My Fourth Oxford Interview - Jesus College
I stared at the poem in front of me. Snow was starting to fall outside of the window and it was absolutely freezing. I was still stressing out about the fact that I’d missed my interview but knew that I had to focus.
I have since learnt the poem was ‘Epilogue’ By Robert Lowell but I didn’t know that at the time. I once again scribbled all over it and noted down other poems which were similar. I remember comparing it to Ted Hughes’ ‘Thought Fox’.
As I walked into the interview room, I was faced with 4 tutors all sitting in a semi-circle. It was pretty daunting!
‘What is the poem about?’ they asked.
I described how it was about the art of creating a poem. This was interesting as it was being described in the form of a poem, so there were two levels at play.
‘What do you think ‘The painter’s vision is not a lens, /it trembles to caress the light.’ means?
I discussed how the artist puts some of himself and creativity into his piece, whereas a lens is an accurate depiction of that moment in reality. I compared it to the description of the photograph at then end of the poem, photographs are accurate whereas artists are caught between fact and fiction.
‘What is the meter of the poem?
OH NO! Not this again!! I had absolutely no idea what the meter was. I hadn’t learnt the different sorts and didn’t think I could even really work out where the stresses were. I knew I couldn’t just say nothing so instead read the lines aloud and then said ‘well it goes dee dum, dee dum, dee dum’…I must have sounded like a child in a reception class…how embarrassing!
Surprisingly, she said ‘Yes that’s right’ and nodded encouragingly, seemingly pleased that I’d at least had a go.
‘Do you know what it’s called?’
I most certainly didn’t so just admitted this and said I’d never studied meter. This was the most terrible start. I couldn’t believe I’d done my little ‘dee dum, dee dum’ piece and wished the ground would just swallow me up!
To be continued…
Have a go! – ‘Dee dum, dee dum’ was so cringey at the time but I least I tried to understand the meter, despite not knowing its name.
Read aloud – if you’re not sure about the form or meter, you might notice a pattern when you hear it back.