SCARRIET POETRY BASEBALL STATS

Amazon.com: Woody Allen wearing a baseball uniform Photo Print (24 ...

The first place LA Gamers were in last place when they signed Woody Allen (7-2).

WINS

Rimini Broadcasters  Owner, Fellini, Manager Claudius, Motto, “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name.”  50-62, Fifth

Maurice Ravel 4-1
Samuel Coleridge 8-6
George Orwell 10-7
Jacques Lacan 6-5
Vladimir Nabokov 9-15
Giacomo Leopardi 6-10
Paul Valery 3-7
Alfred Hitchcock 1-5

Corsica Codes Owner, Napoleon Bonaparte, Manager, Alexander the Great, Motto “Let the more loving one be me” 57-55 Second

William Logan 3-1
Homer 13-6
Hegel 13-7
Kant 8-9
Balzac 8-11
Cicero 7-11
Hesiod 3-7
Edmund Wilson 2-3
Wislawa Szymborska 0-0

Madrid Crusaders  Owner, Philip II of Spain, Manager Christopher Columbus, Motto “If in my thought I have magnified the Father above the Son, let Him have no mercy on me.” 57-55 Second

Beethoven 9-2
Handel 14-4
Mozart 5-4
Thomas Aquinas 9-13
GK Chesterton 4-5
St. John of the Cross 4-5
George Berkeley 5-7
Plotinus 3-7
Scarlatti 2-2
Joan of Arc 1-0
Tolkien 1-2
Lisieux 0-3

Paris Goths Owner, Charles X, Manager, Arthur Schopenhauer, Motto “Every great enterprise takes its first step in faith.” 60-52 First

Francois Chateaubriand 16-7
Oscar Wilde 13-6
Johann Goethe 12-8
Goya 7-8
Thomas de Quincey 2-0
AW Schlegel 3-4
Gautier 2-4
Dostoevsky 1-1
Camille Paglia 0-2
Baudelaire 3-13

Rome Ceilings  Owner, Pope Julius II, Manager Cardinal Richelieu, Motto “They also serve who only stand and wait.” 60-52 First

GE Lessing 6-3
John Milton 12-7
Ludovico Ariosto 12-8
JS Bach 10-7
Augustine 10-9
John Dryden 8-10
Octavio Paz 1-1
George Gascoigne 1-4
Vivaldi 0-1

Berlin Pistols  Owner, Eva Braun, Manager Randolph Churchill, Motto “A life subdued to its instrument.” 49-63 Fifth

TS Eliot 12-10
William James 11-9
Richard Wagner 7-5
Rufus Griswold 4-3
George Santayana 4-9
Ezra Pound 3-4
Ernest Hemingway 3-8
Horace Greeley 3-6
Hugh Kenner 1-2
Wyndham Lewis 1-6

London Carriages  Owner, Queen Victoria, Manager, Prince Albert, Motto “Ours but to do and die.” 57-55 Third

Andrew Marvell 13-7
Henry James 11-10
Virginia Woolf 11-11
William Hazlitt 9-13
Charles Lamb 3-1
Descartes 3-2
Charlotte Bronte 3-2
Jeremy Bentham 3-9

Florence Banners Owner, Lorenzo de Medici, Manager, Erasmus, Motto “The One remains, the many change and pass.” 60-52 Second

Percy Shelley 15-7
Virgil 13-8
Leonardo da Vinci 10-8
Dante 11-10
Marsilio Ficino 2-1
Boccaccio 5-6
Sandro Botticelli 2-4
William Rossetti 1-3
Bronzino 0-2

The Devon Sun  Owner, PM Lord Russell, Manager, Winston Churchill, Motto “A good indignation brings out all one’s powers.” 51-61 Fourth

John Ruskin 7-3
Bertrand Russell 7-3
Aldous Huxley 11-9
Ralph Emerson 10-12
JS Mill 6-9
Thomas Carlyle 8-15
Henry Thoreau 2-6
Christopher Ricks 0-3

Dublin Laureates Owner, Nahum Tate, Manager, President Ronald Reagan, Motto “Luck is bestowed even on those who don’t have hands.” 64-48 First

Jonathan Swift 16-3
Livy 10-5
Pascal 6-2
Robert Louis Stevenson 9-3
Samuel Johnson 8-8
JD Salinger 2-1
Dana Gioia 2-1
Hans Christian Anderson 1-0
Robert Boyle 4-5
Thomas Peacock 2-7
Edmund Burke 3-9
Arthur Conan Doyle 0-0

Westport Actors  Owner, Harvey Weinstein, Manager, Johnny Depp, Motto “I am no hackney for your rod.” 48-64 Fourth

Chaucer 11-7
Petronius 10-10
Sade 8-8
George Byron 7-7
Norman Mailer 4-7
Richard Rorty 2-3
Henry Beecher 3-7
Andre Gide 1-4
Flaubert 0-6
Hugh Hefner 0-0
Erich Fromm 0-0

Virginia Strangers  Owner, David Lynch, Manager, Bram Stoker, Motto “So still is day, it seems like night profound.” 43-69 Fifth

Alexander Pope 11-9
HP Lovecraft 5-3
Franz Kafka 5-5
Robert Bloch 2-2
Friedrich Nietzsche 7-12
Salvador Dali 3-7
Samuel Beckett 3-9
Shirley Jackson 2-5
Albert Camus 2-11
Philip K Dick 1-3
Luis Bunuel 0-2
Antonin Artaud 0-3
Jean-Luc Godard 0-0

Connecticut Animals  Owner, PT Barnum, Manager, Walt Disney, Motto “Majesty and love are incompatible.” 60-52 Second

Amy Lowell 16-4
Jules Verne 14-9
Ovid 13-8
A.A. Milne 5-4
Melville 7-15
Robert Bly 2-5
Jose y Ortega Gasset 2-0
Gerard de Nerval 1-6
Christopher Hitchens 0-0

The New York War Owner, JP Morgan, Manager, Machiavelli, Motto “The fire-eyed maid of smoky war all hot and bleeding will we offer them.” 60-52 Second

Jack London 5-1
Erich Remarque 15-8
Walter Scott 12-6
William Shakespeare 11-7
Julius Caesar 4-4
Giordano Bruno 2-2
David Hume 9-13
Edward Gibbon 1-4
Richard Aldington 1-6

Boston Secrets Owner, Ben Franklin, Manager, George Washington Motto “We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American tune.” 71-41 First

Plato 18-6 -leads league
Pushkin 13-4
Edgar Poe 11-8
Moliere 10-9
Thomas Jefferson 5-1
James Monroe 4-2
James Madison 2-1
F Scott Fitzgerald 2-2
Alexander Hamilton 1-1
F Scott Key 4-7

Kolkata Cobras Owner, Satyajit Ray, Manager Rupi Kaur, Motto “Is it true that your love traveled alone through ages and worlds in search of me?” 58-54 Second

Gandhi 14-10
Rumi 13-8
Rabindranith Tagore 13-12
Hermann Hesse 8-10
Kabir Das 4-5
Nissim Ezekiel 2-0
Raja Rao 1-0
Faiz A Faiz 1-1
Krishnamurti 1-1
Kannada 1-2
Ramavtar Sarma 1-2
Acharya Shivapujan Sahay 0-1
Hoshang Merchant 0-1
Suryakant Tripathi 0-0
Sri Ramakrishna 0-0

