More specifically concerning: poetry
29.10.01 – Monday
29 October 2001, around 16.34.
Reading Medea (γυνὴ γὰρ ὀξύθυμος, ὡς δ’ αὔτως ἀνήρ, // ῥάιων φυλάσσειν ἢ σιωπηλὸς σοφή. (319–20)). Ah, ionic elements! We are fond of our archaicisms – and might be in danger of descending to dactylic hexameters… give us a minute.
06.03.02 – Wednesday
6 March 2002, around 21.16.
For once Vergil moved.
2.05.02 – Thursday
1 May 2002, around 19.56.
The workmen spoke in iambic pentameter, a swift and toneless sequence of stressed and unstressed, not languid or melodic, but with a choppy sharpness, unconscious precision and imprecise annoyance. Curiously, the word ‘f—k’ could take any metrical position, as the sentiment or the phrase required.
19 October 2002, around 16.50.
It was the Distance
28 October 2002, around 17.09.
For no good reason1 I’ve been reading The Cambridge Companion to Emily Dickinson (ed. W. Martin, CUP: 2002). It is somewhat refreshing to find books which do not concern Cicero. And it is interesting to step outside the charmed circle of academics and then to peer back in, as though through windows. For one can […]
27 April 2003, around 11.06.
T.E. Hulme pontificates…
2 July 2003, around 11.39.
poena sine fine
6 August 2003, around 8.05.
After reading Donna Wilson’s Ransom, Revenge, and Heroic Identity in the ‘Iliad’ (based on the dissertation she prepared for the University of Texas, Austin) the largest question I have for the author concerns her relationship with her father. Her discussion of the character of reparation in the Iliad emphasizes the role of the father in […]
13 September 2003, around 8.41.
All overgrown by cunning moss, All interspersed with weed, The little cage of ‘Currer Bell’ In quiet ‘Haworth’ laid. The Bird — observing others When frosts too sharp became Retire to other latitudes – Quietly did the same – But differed in returning – Since Yorkshire hills are green – Yet not in all the […]
30 September 2003, around 8.24.
It takes an odd sort of mind to give the title ‘A Gallery of Pigeons’ to a slender volume of light verse, especially if it includes a poem called ‘A Tragedy’ which contains the word ‘plop’ (more than once). So it was with some surprise I found a passage I almost liked in Marzials’ aforementioned […]
the emphasis was helped
21 October 2003, around 7.48.
Menas: These three world-sharers, these competitors, Are in thy vessel: let me cut the cable; And, when we are put off, fall to their throats: All there is thine. Pompey: Ah, this thou shouldst have done, And not have spoke on’t! In me ’tis villany; In thee’t had been good service. Thou must know, ’Tis […]
Crambe repetita (2)
3 November 2003, around 18.00.
Ananias, fr. 4.
20 November 2003, around 10.08.
Into my heart an air that kills From yon far country blows: What are those blue remembered hills, What spires, what farms are those? That is the land of lost content, I see it shining plain, The happy highways where I went And cannot come again. (from […]
10 March 2004, around 8.07.
Among the Romanes a Poet was called Vates, which is as much as a diviner, foreseer, or Prophet, as by his conjoyned words Vaticinium, and Vaticinari, is manifest, so heavenly a title did that excellent people bestowe uppon this hart-ravishing knowledge, and so farre were they carried into the admiration thereof, that they thought in […]
de arte poetica liber
23 March 2004, around 12.18.
To my great embarrassment, I mistook this overview of William Blades’s Enemies of Books (via) for a poem1; e.g.: Bagford the biblioclast. Illustrations torn from MSS. Title-pages torn from books. Rubens, his engraved titles. Colophons torn out of books. Lincoln Cathedral Dr. Dibdin’s Nosegay. Theurdanck. Fragments of MSS. Some libraries almost useless. […] The care […]
7 April 2004, around 13.25.
On quires and choirs.
11 May 2004, around 14.31.
‘As is’ he she we they you you you I her so pronouns begin the dance called washing whose name derives from an alchemical fact that after a small stillness there is a small stir after great stillness a great stir —Anne Carson
they say it’s May
18 May 2004, around 8.22.
cf. She schools the flighty pupils of her eyes, With levell’d lashes stilling their disquiet; And puts in leash her pair’d lips lest surprise Bare the condition of a realm at riot. If he suspect that she has ought to sigh at His injury she’ll avenge with raging shame. She kept her love-thoughts on most […]
Put down the apple Adam
22 May 2004, around 18.10.
Mortality is fatal Gentility is fine Rascality, heroic Insolvency, sublime […] A coward will remain, Sir Until the fight is done; But an immortal hero Will take his hat and run… —Emily Dickinson No. 21 This entry’s title is from the same poem; the stanza runs: Put down the apple Adam And come away with […]
16 June 2004, around 12.32.
At the end of March there was a puff piece about Anne Carson in the NY Times, occasioned by a staged reading of her translation of, I think, Euripides’ Hekabe.1 One short passage attracted my attention: For all this, Ms. Carson said, she is not a poet. ‘Homer’s a poet,’ she said. ‘I would say […]
east of Eden in the land of Nod
1 January 2005, around 3.51.
A sleepless night, drowsing over Samson Agonistes. Dalila dandled forth, almost more specious than Helen among the Trojan Women, and the blind man missing his apotheosis, but not heroization. And then there are certain beautiful infelicities; I hesitate to say Milton loses his tone, but perhaps he clings rather too fiercely: Chorus. But we had […]
