MARLA MUSE INTERVIEWS SCARRIET POETRY BASEBALL COMMISSIONER HAROLD BLOOM

MM: Marla Muse here with the Commissioner of Poetry Baseball himself, Harold Bloom. Thanks for meeting with me today, Commisioner.

HB: You’re quite welcome, Marla.

MM: Commissioner, a lot of eyebrows were raised when you took this job — what do you see as your role this season?

HB: Well Marla, as the media have repeatedly trumpeted, I am making less money in this job than I made at Yale.

MM: I’ve heard that, why’d you make the switch?

HB: Well Marla, each time I make the mistake of glancing at the Yale Weekly Bulletin, I shudder to see that the dean of Yale College has appointed yet another subdean to minister to the supposed cultural interests of another identity club: ethnic, racial, linguistic, with gender and erotic subsets.

MM: Absolutely, Commissioner, identity clubs. Now—

HB: Scolding the universities, or the media, is useless: enormous social pressures have been loosed upon institutions hopelessly vulnerable to cultural guilt. Every variety of “studies” at last will be housed: if sexual orientation is to be placed with race, ethnic group, and gender as sources of aesthetic and cognitive values, then why should we not have “Sado-Masochistic Studies,” in particular honor of the god of resentment, the late Michel Foucault?

MM: What team did he play for?

HB: Marla, Walt Whitman was not only the strongest of our poets (together with the highly antithetical Emily Dickinson), but he is also now the most betrayed of all our poets, with so much of the ongoing balderdash being preached in his name. Whitman’s poetry generally does the opposite of what he proclaims its work to be: it is reclusive, evasive, hermeutic, nuanced, and more onanistic even then homoerotic, which critics cannot accept, particularly these days when attempts are made to assimilate the Self-Reliant Whitman into what calls itself the Homosexual Poetic. If we are to have gay and lesbian studies, who will speak for Onan, whose bards include Whitman and the Goethe of “Faust, Part Two”?

MM: Onan, yes, absolutely. Now, Commissioner, you mentioned Whitman, what do you think the chances are for the Brooklyn Whitmans

HB: The most figurative of our poets, Whitman will elude every effort to entrap him in an ideology. As elitist a democrat as his master Emerson, Whitman continues with his ideas of representation to outwit his historicizing and eroticizing critics. The crucial figure in Whitman is neither his self—Walt Whitman, one of the roughs, an American—nor his soul, but “the real me” or “me myself,” a conceptual image that prophesies Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and particularly John Ashbery:

MM: Um, Commissioner—

HB: “Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,/Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,/Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,/Looks with its sidecurved head curious what will come next,/Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it.” That Whitmanian “what I am,” his “real me” or “me myself,” is both an inspiration to strong American poetry after him and a reproach to the cultural and erotic dogmas now circulated in his great name. It is no accident that the best American poets who have emerged from Whitman—sometimes insisting that they owed him nothing—are formalists, major artists of verse: Stevens, Eliot, Hart Crane, and even Ashbery when at his most gravely traditional. Cast out the aesthetic, and you cast away Whitman, who was a major poet and a poor prophet, and who was, above all else, a very difficult poet, whose synecdoches do not unravel without very frequent rereadings.

MM: Synecdoches, absolutely.  Now Commissioner, let’s talk about some of the major trades going on this season, do you think that—

HB: Marla, authentic American poetry is necessarily difficult; it is our elitist art, though that elite has nothing to do with social class, gender, erotic preference, ethnic strain, race, or sect. “We live in the mind,” Stevens said, and our poetry always is either Emersonian or anti-Emersonian, but either way is informed by Emerson’s dialectics of power.

MM: OK, good, now this year the Concord Emersons have—

HB: “Life will be imaged, but cannot be divided nor doubled. Any invasion of its unity would be chaos. The soul is not twin-born, but the only begotten, and though revealing itself as a child in time, child in appearance, is of a fatal and universal power, admitting no co-life. Every day, every act betrays the ill-concealed deity. We believe in ourselves, as we do not believe in others. We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others, is experiment for us. It is an instance of our faith in ourselves, that men never speak of crime as lightly as they think: or, every man thinks a latitude safe for himself, which is nowise to be indulged to another. The act looks very differently on the inside, and on the outside; in its quality, and its consequences. Murder in the murderer is no such ruinous thought as poets and romancers will have it; it does not unsettle him, or fright him from his ordinary notice of trifles: it is an act quite easy to be contemplated, but in its sequel, it turns out to be a horrible jangle and confounding all relations. Especially the crimes that spring from love, seem right and fair from the actor’s point of view, but, when acted, are found destructive of society. No man at last believes that he can be lost, nor that the crime in him is as black as in the felon. Because the intellect qualifies in our own case the moral judgments. For there is no crime to the intellect. That is antinomian or hypernomian, and judges law as well as fact.”