The Tokyo Mist Owner, Kurosawa, Manager Eiji Yoshikawa, Motto “In Kyoto, hearing the cuckoo, I long for Kyoto.” 45-67 Fifth

Yukio Mishima 12-10
Yone Noguchi 9-9
Issa 10-14
Basho 7-11
Haruki Murakami 3-3
Kobe Abe 2-7
Takaaki Yoshimoto 1-1
Heraclitus 1-2
Murasaki Shikibu 1-3
DT Suzuki 0-5
Mitsuyo Kakuta 0-2

Beijing Waves Owner, Chairman Mao, Manager Jack Dorsey, Motto “Death gives separation repose.” 58-54 Second

Lao Tzu 15-7
Voltaire 14-9
Confucius 8-4
Lucretius 12-11
Rousseau 8-13
Lu Xun 1-0
Lenin 1-0
Khomeini 1-4
Friedrich Engles 0-1
Ho Chi Minh 0-3

Santa Barbara Laws Owner, Dick Wolf, Manager Moshe Rabbenu, Motto “In poetry everything is clear and definite.” 57-55 Third

Francis Bacon 13-11
Aristotle 11-10
Horace 10-12
Oliver Wendell Holmes Sr. 8-9
Ferdinand Saussure 5-3
Mark Van Doren 4-2
Quintilian 3-3
Ring Lardner Jr. 1-0
Yvor Winters 1-1
ML Rosenthal 1-2
Frank Stella 0-1
Frederick Law Olmstead 0-1

Los Angeles Gamers, Owner Merv Griffin, Manager, Bob Hope, Motto “He thought he saw an elephant that practiced on a fife” 60-52 First

Menander 11-4
Woody Allen 7-2
Democritus 10-6
Lewis Carroll 11-10
Charlie Chaplin 5-3
James Tate 5-5
Christian Morgenstern 3-3
Clive James 2-1
EE Cummings 1-0
Muhammad Ali 1-0
Garrison Keillor 1-2
Derrida 1-7
Antoine de Saint Exupery 0-1
Charles Bernstein 0-4

Arden Dreamers Owner, Pamela Digby Churchill Harriman, Manager, Averell Harriman Motto  “Not the earth, the sea, none of it was enough for her, without me.” 50-62 Fifth

Mary Wollstonecraft 8-4
Margaret Atwood 11-10
Anais Nin 10-13
Jane Austen 4-2
Floyd Dell 4-4
bell hooks 2-1
Helene Cixous 2-1
Michael Ondaaatje 1-0
Jean-Paul Sartre 2-3
Louise Gluck 1-3
Simone de Beauvoir 2-6
Germaine Greer 2-8
William Godwin 1-4
Frida Kahlo 0-0
Diego Rivera 0-0

Manhattan Printers Owner, Andy Warhol, Manager, Brian Epstein, Motto “The eye, seeking to sink, is rebuffed by a much-worked dullness, the patina of a rag, that oily Vulcan uses, wiping up.” 52-60 Fourth

Hans Holbein (the Younger) 10-2
John Cage 6-2
Marcel Duchamp 7-7
Marjorie Perloff 8-13
Hilton Kramer 4-3
Toulouse Lautrec 3-2
Paul Klee 6-7
Guy Davenport 1-1
F.O. Matthiessen 3-4
RP Blackmur 2-4
Stephanie Burt 1-6
Mark Rothko 1-8

Chicago Buyers Owner, John D. Rockefeller, Manager, Charles Darwin, Motto “Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?” 61-51 First

Paul Engle 13-11
Mark Twain 12-7
Sigmund Freud 12-10
Walt Whitman 9-11
Helen Vendler 5-4
Judith Butler 3-2
J.L. Austin 2-3
WK Wimsatt 1-2
Monroe Beardsley 1-2
Thomas Hart Benton 0-0

The Philadelphia Crash, Owner, AC Barnes, Manager Cezanne, Motto “But for some futile things unsaid I should say all is done for us.” 55-57 Third

John Crowe Ransom 12-7
Pablo Picasso 7-3
John Dewey 12-10
Ludwig Wittgenstein 10-11
Walter Pater 8-11
Jackson Pollock 4-6
Walter Benjamin 1-0
Clement Greenberg 1-2
IA Richards 0-3
Kenneth Burke 0-1
Roger Fry 0-1

The Phoenix Universe, Owner Steven Spielberg, Manager, Billy Beane, Motto “I know why the caged bird sings.” 59-53 Second

Jean Cocteau 8-1
Raymond Carver 8-3
Czeslaw Milosz 7-2
Harriet Beecher Stowe 9-10
Martin Luther King Jr 5-4
Michel Foucault 4-3
Harold Bloom 5-6
Lucien Freud 4-5
Marge Piercy 3-5
Lionel Trilling 2-3
Eric Said 2-3
Randall Jarrell 3-6
Timothy Leary 0-0

HOME RUNS BY TEAM

EMPEROR DIVISION

Robert Burns Broadcasters 20
Anne Sexton Broadcasters 16
Rainer Maria Rilke Broadcasters 16
Jim Morrison Broadcasters 10
Mick Jagger Broadcasters 6
Gregory Corso Broadcasters 6

Victor Hugo Codes 29
WH Auden Codes 25
Jean Racine Codes 21
Wole Soyinka Codes 12
Derek Walcott Codes 8
Jules Laforgue Codes 6

Anne Bradstreet Crusaders 23
Aeschylus Crusaders 23
Mary Angela Douglas Crusaders 15
Joyce Kilmer Crusaders 10
Phillis Wheatley Crusaders 9
Saint Ephrem Crusaders 8

Sophocles Goths 25
Heinrich Heine Goths 21
Torquato Tasso Goths 14
Madame de Stael 8
Friedrich Holderlin Goths 7
Thomas Chatterton Goths 6
Dan Sociu Goths 3

Euripides Ceilings 20
Edmund Spenser Ceilings 14
William Blake Ceilings 8
Michelangelo Ceilings 8
John Milton Ceilings 7
Tulsidas Ceilings 5

GLORIOUS DIVISION

Yeats Pistols 29
James Joyce Pistols 22
Ted Hughes Pistols 18
John Quinn Pistols 12
DH Lawrence Pistols 9
Alistair Crowley Pistols 8
Ford Maddox Ford Pistols 5
T.S. Eliot Pistols 5

Henry Longfellow Carriages 22
Alfred Tennyson Carriages 18
Robert Browning Carriages 15
GB Shaw Carriages 11
Paul McCartney Carriages 11
Sylvia Plath Carriages 6
Elizabeth Barrett Carriages 5

Friedrich Schiller Banners 29
DG Rossetti Banners 19
John Keats Banners 14
Ben Mazer Banners 10
Stefan George Banners 9
Christina Rossetti Banners 8
Dante Banners 5
Glyn Maxwell Banners 4

William Wordsworth Sun 26
Matthew Arnold Sun 16
Rudyard Kipling Sun 16
Horace Walpole Sun 13
HG Wells Sun 11
Ralph Emerson Sun 8
Margaret Fuller Sun 5

Alexandre Dumas Laureates 24
Charles Dickens Laureates 24
Aphra Behn Laureates 18
JK Rowling Laureates 13
Sarah Teasdale Laureates 12
Ghalib Laureates 12
Boris Pasternak Laureates 8
Oliver Goldsmith Laureates 6
John Townsend Trowbridge Laureates 6

