Category Archives: notes on poems

three endings for Christabel

Facebook7 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 7I think Coleridge was bad at plot. He claimed he forgot the whole story of “Kubla Khan” when a visitor interrupted him, so he could share only the exotic setting.  But Stevie Smith doubts it: He was … Continue reading

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W.H. Auden’s long journey

Facebook4 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 4Articles entitled “The Secret X,” are usually exposés of X’s secret crimes and shames. But Edward Mendelson’s article “The Secret Auden” (New York Review, March 20) catalogs the many discreet acts of kindness, sensitivity, and self-sacrifice of W.H … Continue reading

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Robert Pinsky, Impossible to Tell

Facebook4 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 4Imagine a group of people taking turns making clever remarks, echoing and developing each others’ cues. To play the game well is to extend the discussion for another round in a pleasurable way. For instance, they might … Continue reading

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notes on Seamus Heaney’s Singing School

Facebook5 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 5(en route to Tarrytown, NY) The son of a Catholic farmer in Ulster, with an education and an extraordinary gift for language, Seamus Heaney knew oppression and he knew art. Oppression came in many forms and layers–the … Continue reading

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Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

Facebook4 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 4Many people are contributing memories of “Famous Seamus.” I will not claim any great insight, and certainly no important interactions with the poet, although he, his wife, and I did wait on a freezing pitch-black Oxford winter … Continue reading

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Robinson Jeffers, Hurt Hawks

Facebook5 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 5 Robinson Jeffers’ son kept a wounded hawk as a pet for a few weeks in the 1920s. Jeffers wrote part 1 of this poem as a complete work before he killed the bird, adding part 2 … Continue reading

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a translation for spring

Facebook2 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 2Dante sought his last refuge in Ravenna at the invitation of Count Guido Novello da Polenta (?-1320). According to Boccaccio, Guido was a person “well tutored in liberal studies” who honored “worthy men and especially those who … Continue reading

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Donald Justice, Men at Forty

Facebook11 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 11 I don’t read to see myself reflected on the page. I read primarily to learn how someone else thinks and to analyze and appreciate the formal characteristics of a carefully constructed work. But if I were … Continue reading

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moral network mapping and literary criticism: a methodological proposal

Facebook5 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 5A moral worldview is a set of beliefs or values connected by various kinds of relationships. For instance, one belief may imply another, or may subsume another, or may be in tension with another even though both … Continue reading

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Donald Justice, About My Poems

Facebook5 Twitter0 Google+0Total: 5Donald Justice, “About My Poems,” from Poetry magazine, March 1965: The poet appears as a critic of his own “early” (immature) verse that is “fashionably sad” and whose regular rhymes and meters “paralyze.” Nonetheless, he offers a … Continue reading

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