POE WINS NAIL-BITER IN RAPALLO, NOW LEADS WORLD SERIES 2-1.

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Fyodor!  His hit gave Poe a 1-0, extra-inning, game 3 win over the Pound

It began with Blavatsky and ended with Dostoevsky.

Ezra Pound’s obtuse opinion of Russian Literature (“I have omitted the Rhooshuns.”  —How To Read) came back to haunt him yesterday, as Fyodor Dostoevsky broke a 0-0 tie in the 14th inning (Poe won the first game of the Series in 14 innings!) with a single punched through a drawn-in infield, scoring Philadelphian George Lippard.  It was Dostoevsky’s birthday, and surely the most exciting one of his life.

The Pound were bewitched for 10 innings by Lord Bacon, not quite in command of his 3 pitches, as the Pound left 12 runners-on-base, 7 in scoring position, threatening to score numerous times.  The French hero Lafayette pitched shutout ball for the next three frames.  Percy Shelley pitched the bottom of the 14th.  The Englishman struck out the Pound’s James Joyce, coming after him with 3 straight fastballs with two outs and the bases loaded to give the Poe a heart-stopping 1-0 victory, and a 2-1 series lead.

The Rapallo fans screamed themselves hoarse.  The game took six hours and eleven minutes to play.  Numerous celebrated authors were spotted in the stands: Homer, Socrates, and Dante were sitting together, as a matter of fact.  T.S. Eliot, of course, was on hand, and in the front row, accompanied by his lawyer John Quinn and the author Aldous Huxley.

The game was stopped at one point, when Poe complained to the umpires that team Pound was dimming the lights when it was team Poe’s turn to bat.
The lighting was apparently the same; no one was sure whether Poe’s complaint was legitimate, or not, but the managers almost came to blows, as Pound went ballistic.  The game itself was almost called.  The Rapallo fans, who were not privy to the discussions on the field, had no idea what was happening, but some started to take the field when they saw Pound rushing the Poe dugout.  It took three quarters of an hour to restore order.

The Pound’s Madame Blavatsky spun her black magic for 7 shutout innings; she was lifted for Harriet Monroe after walking two straight batters to start the top of the 8th.

Harriet Shaw Weaver pitched a scoreless 10th and Dorothy Shakespeare kept the Poe quiet in the 11th and 12th; Pound’s most successful reliever, Richard Wagner, entered wearing his cape for the start of the 13th, and promptly struck out the side, but he quickly got into trouble in the fourteenth, when suddenly he couldn’t find the plate with his magnificent curve.  George Lippard pinch-ran for Samuel F.B. Morse, who was struck on the knee by Wagner with a 3-0 fastball.  Two more walks loaded the bases, and with two outs, Fyodor Dostoevsky made “the Rhooshuns” proud, with perhaps the most important hit for the Poe all year.

LOUISE GLUCK AND HER LONGFELLOW WAR: “SORRY, HENRY, BUT I DON’T.” UH…YES YOU DO.

 

This excerpt of an interview with Louise Gluck was brought to our attention by a friend yesterday, and we found Ms. Gluck’s feelings expressed appalling, and so feel impelled to share it with our readers.  Hello, Franz Wright!  Hello, Ron Silliman!  Hello, Christopher Woodman!  We mean nothing in the way of censure or personal reproach towards Ms. Gluck, who is one of our leading poets.  Those who truly know us, and love us, know that Scarriet’s forays are always pedagogical; the force of our rhetoric derives from this, and perhaps, from a sense of fun.  The good will excuse us; the bad and the weak-minded, well we don’t care what they think, anyway.

DL:  Did you ever hope for or imagine the large readership and current acclaim that your work enjoys? When you look back on the trajectory of your public career, what do you think or feel?

LG: I have no perception of large readership and acclaim.

DL: I can testify: it’s out there.

LG: When I go to a reading, when I give a reading – first of all, you’re standing in the front of the room, you see the empty seats. And you see only the empty seats. It’s because you were raised by a mother who said, ‘Why did you get 98? Why didn’t you get 100?’

DL: I had that mother too!

LG: Yes, I know you did. So you see the empty seats, and people leave during the course of the reading and you see them leave, and you think: they are simply the more blunt representations of the feeling of the whole room. That everybody wants to leave, but only a few daring ones do. So that’s how that feels. And acclaim? I’ve had as many terrible, condescending reviews or those that damn with faint praise: ‘Well, if you like this sort of thing, then here’s more of it.’

So I have no feeling of acclaim. When I’m told I have a large readership, I think, ‘Oh great, I’m going to turn out to be Longfellow:’ somebody easy to understand, easy to like, the kind of diluted experience available to many. And I don’t want to be Longfellow. Sorry, Henry, but I don’t. To the degree that I apprehend acclaim, I think: Ah, it’s a flaw in the work.

DL: As if: if they knew better, they wouldn’t read you at all?

LG: When they know better, they won’t read me at all.

*************************************************

The sentiment from Ms. Gluck of ‘sour grapes’ trying to disguise itself as something else is palpable. 

“I don’t want to be another Longfellow.”    

Don’t worry, darling, you will never be Mr. Longfellow, or even another Mr. Longfellow.

Poe started something called the Longfellow War.  I wonder if Louise Gluck is trying to start another?

“Oh great, I’m going to turn out to be Longfellow.”  

I hate to break it to you, sweetheart, but there’s no chance of that.

And it’s interesting that the relatively obscure Ms. Gluck seems to think that the whole essence of Longfellow, Professor of Languages at Harvard and one of the most renowned poets who ever lived, is that he is “easy to understand.”  And furthermore, Ms. Gluck somehow feels this quality of comprehensibility is, by its very nature, and without argument, a flaw.  I wonder if Ms. Gluck, and all the other obscure poets who pride themselves on their obscurity, have ever thought this idea of theirs through philosophically.  That would be one stunning revelation, I’m sure.

Louise Gluck was a starting pitcher for the New York Moores this season.  Moore gave her the ball quite often, and Gluck, to her credit, logged a lot of innings.  Gluck’s record was 6-17 with a 5.26 ERA.   Her most memorable start, perhaps, was a 3-2 victory over the Hartford Stevens, a complete game victory, in which she out-dueled Debussy.

The delighted crowd easily understood that.

I’ll close with a quote from my friend:

“Yeah, that shows a great disdain for the past.  Will a pop singer like Neil Diamond ever pen a song called “Gluck Serenade”? Doubt it.  Wasn’t sure of her point with regard to popular success – it would be a sign of her going astray?  Of the mob’s going astray?  Anyway, she’s fully subsidized, must get nice X-Acto knife royalties too….”

POUND ROARS BACK, TIES SERIES 1-1

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Ernest Fenollosa Hits Two Grandslams as Pound defeats Poe, 9-5.

Ernest Fenollosa drove his second homerun deep into the Philadelphia night against Poe reliever Conan Doyle to snap a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth, and give the Rapallo Pound a victory over the Philadelphia Poe, to knot this tense series at one game apiece.

The contest now heads to Rapallo for game three on Saturday.

Alexander Humboldt yielded singles-hitter Ernest Fenollosa’s first of two shocking grandslams on a hanging curve in the second, then allowed a run in the third, before settling down and pitching well until he was lifted for a pinchitter in the bottom of the eighth.   Samuel F.B. Morse went down swinging for the Poe, and the game moved to the ninth, tied at 5.  Pound starter H.G. Wells left the contest in the bottom of the sixth when he allowed the Poe to tie the score with two runs, on a Charles Brocken Brown two-run double off the wall.

Poe reliever Jules Verne walked the bases loaded, after retiring the first two Pound batters he faced in the top of the ninth.  Poe then brought on Arthur Conan Doyle, and Fenollosa took his first pitch fastball deep to left-center.

Louis Zukovsky picked up the win in relief, as he held the Poe scoreless in the seventh and eighth, pitching out of jam in the eighth.  Hugh Kenner came in for the Pound to pitch a scoreless ninth.

After Fenollosa’s first grandslam in the top of the second, Charles Baudelaire got the Poe on the board in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer off H.G. Wells, to make it 4-2.

SCARRIET WORLD SERIES GAME ONE: POE

Philadelphia rightfielder Gilmore Simms homered in the bottom of the 14th inning as the Philadelphia Poe edged the Rapallo Pound in the first game of the World Series, 5-4.

The Pound took the early lead as Francois Villon hit a 2-home run in the first inning against Philadelphia starter Alexander Pope.  Manager Ezra Pound chose to start Villon at shortstop over Yeats, who has not hit well this year.  In the second inning,  Aleister Crowley made it 3-0 as he scratched a hit, stole second and third, and came home on a sacrifice fly by Ford Madox Ford.