MM: Yes, hypernomian… Um—

HB: That, Marla, does not allow any room for the false generosity of any Affirmative Action in the judging of poetry. Printing, praising, and teaching bad poems for the sake of even the best causes is simply destructive for those causes. “We believe in ourselves, as we do not believe in others” is a truth that makes us wince, but no one can ever write a good poem without it. Tony Kushner, who could be a good playwright but for his obsession with the ideologies of political correctness, ought to ponder Emerson’s “Experience,” from which I have just quoted. Every attempt to socialize writing and reading fails; poetry is a solitary art, more now than ever, and its proper audience is the deeply educated, solitary reader, or that reader sitting within herself in a theater.

MM: Or in a baseball stadium? How about that Commissioner, can a baseball fan—

HB: The madness that contaminates our once high culture cannot be cured unless and until we surrender our more than Kafkan sense that social guilt is not to be doubted. Nothing can be more malignant than a disease of the spirit that sincerely regards itself as virtue.

MM: Yes, I remember George Kennan saying that—

HB: Shakespeare, performed and read in every country (with the sporadic exception of France, most xenophobic of cultures), is judged by audiences of every race and language to have put them on the stage. Shakespeare’s power has nothing to do with Eurocentrism, maleness, Christianity, or Elizabethan-Jacobean social energies. No one else so combined cognitive strength, originality, dramatic guile, and linguistic florabundance as virtually to reinvent the human, and Shakespeare is therefore the best battlefield upon which to fight the rabblement of Resenters.

MM: Resenters, absolutely.  Commissioner, now let me ask you—

HB: Shakespeare, pragmatically the true multiculturalist, is  the least reductive of all writers; his men and women never invite us to believe that when we know the worst about them, then we know exactly who they are. Emerson, in “Representative Men”, caught this best—

MM: No, Commissioner, please, no more Emerson quotes, we have to cut to a commercial now—

HB: “Shakespeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others, conceivably. A good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato’s brain, and think from thence; but not into Shakespeare’s. We are still out of doors. For executive faculty, for creation, Shakespeare is unique.  No man can imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of subtlety compatible with an individual self, — the subtlest of authors, and only just…”

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13 Comments

  1. Christopher Woodman said,

    April 12, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    I think they’re may have been a mistake here on the control panel. This is the style of Bob Tonucci, not Thomas Brady. Not that it makes any difference in the content or tone of voive, just for the record.

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 12, 2010 at 8:50 pm

      Bloom sounds like you a little bit, Christopher, and Marla like Thomas Brady…?

  2. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 12, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    Text of Spring Symphony, op. 44 by Benjamin Britten

    PART ONE

    1. Introduction

    Shine out, fair sun, with all your heat,
    Show all your thousand-coloured light!
    Black winter freezes to his seat;
    The grey wolf howls he does so bite;
    Crookt age on three knees creeps the street;
    The boneless fish close quaking lies
    And eats for cold his aching feet;
    The stars in icicles arise:
    Shine out, and make this winter night
    Our beauty’s spring, our Prince of Light!
    (Anon., 16th century)

    2. The Merry Cuckoo

    The merry cuckoo, messenger of spring,
    His trumpet shrill hath thrice already sounded;
    That warns all lovers wait upon their king,
    Who now is coming forth with garlands crowned:
    With noise thereof the quire of birds resounded
    Their anthems sweet devised of love’s praise,
    That all the woods their echoes back rebounded,
    As if they knew the meaning of their lays.
    But ’mongst them all, which did love’s honour raise,
    No word was heard of her that most it ought,
    But she his precept proudly disobeys,
    And doth his idle message set at nought.
    Therefore O love, unless she turn to thee,
    Ere cuckoo end, let her a rebel be.
    (Edmund Spenser, ?1552-1599)

    3. Spring, the Sweet Spring

    Spring, the sweet spring, is the year’s pleasant king;
    Then blooms each thing, then maids dance in a ring,
    Cold doth not sting, the pretty birds do sing:
    Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

    The palm and may make country houses gay,
    Lambs frisk and play, the shepherds pipe all day,
    And we hear aye birds tune this merry lay:
    Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!

    The fields breathe sweet, the daisies kiss our feet,
    Young lovers meet, old wives a-sunning sit;
    In every street these tunes our ears do greet:
    Cuckoo, jug-jug, pu-we, to-witta-woo!
    Spring, the sweet Spring!
    (Thomas Nashe, 1567-1601)

    4. The Driving Boy

    When as the rye reach to the chin,
    And chopcherry, chopcherry ripe within,
    Strawberries swimming in the cream,
    And schoolboys playing in the stream;
    Then O, then, O then O, my true love said,
    Till that time come again,
    She could not live a maid.
    (George Peele, ?1556-?1596)

    The driving boy, beside his team
    Of May-month’s beauty now will dream,
    And cock his hat, and turn his eye
    On flower and tree and deepening sky;
    And oft burst loud in fits of song,
    And whistle as he reels along,
    Cracking his whip in starts of joy—
    A happy, dirty, driving boy.
    (John Clare, 1793-1864)

    5. The Morning Star

    Now the bright morning star, day’s harbinger,
    Comes dancing from the East, and leads with her
    The flowery May, who from her green lap throws
    The yellow cowslip, and the pale primrose.

