SECRETS INCREASE LEAD, STRANGERS MAKE PITCHING CHANGES

Bram Stoker - IMDb

Bram Stoker, manager of the Strangers. “We’ve got to do something.”

~~~

Ben Franklin’s Boston Secrets 41 23 —
Harvey Weinstein’s Westport Actors 33 31 (8)
P.T. Barnum’s Fairfield Animals 31  33 (10)
J.P. Morgan’s New York War 31 33 (10)
David Lynch’s Virginia Strangers 26 38 (15)

~~~

Ben Franklin’s Boston Secrets are pulling away from the pack in the Society Division.

Emily Dickinson is hitting with power, and also hitting close to .400.  Dickinson, Robert Frost, and Woody Guthrie in the middle of the Secrets lineup have been relentless. Especially in the clutch. They are confident and clear-eyed, seeing right through any philosophical obscurities the opposing pitchers might bring. And every time one looks up, Nathaniel Hawthorne, the lead-off hitter, is on base, a statue in a dream.

The rest of the lineup: Cole Porter batting second, moves runners over, always making contact; Carl Sandburg handles everything hit his way at third; Paul Simon and Kanye West draw walks, and patrol their outfield positions with risk, recklessness, and brilliance.

George Washington, stolid in the dugout, sees everything, calmly watching, inspiring his players in an almost preternatural manner.

Washington is ably assisted by his coaching staff: Winfield Scott, JFK, Clarence Thomas.

The Secrets bench is deep: Washington Irving, James Fenimore Cooper, William Cullen Bryant, John Prine, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Bob Tonucci, Stephen Cole, Dolly Parton, Willie Nelson.

The pitching staff is doing its job.  Poe, Plato, Pushkin, and Moliere represent the scientific ingenuity, passion, and virtue of the artificial republic which Ben Franklin, owner of the Secrets, helped create, a method of society delicately balanced between loyalty and deal-making, a reality which not does not merely think—but out-thinks the enemies amassed around it.

Edgar Poe is 5-2 in his last 9 starts. He didn’t win his first game until the middle of May.  Plato has been good from the start, with 4 shutouts and a record of 11-4.  Pushkin is 8-1 and has only walked 10 batters in 121 innings. Moliere had a rough start to the season, but is 3-1 in his last 6 outings. The bullpen by committee is getting the job done: Francis Scott Key, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

David Lynch’s Strangers are now fifteen games out of first.

Replacing Samuel Beckett (3-8) in the starting rotation will be Salvador Dali.

One can see why Camus might pitch for a team called the Strangers. But Camus is 2-11.

Camus will be dropped from the rotation in favor of Franz Kafka.

“Sometimes minimalism and existentialism work in sports competition, and sometimes they don’t.”

So David Lynch began his remarks announcing the changes—team moves Strangers fans are divided on. Many love Camus and Beckett. But the Strangers are in last place in the Society Division, and falling fast.

Bram Stoker, the Strangers manager, agreed it was time for a change.

“How restless I’ve felt, these last few weeks,” Stoker said. “I’ve struggled with these changes! How fast the summer is moving, a summer of poetry and philosophy in the misty shadows of the plunging blood red sun! How much longer can we stand this torture! Something must be done!”

Franz Kafka was brought on board a week ago, where he is 0-2 in relief for the Strangers, losing one run games to new bullpen aces for the Animals (A.E. Milne) and the War (Jack London). But Kafka showed he has the stuff, fanning 12 in the 7 innings he worked. Let’s see how he does as a starter.  This will leave a hole in relief, and the Strangers have had a shaky bullpen: H.P Lovecraft, Antonin Artaud, Robert Bloch, Philip K. Dick, Shirley Jackson.

The Strangers can hit. Power comes from the “PoweR BRotheRs”—Rimbaud, Rabelais, and Roethke. Theodore “Ted” Roethke just went on a tear, hitting 7 homers in 15 games—he now has 14, putting him among the Poetry League leaders. The lineup is good from top to bottom: Mary Shelley leading off, Fernando Pessoa batting second, then the 3 Rs, Paul Verlaine Weldon Kees, and Laura Riding, one of the best fielding shortstops in the league.

You can have a great lineup, but if your pitchers aren’t throwing strikes, no team can win.

Alexander Pope has won 7, and Nietzsche, 6—the no. 1 and 2 starter for the Strangers.  They will have to turn things up a notch if they’re going to catch the Secrets.

J.P. Morgan, who owns the War, was not expecting his nephew, the poet Harry Crosby, to hit home runs. He was just hoping he would hold down left field and get on base, occasionally.  But he’s belted 10 home runs, and may be moved up in the order—he currently bats seventh. The War trails the Secrets in the Society Division by 10 games. Stephen Crane, 359. 16 homers, is producing from the cleanup spot, but much more was expected from Philip Sidney (.224 4 homers) batting third. Apollinaire only has 5 homers and a .220 batting average batting fifth, and Rupert Brooke is striking out way too much in the lead-off spot.

