Monday, 28 February 2011

Poems about Death.

Fascinated by wordplay, I have decided to analyse a few poems, and apply them to a typographic design for my design practice...
I have chosen to look at using poems that I am familair with, and have particular sentiment-ensuring that I can create what I hope to be an emotive design- with the risk of having to print my posters on double A0 to read all the text, I will take segments from poems- particular lines that resonate, or are familiar through popular culture.

When You Go- Edwin Morgan

When you go,
if you go,
And I should want to die,
there's nothing I'd be saved by
more than the time
you fell asleep in my arms
in a trust so gentle
I let the darkening room
drink up the evening, till
rest, or the new rain
lightly roused you awake.
I asked if you heard the rain in your dream
and half dreaming still you only said, I love you.

The Raven- Edgar Allen Poe
Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary,
Over many a quaint and curious volume of forgotten lore,
While I nodded, nearly napping, suddenly there came a tapping,
As of some one gently rapping, rapping at my chamber door.
"'Tis some visitor," I muttered, "tapping at my chamber door -
Only this, and nothing more."

Ah, distinctly I remember it was in the bleak December,
And each separate dying ember wrought its ghost upon the floor.
Eagerly I wished the morrow; - vainly I had sought to borrow
From my books surcease of sorrow - sorrow for the lost Lenore -
For the rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Nameless here for evermore.

And the silken sad uncertain rustling of each purple curtain
Thrilled me - filled me with fantastic terrors never felt before;
So that now, to still the beating of my heart, I stood repeating,
"'Tis some visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door -
Some late visitor entreating entrance at my chamber door; -
This it is, and nothing more."

Presently my soul grew stronger; hesitating then no longer,
"Sir," said I, "or Madam, truly your forgiveness I implore;
But the fact is I was napping, and so gently you came rapping,
And so faintly you came tapping, tapping at my chamber door,
That I scarce was sure I heard you"- here I opened wide the door; -
Darkness there, and nothing more.

Deep into that darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing,
Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before;
But the silence was unbroken, and the stillness gave no token,
And the only word there spoken was the whispered word, "Lenore?"
This I whispered, and an echo murmured back the word, "Lenore!" -
Merely this, and nothing more.

Back into the chamber turning, all my soul within me burning,
Soon again I heard a tapping somewhat louder than before.
"Surely," said I, "surely that is something at my window lattice:
Let me see, then, what thereat is, and this mystery explore -
Let my heart be still a moment and this mystery explore; -
'Tis the wind and nothing more."

Open here I flung the shutter, when, with many a flirt and flutter,
In there stepped a stately raven of the saintly days of yore;
Not the least obeisance made he; not a minute stopped or stayed he;
But, with mien of lord or lady, perched above my chamber door -
Perched upon a bust of Pallas just above my chamber door -
Perched, and sat, and nothing more.

Then this ebony bird beguiling my sad fancy into smiling,
By the grave and stern decorum of the countenance it wore.
"Though thy crest be shorn and shaven, thou," I said, "art sure no craven,
Ghastly grim and ancient raven wandering from the Nightly shore -
Tell me what thy lordly name is on the Night's Plutonian shore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

Much I marvelled this ungainly fowl to hear discourse so plainly,
Though its answer little meaning- little relevancy bore;
For we cannot help agreeing that no living human being
Ever yet was blest with seeing bird above his chamber door -
Bird or beast upon the sculptured bust above his chamber door,
With such name as "Nevermore."

But the raven, sitting lonely on the placid bust, spoke only
That one word, as if his soul in that one word he did outpour.
Nothing further then he uttered- not a feather then he fluttered -
Till I scarcely more than muttered, "other friends have flown before -
On the morrow he will leave me, as my hopes have flown before."
Then the bird said, "Nevermore."

Startled at the stillness broken by reply so aptly spoken,
"Doubtless," said I, "what it utters is its only stock and store,
Caught from some unhappy master whom unmerciful Disaster
Followed fast and followed faster till his songs one burden bore -
Till the dirges of his Hope that melancholy burden bore
Of 'Never - nevermore'."

But the Raven still beguiling all my fancy into smiling,
Straight I wheeled a cushioned seat in front of bird, and bust and door;
Then upon the velvet sinking, I betook myself to linking
Fancy unto fancy, thinking what this ominous bird of yore -
What this grim, ungainly, ghastly, gaunt and ominous bird of yore
Meant in croaking "Nevermore."

