Final Jeopardy Answer

The game show Jeopardy gave a nod to Poetry Month yesterday with its final Jeopardy question:

Who said, “Poetry is what gets lost in translation?”

Answer: Robert Frost

In his 1931 essay “Education by Poetry” – delivered at Amherst College – Frost wrote:

Then there is a literary belief.  Every time a poem is written, every time a short story is written, it is written not by cunning, but by belief.  The beauty, the something, the little charm of the thing to be, is more felt than known.

Rather than dissecting a poem, Frost would have you find its meaning in yourself.

William Wordsworth’s birthday was yesterday (April 7th).  Here’s one of his shorter poems – what does it mean to you?  It reminds me that Earth Day is coming.

The World Is Too Much With Us

The world is too much with us: late and soon,
Getting and spending, we lay waste our powers:
Little we see in Nature that is ours;
We have given our hearts away, a sordid boon!
This Sea that bares her bosom to the moon;
The winds that will be howling at all hours,
And are up-gathered now like sleeping flowers;
For this, for everything, we are out of tune;
It moves us not.–Great God! I’d rather be
A Pagan suckled in a creed outworn;
So might I, standing on this pleasant lea,
Have glimpses that would make me less forlorn;
Have sight of Proteus rising from the sea;
Or hear old Triton blow his wreathed horn.


Liu’s book includes Wordsworth’s poems about nature, among them “I Wandered Lonely As a Cloud” and “It’s a Beauteous Evening, Calm and Free” – with illustrated scenes by James Muir to complement the poetry.

2 thoughts on “Final Jeopardy Answer

  1. Thanks for the link to the book – I’m teaching a 3-session poetry class to gifted 8 and 9 year olds later this month and one of the things we will be exploring is how we each read poetry and how it changes what we feel about the poem.

    As to the poem you posted – it makes me think that he is lamenting our over-sophistication, our deliberate removal of ourselves from the natural world, and that life isn’t worth much now that we have removed ourselves.

    I’d forgotten how much I do enjoy Wordsworth (I’m a Shelley fan mostly), so thank you.

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