    Hail, bounteous May that doth inspire
    Mirth and youth and warm desire,
    Woods and groves are of thy dressing,
    Hill and dale doth boast thy blessing.
    Thus we salute thee with our early song,
    And welcome thee, and wish thee long.
    (John Milton, 1608-1674)

    PART TWO

    6. Welcome Maids of Honour

    Welcome Maids of Honour
    You doe bring
    In the Spring;
    And wait upon her.

    She has virgins many,
    Fresh and faire;
    Yet you are
    More sweet than any.

    Y’are, the maiden Posies,
    And so grac’d,
    To be plac’d,
    “Fore Damsk Roses.

    Yet though thus respected,
    By and by
    Ye do lie,
    Poore girles, neglected.
    (Robert Herrick, 1591-1674)

    7. Waters above

    Waters above! eternal springs!
    The dew, that silvers the Dove’s wings!
    O welcome, welcome to the sad:
    Give dry dust drink; drink that makes glad!
    Many fair ev’nings, many flowers
    Sweeten’d with rich and gentle showers
    Have I enjoy’d, and down have run
    Many a fine and shining sun;
    But never till this happy hour
    Was blest with such an evening-shower!
    (Henry Vaughan, 1622-1695)

    8. Out on the lawn I lie in bed

    Out on the lawn I lie in bed,
    Vega conspicuous overhead
    In the windless nights of June;
    Forests of green have done complete
    The day’s activity, my feet
    Point to the rising moon.

    Now North and South and East and West
    Those I love lie down to rest;
    The moon looks on them all:
    The healers and the brilliant talkers,
    The eccentrics and the silent walkers,
    The dumpy and the tall.

    To gravity attentive, she
    Can notice nothing here; though we
    Whom hunger cannot move,
    From gardens where we feel secure
    Look up, and with a sigh endure
    The tyrannies of love:

    And, gentle, do not care to know,
    Where Poland draws her Eastern bow,
    What violence is done;
    Nor ask what doubtful act allows
    Our freedom in this English house,
    Our picnics in the sun.
    (W.H. Auden, 1907-1973)

    PART THREE

    9. When will my May come

    When will my May come, that I may embrace thee?
    When will the hour be of my soule’s joying?
    If thou wilt come and dwell with me at home;
    My sheepcote shall be strowed with new green rushes;
    We’ll haunt the trembling prickets as they roam
    About the fields, along the hawthorn bushes;
    I have a piebald cur to hunt the hare:
    So we will live with dainty forest fare.

    And when it pleaseth thee to walk abroad,
    (Abroad into the fields to take fresh aire:)
    The meads with Flora’s treasures shall be strowed,
    (The mantled meadows and the fields so fair.)
    And by a silver well (with golden sands)
    I’ll sit me down, and wash thine iv’ry hands.

    But if thou wilt not pitie my complaint,
    My tears, nor vowes, nor oathes, made to thy Beautie:
    What shall I do? but languish, die, or faint,
    Since thou dost scorne my tears, and soule’s duetie:
    And tears contemned, vowes, and oaths must fail:
    For when tears cannot, nothing can prevaile.
    (Richard Barnefield, 1574-1627)

    10. Fair and Fair

    Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
    As fair as any may be;
    The fairest shepherd on our green
    A love for any lady.
    Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
    As fair as any may be;
    Thy love is fair for thee alone,
    And for no other lady.

    My love is fair, my love is gay,
    As fresh as bin the flowers in May;
    And of my love my roundelay,
    My merry, merry, roundelay,
    Concludes with Cupid’s curse:
    They that do change old love for new,
    Pray gods they change for worse.

    Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
    As fair as any may be;
    The fairest shepherd on our green
    A love for any lady.
    Fair and fair, and twice so fair,
    As fair as any may be;
    Thy love is fair for thee alone,
    And for no other lady.

    My/Thy love can pipe, my/thy love can sing,
    My/Thy love can many a pretty thing,
    And of his lovely praises ring
    My/Thy merry, merry, roundelays,
    Amen to Cupid’s curse:
    They that do change old love for new,
    Pray gods they change for worse.
    (George Peele, ?1556-?1596)

    11. Sound the flute

    Sound the flute!
    Now it’s mute.
    Birds delight
    Day and night.
    Nightingale
    In the dale,
    Lark in sky
    Merrily,
    Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

    Little boy
    Full of joy.
    Little girl
    Sweet and small.
    Cock does crow
    So do you.
    Merry voice
    Infant noise
    Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.