Shakespeare, the War’s ace, has hit 4 homers, but in a terrible blow to the War’s fortunes, he will be out for 3 weeks, and up until now he only owns a 7-6 record with a 4.11 ERA.  The expectations were so high, and out there on the mound he sometimes uses comedy when he should use tragedy, a speech when he should use a song, a stage direction when he should use a dance. Walter Scott, as the War’s no. 2 starter is among the league’s leaders in wins (8), Erich Remarque, the no. 3 starter has won 7, but David Hume is 5-8.

Jack London (2-0 0.00 ERA) has just been signed to anchor the bullpen and may be what the War needs.  He joins RIchard Aldington, Edward Gibbon, and Giordano Bruno in the relief corps. Edward Gibbon will start a few games for the injured Shakespeare.

P.T. Barnum’s Animals are tied with the War for third. Wallace Stevens is finally starting to hit from the cleanup spot and Amy Lowell continues her amazing run; she lost her first game of the season just this week, when Moliere of the Secrets matched her pitch for pitch, strikeout for strikeout, until the bottom of the ninth when Paul Dunbar homered to win it for the Secrets, 1-0.  Amy gave Animals fans a scare when she winced in pain surrendering that home run—she will have to miss a start, but the doctors say it’s not serious. A.A. Milne has been added to the Animals bullpen, and he’ll pitch in Amy’s spot next week. Verne has won 8 games for the Animals, but Ovid and Melville have been struggling—much of it due to lack of run support; this lineup needs to do more, offensively—Jack Spicer, Edward Lear, Seamus Heaney, Stevens, Marianne Moore, Robinson Jeffers, Mary Oliver, and Larry Ferlinghetti.

That leaves Harvey Weinstein’s Actors, in second place, the closest team in the Society Division to the Secrets, at 8 games back. “They’re (the Secrets) too comfortable,” Actor manager Johnny Depp said; “we’ve got to put some pressure on them, let them know we’re here, make them look back.”

Norman Mailer replaced Henry Beecher in the starting rotation for the Actors, and dazzled in his first three starts (2-1 0.40 ERA). Petronius is starting to win (5-2 in his last 7 starts, including a 3-2 loss to Amy Lowell) and if streaky Byron and Chaucer can be more consistent (both have 3 shutouts), the Secrets can certainly be caught. Sade, Flaubert, Gide, and Richard Rorty have been good but not great in relief.

Thomas Nashe has 16 home runs for the Actors and Hafiz and Amiri Baraka have both hit 10. At the top of the Actors order, John Skelton and Langston Hughes will have to get on base more, if Westport is to really turn into an offensive machine.

Scarriet caught up to Lord Byron, pitching ace for Weinstein’s Actors, for a few words.

Scarriet: Hey, George, how’s it going?

Byron: Pardon?

Scarriet: Scarriet. May we get a quick interview?

Byron: Pardon? Oh (looking closer) Scarriet. Yes. Sorry. How are you?

Scarriet: What’s it been like to be in this league?

Byron: Like? Why does everyone use that word? It’s been wonderful. Yes, I enjoy it.

Scarriet: Do you like the States? The world, now?

Byron: No, yes. No. It’s vulgar. It’s too vulgar for me. Americans are intelligent, but they use their intelligence for all the wrong things. (Pause) They have no sense of—it’s hard to describe. Well, they’re all pigs, actually. There. I’ve said it. Is that alright?

Scarriet: Sure.

Byron: But I love this league. The game is great.

Scarriet: Your team isn’t exactly scoring a lot of runs when you pitch.  And you pitch against the best. Plato.

Byron: Oh God. He shut me out.

Scarriet: Pope.

Byron: He shut me out.  But then I got under his skin. I teased him.  He loses to me now. Three in a row.  The Strangers. We always beat them. We’re stranger than they are.

Scarriet: Shakespeare.

Byron: He’s on a lousy team. The War. The first time I faced him, I was nervous, and pitched badly, and he won. But now it’s alright. It was great. My best game when I beat him.

Scarriet: I remember. You struck out—

Byron: 13! 11?

Scarriet: You struck out 13 and—

Byron: I didn’t walk anybody. I was a beast.

Scarriet: You beat Shakespeare 1-0, and allowed 2 hits.

Byron: Two hits from a perfect game. Crosby, that snotty brat, got a hit.  And Philip. The great one. Sidney. A ground ball up the middle.

Scarriet: Ovid.

Byron: I shut him out twice! But then he beat me, 3-2. Just this week. I don’t like him. He’s vulgar. Poetry as sex advice! Really?

Scarriet: Will the Actors catch the Secrets?

Byron: I don’t care. Maybe, yes… I wish I played for the Secrets. Plato, Pushkin, Poe. Have you read Poe?  A master. How is it that Poe’s an American?  What happened to America? You guys are disgusting now.  I guess it’s bound to happen. Successful country. Too much leisure. The sellers crowding in. The modern world. Who could have imagined. Frightfully pleasurable. I must say. But the individual is what matters. I suppose. (pause) Good music. Fresh air. I’ve got to go now. Bye.

