Review by Myths

While I was searching for a topic to write about I found the poem “Myths” by Henry Braun.


“Honestly, sir, what good are myths?”

(What good am I,
that is, whose myth is “sir.”
One has to try: )

“Myths are the stuff that lives are made on…”

(No! Twenty faces guard their lives.
A girl who sleeps with swans….What can you do
but lay eggs?
Or make it real!)

“Everybody likes to feel down?
Feel dawn?”

(Unsaid: “Oh perverse sir!”)

“The Trojan War, a very important war…”

(But since the Bomb there are no wars no more,
only athletic contests….

I’VE GOT IT, my mustardseed of faith:
I’ll flap my hands and fly!

God! What a feat! Better than airplanes!
Floating here with my teaching finger out
like Gabriel!)
“This is the way it is! You’re living a miracle!
Let’s start a new world here!”

(But no again. They’d shoot me down, my hunters.
It says to in the handbook.)

“Mr. Jones, that was a very searching question.
Honesty is the best paucity.”


I liked it instantly because the narrator switches off between what seems like a class discussion and his internal thoughts and because the poem seems like a cross between stand-up and slam poetry. It is a stand-up poem in the way that there is an obvious focus to it, the narrator and his myths. It isn’t very confessional, more expletive in the way that he is thinking about the world, especially his later references to both World War One with the mustard seed and World War Two with the bomb. The author also includes references to different myths within the poem, which is one of the signs of stand-up poetry. However, the poem itself feels like a slam poem in the way it is meant to be performed. I can easily see someone alternating between what the narrator is saying and what he is speaking on some sort of stage. If someone were to just read this out loud the separation of lines wouldn’t be as obvious and the poem would lose some of that emotion, such as when the student critiques the narrator and accidently demeans his entire internal monologue. To me this poem is a strong cross between stand-up and slam, what do you guys think and why?

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