Sade, the eccentric Rapallo starter, kept the Poe in check until Alfred Hitchcock, starting in place of Lord Byron—unable to play because of dizzy spells—doubled, and came home on a two-out single by Dostoevsky in the bottom of the fourth, to make it 3-1.

Pope, the Philadelphia starter, then scored a run for the Poe in the fifth to make it 3-2.  Sade hit Pope, who then went to third when Simms’s grounder to Villon was thrown into centerfield trying to get a force at second, and Pope scored on Baudelaire’s single to left with two outs.

Philly tied it in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back singles by Thomas Moore, Dostoevsky, and Virginia Poe.

The Pound went ahead, 4-3, in the top of the seventh on a homerun by Benito Mussolini.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with Sade still on the mound, having retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, James Laughlin, the young third baseman for Rapallo, allowed a grounder to go under his glove, allowing Virginia Poe to score the tying run.  She was on second with two outs, after a bloop double.

Richard Wagner and then Filipo Marinetti pitched well in relief for the Pound, while Winfield Scott and then Jaques Lacan kept the Pound in check into the middle of the 14th inning.

Charles Olson came in for the Pound in the bottom of the 14th, got two easy outs, and then faced Poe leadoff hitter William Gilmore Simms.  On the first pitch, a high fastball, the South took the North deep, and the Philadelphia Poe are up 1-0 in the first Scarriet World Series.

WOODSTOCK: GARY B. FITZGERALD WAS THERE, BITCHES!

Just another rock festival in the 60s.  Tore up the tickets.  Dummies.

Woodstock

At first, no one believes that I actually went to Woodstock.
It’s like I was at Gettysburg or Waterloo or something.
I’m beginning to feel like one of those poor old war Veterans
tottering along in a small town parade. But, hey, I say,
I was only seventeen and back in ’69, what, with the Fillmore,
San Francisco, Viet-Nam and the revolution and all, to us
it was just another concert. All the kids from school went.

But the memory never fades. It was really neat seeing
all those different weird people just like us, with bell bottoms
and long hair, who felt like us about music and the war,
about America. I remember all those old freaks and hippies
who came in painted busses from California with tambourines,
with feathers and beads and long gray beards.

But the spirit started long before the concert,
during that big traffic jam, all sitting on our cars.
We passed stuff up and down the line for miles,
shared everything. I had a big bottle of Mateus wine.
I had a swig of this and a puff of that but my bottle of
Mateus never came back. I really loved that wine, too.

So then, I always explained how expensive it was,
how I bought tickets for two for three-days
only to learn that I didn’t need them anymore…no gate!
Free concert! Far out! We all tore up our tickets.
The second day I lost my girlfriend. She tripped out
with some guy from L.A. and split. In teenage terms,
an expensive foray. I got home with no tickets,
no girl, no money, no Mateus but, certainly, no regrets.

Years later I learned that the tickets we had so gleefully destroyed
were now a collector’s item worth a small fortune.
A costly summer overall. But a pittance when compared
to the loss incurred in now knowing my distance from
that day, and in having to acknowledge that my beard
is also long and gray.

Copyright 2009 – Gary B. Fitzgerald

LAURELS NO LONGER HAVE MORALS

Silence!  Or else!   Hsssssssssss!

In a democracy that’s not a sham, articulating and sharing public opinion is paramount; free speech is the engine of democracy.

Scarriet speaks its mind precisely in this spirit, and if you are one of our many readers who does not comment, we know why.

We forgive you.

A po-biz reputation is not born in a democracy.  Poets don’t emerge from public debate, from heated public discourse, or from the popularity of books or poems sold.

The public muse is shaped in private; poetic reputations are made with a secret handshake, by the wink, or a nod, of a well-connected editor or professor.  Perhaps all the expertise and wisdom in the world goes into the decision, but it’s not a democratic one.

When important decisions are made in private, it’s necessary that public discourse ‘follow along’ with this course of action; no ‘shouting out’ different opinions, no ‘calling out’ the annointed, no ‘ chasing down’ the embarrassing reality of the secret handshake; the private machinations must seem to be democratic and inevitable, not what they really are: secret, random, opportunistic.

But the center does hold, for we  fear any sort of questioning or mockery will lead to riots, burnings, torture, the destruction of the state.  So we hold our tongue.

Yet, in reality, open inquiry is the soul of Letters and contemplative, civilized existence.

Strange, how good is seen as bad and bad is seen as good!

Part of the issue is that so many poets, and those interested in poetry, are teachers, and teachers naturally fear irreverence and disrespect—once students cross that line (they think) chaos will result, so heaven forbid we insult the poetry we teach; we must be respectful, polite, quiet.  But this muzzling finally shortchanges students and poets, even as it facilitates the random status quo.

Ultimately the status quo is disrespectful.  True debate in the public square is finally the most respectful kind of discourse there is.

Like Socrates, we’re looking for the good.  And we’re here to stay.

CAN YOU SAY, “PLATO’S CAVE?”

Spectator sports: sentimental, beastly, and ubiquitous.  Society uses it for crowd control.

I don’t want to stay up until midnight watching a baseball game when I have to work the next day.  Spectator sports, with its reproduced fantasy leagues, are overwhelming, and splintering, our society, producing a cultural wasteland of gamblers and superficial, passive consumers.

Last night, as I was walking past restaurant/bars with TVs, most had some meaningless football game on—even as the Giants were playing to win the pennant.

When I was kid in NYC, the world series was on during the day, and everyone followed this one event; the LA Dodgers might have been playing; it didn’t matter if the teams were not from New York; the world series was on, and every store-front TV broadcast the games; you could hear the world series on every AM radio as you walked down Broadway, or through Central park.

I remember getting a new baseball glove for my birthday, one for a lefty, and it was signed by Tom Seaver, who was a righty.  OK, that was cool.  I wasn’t a Mets fan, either, but that was alright.  It was my glove, and, after all, I was a Tom.  I never thought the glove would get worn in, but eventually it was perfect.  The gift of a glove was accidental and tactile; my father probably took the last lefty glove available at the store: Tom Seaver, well, OK, I’ll take it.  But it served, even though it wasn’t the ideal choice.

There weren’t fantasy baseball teams, but there was Strat-O-Matic baseball, played with dice; again, more tactile.  My group of friends in upper Manhattan, (we played a lot of sandlot sports in Riverside park) all played Strat-O-Matic baseball.

There was more sandlot, and less official leagues, when I was growing up.   As amateurs, we were our own refs; designed our own plays, rules, nicknames, teams, and boundaries.  Today, kids spend their lives in grown-up run, official leagues starting at a very young age.  Is this why, despite all our modern technological innovations, we think outside the box even less, now?  Is this one of the reasons why we have less imagination, and top-down, corporate, thinking is the guiding philosophy more than ever?

Sports was just as ubiquitous in the U.S. in 1965 as it is today; boys were not poets; they were sports fans; this was as true then, as it is today.   But baseball was the game, and baseball had an equal amount of blacks, whites, and Latins; today there are more choices, but also more divisions; there are more specialilzed, isolated differences that separate and alienate—and are often sources of subtle resentment.

There’s more technology and communication today, but more segregation and separation.  How did that happen?  Hockey is still white.  Baseball is losing blacks.  Basketball and football—especially defenses—are almost entirely black.   People can blend into their specialized tribe, and the choice to do so is a ‘good.’  This is good, right?

Can we blame technology and the 100 plus cable channels?  Sometimes I think we’re too quick to blame technology.

We’ve always had a choice to pay attention to X, rather than Y, no matter how many cable channels there are.

The question is: why did those bars put on that meaningless football game, instead of the game that might decide the pennant?  Who made that choice, and why?

I think it has something to do with the fact that we don’t feel like a whole society anymore, but I don’t know if you can blame that on 100 cable channels; whatever the reason, there’s an increasing sense that we are separate, competing sectors who resent each other along political, social, cultural, and class lines.

Take a classic division: white collar and blue collar.   One could certainly argue that back in 1965, there was one channel showing sports, the world series, and white collar and blue collar together watched the world series.

Now, with more choices, the blue collars, let’s say, make the decision to watch football, because it’s a rougher and tougher game, while the white collars, who are more cerebral, choose to watch baseball.  Maybe these decisions are not made consciously, but they are made, and the choices available due to technological advances end up driving people apart, emphasizing, and even increasing all sorts of differences.

My Dad was a New York Giants fan, so I became a Giants fan, too, even though they played in San Francisco—and I lived in New York.  So began my disdain for home town rooters; my worldly, open-minded sophistication was born in a banal choice: which team do I support?  San Francisco had stars like Marichal, McCovey, and Mays, but never won a championship, and so a disappointment deepened whatever was already there.  Did all this make me a writer?

