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The Best American Poetry
Welcome to The Best American Poetry blog. We launched this blog in January, 2008, to create a place where we and friends can exchange, discuss, and argue about poems and poetry. We soon discovered that it would be even more fun to post about anything that fuels our passions, be it movies or sex or baseball or ballet or cocktails or finance or music, because these are, after all, the same subjects that generate poems. Then we flung the doors open and invited others to join in. And we decided that contributors to the blog need not be poets as long as they share a love of good writing and poetry. The only things we ask our regular and guest bloggers to avoid are personal attacks. You'll find enough of that stuff elsewhere. We celebrate freedom of expression. The opinionS of our contributors are their own and not necessarily those of the blog's editorial team or of other contributors. We welcome comments as long as they keep within the bounds of civil discourse. Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.Our roster of correspondents is always changing. We are large! We contain multitudes! Please visit often.
Interests: music, food, finance, cocktails, movies, baseball, sex, poetry, mad men.
Recent Activity
Artie Shaw, born on this day, was born to play the clarinet, and when he left for Mexico, he came back with this great track: Continue reading
Posted 2 hours ago at The Best American Poetry
"Fools rush in where angels fear to tread." -- Alexander Pope "Where Angels Fear to Tread." -- E. M. Forster Continue reading
Posted yesterday at The Best American Poetry
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May 21 Black jack and no use complaining even though one or another souvenir of my bout with cancer will act up throwing a left hook that I didn't evade and the embarrassment of a knockdown will be mine On May 21 Fats Waller's birthday I'll be living in a great big way and I will play "Honeysuckle Rose" and "Your Feet's Too Big" yes, "your pedal extremities are colossal" As I write this It is November 10 of the previous year but I can do it I can sit right down and write myself a letter and make believe it came from you Continue reading
Posted 2 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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Eleven years have gone by since Stacey and I traveled in China and Mongolia. Here's a blog post from then: << In Jinan, as previously in Dalian, despite the economic disparity between the two places, the audiences for my lectures exhibited the same degree of enthusiasm despite their limited knowledge of English. In Dalian, the group consisted of adults, well-dressed, formal, taciturn, for whom I had prepared a lecture. After reading one paragraph and staring at faces blank with incomprehension, I ditched my text and resorted to an old favorite in such a situation: poems consisting of two lines or fewer, and the haiku stanza. It worked. The blackboard helped, and luckily I knew a bunch of these short poems by heart. On Monday the 19th, lecturing on American poetry to a room of over 100 college juniors majoring in foreign languages, I read my fifty-line "Oxford Cento," all lines culled from "The Oxford Book of America Poetry." I asked the students to write down their favorite line and make it the opening line of a poem of their own. Near the end of the lecture a student stood up and told us her name in Chinese, then added that her "Western name" is Daisy. (The Chinese choose their own Western forenames, which need have no relation to their Chinese names.) Daisy, who announced that Rabindranath Tagore has influenced her, recited the poem she had just written beginning with Poe's line from "Annabel Lee": "and the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes." The poem was about the Sichuan earthquake. "If you shed tears for the stars, you won't see the sun," she wrote. Her poem concluded, "and the sun also rises." At this point a young man challenged me to write a one-line prose poem on the spot about my visit to the university. Luckily I had been reading Whitman. I said, "At your university I see a sea of faces and in the sea of faces I see the face of God." Appreciation was expressed with a collective murmuring sigh. The students liked two-line poems I read by Pound, Charles Reznikoff ("The Old Man"), J.V. Cunningham ("An Epitaph for Anyone"), Dryden, Dorothy Parker ("News Item"), A. R. Ammons ("Their Sex Life"), and Ogden Nash. Someone asked for my opinion of Edgar Allan Poe. Just as at West Point, I encountered a strong, genuine, populist love of Poe that countered the received negative judgment that has dogged the writer from the start. The fact that Poe's name is identical with the first three letters of "poetry" seemed to clinch the case. >>> (May 20, 2008) [from the archive; re-posted November 20, 2014] Continue reading
Posted 3 days ago at The Best American Poetry