    Little lamb
    Here I am.
    Come and lick
    My white neck.
    Let me pull
    Your soft wool.
    Let me kiss
    Your soft face.
    Merrily, merrily, to welcome in the year.
    (William Blake, 1757-1827)

    PART FOUR

    12. Finale

    London, to thee I do present
    The merry month of May;
    Let each true subject be content
    To hear me what I say:
    With gilded staff and crossed scarf,
    The Maylord here I stand.
    Rejoice, O English hearts, rejoice!
    Rejoice, O lovers dear!
    Rejoice, O City, town and country!
    Rejoice, eke every shire!
    For now the fragrant flowers do spring
    And sprout in seemly sort;
    The little birds do sit and sing,
    The lambs do make fine sport;
    And now the birchen-tree doth bud,
    That makes the schoolboy cry;
    The morris rings, while hobby-horse
    Doth foot it feateously;
    The lords and ladies now abroad,
    For their disport and play,
    Do kiss sometimes upon the grass,
    And sometimes in the hay;
    Now butter with a leaf of sage
    Is good to purge the blood;
    Fly Venus and phlebotomy,
    For they are neither good;
    Now little fish on tender stone
    Begin to cast their bellies,
    And sluggish snails, that erst were mewed,
    Do creep out of their shellies;
    The rumbling rivers now do warm,
    For little boys to paddle;
    The sturdy steed now goes to grass,
    And up they hang his saddle;
    The heavy hart, the bellowing buck,
    The rascal, and the pricket,
    Are now among the yeoman’s peas,
    And leave the fearful thicket;
    And be like them, O you, I say,
    Of this same noble town,
    And lift aloft your velvet heads,
    And slipping off your gown,
    With bells on legs, with napkins clean
    Unto your shoulders tied,
    With scarfs and garters as you please,
    And `Hey for our town!’ cried,
    March out, and show your willing minds,
    By twenty and by twenty,
    To Hodgson or to Newington,
    Where ale and cakes are plenty;
    And let it ne’er be said for shame,
    That we the youths of London
    Lay thrumming of our caps at home,
    And left our custom undone.
    Up, then, I say, both young and old,
    Both man and maid amaying,
    With drums, and guns that bounce aloud,
    And merry tabor playing!…

    Sumer is icumen in,
    Loode sing cuckoo.
    Groweth sayd and bloweth mayd
    And springth the woode new;
    Sing cuckoo!
    Awe blayteth after lamb,
    Lowth after calve coo;
    Bullock stairteth, booke vairteth;
    Mirry sing cuckoo,
    Cuckoo, Cuckoo,
    Well singes thoo, cuckoo,
    Nay sweek thoo nayver noo.
    (Anon., 13th century)

    …Which to prolong, God save our king,
    And send his country peace,
    And root out treason from the land!
    And so, my friends, I cease.
    (Richard Beaumont, 1584-1616, and John Fletcher, 1579-1625)

  3. Christopher Woodman said,

    April 12, 2010 at 2:25 pm

    Here’s Bob Tonucci — you tell me if the article that introduces this thread isn’t also by him.

    And is it important? Only if you want to get to the root of why Bob Tonucci gets up at 4.30 am every morning in Washington at the very same time as Thomas Brady in Boston, and then the two of them put up 8 or 9 poems, bang, bang, bang, plus Marla Muse interviews etc. etc. ad infinitum— which pushes all the more ‘Recent Comments’ posted by those who live in earlier time zones, Europe and Asia, right off the table. So when Americans get up they think Scarriet is about baseball.

    Exhausting, at least for me it is, and I’m too old to buck it. Still, it’s important you know:

    Bob Tonucci said. April 10, 2010
    https://scarriet.wordpress.com/2010/04/07/scarriet-presents-national-poetry-baseball-month/#comment-1606

    Marla Muse here with the Commissioner of Poetry Baseball himself, Harold Bloom. Thanks for meeting with me today, Commisioner.

    HB: You’re quite welcome, Marla.

    Commissioner, a lot of eyebrows were raised when you took this job – what do you see as your role this season?

    HB: Well Marla, as the media has repeatedly trumpeted, I am making less money in this job that I made at Yale.

    I’ve heard that, why’d you make the switch?

    HB: Well Marla, each time I make the mistake of glancing at the ‘Yale Weekly Bulletin’, I shudder to see that the dean of Yale College has appointed yet another subdean to minister to the supposed cultural interests of another identity club: ethnic, racial, linguistic, with gender and erotic subsets.

    Absolutely, Commissioner, identity clubs. Now—

    HB: Scolding the universities, or the media, is useless: enormous social pressures have been loosed upon institutions hopelessly vulnerable to cultural guilt. Every variety of “studies” at last will be housed: if sexual orientation is to be placed with race, ethnic group, and gender as sources of aesthetic and cognitive values, then why should we not have “Sado-Masochistic Studies,” in particular honor of the god of resentment, the late Michel Foucault?