Even though society today is more fluid, more mobile, and there are more choices and more channels of communication today, fans seem to be  fixated on a home team, or on one team over others, more than ever.  Why is this?  Why, with all these cable channels, are people more rigid, more tribal, and more separated?

But before we die in a nostalgic, sentimental swoon, we should bring things back to reality.  What is the nature of professional sports, really?

Sports rewards arrogance and teeth-baring and cheating.  Sports is war.  It belongs to the god Mars.  People like George Will, the ‘literary’ sports writers for certain city papers, the nice old men who write those smarmy books on the game, the network broadcasters who try to come across as intelligent, perceptive, good-humored, reasonable gentlemen, falsely glaze over, for the more civilized members of their audience, what the game really is: the unsportsmanlike raiding of the best players on poor teams by rich teams (in the name of ‘player freedom’), the headhunting by pitchers who increase their value by letting the batter know: I will kill you, not to mention all the vicious, evil stuff that goes on behind the scenes, the illegal drugs, the fixing and throwing of games, the gambling, and organized crime pulling strings—and that’s just baseball.

The NFL is obviously a thousand times worse.  Every pro player, in every contact sport, numbs themselves to the horror, and they really don’t care who wins; they’re happy to survive (even as they please the coach and the crowd by willing to maim and be maimed on every play) and bring home that large paycheck.  There are no heroes.  A player sticks out his bat…oh, look what I did, I hit a homerun!  But at the end of the day, all that matters is the big bucks the players make.  Meanwhile, fans with miserable lives believe that it matters.  Can you say, “Plato’s Cave?”

In the playoffs this weekend, if the Yanks or Phils sneak in, what a tragedy. Big bank accounts with hired guns back in the world series.  No offense to Philly and Yankee fans—they are from those cities, so obviously they can’t help it.

But then baseball gets what it deserves.

Ever since the late Yankee owner George Steinbrenner, in the 1970s, purchased world-champion superstars from the Athletics, turning his team into world champions because of those purchases, the game was essentially ruined.   The Curt Flood clause, which introduced the nutty idea that players are ‘free’ to play where they want to play, handed the game over to the money men.

Baseball touts the exceptions, in which teams with low budgets, the Marlins, the Twins, win it all, but that doesn’t change the overall reality of the harsh inequity.   A team which has been awful for years, like the Royals or Pirates, cannot afford to keep a good player, a Johnny Damon, or a Jason Bay; they go elsewhere for more money.

This has to be one of the reasons baseball is less popular.

The fixing of games in the NFL is a real problem.  Poets instinctively know that if a referee makes one bad call in a crucial situation, this will affect the game’s result.  The play in football is confusing, rules governing holding and pass interference are very gray, and thus, in broad daylight, through calls and non-calls, results of games can easily be steered in a certain direction, for a definite result.

The NFL has a large audience, just as Pro (fake) Wrestling does, and the former has increasingly come to resemble the latter, even though most NFL fans don’t realize how fake and fixed their game is; fans see inexplicably bad calls by refs, and shake them off; they want their game to be ‘real,’ so they say to themselves, ‘refs are human; they make mistakes.’  Oh, yes, refs are ‘human’ alright.  Trillion dollar sports planners understand that  to sell their product they need good guys and bad guys,  ‘hero quarterback’ story-lines and  dynasties, and if some very visible stars feature disgusting or even criminal behavior in their personal lives, if some ‘genius’ coaches cheat to win, well, in the corporate business of ‘bread and circuses,’ that’s all the better.  The sports market will do anything to ‘win.’

It’s Mars, baby, it’s Mars.

A sport played by an individual, such as tennis, is a safer bet to be fair.

Perhaps they should invent a new game of baseball and football which can be played in front of spectators with a team of one.

   

PLEASE KEEP DON PATERSON AWAY FROM SHAKESPEARE’S SONNETS!

A fellow as coarse, and just plain thick, as Don Paterson shouldn’t be allowed near them.

“In the end, putting together a guide to the sonnets, I decided I’d write it in the form of a diary. That’s to say I read the sonnets as you would any other book, fitting them round my work routine and domestic obligations. So rather than lock myself in the library for six months, I wrote my commentaries on the poems while awake, bored, half-asleep, full of cold, drunk, exhausted, serene, smart, befuddled and stupid. I wrote on the train, in bed, in the bath and in my lunch-break…”

He wrote on the train!  As if this were special.  This guy can’t be serious…

“As you would read any other book…”

Oh really?  I thought you were going to press the book against your head…

“Drunk… befuddled and stupid.”

That sounds about right.

“The idea was to find a way of giving the sonnets more of a direct and personal reading than they usually receive.”

He’s going to vomit on the book and then stick it up his arse…

“…the discussion of how Shakespeare wrote these crazy poems…”

Oh you crazy sumabitch you!

“I also wanted to try to bring a bit of sanity to the discussion…”

LOL

“Like most poets, Shakespeare uses the poem as way of working out what he’s thinking, not as a means of reporting that thought. Often he’ll start with nothing more than a hangover, a fever and a bad night spent being tormented by the spectre of his absent lover.”

That’s you, you stupid wanker, not Shakespeare!

“With the Young Man he’s in the grip of a pure love, but stalked by the presence of lust; with the Dark Lady he’s in the grip of a pure lust, but stalked by the absence of love.”

Yuk Man and Daft Lady have got Donnie “in the grip” of pure stupidity…

“Elsewhere, I got stuck into the kind of “idiot’s work” that WH Auden tried to warn us off: that of trying to establish the identity of the sonnets’ dramatis personae. The trouble is that it’s impossible to read the sonnets without speculating on identities. We’re often simply invited to by Shakespeare’s shameless hook-baiting, his cryptic clues placed there only to pique our interest.”

Listen to Auden.  It’s you who’s baiting the hook.  “pique our interest…”  Speak for yourself, you dunderhead.

“I do think of this as the most oddly impressive aspect of the sonnets. The Dark Lady poems are mostly horrible, and those that aren’t are bad.”

Don Paterson has spoken!

“How has the little sonnet managed to honour Shakespeare’s huge boast of the immortality of his own verse? I’ve long been convinced that if you could somehow snap your fingers and destroy every sonnet on the planet, and wipe every sonnet from every human mind, it would reappear in almost exactly the same form by teatime tomorrow.”

Don Paterson has a thought, which eclipses Shakespeare’s lasting fame…

“if human poetic speech is breath and language is soapy water, sonnets are just the bubbles you get. Sonnets express a characteristic shape of human thought, and are, after a bit of practice, very easy to write. Badly.”

Don came up with this idea in his bath, obviously…

“Shakespeare modernised the form of the sonnet, and transformed it from a stylised, courtly love shtick to a fluent and flexible form that could turn itself to any subject.”

What piffle.  “modernised the form”  No, he didn’t modernize “the form.”  And no, Dante and Petrarch’s sonnets, which Shakespeare was writing against, were not simply “stylised, courtly love shtick.”  To characterize the tradition out of which Shakespeare springs as “courtly love shtick” is nothing but crass ignorance. 

“After the “boring procreation sonnets”, things look up at Sonnet 18, with the wonderful “Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” In this poem, the subject shifts seamlessly and movingly from: “You’re lovely, and must breed so that the world is never denied your beauty,” to “You’re lovely! And to hell with breeding – the power of my own verse will keep your beauty immortal.” Shakespeare is now openly in love with the young man, and the next 108 sonnets are given over to an account of their affair’s progress, although the jury’s out as to whether it’s always the same man being addressed. I still have no settled opinion on the matter, but the poems do seem to have a clear dramatic narrative.”

Our idiot Mr. Paterson thinks Shakespeare just stuck 14 “boring procreation sonnets” in front of the sequence so that the heavens could suddenly open as the real theme of the sonnets is announced: “To hell with breeding…the power of my own verse will keep you immortal.”  But doesn’t Paterson wonder that perhaps Shakespeare was intentionally moving from immortality through children to immortality through writing and this Platonic momentum (see Plato’s The Symposium) is sustained throughout the book, with one of its glories the pun of black ink—black, because it is the melancholy, mournful product of the writing act itself (due to human separation, a major trope in the book) and thus, the “Dark Lady” is not a biographical person, just as the ‘Young Man’ is not a biographical person, but one of Shakespeare’s many ‘forms?’  And thus the work is not a fevered diary of lust with biographical individuals, but something far more interesting, beautiful and profound, and intentionally hidden from lunkheads such as Don Paterson?

