Reality Intrudes: A Moment In The Cantos That Changes Everything

1. Reality intrudes at the start of “Canto III” of Ezra Pound’s The Cantos, creating the pivot on which the poem rises from the land of the dead described in the first two Cantos to announce itself as an epic, with the poet as its hero.  This moment of reality comprises just six lines describing … Continue reading Reality Intrudes: A Moment In The Cantos That Changes Everything

A Translation & Notes on Pervigilium Veneris

Pervigilium Veneris 1.  These two wonderful lines in an 85-line odd poem of unknown authorship written between the 1st and 4th centuries have drawn translators from Thomas Parnell to Ezra Pound to Allen Tate to any number of university professors: Cras amet qui nunquam amati Quique amavit tras ame.   They seemed plain enough when … Continue reading A Translation & Notes on Pervigilium Veneris

On Editing:  A Modest Proposal for Poetry Magazines

Here's something I don't believe:  That the real purpose of editorial committees is to bring fairness to the process.  I think the real purpose of editorial committees is to spread the blame for failure so that no one has to take responsibility. Any editor knows that every issue of every magazine is a testament to … Continue reading On Editing:  A Modest Proposal for Poetry Magazines

Sand in the Oyster: Auden, Eliot, & the Making of a Poem by Dylan Thomas

1. Let’s do a thought experiment.  Here’s the scene:  It’s 1934, a decade less and less dominated by the powerful poetic voices of the  near-50ish T.S. Eliot and Ezra Pound, those enfant arbiters who initiated the modernist movement in the Anni Mirabiles years of a decade ago, and more and more by the 20-something new generation … Continue reading Sand in the Oyster: Auden, Eliot, & the Making of a Poem by Dylan Thomas

Trakl’s Helian, An Utterly New Thing

Trakl called "Helian" "the most precious and painful [poem] I have ever written."  He wrote it between December 1912 and January 1913.  I believe that the poem earned his description by dealing in entirely new ways with related themes that were difficult for him, as they would be for anyone:  the decline of family, and of civilization, … Continue reading Trakl’s Helian, An Utterly New Thing