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

 

 

ROMANTIC BRACKET PLAY IN THE SUBLIME MADNESS TOURNEY!

Image result for Tennyson

The fan turnout has been unbelievable for this year’s Madness tournament. Everyone is flying to Madness Island for these games.  And Marla Muse has been quite the hostess.

Marla Muse: I love the Romantic poets!

In Round One play, first seed artist/poet William Blake (the Tyger), who died in the first quarter of the 19th century, takes on 16th seeded author and wit Oscar Wilde, who died at the 19th century’s close.

Blake’s Tyger should terrify any opponent; Blake’s music is like a hammer, like Beethoven, or like heavy metal—what simplicity, what power: “Tyger, Tyger, burning bright in the forest of the night.” One has no problem imagining Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin singing this.

Wilde’s essay “The Critic As Artist” is like the music of Ravel:

We are sometimes apt to think that the voices that sounded at the dawn of poetry were simpler, fresher, and more natural than ours, and that the world which the early poets looked at, and through which they walked, had a kind of poetical quality of its own, and almost without changing could pass into song. The snow lies thick now upon Olympus, and its steep, scraped sides are bleak and barren, but once, we fancy, the white feet of the Muses brushed the dew from the anemones in the morning, and at evening came Apollo to sing to the shepherds in the vale. But in this we are merely lending to other ages what we desire, or think we desire, for our own. Our historical sense is at fault. Every century that produces poetry is, so far, an artificial century, and the work that seems to us to be the most natural and simple product of its time is always the result of the most self-conscious effort. There is no fine art without self-consciousness, and self-consciousness and the critical spirit are one.

Interesting contest, because Wilde insists on the “self-consciousness” of the “critic/artist” in the face of Blake, perhaps the most impetuous, and least self-conscious, artist who ever lived.

Blake romps, to the blood-curdling yells of his fans, and advances to Round Two.  So long, Oscar!  You are right.  The artist needs the self-consciousness of the critic. The bullied child is full of knowledge.

~~~~~~~~

Goethe’s poetic drama, Faust v. Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” a poem as iconic as Blake’s Tyger.

We kept the devil away for two millennia, thanks to the Christian religion—whether the “devil” really exists, or not.  Life is merely the play of our imagination—so say the non-religious; so why then, do they object to Christianity so much?  If Christianity is real, or it’s poetry, it’s still pretty good poetry.  In this passage from Goethe, Faust, the professor, woos a Christian peasant:

Gretchen: You don’t believe in God?

Faust: Do not misunderstand me, my love, my queen!
Who can name him?
Admit on the spot:
I believe in him?
And who can dare
To perceive and declare:
I believe in him not?
The All-Embracing One,
The All-Upholding One,
Does he not embrace, uphold,
You, me, Himself?
Does not the Heaven vault itself above us?
Is not the earth established fast below?
And with their friendly glances do not
Eternal stars rise over us?
Do not my eyes look into yours,
And all things thrust
Into your head, into your heart,
And weave in everlasting mystery
Invisibly, visibly, around you?
Fill your heart with this, great as it is,
And when this feeling grants you perfect bliss,
Then call it what you will—
Happiness! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for it!
Feeling is all;
Name is mere sound and reek
Clouding Heaven’s light.

Gretchen: That sounds quite good and right;
And much as the priest might speak,
Only not word for word.

Faust: It is what all hearts have heard
In all the places heavenly day can reach,
Each in his own speech;
Why not I in mine?

Gretchen: I could almost accept it, you make it sound so fine,
Still there is something in it that shouldn’t be;
For you have no Christianity.

Faust: Dear child!

Gretchen: It has long been a grief to me
To see you in such company.

Faust: You mean?

Gretchen: The man who goes about with you.
I hate him in my soul, through and through.
And nothing has given my heart
In my whole life so keen a smart
As that man’s face, so dire, so grim.

Faust: Beloved child, don’t be afraid of him!

“Feeling is all,” says professor Faust, wooing by expanding Christian love to include sex. A great speech, Gretchen acknowledges, though not quite true to the words of my religion. This “not quite” is finally the only “not quite” there is.  Faust says religion is whatever good thing our hearts hear, but Gretchen’s Christian heart won’t be melted by that, and then she mentions Mephistopheles, and again, without learning, she instinctively understands, in the most innocent simplicity, that something is not right. First she rejects the idea of “what Faust’s individual heart thinks” and then she rejects “how the devil’s individual face looks.” For Gretchen, a standard judges the individual. Faust comes from the opposite direction—the individual is supreme. Gretchen eventually is seduced—because she is an individual.

Everyone knows Emily Dickinson’s great poem. But here it is no match for the mesmerizing Faust!

Goethe advances!

~~~~~~~

Coleridge’s Kubla Khan versus Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.  Third seed, fourteenth seed.

Why do we include Marx in a sublime contest with poets?

Because this idea shook the world:

“There is a physical relation between physical things. But it is different with commodities.”