As for Donnie’s “boring procreation sonnets:” they are some of the most exquisite specimens of verse in the language, containing lines such as:

Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost deceive   –sonnet 4

For never-resting time leads summer on
To hideous winter and confounds him there,
Sap checked with frost and lusty leaves quite gone,
Beauty o’er-snowed and bareness every where  –sonnet 5

Whose speechless song being many, seeming one,
Sings this to thee, ‘Thou single wilt prove none’.  –sonnet 8

Herein lives wisdom, beauty, and increase,
Without this folly, age, and cold decay,
If all were minded so, the times should cease,
And threescore year would make the world away  –sonnet 11

When lofty trees I see barren of leaves,
Which erst from heat did canopy the herd
And summer’s green all girded up in sheaves
Borne on the bier with white and bristly beard  –sonnet 12

And here is that glorious sonnet no. 1:

From fairest creatures we desire increase,
That thereby beauty’s rose might never die,
But as the riper should by time decease,
His tender heir might bear his memory:
But thou contracted to thine own bright eyes,
Feed’st thy light’s flame with self-substantial fuel,
Making a famine where abundance lies,
Thy self thy foe, to thy sweet self too cruel:
Thou that art now the world’s fresh ornament,
And only herald to the gaudy spring,
Within thine own bud buriest thy content,
And tender churl mak’st waste in niggarding:
Pity the world, or else this glutton be,
To eat the world’s due, by the grave and thee.

“Beauty’s rose.”  That’s Platonism, Donnie.  Learn about it.  Not the rose’s beauty, but Beauty’s rose.  It’s delightfully simple.

MYSELF

The portrait does not paint me truest.
A printed sky will never be the bluest.
A captured beauty is a mockery all around
As when poetry pants after musical sound.

My thoughtful belief in myself
Is worth all the poetry on the shelf.
I am the one you must strive to know–
Quick! These words remain. But I go.

AS POE AND POUND PREPARE, 18 OTHERS MUST WAIT FOR NEXT YEAR

Lefty Ron Silliman won 14 to lead the New Jersey Williams

There were three twenty-game winners in the Scarriet American League, and T.S. Eliot’s team had two of them: Betrand Russell (22-10) and James Frazier, the author of The Golden Bough (20-10).  Eliot had a remarkable staff, which included Corbiere (15-10), Winston Churchill (17-8) and Matthew Arnold (14-11).

Virgil won 21 games for Emily Dickinson.

The New England Frost had three 19 game winners, Edward Arlington Robinson, Carl Sandburg, and Bobby Burns.

George Santayana, the Harvard professor who retired to fascist Italy, logged 15 wins for the Hartford Stevens.

Team Cummings managed to sign Sigmund Freud, who wasn’t enough to bring home a title, but led the club with a 15-11 mark.

Walter Pater brought home 17 wins for Marianne Moore’s ballclub playing out of New York, Yvor Winters led the Iowa City Grahams with 15 victories, and Walt Whitman’s team saw good efforts from Swinburne (17-10) and Oscar Wilde (16-15), though Wilde faltered in the second half.

Ron Silliman led his team, the New Jersey Williams, with a 14-11 mark.

Whitman picked up Gaugin, Melville, and Aaron Copeland as starting pitchers, but all three were hard-luck hurlers.  There was an odd chemistry to the Whitman club that never clicked: Robinson Jeffers, D.H. Lawrence, William Rossetti, Edgar Lee Masters, Bronson Alcott, Lawrence Ferlinghetti were in a lineup together that never hit in the clutch, didn’t run the bases enough, failed to move runners over, and even fought in the clubhouse; it was a mess.  Whitman’s verve never carried over to his interesting mix of players.

William Carlos Williams shared last place with Whitman; the lineup of Duchamp, Creeley, Rexroth, Duncan, Snyder, Loy, Noguchi, and Spicer just didn’t provide enough punch.

Mallarme and Hollander hit for Stevens, Dos Passos and Picasso for Cummings, and Dickinson got hitting from Keats and TennysonFrost was in the race for a while, getting good offense from Hardy, Larkin, Oliver, and Wordsworth.

After his heralded signing at mid-season, Jesus Christ of the Frost proved to be human on the mound at 10-5.  Pound and Eliot could not be caught.

The Scarriet National League had no twenty-game winners; Philip Sidney won 18 for the Maine Millays, Abe Lincoln was 17-14 for the New York Bryants, Longfellow got 18 wins from Horace, Rufus Griswold led the Emersons with 16 wins, Wittgenstein and Marvell both won 17 for the Ashberys, and Robert Penn Warren was 16-13 for the Tennessee RansomsOliver Wendell Holmes was the ace for the Boston Lowells at 16-9. The 9th place Whittiers were led by William Lloyd Garrison (13-16), and the lowly Ginsbergs by Mark Van Doren’s 12-19 mark.

W.H. Auden carried the Ashbery offense with 42 homers, and Salvador Dali added 29;  Gertrude Stein and Albert Camus combined for 27 homeruns from the catcher’s spot, as John Ashbery’s club finished just 3 games back of the Poe.

The Boston Lowell had a ferocious attack with Browning, Chaucer, Henry James, Mark Twain and Nathaniel Hawthorne.  They missed the pennant by only 7 games.

Longfellow was blessed with a lineup of Dante, Michelangelo, Goethe, Alessandro Manzoni, Washington Irving, and Queen Victoria.  But Dante and Goethe were hurt and Michelangelo never looked comfortable at the plate.  The team was led by Manzoni’s 34 homers.  Richard Henry Dana added 24.

Bryant was in the race, too, with Homer and James Fenimore Cooper and Victor Hugo all having 25 homer/100 RBI seasons, but, like most of the other clubs, their pitching wasn’t deep enough.

The Concord Emersons expected more from Nietzsche (10-18) but the run support was not always there, with Emanuel Swedenborg, Jones Very, Margaret Fuller, and Karl Marx unable to stay healthy or hit consistently  in the middle of the lineup.

Millay signed Beethoven in the middle of the year and he went 14-6 after replacing Norma Millay (2-6).  Shakespeare provided 39 homers but Sappho and Euclid were disappointing.  The addition of Beethoven to the pitching staff was too little, too late.

Aristotle never really hit for the Ransoms (.249, 13 homers) and William Blake (.311, 32 homers) was the only player to hit for the Ginsbergs.

There will be lots of changes in the off-season.  Chemistry between writers is a delicate matter, indeed.

SECRET ADVICE TO POETS: DON’T USE METAPHOR

Coleridge.  Does anybody really know what Imagination is?

The great Greek philosopher, Aristotle, ruined poetry for the ages when he said, “Metaphor is the Soul of Poetry.”

Many in Aristotle’s wake have come to believe that poetry is metaphor.   The deluded are legion who say, for instance, ‘Science tells us what things are, but poetry tells us what things are like.  What things are like is closer to the truth than what things are, because we cannot know what they are.

Accordingly, they say, since Aristotle, the poets (who are metaphorical) have progressed on all levels, while the scientists (who are factual)  have gone backwards.

The fact that scientists get all the credit for the way we live our lives today, and poets get none, is due to bad p.r.   This misunderstanding is about to change, however.  Think-tanks are thinking of ways, even as we speak.

The English Romantic and critic Samuel Taylor Coleridge made things even worse when he uttered his famous:

The fancy combines, but the imagination creates.

Coleridge never quite explained how imagination created, but the rise of science must have been fanciful, for chemists, botanists, astronomers, and physicists were combining for all they were worth, and changing the world as they were doing so.

Combining A and B is a lot more interesting than saying A is like B.  So much worse for the poets, then, that the scientists understood this–and the poets did not.

True, the fancy will combine in ways that produce inferior works: a unicorn, for instance, combines horse and horn to create something new; but we all know this combination is not really creation.  In fact, it’s silly.  It’s fancifulThe unicorn is nothing more than a horse with a horn.

What is the imagination, then?

No one—not even Coleridge—has been able to say.  You can take my word for it, or you can spend several years studying the Biographia Literaria.  OK, I see you’re willing to take my word for it.

Poets always do better when they copy the scientists, instead of striking out on their own.   The poet who is ashamed of poetry is usually the one who finds a way to make something scientific of it, and rescue poetry for the sake of knowledge.  We owe a great debt to these timid, shamed, sensitive souls, not for their science, nor their poetry, but for the way they make poetry slightly more respectable.

John Crowe Ransom, poet, New Critic, Modernist, father of the modern academic writing program era, (along with Paul Engle and Allen Tate,) published an essay in 1938 in which this Southern conservative gentleman came to terms with the new poetry.  He called it “pure poetry,” and in this essay (“Poets Without Laurels”) Ransom sounds like a chemist, a scientist making a discovery:

There is yet no general recognition of the possibility that an aesthetic effect may exist by itself, independent of morality or any other useful set of ideas.  But the modern poet is intensely concerned with this possibility, and he has disclaimed social responsibility in order to secure this pure aesthetic effect. He cares nothing, professionally, about morals, or God, or native land.  He has performed a work of dissociation and purified his art.

