Tag Archives: Poetry

‘I had a life that did not become

A.R. Ammons wrote the best of Easter poems: I have a life that did not become, that turned aside and stopped, astonished: I hold it in me like a pregnancy or as on my lap a child not to grow … Continue reading

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‘Restore Thine image, so much, by Thy grace…’

As I wrote last week, I don’t celebrate Holy Week anymore, but I still respect the numinous and especially the vast body of religious poetry in English. Chief among its writers is John Donne, whose “Good Friday, 1613, Riding Westward” … Continue reading

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‘The palm at the end of the mind…’

When I was still a Catholic, the sense of anticipation that Palm Sunday rendered mute and useless the jockeying for space in the pews for once-a-year worshipers fighting over the consecrated fronds. For Wallace Stevens, the palm stood for the … Continue reading

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‘There is a value underneath/The gold and silver in my teeth’

A crucial link between the so-called confessional poets of the sixties and a previous generation’s shaking the rheumatoid arthritis stiffening its metered joints, W.D. Snodgrass is often forgotten, a wiseacre whose acerbic couplets and rhythmic facility did not obscure the … Continue reading

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‘I keep, and pass, and turn again’ — poems of my life

I date my love for poetry to 1987 when in seventh grade I read Robert Frost’s “The Pasture” and “Stopping By Woods in a Snowy Evening.” At the start of eighth grade I read Sylvia Plath’s “Mushrooms” and Emily Dickinson’s … Continue reading

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Derek Walcott — RIP

Allusive but demotic, Derek Walcott was Robert Lowell’s truest heir and often surpassed the American poet in using geographic points to populate a topography of the soul. Walcott set many of his poems in St. Lucia, but during the late … Continue reading

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‘I rejoice that things are as they are’

Although a further grinding of The Waste Land‘s parts into sin-kissed dust, “Ash Wednesday” has enough impressive moments for me to forgive – T.S. Eliot’s favorite verb – the sense of etiolation pervading the 1930 poem. Long ago this day … Continue reading

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‘The truth must dazzle gradually’

If I’m going to blog about the arts and politics, immersion is how I’ll keep my sanity. Emily Dickinson’s marvelous gnomic poem is the beacon. Tell all the truth but tell it slant — Success in Circuit lies Too bright … Continue reading

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‘Paterson’ a leisurely, warm tour of a poet’s mind

A poet of abrupt accelerations and fanciful asides, William Carlos Williams is the last artist I’d associate with Jim Jarmusch. This director, whose fascination with stasis has produced some of the most enervating films of the last thirty years, has … Continue reading

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‘It is better to sleep and leave the bottle unopened’

All I’ve got to say is to refer you to Philip Larkin’s “New Year Poem.” Happy 2017, friends. The short afternoon ends, and the year is over; Above trees at the end of the garden the sky is unchanged, An … Continue reading

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‘An obscure knack – commemorating World AIDS Day

Despite the progress, so millions dead, including my uncle. Thom Gunn, one of the twentieth century’s great elegists, wrote some of the sharpest and most shattering poems about AIDS, many collected in the epochal The Man with Night Sweats. Here’s … Continue reading

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‘Leave what you die for and be safe to die’

Wake me up when November ends. Here’s William Empson’s “The Teasers,” suitably grim. Happy November. Not but they die, the teasers and the dreams, Not but they die, and tell the careful flood To give them what they clamour for … Continue reading

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