SOCIETY DIVISION

Thomas Nashe Actors 22
Hafiz Actors 19
Amiri Baraka Actors 10
Gwendolyn Brooks Actors 7
Leonard Cohen Actors 6
Johnny Rotten Actors 4
Marilyn Hacker Actors 3
Audre Lorde Actors 3

Francois Rabelais Strangers 22
Arthur Rimbaud Strangers 22
Theodore Roethke Strangers 18
Knut Hamsun Strangers 7
Mary Shelley Strangers 3

Edward Lear Animals 16
Wallace Stevens Animals 14
Seamus Heaney Animals 10
Lawrence Ferlinghetti Animals 8
Marianne Moore Animals 8
Jack Spicer Animals 7

Stephen Crane War 16
Harry Crosby War 15
Phillip Sidney War 11
Wilfred Owen War 11
Apollinaire War 10
James Dickey War 9
William Shakespeare War 5
Robert Graves War 5
Howard Nemerov  War 5

Robert Frost Secrets 24
Emily Dickinson Secrets 20
Woody Guthrie Secrets 13
Kanye West Secrets 10
Nathaniel Hawthorne Secrets 8
Cole Porter Secrets 6
Stephen Cole Secrets 5
Paul Simon Secrets 4
Edgar Poe Secrets 4

PEOPLES DIVISION

Vikram Seth Cobras 22
Jadoo Akhtar Cobras 21
George Harrison Cobras 20
Gajanan Muktibodh Cobras 10
Anand Thakore Cobras 9
Allen Ginsberg Cobras 8
Kalidasa Cobras 4
Jeet Thayil Cobras 4
Adil Jussawala Cobras 4
Daipayan Nair Cobras 3

John Lennon Mist 19
Hilda Doolittle  Mist 18
Sadakichi Hartmann Mist 16
Yoko Ono Mist 8
Haruki Murakami Mist 6
Gary Snyder Mist 5
Natsume Soseki  Mist 5

Li Po Waves 26
Tu Fu Waves 18
Karl Marx Waves 18
Li He Waves 6
Bertolt Brecht Waves 4

John Donne Laws 22
Thomas Hardy Laws 17
Martial Laws 13
Donald Hall Laws 7
Jane Kenyon Laws 6
Reed Whitmore Laws 6
Antonio Machado Laws 6
Walter Raleigh Laws 5

Eugene Ionesco Gamers 26
Billy Collins Gamers 25
Thomas Hood Gamers 17
Joe Green Gamers 8
Ernest Thayer Gamers 4
John Betjeman Gamers 4

MODERN DIVISION

Sharon Olds Dreamers 24
Edna Millay Dreamers 22
Louis MacNeice Dreamers 20
Jack Gilbert Dreamers 10
Stevie Smith Dreamers 9
Richard Lovelace Dreamers 8
Louise Bogan Dreamers 5
Carolyn Forche Dreamers 4

Aristophanes Printers 24
John Updike Printers 24
Garcia Lorca Printers 11
John Ashbery Printers 10
Andre Breton Printers 9
Lou Reed Printers 7
Hart Crane Printers 6
Christopher Isherwood Printers 5
Marcel Duchamp Printers 5
James Baldwin Printers 5

Elizabeth Bishop Buyers 30 —leads  league
Dylan Thomas Buyers 25
Robert Lowell Buyers 17
Edgar Lee Masters Buyers 8
Kenneth Rexroth Buyers 8
Walt Whitman Buyers 6
Robert Penn Warren Buyers 5
Duke Ellington Buyers 5

Allen Tate Crash 20
Stephen Spender Crash 19
Franz Werfel Crash 11
Donald Davidson Crash 8
Archilochus Crash 8
John Gould Fletcher Crash 6
John Crowe Ransom Crash 6
WC Williams Crash 3
Stanley Kunitz Crash 3

Bob Dylan Universe 24
Juvenal Universe 22
Paul Celan Universe 14
Anthony Hecht Universe 10
Delmore Schwartz Universe 9
Chuck Berry Universe 7
Maya Angelou Universe 7

~~~

SCARRIET POETRY BASEBALL—HERE WE GO!

Lord Byron In Albanian Dress - 1813 Painting by War Is Hell Store

George Byron in a pensive mood, before taking part in the opening day Scarriet baseball ceremonies.

Happy Easter!

Scarriet has expanded and restructured its baseball league!!

Gone the 2 leagues of 20 teams led by 20 American poets—Eliot, Pound, Frost, Poe, Williams, Stevens, Moore, Dickinson, Millay, Jorie Graham, Ginsberg, Ransom, Cummings, Whittier, Whitman, Bryant, Longfellow, James Lowell, Ashbery, and Emerson.

Now poets like Emerson, Eliot and Poe can be player/managers—to contribute to their teams both at the plate and in the field.

The field is more international—Scarriet Poetry Baseball is now 25 historical teams from all over the world.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

The gods and muses must be pleased with our ten years of Poetry March Madness and our first Poetry Baseball season, where poetry is worshiped through time and space in a manner which no one has ever seen.

Fortunately one of the Muses has always been here to help us, Marla Muse.

Marla Muse: They are indeed pleased, Tom!

You have spoken to the other muses who live in other realms, in those shadowy timeless realms where time is one and poetry lights up suns distantly—

Marla Muse: Yes, and they approve! The stars in the heavens love you more than you know… I would rather die than see poetry die.

This baseball season is different. Mysterious and wealthy owners throughout time and space are bidding, some in secret, for players to fill their rosters.

In the Great Emperor League, we have the Broadcasters. Their motto is “Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name” and they feature Mick Jagger, Jim Morrison, Gregory Corso, Anne Sexton, Bobby Burns, Omar Khayyam, Rilke, Coleridge, Leopardi, Anacreon, Sappho, and Ingrid Jonker.  They are rumored to be owned and funded by a business group led by Federico Fellini, and their ballpark is in Rimini, Italy.

These ballclubs are timeless, in every sense of the word (these teams compete, with actual statistics, where chance unfolds out of space, out of time) but real money, blood money, purchases these players.  We know JP Morgan, for instance, wanted Shakespeare and bid heavily to get him.

The Pistols, who play in Berlin, are said to be associated with Eva Braun, but this cannot be confirmed; one older muse claims to have overheard Eva say, “I take care of this. Adolf is too busy talking to bankers and architects. He doesn’t have time for poetry.” But honestly we cannot say who owns the Pistols.

Nahum Tate, owner of the Laureates, for those who do not know, re-wrote a popular King Lear with a happy ending (after Shakespeare’s death when, for a long period, the Bard was out of fashion,) and was chosen as Poet Laureate of England in 1692. 

Dick Wolf produces Law & Order on television, and appears to have a controlling interest in the Laws, playing out of Santa Barbara.  He’s got Aristotle, Lord Bacon, and Horace.

John Rockefeller opened his purse to get Walt Whitman, and he thinks that will be enough to win a championship.  We don’t know.  We do know baseball is all about pitching.  All you need is a few good arms which dominate, defense behind them, and some clubhouse chemistry, and not too many injuries. It’s a crap shoot, in many ways, and this is why Rockefeller grumbled he wasn’t going to waste money on superstars who hit home runs and have a high batting average. He’s probably right.  A team that wins 2-1 is better than a team that wins 7-4, by pure mathematics, even though the former score wins by 1 and the latter by 3 runs. It’s the ratio that counts.  2-1 = 2. 7-4 = 1.7  This simple reason is why defense wins in every sport. Rockefeller is using this formula, and the oil baron was also advised that you can’t buy a pennant—throwing money at sluggers doesn’t do any good; it’s 90% pitching and luck. Just put a a poet with critical depth on the hill and three good versifiers in the infield and sit back.

Some of the rosters might have some question marks, but that’s what happens in a free market.  It’s an historical fact that Longfellow did meet Queen Victoria in person. But no one expected him to play for her!

And W.H. Auden just “wanted to play for Napoleon, I don’t why.”

Marla Muse: I can’t wait for the season to begin!  Spring is in the air! Around Rome, and in those still fairer isles… Let’s forget about plagues and the starvation for awhile. Songs are going to sing.

Here then, are the Teams, their Mottoes, and the preliminary rosters—they are always changing (there’s a big minor leagues!)