There. It is that simple.  With one blow, Marx broke everything in two. A  ghost inhabited every object.

Trade, or capitalism, existed long before Marx—the word “commodity” came into use in English in the 15th century.

A country has excess grain and trades it for coffee, and now it has grain and coffee, two things instead of one.

Commodity meant “convenience” or “advantage,” and it was a good thing as long as trade produced a greater variety for everyone.

But as trade became more sophisticated, commodity pricing—trade for the sake of trade—replaced things themselves.

Commodities were still things, up until Marx.  As trade became weaponized, a commodity was now more valuable and sacred than a thing.

And this happened just when mass wealth began to upset the old hierarchical order.  A new hierarchy of hoarded wealth emerged, and Marx was the bitter result.

We say “bitter result,” because with bad faith trading, things were no longer what they were; everything was ephemeral and relative, and nothing was stable.

The sublime slid into the fast and the commonplace in a manner that was nearly sublime.  Marx is nearly sublime, but not finally sublime. He fell into what he criticized.

Kubla Khan by Coleridge is sublime.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Coleridge advances.

~~~~~

Shelley (the Cloud) v. Hawthorne (the Scarlet Letter)

The passage from Nathaniel Hawthorne is lovely and sublime:

She inherited her mother’s gift for devising drapery and costume. As the last touch to her mermaid’s garb, Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother’s. A letter,—the letter A,—but freshly green, instead of scarlet! The child bent her chin upon her breast, and contemplated this device with strange interest; even as if the one only thing for which she had been sent into the world was to make out its hidden import.

Now here is the excerpt from Shelley’s “The Cloud:”

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

And since in Shelley’s divine poetry, he captures the roving and playful essence of Hawthorne’s Pearl, Shelley advances.

~~~~~~~

John Keats v. R.H. Horne

The Englishman Richard Henry Horne (1802-1884) fought for Mexican independence in the 1820s, was a literary friend of Elizabeth Barrett (before she became Browning) and Charles Dickens in the 1840s, called himself the “father of the Australian wine industry,” as he spent most of the 1850s in Australia, and spent the last 25 years of his life in London. He published plays, and an epic poem, “Orion,” which Edgar Poe praised in 1844. From “Orion:”

There, underneath the boughs, mark where the gleam
Of sunrise through the roofing’s chasm is thrown
Upon a grassy plot below, whereon
The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream,
Swift rolling toward the cataract, and drinks,
While ever and anon the nightingale,
Not waiting for the evening, swells his hymn—
His one sustained and heaven aspiring tone—
And when the sun hath vanished utterly,
Arm over arm the cedars spread their shade,
With arching wrist and long extended hands,
And grave-ward fingers lengthening in the moon,
Above that shadowy stag whose antlers still
Hung o’er the stream.

The painting here is quite admirable, and there is a certain Miltonic force to Horne’s long poem—all but forgotten today.

Keats, who lived less than a third of Horne’s long life, rose to remarkable fame, and Horne was one of the few, early on, to praise Keats.

From Hyperion:

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.

How interesting it would be, if Horne would win…

Holy God!  He does!  R.H. Horne advances!

~~~~~~~

Marla Muse: Blake, Goethe, Coleridge, and Shelley—not much surprise that these advance. And R.H. Horne in an upset!

How many outside this tournament even know who Horne is, Marla?

Marla Muse: I see quite a few fans studying their programs with puzzled looks!

Is it not strange that Richard Horne wrote thousands of letters to Elizabeth Barrett, before Robert ran away with her? And Poe, who loved “Orion,” also corresponded with Elizabeth, when she was still Barrett, and that Poe dedicated his 1845 Poems to her?

Marla Muse: O that is sweet! And speaking of which, look who is coming this way!

Elizabeth Barrett versus Pushkin!!

Both of these entries are stunning!

First Elizabeth Barrett, from her epic poem, The Drama of Exile:

On a mountain peak
Half sheathed in primal woods and glittering
In spasms of awful sunshine, at that hour
A lion crouched,—part raised upon his paws,
With his calm massive face turned full on thine,
And his mane listening. When the ended curse
Left silence in the world, right suddenly
He sprang up rampant, and stood straight and stiff,
As if the new reality of death
Were dashed against his eyes,—and roared so fierce,
(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)—
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales
To distant silence,—that the forest beasts,
One after one, did mutter a response
In savage and in sorrowful complaint
Which trailed along the gorges.

I don’t think many of our March Madness fans are acquainted with this side of Elizabeth Barrett!

“Which trailed along the gorges.” What a vast, dramatic scene she paints!

This is masterful.

And a lyric poem from Pushkin, who is so adept at breaking one’s heart:

If I walk the noisy streets,
or enter a many thronged church,
or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts.

I say to myself: the years are fleeting,
and however many there seem to be,
we must all go under the eternal vault,
and someone’s hour is already at hand.

When I look at a solitary oak
I think: the patriarch of the woods.
It will outlive my forgotten age
as it outlived that of my grandfathers’.

If I caress a young child,
immediately I think: Farewell!
I will yield my place to you,
for I must fade while your flower blooms.

Each day, every hour
I habitually follow in my thoughts,
trying to guess from their number
the year which brings my death.

And where will fate send death to me?
In battle, in my travels, or on the seas?
Or will the neighbouring valley
receive my chilled ashes?

And although to the senseless body
it is indifferent wherever it rots,
yet close to my beloved countryside
I still would prefer to rest.

And let it be, beside the grave’s vault
Young life forever will be playing,
and impartial, indifferent nature
Spreads, forever staying.

Which is more sublime?

Pushkin, who puts his whole, melancholy life into one beautiful lyric poem?

Or Barrett, who displays artistic unity in one sublime passage?

Elizabeth Barrett wins!