This I sat engaged in guessing, but no syllable expressing
To the fowl whose fiery eyes now burned into my bosom's core;
This and more I sat divining, with my head at ease reclining
On the cushion's velvet lining that the lamplight gloated o'er,
But whose velvet violet lining with the lamplight gloating o'er,
She shall press, ah, nevermore!

Then methought the air grew denser, perfumed from an unseen censer
Swung by Seraphim whose footfalls tinkled on the tufted floor.
"Wretch," I cried, "thy God hath lent thee - by these angels he hath sent thee
Respite - respite and nepenthe, from thy memories of Lenore:
Quaff, oh quaff this kind nepenthe and forget this lost Lenore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil! - prophet still, if bird or devil! -
Whether Tempter sent, or whether tempest tossed thee here ashore,
Desolate yet all undaunted, on this desert land enchanted -
On this home by horror haunted- tell me truly, I implore -
Is there - is there balm in Gilead? - tell me - tell me, I implore!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Prophet!" said I, "thing of evil - prophet still, if bird or devil!
By that Heaven that bends above us - by that God we both adore -
Tell this soul with sorrow laden if, within the distant Aidenn,
It shall clasp a sainted maiden whom the angels name Lenore -
Clasp a rare and radiant maiden whom the angels name Lenore."
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

"Be that word our sign in parting, bird or fiend," I shrieked, upstarting -
"Get thee back into the tempest and the Night's Plutonian shore!
Leave no black plume as a token of that lie thy soul hath spoken!
Leave my loneliness unbroken!- quit the bust above my door!
Take thy beak from out my heart, and take thy form from off my door!"
Quoth the Raven, "Nevermore."

And the Raven, never flitting, still is sitting, still is sitting
On the pallid bust of Pallas just above my chamber door;
And his eyes have all the seeming of a demon's that is dreaming,
And the lamplight o'er him streaming throws his shadow on the floor;
And my soul from out that shadow that lies floating on the floor
Shall be lifted - nevermore!
Stop the Clocks- W.H Auden
Stop all the clocks, cut off the telephone,
Prevent the dog from barking with a juicy bone,
Silence the pianos and with muffled drum
Bring out the coffin, let the mourners come.

Let aeroplanes circle moaning overhead
Scribbling on the sky the message He Is Dead,
Put crepe bows round the white necks of the public doves,
Let the traffic policemen wear black cotton gloves.

He was my North, my South, my East and West,
My working week and my Sunday rest,
My noon, my midnight, my talk, my song;
I thought that love would last for ever: I was wrong.

The stars are not wanted now: put out every one;
Pack up the moon and dismantle the sun;
Pour away the ocean and sweep up the wood.
For nothing now can ever come to any good.

The Lovesong of J.Alfred Prufrock- T.S Eliot

S’io credesse che mia risposta fosse

A persona che mai tornasse al mondo,

Questa fiamma staria senza piu scosse.

Ma perciocche giammai di questo fondo

Non torno vivo alcun, s’i’odo il vero,

Senza tema d’infamia ti rispondo.

LET us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherised upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats         5
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question …         10
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

The yellow fog that rubs its back upon the window-panes,         15
The yellow smoke that rubs its muzzle on the window-panes
Licked its tongue into the corners of the evening,
Lingered upon the pools that stand in drains,
Let fall upon its back the soot that falls from chimneys,
Slipped by the terrace, made a sudden leap,         20
And seeing that it was a soft October night,
Curled once about the house, and fell asleep.

And indeed there will be time
For the yellow smoke that slides along the street,
Rubbing its back upon the window-panes;         25
There will be time, there will be time
To prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet;
There will be time to murder and create,
And time for all the works and days of hands
That lift and drop a question on your plate;         30
Time for you and time for me,
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go         35
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, “Do I dare?” and, “Do I dare?”
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—         40
[They will say: “How his hair is growing thin!”]
My morning coat, my collar mounting firmly to the chin,
My necktie rich and modest, but asserted by a simple pin—
[They will say: “But how his arms and legs are thin!”]
Do I dare         45
Disturb the universe?
In a minute there is time
For decisions and revisions which a minute will reverse.