~~~~~~

THE GREAT EMPEROR LEAGUE

Federico Fellini, Rimini  The Broadcasters [Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name]
-Mick Jagger, Sappho, Gregory Corso, Charles Bukowski, Paul Valery, Anne Sexton, Omar Khayyam, Robert Burns, Ben Jonson, Coleridge, Jim Morrison, Edmund Waller, Nabokov, Rilke, Giacomo Leopardi, Anacreon, Ingrid Jonker, Swinburne

Napoleon, Corsica The Codes [Let the more loving one be me]
-W.H. Auden, Homer, Hesiod, Racine, John Peale Bishop, Edmund Wilson, Mina Loy, William Logan, Irving Layton, Villon, Jean-Baptiste Tati-Loutard, Wole Soyinka, Jules Laforgue, Derek Walcott, Callimachus, Cicero, Marcus Aurelius

King Philip II, Madrid The Crusaders [If in my thought I have magnified the Father above the Son, let Him have no mercy on me]
-Saint Ephrem, G.K. Chesterton, Tolkien, Thomas Aquinas, Hilaire Beloc, John Paul II, Saint Theresa of Lisieux, Joyce Kilmer, Saint John of the Cross, Mary Angela Douglas, Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, Countee Cullen, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Aeschulus

Charles X, Paris  The Goths [Every great enterprise takes its first step in faith]
-A.W. Schlegel, Baudelaire, Goethe, Oscar Wilde, Walter Pater, Madame de Stael, Chateaubriand, Sophocles, George Herbert, Heinrich Heine, Robert Herrick, Clement Marot, Ronsard, Saint-Beuve, Catulus, Thomas Gray, John Clare, Thomas Lovell Beddoes, Theophile Gautier

Pope Julius II, Rome  The Ceilings [They also serve who only stand and wait]
-Milton, Michelangelo, William Blake, Robert Lowell, Petrarch, G.E. Lessing, John Dryden, Klopstock, GE Horne, Ferdowsi, Ariosto, Luis de Camoens, Swift, Tulsidas, Edmund Spenser, Kwesi Brew, Pindar, Euripides

~~~~~

THE GLORIOUS LEAGUE

Eva Braun, Berlin The Pistols [A life subdued to its instrument]
-Ted Hughes, Gertrude Stein, T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, W.B. Yeats, Ford Madox Ford, James Joyce, Hugh Kenner, Wyndham Lewis, DH Lawrence, Alistair Crowley, George Santayana, F.T. Marinetti, Giacomo Balla, Richard Wagner, Jung

Queen Victoria, London The Carriages [Theirs but to do and die]
-Lord Tennyson, Elizabeth Barrett, Robert Browning, Longfellow, Philip Larkin, Sylvia Plath, Hazlitt, Paul McCartney, Geoffrey Hill, Henry James, Andrew Marvel, John Suckling, Virginia Woolf, Theocritus

Lorenzo de’ Medici, Florence The Banners [The One remains, the many change and pass]
-Percy Shelley, Dante, William Rossetti, Christina Rossetti, DG Rossetti, John Keats, Marlowe, Guido Cavalcanti, Glyn Maxwell, Ben Mazer, Friedrich Schiller, Thomas Moore, Philodemus, Virgil, Stefan George, Boccaccio, Leonardo da Vinci

P.M. Lord John Russell, 1st Earl Russell, Devon The Sun [A good indignation brings out all one’s powers]
-Emerson, Horace Walpole, Thomas Carlyle, Thoreau, Wordsworth, Rudyard Kipling, Aldous Huxley, Matthew Arnold, Sir John Davies, Margaret Fuller, Robert Southey, Marilyn Chin, Joy Harjo, Basil Bunting, Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye

Nahum Tate, Dublin  The Laureates [Luck is bestowed even on those who don’t have hands]
-Ghalib, Samuel Johnson, Charles Dickens, Peacock, Leigh Hunt, Victor Hugo, Alexandre Dumas, Sara Teasdale, Pasternak, Louis Simpson, Dana Gioia, Oliver Goldsmith, Edmund Burke, Aphra Behn, Rod McKuen, JK Rowling

~~~~~

THE SECRET SOCIETY LEAGUE

Harvey Weinstein, Westport CT The Actors [I am no hackney for your rod]
-John Skelton, Langston Hughes, Henry Ward Beecher, Chaucer, Amiri Baraka, Lord Byron, Hafiz, Thomas Nashe, Marilyn Hacker, Petronius, Gwendolyn Brooks, Jim Carroll, Lucille Clifton, Etheridge Knight, Audre Lorde, Jimmy Page, Andre Gide

David Lynch, Alexandria VA  The Strangers [So still is day, it seems like night profound]
-Jones Very, Alexander Pope, William Burroughs, Rimbaud, Verlaine, Robert Graves, Laura Riding, Weldon Kees, Berryman, Mary Shelley, Rabelais, Charles Simic, Eric Satie, Labid, Roethke, Camille Paglia, HP Lovecraft, Nietzsche, Samuel Beckett

P.T. Barnum, Fairfield CT  The Animals [Majesty and love are incompatible]
-Ovid, Gerald Stern, Robinson Jeffers, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Seamus Heaney, Jack Spicer, Kay Ryan, Leslie Scalapino, Mary Oliver, W S Merwin, Melville, Camille Saint Saens, Edward Lear, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, Gerard de Nerval, Robert Bly

J.P. Morgan, Madison Avenue  The War [The fire-eyed maid of smoky war all hot and bleeding will we offer them]
-Shakespeare, Louis Untermeyer, Apollinaire, T.E. Hulme, Richard Aldington, Rupert Brooke, Sir Walter Scott, Philip Sidney, James Dickey, Harry Crosby, Keith Douglas, Wilfred Owen, Howard Nemerov, Stephen Crane, Erich Remarque, Alan Seeger