The traditional poets, according to Ransom, combined morals and charm; they made “virtue delicious.”  He quotes “Sea Surface Full of Clouds” by Wallace Stevens to demonstrate the new order. The modern poets, like Stevens, (and the rest of Ransom’s friends,) do not give a hoot for virtue in poetry.  Now Ransom, the chemist, holds forth:

The union of beauty with goodness and truth has been common enough to be regarded as natural. It is the dissociation which is unnatural and painful. …But when we talk about simple and compound experiences, we are evidently employing a chemical mode of speech to represent something we cannot make out.  …I shall make a tentative argument from the analogy of chemistry.  Lemonade is only a mechanical mixture, not very interesting to chemists.  …Table salt, however is a true chemical compound; a molecule of it is NaCl.  Understanding this, you do not claim to know the taste either of sodium or of chlorine when you say you are acquainted with the taste of salt.
…NaCl is found in the state of nature, where it is much commoner than either of its constituents.  But suppose the chemists decided to have nothing to do with NaCl because of its compoundness, and undertook to extract from it the pure Na and Cl to serve on the table.  …Poets are now under the influence of a perfectly arbitrary theory which I have called Puritanism.  They pursue A, an aesthetic element…and will not permit the presence near it of M, the moral element, because that will produce the lemonade MA, and they do not approve of lemonade.   …Is the old-fashioned poetry a mechanical mixture like lemonade or a chemical compound like table salt?

Lemonade is the result of fancy; NaCl is nature’s imagination.

The best critics are chemists.

Here is Randall Jarrell from his 1942 essay, “The End of the Line,” in which he argues modernism is merely an extentsion of romanticism, and that the vector of violent experimentalism called modernism has been exhausted:

“Romanticism holds in solution contradictory tendencies which, isolated and exaggerated in modernism, look startlingly opposed both  to each other and to the earlier stages of romanticism.”

Jarrell names 13 complex qualities modernism and romanticism share, and metaphor isn’t one of them.  To the new, modern chemists of poetry, metaphor is a quaint anachronism.

Of course, critics like Ransom and Jarrell are only following in the footsteps of the master, the godfather of the New Critics, T.S. Eliot. We quote from “Tradition and the Individual Talent (1920):

“Honest criticism and sensitive appreciation is directed not upon the poet but upon the poetry.”

With this statement begins the New Criticism and its science.  To continue from “Tradition and the Individual Talent:”

“He must be quite aware of the obvious fact that art never improves, but that the material of art is never quite the same.”

When Eliot asks the poet to comprehend the “obvious fact” of  the “material of art,” he is speaking of “material” as a scientist would.  Again, from “Tradition:”

It is in this depersonalization that art may be said to approach the condition of science.  I shall, therefore, invite you to consider, as a suggestive analogy, the action which takes place when a bit of finely filiated platinum is introduced into a chamber containing oxygen and sulphur dioxide.  …When the two gases previously mentioned are mixed in the presence of a filament of platinum, they form sulphurous acid.  This combination takes place only if the platinum is present; nevertheless the newly formed acid contains no trace of platinum and the platinum itself is apparently unaffected..The mind of the poet is the shred of platinum.

All that chemical “mixing” and “combining!”   And look at the famous poem which appeared shortly afterwards:

April is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.
Winter kept us warm, covering
Earth in forgetful snow, feeding
A little life with dried tubers.

The shred of platinum is like the forgetful snow: if it caused a reaction, it doesn’t recall.  The platinum remains unaffected; Eliot’s mind prefers stasis; the breeding and mixing of April is painful to the mind of the poet.  But leaving such analysis aside, Ransom and Eliot both agree that imagination combines profoundly; the fancy, less so.  Metaphor is merely the default, background, mixing process.  Metaphor is often pursued by a lower order of poets: the rain is like my tears, the city snowfall is like a white cathedral, etc.  Combining can also be used by the fancy, as in our example above of the unicorn.  We could say the imagination is concerned with: A pluscombines to produce C, not: A is like B.   And it’s true that combination is more vital than metaphor.  But whether a poet is fanciful or imaginative depends on the poet’s skill and the effect intended; it depends on how and what is combined.

Just as Ransom had a master, so Eliot had one.  Eliot’s master was also an American with a European character, and one who wrote famous essays and famous poems.  Eliot emerged as a major talent during this post-WW I period in London when he wrote reviews, or essays that were reviews, penetratingly on: Shakespeare, Dante, Ben Johnson, and Swinburne.

We quote now from the writer who perfected the essay-review in the previous century; this is from his 1845 review of Thomas Hood’s Prose and Verse:

‘Fancy,’ says the author of Aids to Reflection (who aided Reflection to much better purpose in his Genevieve—‘Fancy combines—Imagination creates.’ This was intended, and has been received, as a distinction; but it is a distinction without a difference—without even a difference of degree.  The Fancy as nearly creates as the imagination, and neither at all.  Novel conceptions are merely unusual combinations.  The mind of man can imagine nothing which does not exist:—if it could, it would create not only ideally, but substantially… It may be said—‘We imagine a griffin, yet a griffin does not exist.’  Not the griffin, certainly, but its component parts.  It is no more than a collation of known limbs—features—qualities.  Thus with all which claims to be new—which appears to be a creation of the intellect:—it is a re-soluble into the old.  …What we feel to be fancy, will be found still fanciful, whatever be the theme which engages it.  No subject exalts it into the imagination.  When Moore is termed a fanciful poet, the epithet is precisely applied; he is.  He is fanciful in ‘Lalla Rookh,’ and had he written ‘Inferno,’ there he would have been fanciful still: for not only is he essentially fanciful, but he has no ability to be any thing more, unless at rare intervals…
The fact seems to be that Imagination, Fancy, Fantasy, and Humor, have in common the elements, Combination, and Novelty.  The Imagination is the artist of the four.  From novel arrangements of old forms which present themselves to it, it selects only such as are harmonious…The pure imagination chooses, from either beauty or deformity, only the most combinable things hitherto uncombined…

And here, from the Thomas Hood review, is the chemistry:

…as often analogously happens in physical chemistry, so not unfrequently does it occur in this chemistry of the intellect, that the admixture of two elements will result in a something that shall have nothing of the quality of one of them—or even nothing of the qualities of either.  The range of Imagination is therefore, unlimited.  Its materials extend throughout the Universe.

So is Coleridge’s formula undone.  And, in another review, this one of Hawthorne, Aristotle’s wisdom is overthrown:

In defense of allegory, (however, or for whatever object, employed,) there is scarcely one respectable word to be said.  Its best appeals are made to the fancy—that is to say, to our sense of adaptation, not of matters proper, but of matters improper for the purpose, of the real with the unreal; having never more of intelligible connection than has something with nothing, never half so much of effective affinity as has the substance for the shadow.

Edgar Poe, from an 1847 review of Nathaniel Hawthorne’s  Twice Told Tales

 

LOSER NOWHERE MAN: HELP

He proved John Keats’ thesis: like Keats’ poet, the most unpoetical creature on earth, John Lennon was, in many ways, without star qualities, without confidence, without talent, without poetry; but he was a star’s star.  

Look at the video of the Beatles’ first American tour: confident Paul McCartney takes charge, while John looks uneasy, even scared to death; terrified, grinning, just trying to get through it.   On that first Ed Sullivan show, Paul’s singing is much stronger than John’s.  John is clearly scared.

Yesterday: Following Paul’s solo-in-the-spotlight performance in 1965, during the height of Beatlemania, of his song, that almost, by itself, transcended Beatlemania, and is still doing so, and perhaps, 100 years from now, may eclipse it entirely, John caustically said to the audience, “Thank you, Ringo, that was woon-da-ful!”   Here was John’s genius in a nutshell: insulting Ringo, Paul, “Yesterday,” rock music, and the whole idea of the Beatles in a few, off-the-cuff, words.   John’s wit demolished the expert, towering, sentiment of Paul’s two-minute pop genius in two seconds.

The quickness displayed by John’s mind is a mind easily bored, lazy and arrogant, too fully aware of its own power, and, of course, jealous.  John was a prolific songwriter when an-album-in-a-week composing deadlines made laziness impossible; as soon as the Beatles became cultural gods so that songwriting was no longer entirely necessary (Paul and George were talented and ambitious enough by 1968 that they could easily carry the Beatles themselves), John’s songwriting fell off tremendously; in the early 60s, John wrote hit after hit; from 1969 until his death, he wrote almost none, and many released after 1968 were actually written by John in 1967 and earlier.  “Imagine” sounds like it was written to order for Yoko Ono; “Imagine” sounds like a Yoko lyric, not a Beatle one.    When John was motivated to write, he was the best, but he was not a self-motivated genius.   