For I have known them all already, known them all:—
Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,         50
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons;
I know the voices dying with a dying fall
Beneath the music from a farther room.
  So how should I presume?

And I have known the eyes already, known them all—         55
The eyes that fix you in a formulated phrase,
And when I am formulated, sprawling on a pin,
When I am pinned and wriggling on the wall,
Then how should I begin
To spit out all the butt-ends of my days and ways?         60
  And how should I presume?

And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
[But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!]
It is perfume from a dress         65
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
  And should I then presume?
  And how should I begin?
      .      .      .      .      .
Shall I say, I have gone at dusk through narrow streets         70
And watched the smoke that rises from the pipes
Of lonely men in shirt-sleeves, leaning out of windows?…

I should have been a pair of ragged claws
Scuttling across the floors of silent seas.
      .      .      .      .      .
And the afternoon, the evening, sleeps so peacefully!         75
Smoothed by long fingers,
Asleep … tired … or it malingers,
Stretched on the floor, here beside you and me.
Should I, after tea and cakes and ices,
Have the strength to force the moment to its crisis?         80
But though I have wept and fasted, wept and prayed,
Though I have seen my head [grown slightly bald] brought in upon a platter,
I am no prophet—and here’s no great matter;
I have seen the moment of my greatness flicker,
And I have seen the eternal Footman hold my coat, and snicker,         85
And in short, I was afraid.

And would it have been worth it, after all,
After the cups, the marmalade, the tea,
Among the porcelain, among some talk of you and me,
Would it have been worth while,         90
To have bitten off the matter with a smile,
To have squeezed the universe into a ball
To roll it toward some overwhelming question,
To say: “I am Lazarus, come from the dead,
Come back to tell you all, I shall tell you all”—         95
If one, settling a pillow by her head,
  Should say: “That is not what I meant at all.
  That is not it, at all.”

And would it have been worth it, after all,
Would it have been worth while,         100
After the sunsets and the dooryards and the sprinkled streets,
After the novels, after the teacups, after the skirts that trail along the floor—
And this, and so much more?—
It is impossible to say just what I mean!
But as if a magic lantern threw the nerves in patterns on a screen:         105
Would it have been worth while
If one, settling a pillow or throwing off a shawl,
And turning toward the window, should say:
  “That is not it at all,
  That is not what I meant, at all.”
      .      .      .      .      .
No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,         115
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.

I grow old … I grow old …         120
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.

Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.

I do not think that they will sing to me.         125

I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.

We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown         130
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

Primary Research: Inital Responses to 'Life' and 'Death'.

Gathering a few quick samples of feedback from fellow designers!
Their ideas similar to mine, I imagine my designs primarily in black and white- the black resembling the weight of death, the white resembling the light of light (perhaps with a splash of colour to create a sense of energy).

...Not exactly the sort of feedback that I was expecting, though it is clearly that people see death as a very symbolic thing- I will now go on to try and develop some designs, particularly looking at type as image- with symbols I believe will resonate with the public.

Visual Representations of Opposites.

A really cool silk screen book of opposites in portraiture by Sunny Hwang- with a collage technique, she arranges images that are very similar, but with completely contrasting meanings.

Fun idea, but too image based for my intent for this project- however, I really like the use of pattern on some of her pages- a definate consideration in my designs. 

A beautiful set of twelve monchrome books by Pentagram- based upon antigrams, a rare form of anagram whereupon rearranging a word can create a new word with an opposite meaning.
I really love these designs- simple, bold and well-suited use of black and white, enhancing, and not detracting from the content.
What I like most about this series in the concept behind it- I believe I am a very conceptual designer, and I certainly believe that half the success is in the idea behind the type and/or image.

Interesting concept by Bryce Gardner, illustrating two opposites that without one another, in context, do not visually communicate a particular message. Clever idea- Bryce here using flowers and bombs.
Perhaps for my own idea, using this sort of representation within type as image?

Not really a fan of the uses of font here, but I really love the way that both the shape and the colours so strongly represent an ice cream- clear, bold and distinct.
I also really like the use of poetry- again, with a love of wordplay, this is definately an avenue I will explore within my designs.

More ice cream examples- good use of soft, pastel colours here- a real 1950's Americana vibe- instantly makes me think of knickerbocker glories and sweeties- the use of colour here really sets a mood and character for the image (built up of type) here brilliantly.