Ben Franklin  Philadelphia  The Secrets [We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American tune]
-Paul Simon, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Edgar Poe, Emily Dickinson, Robert Frost, F. Scott Key, Cole Porter, Plato, Hawthorne, Pushkin, Walter Raleigh, Moliere, William Cullen Bryant, Amy Lowell, Emma Lazarus, Carl Sandburg, Pete Seeger, Natasha Trethewey, Amelia Welby, Woody Guthrie, JD Salinger, John Prine, Kanye West, Stephen Cole, Bob Tonucci

~~~~~

THE PEOPLE’S LEAGUE

Sajyajit Ray, Calcutta The Cobras [Is it true that your love traveled alone through ages and worlds in search of me?]
-Tagore, Allen Ginsberg, Jeet Thayil, Rupi Kaur, Anand Thakore, Dhoomil, G.M. Muktibodh, Rumi, A.K. Ramanujan, Samar Sen, Daipayan Nair, R. Meenakshi, Faiz Ahmad Faiz, Hermann Hesse, Persius, George Harrison, Adil Jussawalla, Tishani Doshi, Sushmita Gupta, Vikram Seth

Kurosawa,  Tokyo  The Mist [In Kyoto, hearing the cuckoo, I long for Kyoto]
-Basho, Hilda Doolittle, Robert Duncan, Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen, D.T. Suzuki, Yone Noguchi, Yoko Ono, John Lennon, Kobayashi Issa, Lady Izumi Shikibu, Cid Corman, Sadakichi Hartmann, Heraclitus, Richard Brautigan

Chairman Mao, Beijing  The Waves [Death gives separation repose. Without death, grief only sharpens]
-Tu Fu, Lucretius, Karl Marx, Voltaire, Rousseau, Guy Burgess, Amiri Baraka, Brecht, Neruda, Li Po, Li He, Bai Juyi, Lu Xun, Guo Moruo, Ho Chi-Fang, Yen Chen, Billie Holiday, Khomieni, Lu Ji , Wang Wei, Lao Tzu, Gary B. Fitzgerald, Wendell Berry

Dick Wolf, Santa Barbara  The Laws [In poetry everything is clear and definite]
-Ajip Rosidi, Aristotle, John Donne, Donald Hall, Jane Kenyon, Donald Justice, Anna Akhmatova, Thomas Hardy, Thomas Campion, Frederick Seidel, Antonio Machado, Mark Van Doren, David Lehman, Lord Bacon, Martial, ML Rosenthal, Horace, Gottfried Burger, Yvor Winters

Merv Griffin, Los Angeles  The Gamers  [He thought he saw an elephant that practiced on a fife]
-Lewis Carroll, James Tate, E.E. Cummings, Tony Hoagland, Ogden Nash, Billy Collins, Eugene Field, W.S. Gilbert, Thomas Hood, Noel Coward, X.J. Kennedy, John Betjeman, Wendy Cope, Tristan Tzara, Heather McHugh, Charles Bernstein, Jack Spicer, James Whitcomb Riley, Joe Green, Menander, Morgenstern

~~~~~

THE MODERN LEAGUE

Pamela Harriman, Arden NY The Dreamers [not the earth, the sea, none of it was enough for her, without me]
-Sharon Olds, Edna Millay, George Dillon, Floyd Dell, Dorothy Parker, Stanley Burnshaw, Richard Lovelace, Stevie Smith, Louis MacNeice, Louise Bogan, Louise Gluck, Jack Gilbert, Marge Piercy, Carolyn Forche, Muriel Rukeyser, Jean Valentine, May Swenson, Propertius, Anais Nin, Simone de Beauvoir

Andy Warhol, East 47th St The Printers [the eye, seeking to sink, is rebuffed by a much-worked dullness, the patina of a rag, that oily Vulcan uses, wiping up.]
-John Updike, Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler, James Merrill, Hart Crane, Lorca, Thom Gunn, Stephen Burt, Frank Bidart, Mark Rothko, Marjorie Perloff, John Quinn, Duchamp, Aristophanes, Christopher Isherwood, Andre Breton, Lou Reed, John Cage

John D. Rockefeller, Chicago The Buyers [Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion?]
-Walt Whitman, Alcaeus, Edgar Lee Masters, Kenneth Rexroth, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Helen Vendler, Jorie Graham, Franz Wright, Mark Twain, Robert Penn Warren, Paul Engle, William Alexander Percy, Richard Hugo, Carl Philips, Harriet Monroe, Duke Ellington, Dylan Thomas, Jack Kerouac, Sigmund Freud

A. C. Barnes, Philadelphia  The Crash [But for some futile things unsaid I should say all is done for us]
-Allen Tate, John Gould Fletcher, John Crowe Ransom, John Dewey, Cleanth Brooks, Donald Davidson, Merrill Moore, Walter Pater, Wittgenstein, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Archilochus, Anne Waldman, Stanley Kunitz, Jackson Pollock, WC Williams, Luigi Russolo, Stephen Spender, Richard Howard

Steven Spielberg, Phoenix AZ  The Universe [I know why the caged bird sings]
-Maya Angelou, Harriet Beecher Stowe, Bob Dylan, Margaret Atwood, Paul Celan, Czeslaw Milosz, Delmore Schwartz, Randall Jarrell, Anthony Hecht, Galway Kinnell, Philip Levine, Larry Levis, Claudia Rankine, Harold Bloom, Alice Walker, James Wright, Juvenal, Chuck Berry, Stephen King

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Ballpark Road Trips in Review: 2018 - Ben's Biz Blog

 

 

CINEMA AND POETRY: A REVIEW OF THE UNCOLLECTED DELMORE SCHWARTZ, BEN MAZER, EDITOR

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I began to think about a whole lot of things as I was finishing Ben Mazer’s introduction to The Uncollected Delmore Schwartz, just published by Arrowsmith Press.

How does a poet exist in an unpublished, uncollected, or unnoticed state?

How much does the critical and editorial apparatus impact how society apprehends a poet?

Ben Mazer—and hopefully, very soon, many more—will be answering these questions as they pertain to the wonderful, but increasingly neglected writer, Delmore Schwartz (1913-1966).

I was thinking about the cinema, the modern poet as movie-lover, and how this might contribute to the “uncollected” reality of Delmore Schwartz—an author editors and publishers have never known quite what to do with.

Delmore Schwartz burst upon the world in 1937, by way of the Partisan Review crowd in New York City.

Ben Mazer, born in New York City, and raised in Cambridge (Delmore attended Harvard) and a splendid poet himself, is also a daring and sleuth-like editor: Mazer’s ‘Uncollected Schwartz” is a gem.

Mazer’s well-researched work features various genres: poem, story, essay, review, symposium memoir. Which is nice, because Schwartz excelled at them all.

But is this the problem of Delmore Schwartz’s reputation?  “Various genres?”

The poets America loves generally don’t get involved in other aspects of writing.

Where are the essays of W.S Merwin, the plays of Robert Frost, the criticism of Emily Dickinson, the novels of T.S. Eliot, the short stories of Ezra Pound?  No, somehow it diminishes the poet to not be, in terms of output, a poet.  The occasional essay on poetry is allowed, but that’s it.

Schwartz, the writer of variety, is like Poe, in this regard.

But even as Poe worked in, and even invented, or furthered, a number of genres, the 19th century Virginian—limited critically by the “macabre” label—stuck mostly to short pieces—and Poe mostly finished, thankfully, what he started; the single exception, a play.

Schwartz abandoned what seems like hundreds of writing projects.  A prodigy lauded early in his career, winning praise for a short story, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” Schwartz became bogged down in overly ambitious attempts at the long and unwieldy—a pity, for this modern talent should have followed Poe’s advice: the complexity of modernity requires brevity.

Schwartz didn’t use Poe as a guiding star. Both writers shared a certain quixotic arrogance; Poe obeyed form as a writer; Schwartz often did not, and ended up without an epidermis.

Looking back, Schwartz was best, by far, as a short story writer—as good as anyone in the 20th century—but his splendid efforts in this genre, strangely, seem to have only added to a literary reputation of promise followed by insanity, failure and waste.