<<< Even to attempt a definition of key terms such as erotic and pornographic is a hazardous task. But about a few things there is general agreement. This is from My Secret Life (c. 1890), that classic work of late Victorian pornography written by an anonymous gentleman with a big-time itch and the compulsion to repeat and record his amatory adventures. “Providence has made the continuation of the species depend on a process of coupling the sexes, called fucking,” he writes. “It is not a graceful operation – in fact it is not more elegant than pissing, or shitting, and is more ridiculous; but it is one giving the intensest pleasure to the parties operating together, and most people try to do as much of it as they can.” The artless simplicity of these sentences is their charm, though they are more complicated than meets the eye. Notice the relation of “coupling” to the perpetuation of the species on the one hand and to superlative pleasure on the other. The conjugation of the bodies is the observance of a sacrament, a religious imperative, but it also involves the unrelentingly gross human body in an “operation” no finer than urination or defecation, and “more ridiculous.” Call it fucking or call it making love: the “process of coupling” is the central fact, the rock thrown into the previously placid pond, around which widen the circles of erotic implication. Fucking remains the ultimate profanity. But any word or phrase for sexual intercourse, euphemistic and genteel, or clinical and precise, or lewd and graphic, will prove problematic, and the array of possibilities suggests that contradictory impulses are at work, or contradictory ways of presenting the same impulse. An instance of heterosexual love, for example, can be depicted as the union of yin and yang, husband and wife engaged in the blessed task of procreation, or contrarily as an anomalous episode during a temporary truce in the battle between the sexes. We know, in any case, that sexual desire is a drive that seems to trump all others and dictate human behavior sometimes against all reason or beyond any rational explanation. We know that it is the most intense and irresistible of bawdy pleasures, that it makes fools and rascals and buffoons of us and often lowers the attitudinal level from tragic postures and epic vistas to bedroom farces and comedies of Eros. Yet as Anonymous noted in 1890, “most people try to do as much of it as they can,” and everyone thinks about it more than anyone will admit. In the realm of the erotic, the sacred and the profane converge, and so do the sublime and the ridiculous. The familiar image of the “beast with two backs” is ridiculous but accurate and therefore a valuable corrective to high-minded or romantic representations of the theme. The subject of sex gives rise to elegant aphorism (“Sex is the lyricism of the masses”: Charles Baudelaire), extravagantly mixed metaphor (“Sex is a black tarantula and sex... Continue reading
Posted 4 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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<<< From The Paris Review Redux: This week at The Paris Review, we’re turning our attention to graduation season. Read our Art of Poetry interview with Eileen Myles, as well as Venita Blackburn’s short story “Fam” and David Lehman’s poem “Commencement.” Click here for more. https://mailchi.mp/theparisreview.org/redux-132229?e=d13cb7bb3f >>> Continue reading
Posted 5 days ago at The Best American Poetry
"At first I felt extremely baffled -- only a sense of `motion' and the extremely good writing led me on -- but now after many re-readings I think I am getting to understand them better -- especially `The Recital' -- and some of `The System.' Actually, when I do enjoy passages or pages most, they remind me very oddly of Kierkegaard (whose name I don't remember how to spell right, I think). Although no theologian, probably no Christian, I've always been able to read him with the greatest pleasure -- and your THREE POEMS have now begun to give me the same sort of pleasure. I hope you don't mind my saying this -- that I shd. be saying something like they remind me of Yeats! Whatever -- you have really arrived at a personal, purely logical, and deep -- as well as beautiful way of saying things. I'm not a critic and have difficulties expressing myself about poems -- but I'm sure this book is very important -- as they say all the time, of course-- but really, as well." -- Elizabeth Bishop (typed letter dated March 5th, 1973, from Sixty Brattle Street, Cambridge 02138) from the archive; originally posted June 21, 2008 Continue reading
Posted 6 days ago at The Best American Poetry
"In the U.S. where Hype is, like Inflation, a God..." Brilliant. Many thanks, Andrei. -- DL
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At The Cornell Club-New York [Tues, May 21] 6 East 44th Street Cornell University Press Authors: David Lehman, Robert W. Snyder, and William J. vanden Heuvel Moderated by: Dean John Smith, Director of Cornell University Press Join The Cornell Club- New York for a moderated panel discussion on their work and commonality between the authors- the New York experience as a central character. The discussion will be followed by a book signing. A rare opportunity to see the inside of that most secretive club, usually closed to the public, and to "meet the press." David Lehman In One Hundred Autobiographies: A Memoir, David Lehman brings the full measure of his intellectual powers to cope with a frightening diagnosis and painful treatment for cancer. Robert W. Snyder A tribute to Washington Heights, Crossing Broadway tells how disparate groups overcame their mutual suspicions to rehabilitate housing, build new schools, restore parks, and work with the police to bring safety to streets racked by crime and fear. Ambassador William J. vanden Heuvel In his new memoir, Hope and History: A Memoir of Tumultuous Times, the Ambassador recounts inspiring stories from his eight decades as a soldier, lawyer, political activist, and diplomat. 6:00 pm reception; 6:30pm panel discussion, gratis. Registration is required. Email K.Alman@cornellclubnyc.com or click here to register. Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