I really love this design- so simple but a really strong piece- candy colours, so sweet and innocent really represent the youth and child-like playfullness associated with ice cream- also, great stock, the light caramel ensuring the colours stay soft and pastel like (they may look a bit too harsh and bright against a white background, for instance).

...And now for something a bit different! Great use of type- really funny, humourous use of wording and great shape to the lettering- a really clear image and great example how such a regular action or image can be transformed into something witty and innovative using type. 

I love these incredibly detailed sketches of type- "the anatomy of type"- constructed through illustrations of bones- a great concept which translates wonderfully into these skillfully designed posters.

I really like this idea- a bit like some of the ideas that I started "doodling" down- but better (naturally...). I really like the use of blue and red together- connoting the magnatism effect of "opposites attract" aswell as a 3D-like effect, where both of the colours are fighting to stand out of the page/monitor. It doesn't do much for getting rid of a headache, but it's certainly bold!

There are two factors I really like about these two laser-cut typographic necklasses:

1. how effortlessly the type is combined with the image to make a bold and elegant piece- a similar design I had in mind for my own outcomes and
2. the application of the type- although I have initially considered using simple illustrator and design software to create my posters, I can also use photography as a medium, therefore, time provided, could experiment with more lavish 3D designs.

There's such a fantastic range of design ideas out there, in relation to opposites, that I now really look forward to experimenting in the development of my own designs, and am anticipating the week ahead, as I feel that my confidence and ability strengthens every project.

Quotes about Life and Death.

 "Love is stronger than death, even though it's can't stop death from happening. But no matter how hard death tries, it can't seperate people from love. It can't take away our memories either. In the end, life is stronger than death."
(Author Unknown)
 "Have the courage to live. Anyone can die."
(Robert Cody)

"Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever."
(Muhatma Gandhi)

"While I thought that I was learning how to live, I have been learning how to die."
(Leonardo Da Vinci)

"The question is not whether we will die, but how will we live."
(John Borysenko)

"Because I have loved life, I shall have no sorrow to die."
(Amelia Burr)
"Life is either a daring adventure, or nothing."
 (Helen Keller)
"Life's a voyage that's homeward bound."
(Herman Melville)
"Life is a tragedy for those who feel, and a comedy for those who think."
 (La Bruyere)

"The purpose of life is a life of purpose"
(Robert Byrne)
"Life is a great big canvas and you should throw all of the paint on it you can"
(Danny Kaye)

"Life is a cement trampoline"
(Howard Nordberg)

"I have measured my life out with coffee spoons"
(T.S Eliot, from 'The Lovesong of J.Alfred Prufrock)

"Life is a sexually transmitted disease with a 100% mortality rate."
(R.D Laing)

"Life is a long lesson is humility"
(J.M Barie)

"There is always death and taxes; however, death doesn't get worse every year."
(Author Unknown)

"I shall not die of a cold. I shall die of having lived."
(Willa Cather)

"Death is a distant rumour to the young"
(Andrew A. Rooney)

"We understand death for the first time when he puts his hands upon whom we love."
(Madame de Stael)

"The goal of all life is death"
(Sigmund Freud)

"I intend to live forever. So far- so good."
(Steve Wright)

"Death is life's way of telling you you're fired."
(Author Unknown)

"Death is more universal than life; everyone dies, but not everyone lives."
(A. Sachs)

"I'm not afraid to die. I just don't want to be there when it happens."
(Woody Allen)

"To die will be an awfully big adventure."
(J.M Barie)

 "Life is made up of years that mean nothing and moments that mean it all."
(Author Unknown)

"Every new day is another chance to change your life."
(Author Unknown)

"What is life, if full of care?
We have no time to stand and stare"
(W.H Auden, from 'leisure')

"Life is far too imporant a thing to ever talk seriously about"
(Oscar Wilde, from 'Lady Windermere's fan)

"Life is divided into the horrible and the miserable"
(Woody Allen)

"Life is full of misery, lonliness, and suffering- and it's over much too soon"
(Woody Allen)

"Life is wasted on the living"
(Douglas Adams)

In my designs, as with my outlook on design and my own practice, I would really like to focus on the light-hearted, optimstic and humourous side of life and death, creating an up-lifting and positive design. I will go on to explore and develop my own visual interpretations of quotes, as well as looking at how life and death (and opposites in general) are represented in design.