No one, including Schwartz himself, wished Schwartz to be pegged as a writer of short fiction. The fiction world doesn’t always know what to do with poets, especially the ones who enter as poets first, fiction writers second. Had the order been reversed, Schwartz might have enjoyed a greater social stability.

Schwartz had two sides:

1. the doubtful, sentimental, highly emotional, poet

2. the crass, witty, profoundly wise, and pitiless, critic.

Fiction allowed these two sides to often mingle and shine.

Literary essays allowed Delmore Schwartz insights to peek out.  I’m not a big fan of High Modernism, but when Delmore writes on Stevens, Eliot, Auden, I feel a certain pride. Delmore’s intelligence as a critic is stunning.

Schwartz drowned in modernist self-pity, focused too much on the contemporary in his essays, and wasted too much time on long poems.

Otherwise, there was no stopping Mr. Delmore Schwartz.

One could argue Schwartz is a major poet. But poetry was a disturbing, and not really a friendly, medium for him.

The acerbic, joking, philosophy, the impatient, stuttering, thin-skinned, reflective, doubting, self-pity—all these things which the complex torrent of Delmore Schwartz was—freely articulated in poetry of the loose and modern manner, resulted more often than not, in opportunity by a genius missed.

The moderns who encouraged him were the “modern” moderns, the ones who turned their backs on Poe and everything before Rimbaud, and who liked the idea of residing in 1922 and nowhere else. The obscure heft of Joyce and Pound were unfortunately touchstones for New York City’s highly introspective genius, one who passionately saw through Pound, the person, and rejected him. Rimbaud began it all for the “modern” moderns, and so it’s not at all surprising Schwartz found himself, as a yet lauded and reputed poetic prodigy, hurrying into print a translation of Rimbaud, an imaginative English version of the Frenchman’s “Season in Hell”—almost universally ridiculed in the press for its translation errors; and as the bad reviews came in, the nervous prodigy’s honeymoon was over. Schwartz already had a personality that doubted. He didn’t universally like everyone, and he was not universally liked. When his reputation took a hit, it was pretty bad.

As we advance into the early middle of the 21st century, High Modernism is due for a hard look; well, at least it may help us understand and revive Delmore Schwartz.

Delmore’s survey of Wallace Stevens is the best thing, for my money, in Ben Mazer’s The Uncollected Delmore Schwartz. The mind of Delmore Schwartz is a treasure—without a doubt, this is the singular fact I have come away with in my recent acquaintance of the author who died at 52 alone, in a midtown Manhattan hotel.

Did cinema kill poetry? Schwartz’s guilty pleasure was going to the movies.

Poetry came apart, losing its lyric, leather-bound anthology, fireside, charm, somewhere in the middle of the 20th century, and for Schwartz this was always a good thing, because he belonged to his time, and he sums up the existence of Stevens as an “art for art’s sake” poet—almost ruefully, almost pejoratively—as due to “industrialism.”  The Wordsworthian whine, which didn’t stop with Modernism: the machine produces sorrow.

Stevens, according to Schwartz, is an “Art-man.” The poetry of Stevens smoothly and matter-of-factly occupies the museum, the concert hall, the ivory tower seminar room, the library, the poetry reading. Stevens is for Art, as opposed to the “life” of “disorder,” “presided over by the business man and the Philistine…”

Schwartz acknowledges the danger of this attitude, claiming it inhibited poets of the “Art-man” school in the late 19th century, but Delmore allows Stevens a triumph in it, for going, with a certain amount of intelligent self-consciousness, all in with it. Down with “industrialism.” Up with Wallace Stevens.

The reason cinema is so important for Delmore Schwartz—his break-out short story, “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities,” literally takes place in a cinema as the protagonist watches a “movie” of his parents prior to his birth—is manifold.

Schwartz’s youth coincided with film taking its place as a form of entertainment and art—but which was it? Poetry was losing out to other distractions, and cinema was one.

Film was a guilty, time-wasting pleasure for a poet like Schwartz, but it was a vital connection to “philistine life,” too. Schwartz was not Stevens, and cinema was one central reason: poetry for Stevens was purely aesthetic; Schwartz belongs more to the news-reel voice-over, the screen play, the drama, realistic but flickering, the movie of the peanut-crunching crowd. The hard-nosed, factual, aspect of film represented an important antidote to Schwartz’s morbid, fatalist, autobiographical nature.

The fatalism of film—a memory captured, to never be escaped—seen through his autobiographical obsession—his family divorce drama seeps into almost everything he wrote—underpins his iconic story “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities.”

Fortunately, Schwartz cared too much about people (his writing is very social) to be overly distracted by the horrors of “industrialism.”

Schwartz, who deeply admired Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, had a love-hate relationship with all the art movements around him—with a stammering, clumsy, combative, social persona, mixing uneasily with his genius, he couldn’t be as intellectually independent as he should have been; his “connections” in the intellectual circles of the John Crowe Ransom’s Kenyon Review, the Partisan Review, and Harvard, where he met Laughlin, the editor of New Directions, were all important to him, more than he realized, or wanted to admit, and so the natural, original, impetuous, lonely greatness that was Schwartz kept trailing after the divided, humiliated, tortured, social animal that was Schwartz.  He unconsciously attempted to resolve this by uncritically admiring the aesthetic writings of his contemporaries (saving his critical energy for gossip towards them as individuals) and so the poet he was meant to be was colored, like the dyer’s hand, by much of the inferior work of his time.

His genius, in the fiction and the essays, mostly won out. In his poetry, it mostly did not. He absolutely nails Stevens in a manner which is fully sympathetic, but manages to diminish him, which is only proper, since Schwartz was, it seems to me, the wisest of his circle (a judgment I am well aware will not be taken seriously because  “High” Modernism is to this day, yet overrated, and due to the reputation of “crazy” Delmore Schwartz).

“A Note on the Nature of Art,” the second essay in Mazer’s collection, is first-rate in a perfectly logical manner; it patiently explains the difference between the “expressive” and the “critical-expressive” and doesn’t allow social reality to roll over aesthetic reality, which it will do, unless the critic is familiar with Aristotle and common sense—which Delmore happily was.

The essays are 30 pages of the book; putting aside the poems, of which there are 15 pages—the best one, I think, is “Sonnet,” published in 1950 in the Kenyon Review—we have an excellent 20 page story, and a 5 page memory on his Jewishness, also good; the essays occupy the bulk of what is excellent, as well as the story and the small prose memoir, proving once again, at least for me, that we should not look to Schwartz’s poetry as the best example of his work.

For me, as way of quick example, “the worms of fear spread veined” and “but the elation and celebration of the motions/of energy everywhere,” from two different poems, reside as things scattered on the surface; these quotes don’t feel integrated wholly into their poems—too much of his poetry features interesting parts which are not quite fused; there is a unconnected quality which I don’t meet in the prose, and which curtails my enjoyment of the verse. The longer poem, “Dr. Levy,” which Mazer cites for especial praise in his introduction, has emotional sincerity, but it feels more like a short play of not-quite-realized profundity, than a truly realized poem.

True, some of the poems in this volume are high school poems—ironically, there is one on Poe.  Schwartz didn’t care for him.  In his introduction to his long, prose poem, Genesis, Schwartz says he will write like a modern; he will not write like Swinburne—which of course means Poe.