We dine at Adorno and return to my Beauvoir. She compliments me on my Bachelard pad. I pop in a Santayana CD and Saussure back to the couch. On my way, I pull out two fine Kristeva wine glasses. I pour some Merleau-Ponty and return the Aristotle to Descartes. After pausing an Unamuno, I wrap my arm around her Hegel. Her hair smells of wild Lukacs and Labriola. Our small talk expands to include Dewey, Moore and Kant. I confess to her what’s in my Eckhart. We Locke. By this point, we’re totally Blavatsky. We stretch out on the Schopenhauer. She slips out of her Lyotard and I fumble with my Levi-Strauss. She unhooks her Buber and I pull off my Spinoza. I run my finger along her Heraclitus as she fondles my Bacon. She stops to ask me if I brought any Kierkegaard. I nod. We Foucault. She lights a cigarette and compares Foucault to Lacan. I roll over and Derrida. [first published in Poetry, February 2000] Continue reading
Posted 7 days ago at The Best American Poetry
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The great Doris Day, who died the other day, was celebrated for her work in romantic comedies of the 1960s. She was box office gold with James Garner, Cary Grant, and Rock Hudson. But her real achievement was as a singer. In musical movies she gave outstanding performances as Ruth Etting (in Love Me or Leave Me in 1955) and as Mrs Gus Kahn (in I'll See You in My Dreams in 1953). One of the finest of all Big Band vocalists, whose version of "Sentimental Journey" is a madeleine that can transport you to 1945, she sang with the Les Brown Orchestra when swing was king. Maybe her biggest single hit was the Academy Award-winning song of 1956 in Alfred Hitchcock's The Man Who Knew Too Much inwhich she played opposite James Stewart. In honor of Doris Day, "Che Sera, Sera" was sung at sing-alongs in smart clubs all over the nation yesterday. Doris gets her own day in my Playlist: 1 / 4 / 18 Doris Day is a great screen name because of Oscar Levant’s witticism (he knew Doris Day “before she was a virgin”) but mostly because of the voice of Doris at break of day or when driving on Rte 17 and listening to her sing “Sentimental Journey” with Les Brown (“and his band of renown”) and “Dream a Little Dream of Me” or “Someone Like You,” “A Hundred Years from Today,” or “Love Me or Leave Me,” the face cherubic, the flip side of Sinatra’s brooding in Young at Heart, blonde and relentlessly upbeat, but there is sex in that voice Continue reading
Posted May 15, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die. Genesis 2: 17 (A disclaimer: The following opinions, words, indulgences are mine and mine alone.—jae.) Let today’s appropriately Lenten Old Testament lectionary reading—that mess about the serpent and the fruit of that goddamed (quite literally) tree—serve as my prologue. Or, if not that, then in the words of Waylon Payne as “The Killer” himself, Jerry Lee Lewis in 2005’s Walk the Line: God gave us a great big apple, see, and He said. "Don't touch it." He didn't say touch it once in a while. He didn't say take a nibble when you're hungry. He said, "Don't touch it. Don't think about touching it. Don't sing about touching it. Don't think about singing about touching it.” Me, I’ve touched and nibbled that apple. I’ve stolen it from orchards aplenty (oh, Augustine!), baked it into pies, stewed from it ciders of bouquets both voluptuous and vinegar, set it atop heads and shot arrows straight through (and what exactly did William Tell, hmmm?). I have dared to eat the peach, I’ve rubbed the banana, fondled the melon, pear-treed the partridge, and bitten the berry until the juices veritably gushed. But this is not a confession. I’m repentant only in theory. This, Brothers and Sisters, is a sermon. I’m looking at a picture of Jesus as I compose this. Unfairly blue-eyed and ridiculously rosy-cheeked, his right hand is raised in a gesture of benediction, and his beard is, a bit hilariously, curled in ringlets. It’s certainly not my favorite picture of the Lord, but it’s not his face that concerns me here. It’s what lies in this print’s geographic middle: Jesus’ ripe, red-as-a-valentine heart. A cross blossoms from its upper cleft. A tangle of thorny vines (which, unfortunately evokes Pamela Anderson’s tattooed upper arm à la “Barb Wire”) strangles it to near infarction. And: It’s on fire. Behold the Sacred Heart of God. I’m occasionally asked how I reconcile both the erotic and the religious impulse in my work. My answer is—with greater confidence and ease than I do in my day-to-day life, sadly. Even so, there are lusts and longings that I’ve celebrated in various poems (some of which I’ve also and alas celebrated in various beds) that are not just sternly frowned upon by Scripture, but outright verboten. In fact—and this troubles me greatly—these are deeds for which, in some eras hence and in some contemporary regimes, the price of their doing is death. It is with gutting ambivalence that I always come back to the Gospel story of the woman taken in adultery. Yes, Jesus stepped in on her behalf and told the stone-throwing hypocrites to take a hike. But he was also vodka-clear in his command to the woman: Go and sin no more. Well… crap. Martin Luther was of the opinion that as people of faith, when we sin,... Continue reading
