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Pea Soup and Poetry

A poem, for me, is often very clearly a response to what I am reading and the way it fits into my material existence. The poem in other words is both a reflection on literature and the way that literature seems to become a meaningful part of my life, my thinking. Sometimes, it seems as […]

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What Else Was There?

From Donald Hall’s Essays After Eighty, “A Yeti in the District.” The next day I got back to writing. What else was there? Well, there was anticlimax. When Linda and I returned to my house, we found a stack of five Concord Monitors, the local paper, delivered in kindness by the morning deliverer. Top of […]

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A Nothing More Blank

Stevens and Frost “The Snow Man” by Wallace Stevens One must have a mind of winter To regard the frost and the boughs Of the pine-trees crusted with snow; And have been cold a long time To behold the junipers shagged with ice, The spruces rough in the distant glitter Of the January sun; and […]

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A Discernment: Frost or Stevens

To ask the question concerning he daemon is to seek an origin of inspiration. Whereas Robert Frost is possessed by an external daemon whose name is Loss, hence the power of Directive, Wallace Stevens undergoes possession by the rival daemon of a Supreme Fiction. Frostian unmaking of a diminished thing contrasts antithetically with Stevens’s proposing […]

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Soldier-Sentimentalist-Poet

Two snippets from Ford’s The Good Soldier (1924). The word “sentimental” or some form of it occurs 28 times in the novel–a use for big data! ************ For all good soldiers are sentimentalists—all good soldiers of that type. Their profession, for one thing, is full of the big words, courage, loyalty, honour, constancy. And I […]

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The Whole Pieces of Modernist Poetry

Stevens places a jar in Tennessee and Williams breaks a bottle and places it “between walls.” I placed a jar in Tennessee, And round it was, upon a hill. It made the slovenly wilderness Surround that hill. The wilderness rose up to it, And sprawled around, no longer wild. The jar was round upon the […]

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Choral Rings: Stevens’ “Circled Sea”?

Stevens ends his Collected Poems with “Not Ideas About the Thing but the Thing Itself.” At the earliest ending of winter, In March, a scrawny cry from outside Seemed like a sound in his mind. He knew that he heard it, A bird’s cry at daylight or before, In the early March wind The sun […]

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Placing Things

These trees! Rilke, Sonnet #1 of Sonnets to Orpheus A tree ascended there. Oh pure transendence! Oh Orpheus sings! Oh tall tree in the ear! And all things hushed. Yet even in that silence a new beginning, beckoning, change appeared. Creatures of stillness crowded from the bright unbound forest, out of their lairs and nests; […]

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Bantling Psalms

Hard upon the last entry I remembered that Waldo penned his own “psalm” to the new nation commemorating a commemoration of the Battles of Lexington & Concord (April 19, 1775). I thought it would serve to put that poem in close proximity to Melville’s. Concord Hymn Sung at the Completion of the Battle Monument, July […]

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Pedantic Prosody

“If a poet starts counting syllables and heeding the rules prosodists invent, writing verses becomes a pedantic game on a par with crossword puzzles.” Basil Bunting

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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 […]