~~~~~~

And look who we have now!

Marla Muse: I don’t think I can contain my excitement!

Byron versus Poe!!

This is one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever had for March Madness. Poe against Byron.  The fans are merry, not melancholy, as the excitement lifts up even the most melancholy and literary of spirits.

Sometimes we swear the sublime is simply that which is terribly sad.

Is there anything sadder than this excerpt from Byron’s poem, “Darkness?”

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

This is so beautiful: “as they dropp’d they slept on the abyss without a surge.”  Listen to this, children!  This is poetry.  No mere fop, Byron.

Poe counters with an ‘end of the world’ tale of his own; not everything Poe wrote became famous. The entry is a passage from Poe’s neglected “Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” (two spirits named after Cleopatra’s attendants) which imagines a comet approaching earth; people are terrified, then realize the comet is merely made of gas, and can do no harm.  Halley’s comet (1835) would have been seen by Poe a few years prior to writing this tale, and, in 1832, there actually was a “comet panic” in which scientists miscalculated, and said a comet was going to hit the earth.  Poe’s stories tend to be based on facts, or at least actual scary events.

The prevalence of oxygen in the comet has a pleasurable and life-giving effect at first, as it moves into our atmosphere.  Then Poe brings the hammer down:

It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen, and seventy-nine of nitrogen, in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion, and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result, it had been ascertained, in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea, which had engendered awe. What would be the result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion irresistible, all-devouring, omni-prevalent, immediate; — the entire fulfillment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.

Why need I paint, Charmion, the now disenchained frenzy of mankind? That tenuity in the comet which had previously inspired us with hope, was now the source of the bitterness of despair. In its impalpable gaseous character we clearly perceived the consummation of Fate. Meantime a day again passed — bearing away with it the last shadow of Hope. We gasped in the rapid modification of the air. The red blood bounded tumultuously through its strict channels. A furious delirium possessed all men; and, with arms rigidly outstretched towards the threatening heavens, they trembled and shrieked aloud. But the nucleus of the destroyer was now upon us; — even here in Aidenn, I shudder while I speak. Let me be brief — brief as the ruin that overwhelmed. For a moment there was a wild lurid light alone, visiting and penetrating all things. Then — let us bow down, Charmion, before the excessive majesty of the great God! — then, there came a shouting and pervading sound, as if from the mouth itself of Him; while the whole incumbent mass of ether in which we existed, burst at once into a species of intense flame, for whose surpassing brilliancy and all-fervid heat even the angels in the high Heaven of pure knowledge have no name. Thus ended all.

Which deserves to win?  The sublime poetry of Byron? Or the hypnotizing prose of Poe?

The March Madness committee fears a riot—whoever wins, both sides loyal and passionate, as one might expect of those souls who gather beneath the banner, Byron, or the banner, Poe.

But the crowd is calmer than expected. Deadly quiet, even.

