for Robert Ritzenthaler

Literature exists, because reconciliation is sweet

In imagination’s heaven—even as the hellish school boy squirms in his seat.

Literature exists, and we know literature well:

The boring parts of heaven, the exciting parts of hell.

Literature exists, resting on shelves everywhere,

Literature dreams for you, even if you don’t care.

You know why literature is covered in school and hidden:

It’s never just life. It’s always life that is forbidden.

Literature is always about the sorrow that never gets said.

But literature becomes a critic being really boring, instead.

Literature should be this poem and don’t worry,

I will tell you I’m sorry. I’m sorry, I’m really sorry.

Literature is putting together the boy and his dad

Who never got together—isn’t that sad?

Literature is that novel which had some tragic deaths at the end

We didn’t finish. The one who gave it to me I swear was only a friend.

Literature is the foreshadowing, the metaphor, the clue

Which we don’t see. Or, maybe I did see it. Is that okay with you?






  1. Desdi said,

    December 28, 2016 at 11:08 pm

    I loved literature but it was all in vain. I read her stuff, sang to her, took her out to all kinds of places. She never returned my devotion and I finally gave up and went with poetry.
    Poetry understands me and gives me her unconditional love all the time.
    Poetry is my perfect lover. I will love poetry forever.
    I’m still friends with lit but she is kinda dull sometimes, in retrospect.
    She lives in a total fantasy world. Takes herself way too seriously IMO.

  2. Anonymous said,

    December 29, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Isn’t poetry considered literature?

  3. Desdi said,

    December 30, 2016 at 12:13 am

    Don’t confuse me with facts.

  4. Anonymous said,

    December 30, 2016 at 12:22 am

    Ah…a true poet.

  5. noochinator said,

    December 30, 2016 at 11:10 am

    How’d you like to have this guy for a literature seminar?

    • Mr. Bones said,

      December 30, 2016 at 5:35 pm

      “Poets don’t get very much fan mail. I got a lot of mail after I published this song in the United States. I may say that the mail was entirely hostile.” JB

      A truly unhappy man, but what a character. From what Philip Levine has said/written about Berryman’s time teaching at Iowa, the kids seemed to have really adored him.

      Phil: “It was extraordinary, an incredible experience. I’m sure all the people who were in that class must have felt it.”, but that on the other hands, “he was in love with the idea of being a slob.”

      • noochinator said,

        December 30, 2016 at 9:09 pm

        Listening to Berryman on poetry would be like listening to Nietzsche on philosophy — they both may have been crazy, but they knew their subjects like few others…..

        • thomasbrady said,

          December 31, 2016 at 3:34 pm

          Nietzsche was a horrible pessimist. Human beings are gnats, N. said, and the universe couldn’t give a damn for human beings. This is N. in a nutshell and his philosophy can be overturned in an instant: Okay, man is a gnat. But *what* a gnat!!!

          N. in this way is like the “wise” eastern religions which rebuke the material world as maya. The wisdom evaporates in the simple idea that the belief in maya is maya. Jewish (God’s) voice: You don’t like the world, think it’s only illusion, etc. *Well, could you do better?*

          • Mr. Woo said,

            January 1, 2017 at 12:19 am

            You’re right and you’re wrong. Nietzche was a horrible pessimist and, yes, thought human beings were gnats. But after sifting through the labyrinth, for me, his important point was that humans have the possibiity of becoming “more”, and that this is something to strive for. Goethe and Socrates being his favorite examples of this.

            To me this seems like a far cry from the eastern religions.

            N. also had a lot of respect for Buddah/Buddhism, but ultimately considered them life-denying (say no to desire!), if you catch my drift; Buddhism as a sort of applied psychotherapy that when lived, could actually deliver some results (alleviate some suffering).

            Also, N. is just hard to pin down; he wanted to make things difficult for his reader. What an ass. Still, I’d say there’s enough gold in them mountains to warrant a good dig. Whether one will find anything…basically, you like talking with him, or you don’t.

            I often find him hilarious (I know no German).

    • Anonymous said,

      December 30, 2016 at 11:36 pm

      Are you sure you didn’t mean Wendell Berry?

  6. December 30, 2016 at 3:04 pm

    […] Thomas Graves, editor, Scarriet blog […]

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