28 July 2007, around 1.22.
14 December 2007, around 13.08.
He had told me himself more than once that he never got up before twelve, and seldom earlier than one. Constitutionally the laziest young devil in America, he had hit on a walk in life which enabled him to go the limit in that direction. He was a poet. At least, he wrote poems when […]
gothic victorian sea monsters
29 December 2007, around 22.18.
The first time I heard Marianne [Moore] read poetry in public was at a joint reading with William Carlos Williams in Brooklyn. I am afraid I was a little late. There was a very small audience, mostly in the front rows, and I made my way as self-effacingly as I could down the steep red-carpeted […]
8 March 2008, around 11.02.
14 June 2008, around 2.03.
keeping up with the neighbors…
31 August 2008, around 0.12.
We always associate the word ‘book’ with printing, and think of it in terms of format and typographical convenience, but such mechanical criteria do not apply to notebooks, whose beginning and end are determined only by the unity of the poetic impulse which gives birth to a given series of poems. In other words, a […]
9 December 2010, around 12.08.
We look in the taxi. If there is a meter: fine. If there is not: ‘do you have a meter?’ ‘No – it’s a hundred dram a kilometer, we’ll go by the odometer.’ ‘Well how much is it to point B from here?’ If he says: ‘I don’t know, we’ll go by the odometer’ – […]
Crambe repetita (20)
19 November 2011, around 8.09.
Boswell, Life of Johnson.
24 March 2012, around 19.16.
10 Gower St, Hope Mirrlees in a hat, with Lytton Strachey et al.1 Pigeons perch on statues And are turned to stone.2I found this image via the Persephone Post, but they persist in reorganizing their archives and breaking links – a laudable pastime, but one which prevents me from giving them credit as directly as […]
16 December 2013, around 18.06.
Having got to know Liska the way a man gets to know a woman only if he lives with her for years, sleeping with her all that time – well, he’s got not to know her again. It’s like reading a wonderful poem, and learning it off by heart because you like it so much […]
27 December 2013, around 8.35.
The reproductive instinct urges the poet to scatter his seeds beyond his boundaries. I repeat it: poorly transmitted, they fructify. Certain species (Pushkin) refuse transmission. But this does not prevent them from scattering at large and even when reduced to insignificance, from fructifying. Shakespeare remains the model of the explosive plant. His seeds have taken […]
from that other place
17 January 2014, around 20.58.
If one grows up in Oregon, one hears a lot about William Stafford. Always being the sort of person to avoid what other people are talking about (with no regard for its merit or interest), I never read any of his work until just a few months ago – and I expected to sneer even […]
under the look of fatigue
21 February 2014, around 5.00.
Auden at home.1 Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links, Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks, Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye. —Auden, from ‘At Last the […]
30 October 2014, around 5.00.
The thought of what America would be like If the Classics had a wide circulation Troubles my sleep, The thought of what America, The thought of what America, The thought of what America would be like If the Classics had a wide circulation Troubles my sleep. Nunc dimittis, now lettest thou thy servant, Now […]
15 December 2014, around 9.25.
Although he never lose his heart exclusively to one philosophical sect and was also an eclectic, Horace’s sharply critical mind, with a subtle sense of humor on the surface and a tempered pessimism deeper down, was far more inclined towards the doctrines of Aristippus, Epicurus and Lucretius than towards the Stoa which he often mentions […]
in the study
3 February 2015, around 5.22.
Curie of the laboratory of vocabulary she crushed the tonnage of consciousness congealed to phrases to extract a radium of the word —Mina Loy (Corpses and Geniuses, ‘Gertrude Stein’) What is the use of a violent kind of delightfulness if there is no pleasure in not getting tired of it. The question does not come […]
hope against hope (4)
24 March 2015, around 11.44.
A bit of Caravaggio’s painting of ‘Saint Jerome Writing’ It’s taken me a while to get through Hope Mirrlees’ Collected Poems, perhaps because it confounded my expectations (which were admittedly a bit confused). Eager readers of Mirrlees’ work or those interested in her life should, of course, pick up a copy, as it is contains […]
19 January 2016, around 5.29.
Mina Loy lights a candle.
29 March 2016, around 11.30.
It cost too much, to begin with. I really had no excuse for buying it, except that I was feeling out of sorts and aphoristic philosophy seemed like a good choice at the time; it seemed to be a clean copy, too, which would go a little way to excusing the price. At home, however, […]
against the grain
15 October 2017, around 15.59.
One doesn’t quite know what to expect from In the American Grain – not if one comes to it expecting anything at all, because it upsets those expectations from the first page. I was expecting something about Emily Dickinson, because the only reason I picked up the book was because it was mentioned in Susan […]
8 December 2019, around 16.05.
Vladislav Khodasevich and Nina Berberova, Sorrento, 1925. We perceived everything that happened then as an omen. But of what? —Vladislav Khodasevich (‘Muni’ in Necropolis, p. 83) It is difficult to know how to start thinking about Necropolis. Before I finished the book, I was certainly inclined to be dismissive – just so much gossip about […]
23 November 2020, around 11.06.
It was around the time I was reading the first or second of a series of translations of Beowulf and I mentioned it in passing in an email. My correspondent replied that they thought they should probably read more fiction, but it was hard to find the time. This response surprised, not because I thought […]
26 January 2021, around 5.31.
These are some of the latest things I haven’t read, with the excuses I made for abandoning them. Penguin classics edition of Epicurus. I had hoped for updated notes and bibliography, something that I could point students (should I ever get another course as adjunct) towards, but it was a reprint of a book published […]
game trails and cow paths
31 August 2022, around 5.21.
Everything I set down has a source in prior song or the written record. Some poets don’t want to read first; some of us want to give the stories we know a longer life […] —Stephanie Burt (‘(frag. 612)’, After Callimachus, p. 79). Shortly after becoming acquainted with the dog, then a black puppy of […]