And with a whisper comes the result: “The winner is the poet, Lord Byron!”

~~~~~~~

And the final First Round contest in the Romantic Bracket—Cornelius Matthews versus Lord Tennyson!!

Everyone knows this by Tennyson. His sublime poem, The Splendor Falls, quoted in its entirety:

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowng!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

This may be the most iconic poem ever.

Marla Muse: It makes me want to faint!

Oh, Marla, people love to catch you when you fall!

Marla Muse: I know! (laughter)

Cornelius Matthews wrote a 34 stanza poem called “Wakondah,” from which has been selected one beautiful line, selected once, for praise, by Poe, in a review in which he otherwise mocked the work.

And then we find in a letter from Poe to Matthews—where Poe asks Matthews for R.H. Horne’s address—that Poe, in his review of “Wakondah,” was only kidding, and has since become terribly ashamed, and sorry.

Ah, Letters!

The line is:

Green dells that into silence stretch away

Magnificent!

It will be amazing to see if a single line of sublimity can beat Tennyson.

But first we must attend to Marla Muse.

She has fainted.

FINAL ROUND ONE PROSE BRACKET BATTLE IN MADNESS: DICKENS VS. HAWTHORNE

Image result for nathaniel hawthorne

The young Nathaniel Hawthorne. He aged quickly.

Empires are obsessed with money.

Their colonies are obsessed with sex.

The greatest author of the British Empire, Charles Dickens, invented Scrooge.

The first great prose writer in America, Nathaniel Hawthorne, wrote a famous book about adultery, The Scarlet Letter.

Religion handles the problem of sexual misconduct—the poor, with their suffering, often find their only real pleasure in sex; the rich have many pleasures, and sex might be one of them: money buys all.

Dickens was immensely popular in England, (the first serialized fiction writer; like TV before TV) but due to international copyright laws, his works were published at no cost in the United States—Edgar Poe complained vociferously of this, because U.S. authors were slighted, since American publishers would rather print British works for free than take a chance on an American author.  Poe, gentleman that he was, cared for money, fame, and country (he did not write about sex).  Dickens agreed with Poe, and on a tour of America in 1842, Dickens collected and delivered to the U.S. Congress signatures of American authors who were against the international copyright laws which hurt both Dickens and Poe.

Hawthorne was a strange, reclusive man, whose ancestor was a Salem witch trial judge, and he married an artistic, reclusive woman.  They did have three children, and Hawthorne was certainly a man of the world, but his fiction deals with madness and secret desires.

Dickens wrote from the Christian, domestic center of an expanding worldwide empire and his morals were sunny and simple—despite London nearly ruling the world, London was full of the wretchedly poor, and Dickens wrote for them.

And this line sums up Dickens quite well:

A loving heart is the truest wisdom

When Hawthorne was a boy living in Salem, two events darkened his life: first, his sailor father died of yellow fever at sea, and second, president Thomas Jefferson imposed a shipping boycott—a response to Great Britain’s piratical belligerence in the early 19th century—which crushed maritime Salem’s economy.

Hawthorne died when the American Civil War was still raging. Pictures of him in his 50s (he died at 59) show a very old man. He was first recognized as a great author by Poe, with some reservations, since Hawthorne belonged to the Transcendentalist clique Poe disliked; Poe theorized brilliantly on the short story while reviewing Hawthorne’s tales—the Scarlet Letter was published after Poe’s death, and there’s whispers Hawthorne’s most famous work was based on the rumored affair of Poe and Fanny Osgood.

Hawthorne wrote, not for an Empire, but for an incestuous, puritan village.

Dickens’ characters had funny names.  Hawthorne’s characters had funny souls.

Here is Hawthorne’s line in the March Madness contest:

She had not known the weight until she felt the freedom.

Who is the greater genius?

The soaring, sentimental Dickens?

Or the burrowing, burning Hawthorne?

Purgatory puffing a pipe?

Or hell awake under a stone?

 

 

 

THE SALEM WITCH TRIALS? NO. THE BRITISH WITCH TRIALS

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Governor Phips: historically obscure, but the British knight ran the Witch Trials in his colonial territory.

Once again, Blog Scarriet, this time with almost the ease of a yawn, sets the whole world straight on something of much notoriety and importance.

The Salem witch trials do not properly belong to Salem, Massachusetts at all.

We do not refer to the quibble that hearings took place in other Massachusetts towns, that hangings took place in nearby Danvers, that judges were from Boston, or some other minor factual matter.

No, the issue is far more prominent: the Salem Witch Trials, as they are known, do not properly belong to American history; they belong to British history.

The famous trials which put 20 people, mostly women, to death, in 1692, were conducted by British officials in a British Colony run by the British.

The Trials, in the popular imagination, are inevitably used as an example of American religious extremism, which eclipsed due process in an orgy of superstitious mayhem, and yes, it is true, ‘seeing ghosts’ was the primary evidence against the accused.

The facts are these:

The trials could not commence until the British Crown created a new charter for their Massachusetts colony: this finally happened, after a lapse of many years due to religious strife in England, in 1692—the year in which all the trials and deaths occurred.

The man who put the trials together, whose authority made them happen, was William Phips, famous in London for recovering, as a British treasure hunter, a large treasure from a Spanish galleon. His successful treasure hunt earned him three things: wealth, a knighthood from the British Crown, and appointment to the 1st Governor of Massachusetts Bay.