Posted May 10, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Well, now I do, because I looked it up, and it's an archaic term for "in truth." Another handy fact I learned during this very poetic week, during which I've been blogging here at BAP, or BAmPo, or whatever you want to call it, as well as judging a poetry contest for public high school seniors, one of whom used the fucking word "forsooth" in her poem (entrant's names have been blacked out, but I'm going out on a limb to guess that this poet is female, or a transgendered person, because the narrator of the poem is a girl – or, rather, "a maiden"). I took a point off for "forsooth." I’m sorry. I know it's just me exercising my own poetic prejudice, but "forsooth" can not possibly have any personal meaning to this young poet, unless that personal meaning is "if I use this word, I will sound poetic." It stinks of shortcutting, to me; it stinks of fancypants bullshittery, and that is one thing this judge will not tolerate. I say: Write from the goddamn heart, or go home. I am also taking points off for poems where the speakers kill themselves at the end, and there are a bunch of those. It's never too early to teach kids that poetry doesn’t have to end in suicide. The poets who get the best scores from me are the ones who obviously love language, the ones whose rhythms have me nodding my head from the first line, the ones whose rhymes beat the shit out of Eminem's, or any of the other rappers who have the gall to rhyme "me" with "me." The kids you can just see, slumped against their locker in the hallway, scribbling something down on a notebook balanced on their knee between classes. They didn't write a poem because their teacher told them about this contest; they heard about the contest, and they ran home and sifted through pages of their best work, their hearts beating so hard their tongues throbbed in their mouths. These are the ones I want to call on the phone and say, Hey, you made me gasp, you made me well up with tears, you made me well up with pride. Hey, teach me what you know; I'm afraid I've forgotten it. Of course, the top score goes to the kid with the sestina. I told you I was prejudiced. -- JE from the archive; first posted Aprli 4, 2008 Continue reading
Posted May 9, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Freud’s Immortal Question Or, one student’s adventures in higher yearning By David Lehman May 6, 2018 To: Colleagues in the Writing Module From: Jack Hexter Many of you who have worked with Richard Treacy will be impressed by the progress he has made, as shown by his essay (below) on the take-home final (open-book, three hours). Sigmund Freud asked, in evident exasperation, “What do women want?” Based on your understanding of at least three of the works we read this semester, how would you answer Freud’s question? Be sure to give a title to your essay. What Women Want by Richard H. Tracey Some would say they want to get married and raise a family. Others want to “have it all.” I am not sure whether that is even possible, but it is the ideal pursued by some. I think the answer is more complicated than that. It is hard to generalize about women, but I will try, because half of us are them, slightly more than a majority, and maybe even more than that according to demographic studies indicating that women live longer than men, and it is something like 50.2% versus 49.8% of the population. So technically it is possible that they could vote a woman president into office if they all stuck together. When I think of Antigone, Major Barbara, The Death of Ivan Ilych, the Bible, and even Lucky Jim, looking for what they have in common, each woman is a unique individual, with an identity that sets them apart at the same time that they belong to a larger group, just like each of us who come from different backgrounds, and yet, as was mentioned in class, there is “unity in diversity” for despite our variegated pasts we share a “stake in humanity” by endeavoring to do the same little everyday things like brush our teeth, put on our clothes, and eat breakfast before we come to class on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 A.M. in Hartwick Hall. Let me give an example. Of these various female characters. And what they want. Since that is the question. They all want to help. Antigone helps her brother, Barbara tries to help those whose souls need saving, Lady Britomart tries to help her family and herself, and Praskovya helps society by conforming with it. Also, Eve helps to fulfill human destiny by eating the apple, and Kurtz’s fiancée in Heart of Darkness wants to help the war effort in the Congo by honoring Kurtz and the sacrifices he made. Thus, each of these four women leads an individual life, with individual desires that sets them apart. One desires the ordinary, one the extraordinary; one desires to save souls, and one wants to be the center of attention. Yet they have one thing in common. Whatever they desire, each wants to succeed in that desire. And furthermore each goes to extremes to fulfill that desire. Praskovya ignores her husband’s death, Antigone hangs herself, Barbara accepts the entirely different... Continue reading
Posted May 6, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
The wished-for words: Wallace Stevens ("Le Monocle de Mon Oncle").