    What team did he play for?

    HB: Marla, Walt Whitman was not only the strongest of our poets (together with the highly antithetical Emily Dickinson), but he is also now the most betrayed of all our poets, with so much of the ongoing balderdash being preached in his name. Whitman’s poetry generally does the opposite of what he proclaims its work to be: it is reclusive, evasive, hermeutic, nuanced, and more onanistic even then homoerotic, which critics cannot accept, particularly these days when attempts are made to assimilate the Self-Reliant Whitman into what calls itself the Homosexual Poetic. If we are to have gay and lesbian studies, who will speak for Onan, whose bards include Whitman and the Goethe of “Faust, Part Two”?

    Onan, yes, absolutely. Now, Commissioner, you mentioned Whitman, what do think the chances of the Brooklyn Whitmans—

    HB: The most figurative of our poets, Whitman will elude every effort to entrap him in an ideology. As elitist a democrat as his master Emerson, Whitman continues with his ideas of representation to outwit his historicizing and eroticizing critics. The crucial figure in Whitman is neither his self—Walt Whitman, one of the roughs, an American—nor his soul, but “the real me” or “me myself,” a conceptual image that prophesies Wallace Stevens, T.S. Eliot, and particularly John Ashbery:

    Um, Commissioner?

    HB: “Apart from the pulling and hauling stands what I am,
    Stands amused, complacent, compassionating, idle, unitary,
    Looks down, is erect, bends an arm on an impalpable certain rest,
    Looks with its sidecurved head curious what will come next,
    Both in and out of the game, and watching and wondering at it.”
    That Whitmanian “what I am,” his “real me” or “me myself,” is both an inspiration to strong American poetry after him and a reproach to the cultural and erotic dogmas now circulated in his great name. It is no accident that the best American poets who have emerged from Whitman—sometimes insisting that they owed him nothing—are formalists, major artists of verse: Stevens, Eliot, Hart Crane, and even Ashbery when at his most gravely traditional. Cast out the aesthetic, and you cast away Whitman, who was a major poet and a poor prophet, and who was, above all else, a very difficult poet, whose synecdoches do not unravel without very frequent rereadings.

    Synecdoches, absolutely. Now Commissioner, let’s talk about some of the major trades going on—

    HB: Marla, authentic American poetry is necessarily difficult; it is our elitist art, though that elite has nothing to do with social class, gender, erotic preference, ethnic strain, race, or sect. “We live in the mind,” Stevens said, and our poetry always is either Emersonian or anti-Emersonian, but either way is informed by Emerson’s dialectics of power.

    OK, now this year the Concord Emersons have–

    HB: “Life will be imaged, but cannot be divided nor doubled. Any invasion of its unity would be chaos. The soul is not twin-born, but the only begotten, and though revealing itself as a child in time, child in appearance, is of a fatal and universal power, admitting no co-life. Every day, every act betrays the ill-concealed deity. We believe in ourselves, as we do not believe in others. We permit all things to ourselves, and that which we call sin in others, is experiment for us. It is an instance of our faith in ourselves, that men never speak of crime as lightly as they think: or, every man thinks a latitude safe for himself, which is nowise to be indulged to another. The act looks very differently on the inside, and on the outside; in its quality, and its consequences. Murder in the murderer is no such ruinous thought as poets and romancers will have it; it does not unsettle him, or fright him from his ordinary notice of trifles: it is an act quite easy to be contemplated, but in its sequel, it turns out to be a horrible jangle and confounding all relations. Especially the crimes that spring from love, seem right and fair from the actor’s point of view, but, when acted, are found destructive of society. No man at last believes that he can be lost, nor that the crime in him is as black as in the felon. Because the intellect qualifies in our own case the moral judgments. For there is no crime to the intellect. That is antinomian or hypernomian, and judges law as well as fact.”

    Yes, hypernomian…. Um—

    That, Marla, does not allow any room for the false generosity of any Affirmative Action in the judging of poetry. Printing, praising, and teaching bad poems for the sake of even the best causes is simply destructive for those causes. “We believe in ourselves, as we do not believe in others” is a truth that makes us wince, but no one can ever write a good poem without it. Tony Kushner, who could be a good playwright but for his obsession with the ideologies of political correctness, ought to ponder Emerson’s “Experience,” from which I have just quoted. Every attempt to socialize writing and reading fails; poetry is a solitary art, more now than ever, and its proper audience is the deeply educated, solitary reader, or that reader sitting within herself in a theater.

    Or in a baseball stadium? How about that Commissioner, can a baseball fan—

    HB: The madness that contaminates our once high culture cannot be cured unless and until we surrender our more than Kafkan sense that social guilt is not to be doubted. Nothing can be more malignant than a disease of the spirit that sincerely regards itself as virtue.

