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BRITISH-IRISH-POETS  2000

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Subject:

Re: A terrible poem

From:

"Nate and Jane Dorward" <[log in to unmask]>

Reply-To:

Nate and Jane Dorward

Date:

Wed, 25 Oct 2000 14:44:15 -0400

Content-Type:

text/plain

Parts/Attachments:

Parts/Attachments

text/plain (44 lines)

Elizabeth--yes, one wouldn't want to be too harsh on poets'
self-indulgences...though I might be a little less forgiving on editors who
rather than simply leave it alone actually go out of their way to
embarrassedly defend such a poem, as if their hero couldn't possibly have
written something so bad.  Hm, I'm not sure "Beautiful Lofty
Things"--admittedly, a pretty self-indulgent trip through his toybox, the
grammar dropped in the manner of Herbert's "Prayer" (or some of Geoffrey
Hill's poems)--is quite as awful as the poem that follows it, "A Crazed
Girl" (which contains the phrase "beautiful lofty things" in it,
actually). -- I never managed to catch the Yeats bug when young so I've had
to, so to speak, grow _in_ to the poems rather than _out_ of them. --
Anyway, it's often easy enough to pick out the bad bits in authors, though
still a necessary exercise, if only as a sign that the reader is _paying
attention_.

Chris: There's a recent review in the LRB by Ian Hamilton of an edition of
Randall Jarrell's criticism where he quotes Jarrell on that Spender line--to
the effect that it made him ashamed of the human race.  Hamilton suggests
that Jarrell's reviews contained a lot of posturing, which I'd probably
agree with.  It is a memorably fatuous line nonetheless.

Incidentally, talking about bad poems by famous poets, JH Prynne's worst
poem is buried in the pages of _The English Intelligencer_--if I remember
rightly the title was "Time to Go".  It's the only poem of his from that
period that's not in the _Poems_, & I can see why.  Though I seem to recall
running across one admirer of it. -- On the other hand I wish he'd permit a
reprint of some of the pre-1965 poems in _Force of Circumstance_ &
elsewhere: some are quite good.

all best --N


Nate & Jane Dorward
[log in to unmask]
THE GIG magazine: http://www.geocities.com/ndorward/
109 Hounslow Ave., Willowdale, ON, M2N 2B1, Canada
ph: (416) 221 6865





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