His competitive, love-hate relationship with Paul surely had a lot to do with his early 60s output, as well.   He soured on Paul for many reasons, but one  important result was that John became less and less a songwriter, and more and more a shrill egomaniac.

John the genius had no identity; he was absorbed by his environment; thrown in with Paul, he became a great songwriter, married to English Cynthia, he was a “fat,” meat-eating, English suburbanite, married to sophisticated, worldly Yoko, he was a skinny, tea-drinking, Big Apple-dweller.  As a rock star, he couldn’t resist women and drugs; as a cultural spokesman, he couldn’t resist shallow culture-speak.   The fat, 1965 married-to-Cynthia John scolded Allen Ginsberg for getting naked in public.  The skinny, 1969 married-to-Yoko John got naked in public.

By his own admission, John made fun of the weak—as a bullying kid, neglected his first child, and was cruel to his first wife.   Yoko was the perfect wife for the reformed John because she was picked on, and he got to defend her in front of the world.  This may be a crass way of putting it, but this is the sort of life John led, and he knew it.

There’s something cruel and jealous about a mimic, and perhaps Plato’s wariness of art has something to do with this, but John could cruelly mimic like no one else.  In recording out-takes, one can hear Lennon doing Bob Dylan, and John gets Zimmerman right—in a spot-on, cruel manner.

In the mid-60s, John struck out on a literary route, but as with everything else, he got bored of that, too.    John wrote his best lyrics in the 1966/1967 period, a brilliant, but small window of time.  “Man, you should have seen them kicking Edgar Allan Poe,” John wrote in “I Am The Walrus.”   It takes a special kind of insight to see that Edgar Poe was picked on, and John, the ex-bully, who was reading a lot at that time, saw it.

Even during the height of Beatlemania, in photographs, John could look ugly, even though, in many photographs, he looks very handsome.  Knowing John, he certainly must have noticed this.   Even John-the-Beatle’s good looks, just like Keats’ unpoetic quality of the poet, was uncertain; doubtful at its core.

Jealous, ugly, shy, depressed, cruel, self-conscious, and in need of help. 

A star.

Happy Birthday, Johnny.

MEMO: POE WON’T LEAVE RAPALLO ALIVE

Pound claims controversial memo was a harmless taunt.

The World Series atmosphere just got hotter.  Commissoner Harold Bloom wants answers:  Who wrote the memo?  Who leaked it?  Does it refer to a sporting contest?  Or something more sinister?

In a press conference this afternoon, Ezra Pound came clean:

I wrote the memo.  I don’t know who leaked it. But let’s get something straight: All it means is that the Philadelphia Poe will lose to the Rapallo Pound in either four or five games.  That’s all it is!  Got it?”

Edgar Allan Poe joined the fray in his own press conference, minutes later:

“The question is not: who wrote it?  The question is, who wrote it—and leaked it?  We know who leaked it: Ezra Pound.  This is nothing more than crude intimidation tactics: the memo signifies one thing on the surface, and another thing below; it allows Mr. Pound to threaten us in broad daylight, one meaning hiding behind another.  We refer merely to the threat.  We fear no harm.  We only think it funny that Mr. Pound would feel it necessary to pull a stunt like this.  We forgive Mr. Pound—even as we laugh in his face.”

Commissioner Bloom has vowed to speak to Pound and Poe in private, and “get some answers” before the World Series begins.

“Of course we’ll have a World Series,” a clearly annoyed Bloom told the nation, “but I want some answers, and I’m going to meet with Pound and Poe, and get to the bottom of this.   My office will not tolerate anything that demeans poetry or the game of baseball.”

Please, Mr. Bloom! don’t cancel the World Series!

THE STARTING LINEUPS

alexander-pope.jpg

Alexander Pope: Philadelphia Poe ace and 19 game winner.

Before we discuss lineups, we have to talk about the starting pitchers: for the Philadelphia Poe, Alexander Pope; for the Rapallo Pound, the Marquis de Sade.

Sade distracts the hitter in a number of ways: facial tics, bursts of sudden laughter, screams, taunts, even as he’s going into his wind-up.   The Rapallo hurler scratches himself before almost every pitch.  When (and it’s often) the Marquis disagrees with the home plate umpire, he will glare ferociously, and sometimes Pound, his manager, will come out of the dugout and join Sade in this staring contest.  What’s odd, though, is that during these confrontations, Sade and his manager never speak.  They only stare.  The whole act is extremely unsettling.  During this staring act, as the home team fans howl and heckle with blood-thirsty fury, umpires become very uneasy; and  subsequently the home-plate official is known to call nearly everything Sade throws a strike.

Sade is not overpowering; in fact his famous ‘knuckle curve’ has been clocked at less than fifty miles per hour.  It almost hangs in mid-air between the batter and the pitcher, and then dives below the hitter’s knees at the last moment.  To watch Sade torment a line-up with unhittable junk, as he sneers, spits, and rubs himself in all sorts of odd places, is agonizing for all but Pound fans—who seem completely mad themselves.

The Philadelphia Poe pitcher, Alexander Pope, is fiercely competive, throws hard, and brawls with the best of them.   Pope”ll bust you inside, then freeze you with a big curve on the outside corner.  He finishes games.  Give Pope the ball and watch him go to work.  He doesn’t want to come out of a game, and rarely does, and his strikeout percentage increases as the game goes on.   He led the NL with 20 complete games.  Poe and Pope are very close.  “I wouldn’t play for any other manager,” Pope gushed, after he pitched the clincher.

The Philadelphia Poe’s projected starting lineup:

Gilmore Simms, RF.   Hurt for most of the year (Samuel F.B. Morse filled in admirably).  Simms can run.

Charles Brockden Brown, SS.    A slap hitter who advances runners.  George Lippard, another native Philadelphian, is the reserve infielder.

Charles Baudelaire, 2B.   Gap hitter, makes contact.

George Byron, 1B.    When Byron couldn’t play, Alfred Hitchock took over.  Byron slugged 29 homers.

Thomas Moore, C.    Excellent on-base percentage.

Fydor Dostoevsky, 3B.    Hit over .400 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.   Team-leading 47 doubles.

Virginia Poe, CF.   Swift as a deer in center.   Surprising power: 17 homers.

Fanny Osgood, LF.     League-leading 14 assists.  Very hard to strike out.

Alexander Pope, P.     Great sacrifice bunter.

And, for the Rapallo Pound:

Aleister Crowley, CF.   Took over for Wyndham Lewis.  Crowley hit three triples in the Pound’s pennant-clinching victory.

Hilda Doolittle, 2B.   Great D from H.D.  She’s been nursing a sore ankle.  Flaubert may start instead.

William Butler Yeats, SS.  The best glove anyone has ever seen.  A disappointment at the plate, but does get on base.  Francis Villon, his replacement, can hit.

Ford Madox Ford, 1B.   41 homers, 134 RBIs.

James Joyce, LF.   .311 batting average.  Back from a late-season injury.  Basil Bunting was his replacement.

James Laughlin, 3B.  The New Directions kid wasn’t expected to hit.  He slugged 39 homers and batted .340.   MVP numbers from a mere editor.

Ernest Fenollosa, C.  Steady, handles pitchers well.  Missed the month of August.  Margaret Anderson of the Little Review is the back-up.

Benito Mussolini, RF.  Great clubhouse presence.  A gun for an arm in right.  Few go from first to third on him.

Marquis de Sade, P.   Chats with the opposing catcher the whole time he’s up.

BRING IT ON: POUND AND POE IN WORLD SERIES

pound

The Rapallo Pound caught the London Eliots to win the Scarriet American League pennant, as Tom Eliot’s ‘miglior fabbro’ bested his club down the stretch.

Meanwhile the Philadelphia Poe held off a furious run by the Brooklyn Ashberrys and the Boston Lowells (James Russell) to win the NL pennant.

Philadelphia and Rapallo meet in the first-ever Scarriet World Series, and the war of words has already started.  Edgar Poe has already hinted he feels no love for Ezra Pound.  “Poetry should be beautiful,” Poe said outside the ballbark yesterday, “and we plan to show that ruffian, Mr. Pound, how beautiful it can be.”  And with a wink, the Philadelphia manager in Philly’s black uniform, was gone.

Pound looked bemused when he was told of Poe’s words.  “Beautiful?” he chuckled, “Poe will have to be more than pretty to beat this team.”

Rapallo was a .500 team in May, when Pound decided he needed a new pitching staff.   Out:   Hugh Kenner (4-5), Charles Olson (3-5), Harriet Monroe (3-5), and Louis Zukovsky (2-4).  In:  Marquis de Sade, H.G. Wells, Madame Blavatsky, and Wassily Kandinsky.   Pound also inserted Aleister Crowley into centerfield, replacing Pound’s pal Wyndham Lewis.  The wholesale dumping of Pound’s friends was ruthless and brutal.  It took everyone by surprise.  Pound is all about connections and connections to the eccentric and the influential.