The story in the volume, “An Argument in 1934” is wonderful; the lucid presentation of three, young, intellectual friends, interacting socially, is sensitive, highly observant, and subtle, without being busy or overbearing, and the theme: realism triumphing over the intellectually abstract, is expressed through both dialogue and action in a clear and poignant manner.

This review is not meant to devalue Schwartz as a poet; I just think his fiction is superlative. Profound. Funny. Timeless.

And this is good news: Ben Mazer is set to edit more Delmore Schwartz—the Collected Poems has been green-lighted by FSG, which is very exciting, indeed.

Hopefully “The Uncollected Delmore Schwartz” will be the start of a Delmore Renaissance.

I’ll close by quoting “Under Forty” from a symposium published by the Contemporary Jewish Record:

The contrast between the authority of the public school teachers and the weakness of the Hebrew school teacher is one which makes the child wonder what reason can justify the emphasis upon Jewishness. I remember my own extreme admiration for the rabbi who spoke to us on Sundays. It seemed to me that he could prove or disprove anything, and that he could find profound meaning in any story or incident. But I took this to be a personal gift; he was a very wise man; he seemed more intelligent than any of the teachers in public school. But then I merely wondered why he limited himself to what we then called temple, and I had no way of knowing that his dialectical and interpretative skills were an inheritance.

 

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The Scarriet editors, Salem MA 11/14/19

 

PRIVACY

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Privacy is where we kill ourselves, and perhaps, others.

Privacy is where we hide. Privacy is where

The hypocrites dwell.

Privacy is where I think.

I’m thinking of rhyming privacy with hell.

You knew that, didn’t you?

Privately you think you know

A great deal about me,

Even in the snow,

When the outdoors becomes a room

From a sky overcast and sloppy

And snowy trees participate in a gloom

Which is not gloomy at all.

It unites us. We throw a snow ball.

It strikes you on the shoulder

Like a bird call.

The snowy landscape is a privacy for all.

Even Delmore will take hot chocolate with a smile

And be normal for a while.

Usually you need to be alone and read a lot of books

Because life has too much life.

Too many looks.

Remember when privacy was chased away

On that bright snowy day?

And you couldn’t help but love me?

When it was all snowy?

That’s how I know you know me.

I liked that part of the poem.

How I rhyme. The poem in my soul

You glimpse in my eyes from time to time.

I don’t see this at home in the mirror,

Staring at myself when I’m alone.

In my deepest privacy, I don’t know myself.

Strangely enough, privately is where I think I know you.

I take a long walk into yesterday’s mind,

And what it knows, privately, and a little unkind.

 

 

 

DELMORE SCHWARTZ AND THE MODERN COMPLAINT

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The peculiar error of the modern poets—an error so obvious as to escape attention—was the continual investigation of what it meant to be modern, a term by which these 20th century poets (our grandparents and great grandparents) felt they were somehow novel and special. If thinking about poetry has anything to do with writing it, the modern poets were the first poets forced to be something else (modern) first, and poets second.

The previous movement—Romanticism—was so named by later critics; the Romantic poets, as critically-minded as any aesthetic clique, never thought of themselves as “Romantic” poets. They wrote poetry. Modern poetry, it must have been, when they were alive.  Wordsworth, one of the so-called Romantic poets, and as different in sensibility from another Romantic poet, Byron, as one poet next to another can possibly be, was no revolutionary. Wordsworth strove to write like Milton—just less religiously; there was no “break” at all, in terms of the poetry. A poem was a poem, just as a sword was a sword, or a feeling was a feeling. Wordsworth may have felt he was writing closer to how regular folk talk—but looking back we now know that was just something his criticism said.

One will, of course, find critics who insist Wordsworth was a “break,” (Byron would have said Wordsworth—whom the author of “Don Juan” took delight in ridiculing—was “broken”) but these critics will be found to be the same ones who believe the “modern” describes poetry, if only to conveniently map out eras as a means of filling up teaching hours in the classroom, and helping their charges remember what they are studying in rough historical terms. Victorian poets wrote when Queen Victoria was on the throne. Modern poets wrote during the reign of some other queen. And so on. But we “moderns” know (because we are “modern?”) that “modern” means much more than that. It is so ripe with meaning that modern poets are only secondarily poets—in the sense that all poets who came before them were.

I don’t think one can ever go wrong as a poet to think deeply about what it means to be a poet; the modern, however—what is it?

Here’s Randall Jarrell in The Nation in 1942:

What has impressed everybody about modernist poetry is its differentness. The familiar and rather touching “I like poetry—but not modern poetry” is only another way of noticing what almost all criticism has emphasized: that modernist poetry is a revolutionary departure from the romantic poetry of the preceding century.

In his essay, “Poets Without Laurels,” (1938) John Crowe Ransom writes, “Modern poetry is pure poetry.” Just as the isolated skill of “statecraft” has replaced state and religion blended into one, poetry is no longer epic, religious, sweeping, but small, aesthetic, specialized. Just as Puritanism isolates morality from the old pomp of the Catholic Church and seals it up in the devotee’s heart, modern poetry isolates, as a special value, pure aesthetics from morality and everything else.

Robert Penn Warren in his lecture at Princeton in 1942, “Pure and Impure Poetry” wrestled with Ransom’s idea of modern poetry as “pure.” Context, for Warren, keeps interfering with purity, in the same way excess of feeling naturally brings on mockery—Ransom’s “purity” has porous borders; Eliot’s “objective correlative” demands Shelley’s love admit a desire for sex (loosely speaking); in order for the sex to remain hidden, however, poetry must be obscure; and so Modernist obscurity ascends the throne; Shelley and Poe’s poetry excludes the unpleasant, the ugly, the immoral; modern poetry, in its attempt to break with Romanticism (including Dryden, Milton, and Shakespeare) includes these things, includes the vulgar, includes whatever was once aesthetically left out. In order for the modern contradiction of inclusive, lyric “purity” to work, however, obscurity is required, unless one is prepared to advance past Shelley by introducing sex into one’s poems, which the Moderns were not willing to do.

Eliot, in “Hamlet and his Problems” calls Hamlet a failure because Hamlet’s “disgust” with his mother (she is having sex with his uncle) isn’t handled properly.

I began this essay by referring to the modern poets’ “error,” unnoticed due to its obvious nature; and here it is.

The attachment of “modern” to poetry obscures and distracts from the poetry—in the very same manner that obscurity itself is the chief problem of modernist poetry (Jarrell’s “I like poetry—but not modern poetry” self-consciously expresses this public distaste).

And why is modern poetry obscure?

Ransom’s modernist, art for art’s sake, division of labor, puritanical evolution in the direction of “purity” ran headlong into Poe’s narrow and practical definition—the inevitable, self-conscious, progressive, boiling down of the essential nature of the poem as Critical object in Lord Bacon’s laboratory.

Trapped by the exclusionary nature of the pure lyric poem, which had been freed from its old epic duties as historian and moral story teller, the Romantic lyric is the inescapable reality facing the “revolutionary” Modern.

In the early 20th century, a desperate gambit followed—make the uneasy purity of the modern lyric a product which includes, rather than excludes, all things which are not poetic, or beautiful, or traditionally aesthetic.

But to arrive at purity by including all sorts of things is impossible. Therefore exclusion had to be practiced (the soul of all art is exclusion) in such a way as to somehow pretend inclusion (sex accompanying love, disgust accompanying restraint, confusion accompanying focus, laughter accompanying sorrow) and you have the modern poets practicing something impossible to pull off, with obscurity the natural result.  This was, and is, modern poetry.