Phips, a British knight, was the chief magistrate of the witch trials. Without his authority as British colonialist, the “Salem Witch Trials” simply don’t happen. Phips, neither refined nor educated, will die in London, on trial himself, for assault. If you don’t recognize his name, it’s because focus on Governor Phips gives an entirely different historical slant to the trials.

Was the witchcraft charge against Phips’ wife the reason the whole ugly charade was shut down months after it began?

It’s really not that difficult to be an historian.

We suggest Hollywood do a film on Phips: a colorful character; the so-called Salem Witch Trials would be just a backdrop, one episode, in his amazing life.

And also, it wouldn’t be a fail when they cast a British actor for an American role.

Salem was a great, early American maritime, city; with its ad hoc, privateer navy, Salem merchants, by themselves, captured 450 British vessels during the Revolution—a crucial way to fund a rebellion.

If this doesn’t happen, we probably don’t win the Revolution, and America doesn’t exist.

And yet Salem is known—for witches.

It makes you wonder who is writing our history.

The treasonous Thomas Jefferson’s embargo, as U.S. President, destroyed Salem as a maritime power; it is probably why the writings of the young Hawthorne, growing up in depressed Salem in the beginning of the 19th century, were so dark.

Here is the true darkness of Salem.

Not the Witch Trials.

They belong to an English knight.

 

 

 

COME ALONG QUIETLY

 

Edgar Poe’s take on quietude in this passage from late 1847 is almost identical with Ron Silliman’s general use of the term:

 “It is often said, inconsiderately, that very original writers always fail in popularity–that such and such persons are too original to be comprehended by the mass. “Too peculiar,” should be the phrase, “too idiosyncratic.” It is, in fact, the excitable, undisciplined and child-like popular mind which most keenly feels the original. The criticism of the conservatives, of the hackneys, of the cultivated old clergymen of the North American Review, is precisely the criticism which condemns and alone condemns it. “It becometh not a divine,” saith Lord Coke, “to be of a fiery and salamandrine spirit.” Their conscience allowing them to move nothing themselves, these dignitaries have a holy horror of being moved. “Give us quietude,” they say. Opening their mouths with proper caution, they sigh forth the word “Repose.” And this is, indeed, the one thing they should be permitted to enjoy, if only upon the Christian principle of give and take.”   —Poe (reviewing Hawthorne)

Silliman would never agree with Poe’s idea that “the popular mind most keenly feels the original” since Silliman’s avant-garde poetry stars are anything but popular.  But Silliman would appreciate Poe’s whack at the “cultivated old clergymen” and their “repose.”

Poe qualified his original praise of Hawthorne (1842) when he reviewed the Salem author again, in 1847.  It’s pretty obvious why Poe downgrades Hawthorne from an imaginative original in 1842 to a merely fanciful one in 1847:  Hawthorne was getting in too deep with the Transcendentalists.  He was renting from Mr. EmersonPoe pleads with Hawthorne at the end of his piece: mend [your] pen, [Mr. Hawthorne!] get a bottle of visible ink, come out from the Old Manse, cut Mr. Alcott, hang (if possible) the editor of “The Dial,” and throw out of the window to the pigs all his odd numbers of “The North American Review.” [!!]

Should Poe have changed his mind on Hawthorne just because Hawthorne had become friends with Emerson?  The Transcendalists hurt Poe into Criticism, so I say: why not?   The genius of Poe can love while it is hating, and it’s a pleasure to observe how Poe’s mind siezes on new insights as it ruefully revises in the 1847 article.

It might be worthwhile to take a peek at what Poe has to say regarding this “Quietude” business, since Poe did in fact originate the designation Silliman has for some time leaned on, and Seth Abramson is currently taking great pains to wrestle to the ground.

According to Poe, the novelty of a work is multi-dimensional, but quietude is simpler—either a work calms or agitates.  But it is possible, Poe contends, for a work to have both “repose” and originality, and this is what he praised in Hawthorne.

Originality in fiction, according to Poe, needs to aim at a middle ground above the merely “peculiar,” and below that “metaphysical originality”—reserved for science; the ‘higher’ type of originality will merely irritate the reader of fiction—who is looking for pleasure, not instruction.

As usual, Poe divides poetry from truth.  He also makes a case for literary talent as a quality worthy by itself and in itself and to be demonstrated, first, in a “rhymed composition which can be perused in under an hour” and owes its power to “rhythm,” and, secondly, in a work of short fiction naturally unshackled by that which contributes to beauty—the artificiality of rhythm.

Most moderns consider this all too neat and tidy, of course, but Poe’s course has the advantage of leaving a wider field for invention, creativity, energy, experiment and effort—precisely because he establishes the ‘neat and tidy’ in the beginning, and gets it out of the way.  No matter how rough-edged and complex we consider ourselves, the ‘neat and tidy’ eventually comes around to bite us.  Our metaphysics longs for smoothness at last. 

For instance, look at Seth Abramson.  He doesn’t begin where Poe begins.  Abramson stakes out his analysis this way: he chops the last 100 years of poetry into two tropes: transcendent (language as signifier) and immanent (language as signified).  But why should a writer ever consistenly divide himself, or limit himself, thus, especially since language cannot be interesting unless it do both at once, pretty much all the time?  An artificial division such as this one by Abramson cannot stand, without making a mockery of poetry, and if poetry over the last 100 years is a mockery in many respects, the public having totally deserted it, so much greater the urgency to bring sanity back all clean and such, and easy to demonstrate and see. (“get a bottle of visible ink“—Poe to Hawthorne in 1847)