But did Pound know what he was doing?

Apparently he did.

The team with a .500 record in May ended up winnng 100 games.  Sade and Blavatsky each won 17 games; Wells added 13 and Kandinsky 12.  Olga Rudge, the pitcher Pound stuck with, finished with a 19-5 record.   Pound also brought in Richard Wagner (6-0) to anchor the bullpen.

Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, and James Laughlin provided the offense.  Mussollini, Fenollosa, Yeats, and Doolittle made great plays in the field all season long.

The Philadelphia Poe did it with pitching as well: Alexander Pope (19-11), Lord Bacon (18-5), Alexander von Humboldt (17-11), Sam T. Coleridge (16-11),  and Percy Shelley (14-13).

Poe’s offense was carried by Dostoevsky, Baudelaire, and Byron, and Virginia Poe patrolled centerfield like a champion, with Fanny Osgood next to her in left.  Poe’s appeal almost brought in players like Mozart, Kepler, Einstein, and Socrates, but some stars just refused to don uniforms this season.  Maybe next year.   Pound tried to sign Thomas Jefferson, but the president didn’t feel it was quite right to play on the same team as Mussolini. 

Pound?  He’ll put anyone on his team, and do anything to win.  Pound found team chemistry—even if it’s creepy chemistry.

FINAL STANDINGS

AL

rapallo pound                       100-54   –
london eliots                          97-57    3
new england frost                  91-63    9
amherst emily                       78-76   22
hartford stevens                    75-79   25
cambridge cummings            72-82   28
new york moore                    69-85   31
iowa city grahams                  67-87   33
brooklyn whitmans                 61-93   39
new jersey williams                61-93   39

NL

philadelphia poe                   92-62    –
brooklyn ashberys                 89-65   3
boston lowells                       85-69   7
cambridge longfellows           83-71   9
new york bryants                   82-72  10
concord emersons                 79-75  13
maine millays                        75-79  17
tennessee ransom                 70-84   22
hartford whittiers                  66-88   26
new jersey ginsbergs            49-105  43

ALL WISDOM DIES

All wisdom dies.
The schoolboy who round the school yard flies,
Yelping with his mates,
Will own and legislate the world
By the time I, not that old today,
Make peace with the fates.

To grow a little older
In a slow and pleasant way,
Even when sunny days
Hold bad news,
Is the best we can ask
Of our pleasant god,
Our pleasant muse.

All wisdom dies.
We inherit a life of lies,
And so we imitate and flatter.
Only this child will matter,
Frowning by the school yard fence
At the others’ indifference.

Grief multiplies
Until the long line of your family dies
For the sake of these happy blanks:
Children who play under no shadow
And give no thanks.

Three apple pies.
Old and free, I can have them all. But who dies
For them? Who will lead his mates?
Tomorrow he will own all the pies:
And they who impurely love
Will aid the one
 who hates.

WHAT GOOD IS INFLUENCE IF IT DOESN’T INFLUENCE?

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Famous works of American poetry, admired as they are by critics and public alike, have never been reproduced.  Like a wonder in nature, a mountain or a canyon, or like a giant statue in the Soviet Union, they reign coldly and alone.

Forms like the haiku, the sonnet, the ode, the ballad, quickly became community property, but the masterpiece is admired—after all, is it not a masterpiece?—but it is never imitated.  It breeds not.  It stands aloof.  It does not add its waters to the common spring.

There may be parodies of the acclaimed work, but the masterpiece does not give birth to anything.    Poets die in its flame; generations destroy themselves attempting to match the spirit of the masterpiece, perishing in futile mediocrity.

Is this why originality is so urged?   Is this why “make it new” is such a common cry?

But originality needs a vehicle; nothing is completely original.  The great works do not provide these vehicles—for the very reason that no one can ride in them—their very genius and uniqueness makes this impossible.

So influence tends to happen along lesser lines.

“The Raven,” “Leaves of Grass” and “The Waste Land” are three iconic American works, and all of them escape imitation.   They welcome readers, but they wreck the poet who dares to enter them.

The more iconic, the less influential?

Is this why great poems are so few and far between?

WHAT TO DO ABOUT MODERNIST CRACKPOTISM?

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Where Ma Rainey and Beethoven once unwrapped their bedroll
Tuba players now rehearse around the flagpole
And the National Bank at a profit sells road maps for the soul
To the old folks home and the college

Now I wish I could write you a melody so plain
That could hold you dear lady from going insane
That could ease you and cool you and cease the pain
Of your useless and pointless knowledge

Bob Dylan, “Tombstone Blues” (1965)

There is nothing wrong with crackpotism and literary experimentation in the salons; it is certainly welcome in private places; but what happens when it’s fed to the young?

Crackpotism is harmless unless it becomes institutionalized, and corrupts and confuses millions of young people.   The very clever may assimilate themselves to the crackpotism of the system and thrive in it, eventually becoming crackpot professors, but the vast majority of students, once exposed to modernist crackpotism, never read literature or philosophy again.

In our review of the Norton (2003) Vol. I of Modern poetry, we found that 16% of the pages were devoted to “poetics,” (the rest to poetry) and remarked on the prose’s poor quality.

Poetry has no need for Apology or Defense; no one bothers to attack poetry anymore—because poetry no longer has a public; thus the reason for “poetics” is drying up.

We would expect things only to get worse; and it has.  If we look at Norton’s Vol. II Contemporary Poetry volume, we find merely 8% of its pages devoted to “poetics” and gibberish is even more the norm:

Olson:  Because breath allows all the speech-force of language back in (speech is the “solid” of verse, is the secret of a poem’s energy), because, now, a poem has, by speech, solidity, everything in it can now be treated as solids, objects, things; and, though insisting upon the absolute difference of the distributed thing, yet each of these elements of a poem can be allowed to have the play of their separate energies and can be allowed, once the poem is well composed, to keep, as those other objects do, their proper confusions.

Dylan Thomas:  If you want a definition of poetry, say: ‘Poetry is what makes me laugh or cry or yawn, what makes my toenails twinkle, what makes me want to do this or that or nothing’ and let it go at that.

Larkin:  But if the medium is in fact to be rescued from among our duties and restored to our pleasures, I can only think that a large-scale revulsion has got to set in against present notions, and that it will have to start with poetry readers asking themselves more frequently whether they do in fact enjoy what they read, and, if not, what the point is of carrying on.

Frank O’Hara:  But how can you really care if anybody gets it, or gets what it means, or if it improves them.  Improves them for what?  Death?

Ginsberg:  Mind is shapely, art is shapely.  Meaning mind practiced in spontaneity invents forms in its own image and gets to last thoughts.  Loose ghosts wailing for body try to invade the bodies…

Baraka:  The most successful fiction of most Negro writing is in its emotional content.

Levertov:  Rhyme, chime, echo, reiteration: they not only serve to knit the elements of an experience but often are the very means, the sole means, by which the density of texture and the returning or circling of perception can be transmuted into language, apperceived.

Rich:  Until we can understand the assumptions in which we are drenched we cannot know ourselves. And this drive to self-knowledge, for women, is more than a search for identity: it is part of our refusal of the self-destructiveness of male-dominated society.

Heaney:  Looking back on it, I believe there was a connection, not obvious at the time but, on reflection, real enough, between the heavily accented consonantal noise of Hopkins’s poetic voice, and the peculiar regional characteristics of a Northern Ireland accent.

Louise Bennett:  Aunty Roachy seh dat if Jamaican Dialec is corruption of de English Language, den it is also a corruption of de African Twi Language to, a oh!

Charles Bernstein:  Not “death” of the referent—rather a recharged use of the multivalent referential vectors that any word has, how words in combination tone and modify the associations made for each of them, how ‘reference’ then is not a one-on-one relation to an ‘object’ but a perceptual dimension that closes in to pinpoint, nail down (this word), sputters omnitropically (the in in the which of who where what wells), refuses the build up of image track/projection while, pointillistically, fixing a reference at each turn (fills vats ago lodges spire), or, that much rarer case…

A.K Ramanujan:  One way of defining diversity for India is to say what the Irishman is said to have said about trousers.  When asked whether trousers were singular or plural, he said, “Singular at the top and plural at the bottom.”

Derek Walcott:  Poetry, which is perfection’s sweat but which must seem as fresh as the raindrops on a statue’s brow…

And we are done.  We have represented all the writers on “poetics” from this 1,200 page anthology, and I believe we are correct when we say these excerpts speak for themselves, and require no commentary.

HOW DO WE TEACH POETRY?