To be lyric, clear, Romantic, beautiful is to go back. Modern meant forward, out of the trenches of Poe, into the arms of everything—which, by its inclusive nature, ruins pure poetry, the old pure poetry which excludes.

Like the beautiful English poets, who almost to a man, ran headlong into the Great War of 1914, poetry, in the same historical instant, ran into the arms of insanity, busyness, mockery, excess, obscurity, unease, the mundane, pain, ugliness, and death.

We arrive now at Delmore Schwartz and his essay “The Isolation of Modern Poetry.”

In his essay, published in John Crowe Ransom’s Kenyon Review in 1941, Schwartz is certain that the poet is isolated from modern society. Not because, as T.S. Eliot says, modern society is complex and therefore modern poetry needs to be complex, and therefore difficult, and therefore the modern poet is likely to be misunderstood—Schwartz finds this relationship “superficial.”

Mr. Eliot is seldom superficial in any regard; here, however, I think he is identifying the surface of our civilization with the surface of our poetry. But the complexity of modern life, the disorder of the traffic on a business street or the variety of reference in the daily newspaper is far from being the same thing as the difficulties of syntax, tone, diction, metaphor, and allusion which face the reader in the modern poem.

If only Delmore had spent the entire essay confuting Mr. Eliot!  His essay might have unlocked many anti-Modernist insights.  Those who hate Eliot for vague reasons—too English, too Anglican, too stuffy—are wrong, but those who find Eliot invincible in his judgments are dangerously wrong. Good to see Delmore wasn’t afraid of taking on the master.

But Schwartz goes on to say a similar thing: modern society doesn’t care for poetry; the poet’s isolation, therefore, is extreme.  Schwartz doesn’t blame people, but society.  Bankers and insurance salesmen cannot like poetry—the way they make their living prohibits it.

The fundamental isolation of the modern poet began not with the poet and his way of life; but rather with the whole way of life of modern society. It was not so much the poet as it was poetry, culture, sensibility, imagination, that were isolated.

After rebuking Eliot, Schwartz goes on for the rest of the essay to entirely agree with him.  Poetry, as Schwartz points out, is not the same as a busy street. Eliot is too blase, is what Schwartz is saying. Complex life, complex poetry. But Schwartz sees a much deeper problem. The complexity of modern life does not provide new material for the poet (Eliot’s rather optimistic view) but rather obliterates all connections between ordinary people caught up in that complexity and the poet who wishes to communicate with those modern readers. According to Schwartz:

There have been unsuccessful efforts on the part of able poets to write about bankers and about railroad trains, and in such examples the poet has been confronted by what seems on the surface a technical problem, the extraordinary difficulty of employing poetic diction, meter, language, and metaphor in the contexts of modern life.

Delmore then gives us the example of Wallace Stevens:

At the conclusion of his reading of his own poetry, this poet and business man remarked to one of the instructors who had welcomed him: “I wonder what the boys at the office would think of this.”

But this seems as superficial as T.S Eliot’s point about modern life forcing the modern poet to be “difficult.”  Why do we assume “the boys in the office” cannot like poetry?

Modern life impacts all persons—and a poet is a person. No matter how different life or society has become, the poet experiences society in the same ocean of experience as everyone else, no matter what kind of “poet” he is; for the materials the poet uses is under discussion when we talk about banks and trains.  The poet of ancient Greece, or the poet of any society at any point in history, has a duty to speak to other members of society—otherwise what kind of poet is he?  If he chooses to write about banks and trains, or not, he still will be understood as a poet—for when Delmore rebuked TS Eliot, this was exactly his point—poetry is not the same as banks and trains.

Schwartz is saying modern life is far more than a busy street.  It is far worse.  Modern life is not merely more complex.  It kills the soul, is really what Schwartz is saying.  But unfortunately, this is nothing but hyperbole.  The soul is forever doing battle with life—modern or not.

If the whole of society has succumbed to the not-poetic, then society is isolated from itself, and everyone is afflicted, not just the poet.

Either the poet’s modern audience is similarly affected, or not.

If not, the poet needs to bridge the gap—with poetry—that’s what poets do and why we call it poetry. (And write anguished essays about how poetry has flown and the poet is isolated.) In ancient times, or now.

And if the poet’s audience is similarly afflicted, then wherefore the “isolation?”

Is it because most of society finds insurance firms attractive and the poet does not? Of course not; we must assume a thread of humanity connecting poet and audience re: the non-poetic aspect of insurance firms. No one finds insurance firms attractive.

Schwartz also brings up money. Insurance firms make money and poetry does not, and therefore the poet is ashamed, of no worth, pitied, and therefore isolated, by society. But imagine if Keats were born to a fortune. He would not be Keats. Poetry is so valuable—as to be like money in the fortune it bestows upon its worshipers, but it is not money—does not belong to exchange—otherwise it would not be wealthy in what it is: poetry, which is not, but which rivals, the good fortune of money. What Schwartz is doing is feeling sorry for himself, and using society (which isolates him, the poet) as the excuse—and the transferring of the self-pity (in a Marxist sort of way) into a philosophy, which, in the long run, only makes the individual feel worse, because the self-pity grows in an abstract (disguised) manner.

Therefore, the “difficulty,” or the “famous obscurity” of modern poetry, as Schwartz calls it, is because the modern poet writes not from a common place shared by modern society (banks, insurance firms) but from the poet’s own peculiar, eccentric, isolated self, pushed into a corner by the massively complex (agreeing with Eliot more than he realizes) and non-poetic aspects of modern life.

Again, however: if the society lacks poetry (hasn’t it always?) it follows that poetry must be dearly desired in every quarter.

Poetry, we must assume, is good, is happiness, (since isolating it is bad) and happiness is what modern society lacks (surely the poet doesn’t wish misery on anyone in the name of poetry). The insurance salesman, lacking poetry, needs it, and no amount of enforced, self-pitying, isolationism will possibly be able to provide poetry to the insurance salesman.

Either poetry is being stamped out, and therefore is more necessary than ever, or modern society is inventing different means of delivering poetry without poets themselves being necessary (at least not the self-defeating, bad poets).

In order to prove that the poet was once fully integrated into society, Schwartz provides a few dubious examples: the ancient drama “festivals” which were the talk of the ancient town. But surely this was the ancient equivalent of Hollywood, not poetry in the modern sense. And who thinks of “festivals” as steady poetry employment which earns a living, anyway?

He claims “the Bible” was once the common picture for society at large, until it was eclipsed in the 18th and the 19th centuries by science and Darwin. But shouldn’t this be good news for the poets, who get a chance to replace the priests?

He mentions Blake as one of the first modern rebels, ushering in the new “obscurity” of poetry no longer able to rely on the Bible. But what could be less obscure than the “Tyger” or “Songs of Innocence?”

Schwartz then comes to Baudelaire, the poet who espouses the poetry of clouds, art for art’s sake, the modern poet refusing to write of heroic or “respectable” things, an orphan, cut off from family and all things universal, since with the fall of the Bible, follows the fall of Man. But here Delmore is applying rope to the “helpless” poet—when we know it is precisely poetry which unties all ropes.

Delmore thinks poetry isn’t free, since he applies “modern” to both society and poetry.

But this is a knot easily broken by anyone not ready to embrace the self-pity which insists “modernity” is our dreadful fate.

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