    Yes, I remember George Kennan saying-

    HB: Shakespeare, performed and read in every country (with the sporadic exception of France, most xenophobic of cultures), is judged by audiences of every race and language to have put them on the stage. Shakespeare’s power has nothing to do with Eurocentrism, maleness, Christianity, or Elizabethan-Jacobean social energies. No one else so combined cognitive strength, originality, dramatic guile, and linguistic florabundance as virtually to reinvent the human, and Shakespeare is therefore the best battlefield upon which to fight the rabblement of Resenters.

    Resenters, absolutely. Commissioner—

    HB: Shakespeare, pragmatically the true multiculturalist, is the least reductive of all writers; his men and women never invite us to believe that when we know the worst about them, then we know exactly who they area. Emerson, in “Representative Men”, caught this best—

    No, Commissioner, no more Emerson quotes, we have to cut to a commercial now…

    HB: “Shakespeare is as much out of the category of eminent authors, as he is out of the crowd. He is inconceivably wise; the others, conceivably. A good reader can, in a sort, nestle into Plato’s brain, and think from thence; but not into Shakespeare’s. We are still out of doors. For executive faculty, for creation, Shakespeare is unique. No man can imagine it better. He was the farthest reach of subtlety compatible with an individual self, —the subtlest of authors, and only just….”

    • Bob Tonucci said,

      April 12, 2010 at 3:00 pm

      Not true. I got up at 4 AM this morning.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    April 12, 2010 at 3:53 pm

    Marla, look at these matchups in our games today!

    In the NL:

    1. The undefeated Philadelphia Poe visits Brooklyn to take on the Ashberys with Shelley pitching for the visitors against the just acquired Andrew Marvell.

    2. Timothy Leary starts for the New Jersey Ginsbergs as they try and stop the visiting, 3-1 New York Bryants.

    3. John Brown has agreed to play for the Whittiers. The famous abolitionist will start tonight against Paul Engle and the Tennessee Ransoms in Tennessee.

    4. The Cambridge Longfellows will send newly signed Paul Revere against the Millays as they visit Maine to face Edna’s beloved, beautiful sister, Norma.

    5. The winless Emersons hope William Ellery Channing (the elder) will stop their skid at home against the offensive-minded Lowells.

    In AL action:

    1. The 1-3 Brooklyn Whitmans send Swinburne to the mound to face the New York Moores and Louise Gluck, who just inked a two-year deal.

    2. The 3-1 New England Frost made a huge acquisition by signing the poet Robert Burns as they visit the 0-4 Cummings with Bobby Burns facing Theodore Roethke.

    3.The London Eliots, the other 4-0 club, travel to Amherst where the playwright John Webster will duel with Stanley Kunitz.

    4.Louis Zukovsky and the Rapallo Pound make a trip to Iowa City to play the 3-1 Grahams, who will counter with Donald Revel.

    5.The 1-3 NJ Williams travel to Hartford to play the Stevens, where W.S. Merwin will lock horns with X.J. Kennedy.

  5. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 7:37 am

    Apollo Takes Charge of His Muses

    A.E. Stallings

    They sat there, nine women, much the same age,
    The same poppy-red hair, and similar complexions
    Freckling much the same in the summer glare,
    The same bright eyes of green melting to blue
    Melting to golden brown, they sat there,
    Nine women, all of them very quiet, one,
    Perhaps, was looking at her nails, one plaited
    Her hair in narrow strands, one stared at a stone,
    One let fall a mangled flower from her hands,
    All nine of them very quiet, and the one who spoke
    Said, softly,

    “Of course he was very charming, and he smiled,
    Introduced himself and said he’d heard good things,
    Shook hands all round, greeted us by name,
    Assured us it would all be much the same,
    Explained his policies, his few minor suggestions
    Which we would please observe. He looked forward
    To working with us. Wouldn’t it be fun? Happy
    To answer any questions. Any questions? But
    None of us spoke or raised her hand, and questions
    There were none; what has poetry to do with reason
    Or the sun?”

  6. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 7:48 am

    The Snake in the Garden Considers Daphne

    William Wadsworth

    My less erotic god condemned
    my taste for girls less classical
    than you, the kind that can’t resist
    a dazzling advance or trees that stand
    for love. Of course I understand
    up there it seems to be all light
    and prelapsarian elation—but bear
    in mind your lower half that gropes
    for water, the slender roots you spread
    in secret to fascinate the rocks,
    while sunlight pries apart your leaves
    and flights of birds arouse the air
    around you. If only I could run
    a brazen hand along this wood
    and feel your heart accelerate
    beneath it, rising to your lips.
    If only you could pick the whitest
    petals from the holy orchard
    where I patrol the crevices
    and slink along my damned gut,
    you could arrange them as you wished
    and change the ending of our story.
    But we’re disarmed, and nothing changes
    in our natural gardens—we cannot grasp
    the word ‘hope’, which the ones we’ve tempted
    find always at their fingertips.