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David Shapiro wrote at 8:42pm David, please take the test I left out in the rain. Freud's the name, theory's the game, lying on the couch seems inane, free association is the main, transference too is the cane, Oedipus walks in the rain. Take it, I'm an easy marker, for Freudian reasons and some Adlerian. What is a test but a little joke to make the taker mad? Name the allusion. Where was the cancer of late Freud? Where did Freud say sex was all and every squeaking hand could make us say the wished-for words? Love and work -- where do Freud and Reich say these are big Responsibilities? Was Delmore Schwartz in analysis by age 23 when he said Dreams begin Responsibilities with its lip of blue snow? Which Columbia professor could we assume never went through analysis? Whom did Lacan call the classically unanalysed writer (here I give in--James Joyce. O) What was the speciality du jour of the great Lou Andreas Salome? How long has David Shapiro been in analysis, and why? How many of his poems are dreams? (2009) Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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For a New Night Woman I live with have lived with will live with will always live with Red coat Red gloves Red mask Black boots As evidence as proof I have seen you nude while lavishly adorned. Tits, O my heart (translated from the French by Burt Lancaster) Continue reading
Posted May 4, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
<< The critic knows the way but can't drive the car. -- Kenneth Tynan, famous critic >> Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Coffee, tea, and book signing with the author to follow the reading. Hammer Museum 10899 Wilshire Boulevard Los Angeles, CA 90024 (310) 443-7000 ATTENDING THIS PROGRAM? Ticketing: Free tickets are required and available at the Box Office one hour before the program. One ticket per person; first come, first served. Member Benefit: Members receive priority ticketing until 15 minutes before the program. Parking: Parking is available under the museum. Rates are $7 for the first three hours with museum validation, and $3 for each additional 20 minutes, with a $20 daily maximum. There is a $7 flat rate after 6 p.m. on weekdays, and all day on weekends. Cash only. Restaurant: Enjoy a meal or drink before or after the program at our restaurant Audrey. Members and UCLA students receive 10% off. A late-night happy hour offers 10% off at the bar Tuesday–Saturday, 9–11 p.m. Continue reading
Posted May 3, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Hammer Poetry: David Lehman Thursday, May 9, 7:30 p.m. David Lehman is a poet and writer, literary critic, editor of the Oxford Book of American Poetry, and creator of the Best American Poetry series. Lee Upton praises Lehman’s new volume, Playlist, in these terms: “What a gorgeous and ambitious poem … an elegy, a calendar, an enactment of beauty, a tribute to singers and musicians and those who love them, a musical compilation, a meditation on friendship and art.” Lehman has received fellowships from the NEA and the Guggenheim Foundation. For his book A Fine Romance: Jewish Songwriters, American Songs, he won the Deems Taylor Award from ASCAP in 2010. Coffee, tea and book signing with the author to follow. Readings at he Hammer Museum (10899 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles) are organized and hosted by the poet, scholar, and UCLA distinguished research professor of English Stephen Yenser. Cosponsored by the UCLA Department of English and the UCLA Department of Cultural and Recreational Affairs. Hammer.ucla.edu. Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Thanks for your comment. We'll do our best to track Gene Tierney's poems. Perhaps we'll post more movie poems in future weeks. -- DL
Simple cooking means / More than French cuisines. / I've a banquet planned, which is / Sandwiches / and beans. / Coffee's just as grand, / with a little sand. / Eat and you'll grow fatter, girl. / 'Smatter, girl? / Atta, girl! Continue reading
Posted May 1, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
