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Everything Reminds Me of Moby Dick: Maxine Kumin

It came to my attention while skimming the Women’s Review of Books that poet Maxine Kumin had died (nearly a year ago). I know nothing of Kumin’s work but this memorial piece by Robin Becker reminded me of something: The humor here belies the relationship Kumin negotiated with her own impulse toward reverence. The paradise […]

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Let No One Be Called (Updated: Audio)

Let No One Be Called (3:11) Perhaps it is better to have no legends. Let there be no letters composed into rigid words. Let no words be graven onto replicating presses. Let the forms be broken and the letters be molten. Let there be no more legends on the earth. Let life live and death die. […]

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Law On Her Brow

One would guess that “The Portent” is far and away Herman Melville’s most well-known poem (perhaps the only poem of his remembered or read by anyone other than an academic). It opens his book Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War (1866), and so opens the “Battle-Pieces” section of the book. This poem is about John […]

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In Silent Misconstrual Walks the Con

Coda to “Briggflatts” (1966) by Basil Bunting. A strong song tows us, long earsick. Blind, we follow rain slant, spray flick to fields we do not know. Night, float us. Offshore wind, shout, ask the sea what’s lost, what’s left, what horn sunk, what crown adrift. Where we are who knows of kings who sup […]

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A Lovers’ Quarrel

An audio recording by Doug Storm of “A Lovers’ Quarrel“ by Robert Browning from his volume Men and Women. A Lovers’ Quarrel by Robert Browning (1812-1889) I. Oh, what a dawn of day! How the March sun feels like May! All is blue again After last night’s rain, And the South dries the hawthorn-spray. Only, my […]

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Love Among the Ruins, Robert Browning (audio)

An audio recording of “Love Among the Ruins” by Robert Browning (1812-1889).   I. Where the quiet-coloured end of evening smiles, Miles and miles On the solitary pastures where our sheep Half-asleep Tinkle homeward thro’ the twilight, stray or stop As they crop— Was the site once of a city great and gay, (So they say) Of […]

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Unseconded Coming

Unseconded Coming* Returning I sallied out upon my special errand the sky changed and charged drivingly sleeting stubbornly storming I fought and found and entered a reigning silence of sailors wives and widows congregational against grief stormingly shrieking insularly sitting incommunicably apart seated I pretendingly quoting They steadfastingly eyeing black-bordered masoned marbled tableted sacredly worded […]

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Breaching the Sound

Breaching the Sound Born upon speculation only the gamble for the ground Anchored against the past our foundling fathers founder us Pledged to declarations constitutive bodies come unmoored Gauged between self and state owing all to each as purchased Sounding the breach    

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What Like a Bullet Can Undeceive!

Some poems from Melville’s Battle-Pieces and Aspects of the War.   The Portent. (1859.) Hanging from the beam, Slowly swaying (such the law), Gaunt the shadow on your green, Shenandoah! The cut is on the crown (Lo, John Brown), And the stabs shall heal no more. Hidden in the cap Is the anguish none can […]

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Empty Wonder Born On A Beach

I hope you’ll indulge me.  Below are three “versions” of Chapter 14 of Moby Dick.  The first is “after” Ronald Johnson’s, Paradise Lost (radi os), and so I try to excise the text to “leave” a poem behind.  The next section offers the poem in a conventional form, and the last section is the full […]

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Glorifying War Shall Not Grow Old

Concerning War Movies (prompted by a conversation about Peter Jackson’s movie They Shall Not Grow Old). In J. D. Salinger’s […]

Cutting Down the Clouds

This winter they are cutting down our woods more seriously than ever,—Fair Haven Hill, Walden, Linnaea Borealis Wood, etc. etc. […]

Representative Texts from Hawthorne to Dickinson

In your daily busyness you are pressed for time to think and often choose instead anesthetization – watching any number […]

Between Hope and Defeat, History and Heaven

“God himself culminates in the present moment.” (Thoreau) What is “now” for? What if you “know” the future? Fairy tales […]

Absolute Solutions Necessary

Only two things to do: 1. zero out carbon emissions 2. exception: all technological and scientific labor exploring new solutions […]

Rachel Carson’s book had no real effect

Facing Global Climate Disruption and the End of Everything All At Once… David Wallace-Wells’ The Uninhabitable Earth tries very hard […]