  7. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 8:02 am

    The Frog in the Swimming Pool

    Debora Greger

    A wet green velvet scums the swimming pool,
    furring the cracks. The deep end swims
    in a hatful of rain, not enough to float

    the bedspring barge, the tug of shopping cart.
    Green-wet himself, the bullfrog holds his court,
    sounding the summons to a life so low

    he’s yet to lure a mate. Under the lip
    of concrete slab he reigns, a rumble of rock,
    a flickering of sticky tongue that’s licked

    at any morsel winging into view.
    How would he love her? Let me count the waves
    that scrape the underside of night and then

    let go, the depth of love unplumbed, the breadth,
    the height of the pool all he needs to know.
    How do I love him? Let me add the weight

    of one hush to another, the mockingbird
    at midnight echoing itself, not him,
    one silence torn in two, sewn shut again.

    Down to his level in time wings everything.
    He calls the night down on his unlovely head,
    on the slimy skin that breathes the slimy air—

    the skin that’s shed and still he is the same,
    the first voice in the world, the last each night.
    His call has failed to fill the empty house

    across the street, the vacant swing that sways
    halfheartedly, the slide slid into rust,
    the old griefs waiting burial by the new.

  8. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 11:28 am

    1. At the Manor House (I) (from “Send Bygraves”)

    Martha Grimes

    He was there again today. End of June.
    Knee-deep in leaves, just by that stand of ash.
    The same Burberry, furled umbrella, gun
    Mirroring light. I have seen him reflected in
    Shop windows, over my shoulder–commonplace,
    Anonymous on park benches or under
    Lampposts at the end of passageways.
    He never leaves, except for a meal or a wash.
    After forty years, I have almost ceased to wonder:
    Who is supplying the cash?

    At first I thought (who wouldn’t?) it was the folks
    Wanting me out of the way. I lay in bed
    Sweating it out at night with the fangs and cloaks
    They called ‘just shadows’. No one ever comes clean
    About murder or sex. They can leave you there for dead,
    Tied up in an attic, or down in some ravine.
    “Mum, someone’s trying to kill me.” “Don’t be absurd,
    Dear,” she’d say, washing the blood from the basin.
    “If we can’t have a butler, how could we ever afford
    To hire an assassin?”

    And his turning up was not mere accident
    In family snaps of hatchet-faced old hats,
    All looking ghastly gray and prison-bent;
    Nor there, in tiers of black-robed graduates,
    Does he seem out of place, funereally
    Indistinguishable from the rest.
    He joined our summer outings by the sea,
    The unidentified and unknown guest;
    Wedding days, church socials, birthdays–he
    Attended all, unasked.

    I have seen him through the windows of stopped trains
    In village stations, hamlets, market towns,
    Cathedral cities, ends of country lanes
    Like this one, where the autumn’s rolling down
    The hillside, and it won’t be very long
    Before the leaves are stacked up window-level.
    Has something in his master plan gone wrong?
    Or is the whole idea wearing thin?
    Has death become, for both of us, less novel?
    And should I ask him in?

    But, no. It has to end with the police,
    Getting the neighbors out of bed to make
    Inquiries: ‘Had she many enemies?
    Ever run foul of the law? What was she last seen wearing?’
    They will stand in the rain with torches, they will rake
    Over the gravel, measure a footprint, scrape
    Blood from the sill, file a nail paring
    In a paper cup. End up dragging the lake.
    It will be so deadly boring.

    But I won’t be there to see.
    Neither will he.

  9. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 11:41 am

    Narcissist

    Alan Shapiro

    What room is this? Inside what building? And whose?
    Why the concrete floor, as in an outdoor shower
    Or an underground garage,
    Declining slightly from the far-off corners
    Toward a central drain?
    And why the stepladder beside the drain
    And the cup of coffee on the top step
    Still jittery with steam
    Below a fist
    Of wires punching through the ceiling?
    Why the ripped-open
    But unused packages
    Of insulation piled
    Like sandbags
    Along the walls that are hardly walls
    But half-done jigsaws of joists, laths,
    Pipes, and beams,
    Door frames with no doors in them,
    The drywall mottled with moisture?

    There is moisture everywhere,
    Everywhere there’s dripping and trickling,
    Faint, insistent, steady, like a word
    Repeated to the inattentive
    Till it gets through,
    Though it never gets through,
    So it’s always repeated,
    Whatever it is the room is saying
    To itself about the room
    Within the room
    That holds within it what is trying to get out,
    Or in, something
    Impossible to know now
    Because the workers and their tools
    Have vanished from the site
    At just that point
    In the project
    When the beginning
    Of being sealed up
    Is identical
    To the end of being opened.

