Saturday, February 16, 2008

I didn't realize you wrote such bloody awful poetry

I've stopped. Little or nothing except fragments for the last five years. Not even song parodies. Apart from the one about Benedict XVI to the tune of "Goldfinger," in which "papal throne" is forced to rhyme with "dissenters groan."

The last poem worth mentioning (?) was probably this prose poem from the spring of 2003.

I haven't stopped as a matter of a vow, or an active renunciation. The darned words just won't come. Writer's block, and how.

Tried a haiku today. Not for public consumption, 'tis so feeble of wit and conceit. Might send it to some kind reader, who'll doubtless chuckle at it, charitably.

Surrealism doesn't work for me anymore. I mean, I can read and enjoy some surrealist poetry, but I can't write it. And one would think that in this mode, almost anyone can produce something noteworthy ... or momentarily arresting.

I do notice things, rhythmically, from time to time; for instance, that the Edward Lear title "The Dong with the Luminous Nose" has the same meter as the Smiths title "The Boy with the Thorn in His Side": trochee, anapest, anapest. And of course, I can produce a pentameter at gunpoint or bayonet-point or Pilot-pen-point. But versification does not a poem make.

Oh, well. No need to agonize over it (but I do!). I can still enjoy poetry as a reader. And I think all nine muses are glad to be spared my effusions which were once so depressingly quotidian.
In addition to Zagajewski

I'm currently reading 100 Love Sonnets/Cien sonetos de amor by Nobel laureate Pablo Neruda, in a bilingual edition featuring the rather free translations of Stephen Tapscott.

Addendum : And here are links to several hundred poems by Neruda, including all the sonnets, in the original Spanish.

Friday, February 15, 2008

                                  if lances of trees
-- of poplar and ash -- still breathe aloud
like Indians, and if streams mumble
their dark Esperanto, and grass snakes like soft signs
in the Russian language disappear
into thickets


-- Zagajewski, from "To Go to Lvov," in Without End, p. 79
You'd think it would be easy, living.
All you need is a fistful of earth, a boat, a nest, a jail,
a little breath, some drops of blood, and longing.


-- Adam Zagajewski, from "You Are My Silent Brethren," in Without End, p. 236
Realized this morning

It is 2008. I started college in 1989.

There are students in college now who were born after, or around the same time, I began attending college.

I feel ... middle-aged.

Thursday, February 14, 2008

An atheist epoch's Benedictines, missionaries of easy despair,
we might be a link in an evolution
whose sense and address no one betrays.
We're compensated in small, worthless gold coin,
and with the moment of bliss when metaphor's flame
welds two free-floating objects, when a hawk lands,
or a tax inspector makes the sign of the cross.


-- Adam Zagajewski, from "R. Says," in Without End: New and Selected Poems (NY: FSG, 2002), p. 152
Am pondering the wisdom ...

... of dropping the poetry links from my sidebar, esp. poetryfoundation.org -- there is a blog at that site, and its contributors are largely cacophonous communards of cultural catastrophe.

On the other hand, the site has a wonderful "poetry tool" -- a capacious archive of poems both traditional and modern.

Will keep it for now, I think. But it's becoming difficult to do so.
Books

R. R. Reno of the First Things blog writes about "golden" books.

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

This article claims ...

... that Barack Obama is a "natural" for the Catholic vote. It even has a wee bit of Latin in it (pares cum paribus facile congregantur), so I guess the author knows whereof he speaks.

"Catholics" do vote in strange ways. Old Born Alive Obama would, I think, carry a majority of self-described Catholics in a general election against McCain. But this is probably one element in an argument that the "Catholic" vote has nothing whatever to do with Catholicism.

Monday, February 11, 2008

What is salvation if there is no threat?

-- Adam Zagajewski, "Opus Posthumous"