in the wars.
    I don't see how you can come to that conclusion. In September of 1918, America had already been at war for more than a year. Amy Lowell's poem is not primarily about war, and it neither encourages nor discourages America's participation in the war -- it simply acknowledges that America (and Britain, and France, and Italy, and Germany, and Austria, and Belgium...) are all at war, and that a worldwide war is a sad thing.

    So I asked "what is the endeavour?" Is it really as pure as "balance myself upon a broken world"
    Yes, it is a simple as that.

    "to become an unknown hero, to encourage every americans to become heros"
    I find that interpretation to be baseless and unjustified, and very strange.

    Doing other things holding the flag of peace is not!
    that balance now to me looks as if "we America will balance everything"
    I'm sorry, but I don't know what this means. I will point out to you, however, that there is no reference to America anywhere in the poem, and I have no idea why you think such a reference is suggested.
     

    Scott AM

    Senior Member
    English - Canada
    I don't agree with your understanding with these three lines.
    OK, but these lines, and the poem itself, are very straightforward. But if you prefer your odd and incorrect interpretation, you're certainly welcome to do so.
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    Thanks for your kind helps again, I have a lot of new directions now. I'll come back tomarrow, it is kind of hard for me to express myself, I'll find a way :)
     
    Last edited:

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think maybe it is unclear to you that "endeavor" just means "effort" or "attempt" - if you look up the word in our dictionary you see it means "a strong effort" or "an attempt" - so the meaning of the final lines is something like "The attempt to keep my balance is taking all my energy so I will save this beautiful day to enjoy when the world is not as broken as it is now" to me.

    It doesn't (to a native English speaker) seem to be encouraging warlike effort, but to be sharing how difficult it is for her to find everyday beauty in life when she knows there is the horror of war happening. I can relate to this because I feel this way often, when I read about wars or the threat of wars on days when everything around me appears peaceful. It makes the peacefulness sometimes seem like a fragile illusion perched over an abyss of terrifying violence. This is the exact sort of thing that leads to all kinds of terrible and unnecessary pursuit of security over freedom - and makes it necessary to exert the strong effort the poet writes about to stay balanced (and maybe avoid the most sensational news items; while the terrible stuff is true, so is the peaceful and beautiful stuff, and humans aren't built to easily accommodate the contrast, which may be another thing the poem is about).
     

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator. >

    This poem was so beautiful for me that I wanted to know more about the poet, so I picked her name up, when I see the word propagandist. All the beauty of her poem went away immediately. That’s why.

    Reading one poem of her is already so hard for me, I don't want to read another one of her, who in my oppinion is a propogandist, to check what a propogandist she is.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    Hildy1

    Senior Member
    English - US and Canada
    "Propagandist" does not necessarily mean "political propagandist", and it certainly does not necessarily include being in favour of war. One can be a propagandist for many things, including literary or artistic movements.

    Here is a quotation from a New York Times article published in 1921 (unfortunately I was able to get only this little snippit):
    AMY LOWELL has published six volumes of poetry and two of prose criticism. In addition to her creative work, she is a propagandist for free verse, polyphonic prose, imagist poetry and other things in which she believes ...
    Amy Lowell, Poet in Spite of Herself
    By the word "propagandist", the quotation means that Lowell promoted certain literary forms.
     

    GreenWhiteBlue

    Senior Member
    USA - English
    This poem was written in 1918. Amy Lowell died in 1925. Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, more than 16 years after Amy Lowell died. It is therefore completely irrelevant to speak of World War 2 -- which had not begun when Amy Lowell died -- in interpreting this poem.

    < Topic drift removed. Cagey, moderator. >


    Edit:

    This is really helpful, I only know propagandist as political propagandist:)
    The origin of the term was the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fidei in Latin), which oversaw the activities of Catholic religious missionaries. Because Protestant England did not like Catholic missionaries, the word came to have an unfavorable meaning in English -- but it originally had little to do with politics.
     
    Last edited:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    This poem was written in 19188. Amy Lowell died in 1925. Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941, more than 16 years after Amy Lowell died. It is therefore completely irrelevant to speak of World War 2 -- which had not begin when Amy Lowell died -- in interpreting this poem.

    < ---- >

    Edit:



    The origin of the term was the Congregation for the Propagation of the Faith (Propaganda Fidei in Latin), which oversaw the activities of Catholic religious missionaries. Because Protestant England did not like Catholic missionaries, the word came to have an unfavorable meaning in English -- but it originally had little to do with politics.
    please calm down, I get the point.
    I was shocked too because I felt that my thought was ruled by search engine now, I'll never talk about these things again.
     