  10. Bob Tonucci said,

    April 13, 2010 at 12:47 pm

    the coming of archy

    By Don Marquis, in “archy and mehitabel,” 1927

    The circumstances of Archy’s first appearance are narrated in the following extract from the Sun Dial column of the New York Sun:

    [Several weeks ago] we came into our [press] room earlier than usual in the morning, and discovered a gigantic cockroach jumping about on the keys. He did not see us, and we watched him. He would climb painfully upon the framework of the machine and cast himself with all his force upon a key, head downward, and his weight and the impact of the blow were just sufficient to operate the machine, one slow letter after another. He could not work the capital letters, and he had a great deal of difficulty operating the mechanism that shifts the paper so that a fresh line may be started. We never saw a cockroach work so hard or perspire so freely in all our lives before. After about an hour of this frightfully difficult literary labor he fell to the floor exhausted, and we saw him creep feebly into a nest of the poems which are always there in profusion.

    Congratulating ourself that we had left a sheet of paper in the machine the night before so that all this work had not been in vain, we made an examination, and this is what we found:

    expression is the need of my soul
    i was once a vers libre bard
    but i died and my soul went into the body of a cockroach
    it has given me a new outlook upon life
    i see things from the under side now
    thank you for the apple peelings in the wastepaper basket
    but your paste is getting so stale i cant eat it
    there is a cat here called mehitabel i wish you would have
    removed she nearly ate me the other night why dont she
    catch rats that is what she is supposed to be for
    there is a rat here she should get without delay

    most of these rats here are just rats
    but this rat is like me he has a human soul in him
    he used to be a poet himself
    night after night i have written poetry for you
    on your typewriter
    and this big brute of a rat who used to be a poet
    comes out of his hole when it is done
    and reads it and sniffs at it
    he is jealous of my poetry
    he used to make fun of it when we were both human
    he was a punk poet himself
    and after he has read it he sneers
    and then he eats it

    i wish you would have mehitabel kill that rat
    or get a cat that is onto her job
    and i will write you a series of poems showing how things look
    to a cockroach
    that rats name is freddy
    the next time freddy dies i hope he wont be a rat
    but something smaller i hope i will be a rat
    in the next transmigration and freddy a cockroach
    i will teach him to sneer at my poetry then

    dont you ever eat any sandwiches in your office
    i haven’t had a crumb of bread for i dont know how long
    or a piece of ham or anything but apple parings
    and paste and leave a piece of paper in your machine
    every night you can call me archy

  11. thomasbrady said,

    April 13, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    Uh…yea…I think the Scarriet Poetry Baseball League is in great hands…with Commissioner Bloom…

    Thanks, Marla…and Commissioner Bloom…

    And thanks for all those poems, Marla, they’re lovely. Isn’t it great that so many people write so many poems and we can read them? Gosh, that’s so great.

    I’m looking forward to an interview with our Player Union Rep, Camille Paglia…a student of Bloom’s (small world!) at Yale…

    Meanwhile, we’ve got some scores for you from last night…!

    NL

    Poe 4 Ashberys 0 Percy Shelley tosses a shutout as Poe wins 5th straight!

    Ginsbergs 7 Bryants 5 Timothy Leary wins as Ginsberg offense rolls.

    Ransoms 8 Whittiers 2 Paul Engle and Tennessee win easily.

    Millays 4 Longfellows 3 Norma, Edna’s sister beats Paul Revere!

    Lowells 4 Emersons 2 Concord looking for its first win as Channing fails.

    AL

    Moores 3 Whitmans 2 Swinburne is bested by Gluck as Brklyn falls to 1-4.

    Cummings 3 Frost 2 Ted Roethke pitches Camb. Cummings to first win!

    Emily 9 Eliots 3 Amherst sends London to its first loss behind Stan Kunitz!

    Grahams 5 Pound 3 Iowa City moves to 4-1 as Donald Revel beats Rapallo.

    Williams 5 Stevens 3 W.S. Merwin helps New Jersey with solid outing.

    The story of the early season so far is the pitching performance of the Philadelphia Poe (NL) who have allowed 4 runs in 5 games, and are the only undefeated team. The starting five for Philly, all winners, are: Alexander Pope, Alexander Humboldt, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, Lord Bacon, and Percy Shelley.

    Also pitching well are the New York Bryants (NL), with a team ERA of 2.25, led by Abraham Lincoln and Alexander Hamilton.

    The Iowa City Grahams (AL) have to be happy at 4-1, moving into first place in the American League over the 3-2 Hartford Stevens (AL). Jorie Graham was not happy when Helen Vendler chose to pitch for the Wallace Stevens franchise in Hartford. Marjorie Perloff and Vendler are both 1-0 for Hartford but the Grahams have picked up wins from Yvor Winters, John Berryman, Bin Ramke and Don Revel.

    The Amherst Emily (AL) are also 4-1, with wins from Thomas Wentworth Higginson, Virgil, Samuel Bowles and Stanley Kunitz.


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