Poe asks only for originality in a rhymed composition (unless you want to go for the short fiction).  He doesn’t care if it is transcendent or immanent in its use of language, or what manifesto or tribe, or agenda, or school, or what theory attend it.  Rhyme, and if you can’t rhyme, you’re doing it wrong.  You start with one or two simple rules, the simpler the better, and let genius make all the rules after that.

WAS HAWTHORNE’S THE SCARLET LETTER A FICTIONAL TREATMENT OF EDGAR ALLAN POE, REV. GRISWOLD & FANNY OSGOOD?

Did Nathaniel Hawthorne (left) exploit a contemporary, real-life drama in his most famous work?

Two famous poets died in 1850.

One was Margaret Fuller, who died in a shipwreck returning from Italy.   The other female poet was even more famous and more beloved than Margaret Fuller.   She was married to a painter, who painted the oval portaits seen above.  She was widely known in literary circles and was especially close to two men who will be forever linked in history: the anthologist Rufus Griswold and the poet Edgar Poe. (depicted above)

Her name is Frances Sargent Osgood. (depicted above)

Poe (d. 1849) as a dashing poet and a critic sympathetic to women scribblers, Osgood (d.1850) as legendary femme fatale poet and Griswold (d. 1857) Poe’s rival and the best-selling anthologist of his day—these three—helped to create an era that lasted into the 20th century, an era  in which the poetess out-sold the poet.

The Rev. Rufus Griswold’s anthology “Female Poets of America” made him the most powerful man in Letters.

Modernist poetry, more than anything, was about male energy muscling out the Woman’s Muse.   Poe was  libeled and Osgood was forgotten as Ezra Pound’s pedantic, bombastic, Futurist clique took control.

The alleged affair (which may have  produced a child) between Poe and Fanny  hurt Mrs. Osgood’s reputation but Nathaniel Hawthorne was among many literati who came to her defense.

Let’s allow the author of this theory to lay out her fascinating thesis:

“Fanny Osgood was already the most widely written about woman in American literature during the 1840s. Hundreds of stories and numerous poems were written about the Poe-Fanny-Virginia triangle. After their child’s death Fanny’s friends rallied around her to protect her, and the number of stories and poems about her situation increased. Publicly, her reputation suffered; but privately, sympathy was strongly in her court.”

After Poe’s death, and Fanny’s own fatal illness, she came to be regarded as downright saintly by her peers– for having been victimized by society over her relationship with Poe. Fanny Osgood and her plight had become a cause celebre. ‘Fanny worship’ was at an all-time high by the time of her death. Fanny had spent many years living abroad and had many close friends in England. Fanny Osgood was, most certainly, the Scarlet Woman of her time, and therefore, the most deserving of sympathy.

‘Fanny Worship’ was rife in the literary/artistic crowds who adored her. Fanny had spent many years living abroad and had many close friends in England. Fanny’s ‘gypsy life-style’ made her very popular in New York, Philadelphia, Providence, Richmond, Portland and even Saratoga Springs. Fanny also had many friends in her Transcendentalist and ‘Fourierist’ coteries in and around Boston, where both Poe and Fanny were born.

At one time, she and Sarah Helen Whitman were extremely close to Margaret Fuller, another highly controversial figure living and working primarily in the Boston area. Fanny Osgood knew all the people Fuller knew, and that was everyone: The Lowells, the Hawthornes, the Peabodys, the Fields, the Holmes, and surely, both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry Wadsworth Longfellow; but unlike Fuller, who most people (certainly Poe, Lowell and Hawthorne) grew to despise, Fanny was adored as a loving free spirit by virtually everyone.

Under these circumstances, it should not be surprising to learn that Poe, Fanny and their great romantic tragedy were used as characters by some of the greatest writers of their time. One of these was Nathaniel Hawthorne, who indeed, had experimented with Fourierism at Brook Farm, and whose wife, Sophia Peabody, had herself been under the spell of Margaret Fuller, much to Hawthorne’s displeasure.

Hawthorne’s The Scarlet Letter was published in 1850, within months of Poe’s and Fanny’s deaths. He felt compelled to write the tragedy of these two dear friends, to vent his own fury and sense of helplessness over the great loss he had suffered.

The characters of Hester Prynne and Rev. Dimmesdale are tributes to Poe and Fanny Osgood. The daughter, Pearl, represents Fanny Fay on some level, though Pearl’s personality seems clearly based on Hawthorne’s own daughter, Una, as well as on Fanny’s own childish and mercurial personality. The hideous, predatory Chillingsworth is Rufus Griswold, who was despised by Hawthorne, James Russell Lowell, N.P. Willis and virtually every writer of the time.

It must be remembered that Poe supported and mentored Hawthorne, but there were also bonds between Hawthorne and Fanny Osgood, who indeed, moved in the same circles in the Boston area. The bond between Hawthorne and Poe, between Hawthorne and Fanny Osgood, and their mutual friends provides an answer to, “Why would Hawthorne write a thinly veiled account of the Poe-Osgood melodrama?” For one thing, ‘it made great copy,’ but a close study of the letters and business transactions of the ‘Hawthorne Circle,’ during this period helps us understand that yes, The Scarlet Letter was intended as both a tribute and a requiem, for both Poe and Fanny.”

Cynthia Cirile http://www.10thhousepress.com/fiction.html

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