    Last edited by a moderator:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    I am hesitating whether to post this out. I'll let the moderator to decide whether to keep this one:

    I've heard things about American propagandists, they think themselves as the elite class of America, they lead the thoughts of people. so it is very easy for me to think in the following way.(I don't know whether this propagandist is political or not, This is the propagandist in my eye)

    First world war, Second world war==>America was the biggest winner
    Big wars like those were disasters, but they could be opportunities too. For America, it would benifit far more if it joined these two wars, while people of America didn't have much will to join. and Reality tells me that those two wars did give America dominating position of the world.

    voices like that poem change American's oppinion little by little(slightly), even without notice. That is exactly what I've heard about the elite class of America, American propagandists, who change people's thoughts little by little to serve the country.
    This is the reason why I don't like this poem, I don't like the hidden motivation behind it, although it might just be my guess.

    So the question to me now is whether this writer is the propagadist I defined earlier? Can anyone give me a certain answer?

    One American throwed out one line of this poem into Chinese Forum, he said "he is doing a project on it". I want to throw this question back to him, but he has disappeared since then. Reading this poem is already hard for me and I don't like her because I don't like propagandist, so I don't want to read other things about her. I need people who is really familar to the writter to give me some idea. I can't believe I have spent this much time in this poem. Although I want to avoid topics like this forever, It attracts me so much that I decide to take a risk again.
     
    Last edited:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    For I have time for nothing
    But the endeavour to balance myself
    Upon a broken world

    I still think these three lines can be understood in two ways:

    1. I am having hard time balancing myself upon a borken world, so I don't have time for other things.
    2. I only have time for the endeavour to balance myself upon a broken world. Because my endeavour (of finding a way to balance this broken world) to balance myself upon this broken world, compared to this beautiful scene is much more beautiful(important), I don't have time for this beautiful scene in front of me now.
    the endeavour to balance myself upon a broken world==>the effort I am making now to balance myself upon a broken world can be "finding a way to balance this broken world"

    I don't know whether I explain the second oppinion clearly enough in English. My key point is the second oppinion, please at least tell me whether you get my second oppinion.
     
    Last edited:

    Truffula

    Senior Member
    English - USA
    I think your part 1) is correct. I think your part 2) is mistaken. The "endeavor" is not viewed by the poet as more beautiful or important. It is instead something that is blocking her view of the beauty around her.

    So instead of "Because my endeavour (of finding a way to balance this broken world) to balance myself upon this broken world, compared to this beautiful scene is much more beautiful(important), I don't have time for this beautiful scene in front of me now." it is more like "Because my endeavour (of finding a way to balance this broken world) to balance myself upon this broken world, is the thing blocking me from being able to see beauty, I don't have time for this beautiful scene in front of me now."

    The endeavor of balancing on the broken world is acting like a handicap or illness. Here's a metaphor: the broken world is as if she has broken her leg and seeing the beauty around her is like running a race. She can't run because of the broken leg. She will save the race to run it later when her leg has healed.

    I also don't know if I should address your idea about the poet being a propagandist, but it's the middle of the night so I will anyway. I think if she is a propagandist, this poem is propaganda for peace, not wars. I don't think there were a lot of American propagandists after WWI who saw themselves as elites who could subtly shape American values either... there were certainly a lot of people spouting opinions, and trying to convince, but they were all exerting their efforts in different directions, not all together in the same one, so the effect they had was unpredictable, to them and to everyone else. Same as now, they say what they think or what they want people to think they think or what they think will convince people, and - it works sometimes and it doesn't work all the time.
     
    Last edited:

    枫十二

    Senior Member
    Mandarin
    there were certainly a lot of people spouting opinions, and trying to convince, but they were all exerting their efforts in different directions, not all together in the same one, so the effect they had was unpredictable, to them and to everyone else. Same as now, they say what they think or what they want people to think they think or what they think will convince people, and - it works sometimes and it doesn't work all the time.
    Thanks, Truffula. I agree with you on this.

    As for my second understanding of those three lines: I just meant to say those three lines can either emphasis the hardness of my endeavour, or my endeavour itself. When you understand it as emphasising my endeavour itself, you can easily be led to think in other directions. Gramatically, there is no possibility to think in that way?

    This is the first English poem I have ever seen, I don't dare to touch this field. I don't think my English level is good enough, and I prefer something far easier than this poem to learn English. When I saw this poem at first, I felt like that I had seen an epic poem. Reading it for a "second" time after I roughly got what the whole poem was about, I liked that two children picking red berries scene very much(I still think it is the most soul touching part of the poem), it immediately reminded me of the movie,The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas.(Children always break poeple easily when they are associated with war.) Then I was kind of disappointed, the ending is not so good. This poem could have been a 10 points poem for me but that ending lowers it to 8. From then on, I have been trying to understand that ending, maybe there were something I didn't notice. and then I noticed that difference in those three lines.

    A thorough study of Lowell can convince me easily, but I don't have the intention to do it. Is there anyone familar with this Lowell? what did she do? did she take political side? what's the meaning of the other poems she wrote?
     
    Last edited:
    < Previous | Next >
    Top