Today in an email to a friend I confused Richard Friedman of Chicago with Ben Weissman of Los Angeles -- the former was generalissimo of the poetry scene in the Windy City in the 1970s, the latter a man of similar exalted rank on the West Coast. Early stage dementia for me? Time will tell. But I'm certain of one thing: it was at a party at Richard Friedman's house that I had my only conversation with Ted Berrigan. I believe this was in 1976 or 77. Although I had met Ted once or twice I had never really spoken with him. That night he told me he had just made the decision to have all his teeth pulled out; getting them fixed would have been just too much trouble. I've known a few other people who made that decision. It's usually not a good sign. Ted began to speak about his life in Tulsa, and how he had once worked as a tutor for a young girl. In a very chaste way he described how he had fallen in love with this girl, who had been the inspiration for the book of sonnets he had written -- and in fact for everything he had written since then. There was no suggestion of any physical relationship with this girl, or even that she had been aware of his feelings. He just seemed kind of sad about it, and also kind of amazed. Or was it his teeth he was sad about? Loss is loss. I never saw him again. -- from the archive; first posted April 12, 2008 Continue reading
Posted Apr 29, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
OK, it has been a day from hell--two days from hell, in fact. I don't know about you, but taxes were completely brutal this year. I envy you, if you are one of those fortunate people who actually gets money back! I more than envy you; I want to come stay with you and eat food out of your refrigerator. I'm also exhausted this morning. I was up until 2:30 finishing a review, for which I will receive a small amount of money that will then be reported to the IRS so that I will owe taxes on it next year. I thought I might write about the blues today. I'm in the mood. I was planning to expatiate on the pleasures of Mississippi John Hurt's alternating-thumb base line on the acoustic guitbox, and how his treble-line melodies infuse traditional songs like "Stack O'Lee Blues," "Casey Jones," and "Frankie and Albert" with his singnature sound. Then there's "Candy Man." "Candy Man"!: "He's got stick candy that's nine inches long, / He sells it faster than a hog can chew his corn / Candyman, candyman!" But I think I'll do that tomorrow . . . Instead, I want to quote from a book of Macaulay's essays that I picked up on the giveaway shelf at the library this morning. A free book! Things are looking up. Thomas Babington Macaulay (1800-1859) was an English poet, reviewer, essayist, historian, and MP for Edinburgh. Here's a bit from his essay on Lord Byron, which I read on the subway on my way to work (I want to quote a bunch of it because, a) it's a great portrait of Byron and B) the prose rocks): In the rank of Lord Byron, in his understanding, in his character, in his very person, there was a strange union of opposite extremes. He was born to all that men covet and admire. But in every one of those eminent advantages which he possessed over others was mingled something of misery and debasement. He was sprung from a house, ancient indeed and noble, but degraded and impoverished by a series of crimes and follies which had attained a scandalous publicity. The kinsman whom he succeeded had died poor and, but for merciful judges, would have died upon the gallows. The young peer had great intellectual powers; yet there was an unsound part in his mind. He had a naturally generous and feeling heart: but his temper was wayward and irritable. He had a head which statuaries loved to copy, and a foot the deformity of which the beggars in the street mimicked. Distinguished at once by the strength and by the weakness of his intellect, affectionate yet perverse, a poor lord, and a handsome cripple, he required, if ever man required, the firmest and most judicious training. Macaulay goes on in this vein for quite a while. It's pretty good stuff, and wonderfully sympathetic to Byron, though not nearly as sympathetic as Auden's tribute to him in "Letter... Continue reading
Posted Apr 28, 2019 at The Best American Poetry
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Joel Allegretti, David Lehman, and Geoffrey Nutter are reading their poems in the Razor Blade reading series at Tannat Wine & Cheese, 4736 Broadway/Thayer, 3 p.m., Sunday, April 28, 2019 Take the A train to the Dyckman Street (200th Street) subway station, and you're there. Plan on a walk in beautiful Fort Tryon Park before the reading starts. Pictured left: Duke Ellington, whose orchestra's theme song was "Take the A Train." Continue reading
Posted Apr 27, 2019 at The Best American Poetry