Is it just me, or does modernist poetics seem puerile in the extreme?

In my (2003) Norton -Third Edition- of Modern Poetry (including Contemporary vol. 2 which Scarriet will review later) there are 864 pages of poetry and 135 pages of poetics, the latter of which contain nothing that could be called iconic or indispensible, except perhaps T.S. Eliot’s “Tradition and the Individual Talent.”

Walt Whitman is the first entry.  But he had no poetics.  Whitman: “here are the roughs and beards and space…”  Etc.  With Walt we get the rhetoric of Emersonian expanse, which in its good will and windiness, finally cancels itself out.  Poetics?  Pastry.

Next we get a few of Emily Dickinson’s letters to T.W. Higginson—which not only contain no poetics, but do not even show Emily  in a very good light; her wheedling tone is not attractive.

Next, some letters by Gerard Manley Hopkins:

“No doubt my poetry errs on the side of oddness.” 

No doubt. 

“I had long had haunting my ear the echo of a new rhythm…it consists in scanning by accents or stresses alone…I do not say the idea is altogether new…”

Doh! not new at all.

Then we have W.B. Yeats, and who reads his prose?    Yeats and his friend, Arthur Symons, influenced Ezra Pound and Eliot; Yeats writes, “The Symbolist Movement in Literature [is] a subtle book which I cannot praise as I would, because it has been dedicated to me,” and Yeats is right: the book is so subtle that today none care what Symons had to say about “symbolism,” a word used in so many subtle ways since Symons’ day that the word has now returned to its orginal meaning: ‘this stands for that,’ and everyone is happier.

Yeats:  “A poet never speaks directly as to someone at the breakfast table,  there is always phantasmagoria.”  And Yeats, again: “Style is always unconscious.  I know what I have tried to do, little what I have done.”

Well, he’s honest.

Next up, T.E. Hulme, expelled from Cambridge U. in 1904, part of Ford Madox Ford & Pound’s Imagism crew, “a critic of pacifism,” WW I casualty : “I object even to the best of the romantics.  I object to the sloppiness…”

Oh, is that what the best poets in English were?  Sloppy?

Now we get a real treat: excerpts from the magazine Blast.  Like most little modernist magazines, it lasted only a few issues, even as some now-forgotten female, an heiress or lady of title, was emptying her bank account for it, just so the world could be honored by the wisdom of Richard Aldington, Wyndham Lewis and E. Pound:

“BLESS ENGLAND!”

“The Modern World is due almost entirely to Anglo-Saxon genius—”

“In dress, manners, mechanical inventions, LIFE, that is, ENGLAND, has influenced Europe in the same way that France has in Art.”

“Machinery is the greatest Earth-medium: incidentally it sweeps away the doctrines of a narrow and pedantic Realism at one stroke.”

“Fairies have disappeared from Ireland (despite foolish attempts to revive them) and the bull-ring languishes in Spain.  But mysticsm on the one hand, gladiatorial instincts, blood and asceticism on the other, will be always actual, and springs of Creation for these two peoples.”

“England is just now the most famous favourable country for the appearance of great art.”

“…our race, the most fundamentally English.”

“We assert that the art for these climates, then, must be a Northern flower.”

“It cannot be said tht the complication of the Jungle, dramatic tropical growth, the vastness of American trees, is not for us.”

“Once the consciousness towards the new possibilities of expression in present life has come, however—it will be more the legitimate property of Englishmen than of any other people in Europe…”

I wish I could say BLAST was merely English patriotism, but knowing something about the authors, I have a feeling it is something far worse…

There follows a “Feminist Manifesto” from Mina Loy, which tells women:

“To obtain results you must make sacrifices & the first & greatest sacrifice you have to make is of your “virtue” the fictitious value of woman as identified with her physical purity…”

No wonder Loy was one of the few women intellectuals invited into the Modernist men’s club…

After a two very brief prologues (Amy Lowell and Wilfred Owen) E. Pound returns with gems such as:

“Surely it is better for me to name over the few beautiful poems that still ring in my head than for me to search my flat for back numbers of periodicals and rearrange all that I have said about friendly and hostile writers.
   The first twelve lines of Padraic Colum’s ‘Drover’: his ‘O Woman shapely as a swan, on your account I shall not die’: Joyce’s ‘I hear an army’; the lines of Yeats that ring in my head and in the heads of all young men of my time who care for poetry: Braseal and the Fisherman, ‘The fire that stirs about her when she stirs’; the later lines of ‘The Scholars,’ the faces of the Magi; William Carlos Williams’ ‘Postlude,’ Aldington’s version of ‘Athis,’ and ‘H.D.’s” waves like pine tops, and her verse in ‘Des Imagistes’ the first anthology; Hueffer’s [Ford M. Ford] ‘How red your lips are’ in his translation from Von der Vogelweide, his ‘Three Ten,’ the general effect of his ‘On Heaven’; his sense of the prose values or prose qualities in poetry; his ability to write poems that will sing to music…”

E. Pound names “the few beautiful poems that still ring in my head” and they are all his publishing partners and friends!  What a startling coincidence!  Joyce, Yeats, Williams, Aldington, H.D, and Ford Madox Ford!  How uncanny!  What exquisite taste!  What rare and discerning judgment! 

We are now two-thirds done with “Poetics” of the Moderns, which commenced with Whitman.

T.S. Eliot gets 10 pages. 

Next, William Carlos Williams, from the prologue to Kora In Hell:

“The imagination goes from one thing to another. Given many things of nearly totally divergent natures but possessing one-thousandth part of a quality in common, provided that be new, distinguished, these things belong in an imaginative category and not in a gross natural array.  To me this is the gist of the whole matter.”

Can anyone tell me what this means.  Or this: 

“The instability of these improvisations would seem such that they must inevitably crumble under the attention and become particles of a wind that falters.  It would appear to the unready that the fiber of the thing is a thin jelly.  It would be these same fools who would deny touch cords to the wind because they cannot split a storm endwise and wrap it upon spools.”

Enough of Mr. Williams.  He is too busy fighting off  “fools…”

D.H. Lawrence (a preface to New Poems, U.S. edition) follows:

“Let me feel the mud and the heavens in my lotus. Let me feel the heavy, silting, sucking mud, the spinning of sky winds.  Let me feel them both in purest contact, the nakedness of sucking weight, nakedly passing radiance.”

Yes, by all means!

Langston Hughes makes an appearance:

“One of the most promising of the young Negro poets said to me once, ‘I want to be a poet—not a Negro poet,’ meaning, I believe, ‘I want to write like a white poet’; meaning subconsciously, ‘I would like to be a white poet’; meaning behind that, ‘I would like to be white.’  And I was sorry the young man said that, for no great poet has ever been afraid of being himself.”

Enough of that logic…

Next, Hart Crane defends his ‘At Melville’s Tomb’ in a letter to Poetry editor Harriet Monroe.  She found the poem obscure.  It is obscure.  Hopelessly so—Monroe was right.

Wallace Stevens’ turn:

“Poetry is not personal.”

“All poetry is experimental poetry.”

“It is the belief and not the god that counts.”

“Poetry must be irrational.”

“We live in the mind.

“Every man dies his own death.”

“Realism is a corruption of reality.”

And other gems. 

The final 25 pages of “Poetics” finds 3 pages of Robert Frost (The Figure A Poem Makes), 7 pages from a Transatlantic Interview with the crackpot Gertrude Stein, 6 pages of  Marianne Moore (6 too many) and finally, 10 pages of W. H. Auden, from The Dyer’s Hand

What is wonderful about Mr. Auden is that he is only educated modern poet who does not speak down to his audience.

It is probably  no surprise that modernist poetics is so paltry.  Modern poetry is enjoyed by the few, and with the general public out of the way, the old need to apologize for, or defend, poetry is no longer there.   Small ideas appeal to small audiences, and since the modern poets have turned their backs on the larger public, small has been the rule.

Unfortunately, however, I have the uncomfortable feeling that modern poetics is less than small.  Something about it feels downright silly and childish, or even worse, manifesto-ish.  And still worse: obscure, grumpy, condescending.

I don’t see how one would want to teach Homer without teaching Plato at the same time;  nor would I ever dream of teaching modern poetry without first teaching Homer and Plato, Dante and Shakespeare, Milton and Pope, Shelley and Poe.   I don’t see how what is typically taught as modern poetics can even be called poetics at all, when compared to what came before.

But that’s just me.

THE TRIUMPH OF POETRY’S STUPIDITY

What you believe is all very good.
But how do you react in a dark wood?

You may profess a list of ideals.
That means less than how the tiger feels.

Years of theory may write a song.
But applause goes to one who bangs a gong.

The intricate guitarist lost out to a nerd
Who wondered and put his wonder in a word.

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