The truth is, they’re ALL my favorites (and don’t you roll your eyes at me; I really DO love all my kids).
Right now, though, this kid is my favorite. His group has been tasked with an in-depth analysis of a poem or song using the tools and techniques we went over in class last week. He was inspired, after overhearing a conversation I had on Thursday with the music theory teacher, to have a look at The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald. Get a load of this awesome shit I found in my inbox!
While looking at the song, it started to sound like it was an epic. I can back it almost up but not quite. I was wondering if you considered it an epic or not.
The term “epic” has been used in modern times to define something that has a broad, sweeping sort of feel to it, but that’s not the literary definition of an epic.
The general “rules” for an epic are that the hero has to have some kind of great national or cosmic significance. The story often covers a great deal of geographical distance – one of the conventions is that the hero goes away from home (often for some heroic battle or noble cause) and encounters all kinds of trouble getting home (often to his one true love who is, of course, waiting chastely for him). It often (though not always) begins “in media res” (in the middle of the story). There are usually supernatural elements that both hinder and help the hero in whatever it is he’s doing, Finally, the epic – the classic epic, that is – is meant to serve as a sort of national or cultural lesson that helps a particular people establish or reinforce an identity.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy is an epic in the classic sense of the word (as is The Hobbit). The argument can be made (as I did in class) that Forrest Gump is an epic (the “supernatural forces” aren’t plainly in evidence – we don’t actually SEE spirits or gods or whatever helping him along – but it DOES serve to reinforce some of the more basic values in the American culture). Of course, The Odyssey is an epic (and, really, the standard for defining the genre).
I don’t think, really, that The Wreck of the Edmund Fitzgerald fits the classic definition. If we were to categorize it into a literary genre, I’d be more inclined to call it a narrative poem (a poem that tells a specific story) with the feel of an elegy, which is a poem that is meant as a lamentation for someone who has died. The classic form of elegy is written in couplets with rhyming last words: though the Edmund Fitzgerald doesn’t follow that style, the general tone and specific purpose of the song DOES match with the intent of the elegy.
How much do I love that you’re thinking about this kind of stuff? You rock my world, kid; thanks!
I love my job!