• Taxonomy of Verse

    In different ways, music, painting, and poetry each split into two: a cerebral, avant-garde version devoted to extending the modernist experiment; and a popular version that appealed to mass audiences without knowledge of the art’s traditions and conventions. The “serious” artists made a Tantalean bargain with the academy, which gave them a secure living and a measure of prestige while cutting them off from what any artist wants most—an actual audience. The popular artists won a level of fame and fortune that would have been unimaginable in the past, but what they do is not really art—or, better, not the same art.

    If poetry is to remain relevant, distinguishing “art” from “pop” helps no one. Rather, it seems all poems inhabit ranges: good/bad, evocative/trite, innovative/conventional, euphonic/atonal, literal/allusive…and poems (and poets) can be measured against one another along these continua.

    On “getting” poetry | New Criterion

  • Computers can’t grasp the most lucid haiku. Nor can they pen the clumsiest fairytale. Computers cannot read or write literature at all. And they never, never will.

    I can prove it to you.

    Why Computers Will Never Write Good Novels | Nautilus

  • I can’t choose a favorite between Lax & Szymborska, but no one could write this as she did:

    Beyond the reach
    of our presence.

    In the paradise lost
    of probability.

    Somewhere else.
    Somewhere else.
    How these little words ring.

    — Wisława Szymborska, “The Railroad Station”

  • Apt night reading:

    This is the use of memory:
    For liberation - not less of love but expanding
    Of love beyond desire, and so liberation
    From the future as well as the past.

    — T.S. Eliot, “Little Gidding”

  • [Blake] understands that it is not the physical eye that enables what we see, but the mind’s eye: the retina, optic nerve and brain are the servants, not masters, of perception.

    America’s looming dystopia is, in part, a failure of imagination.

    The four-fold imagination | Aeon

  • As soon as the President finishes his press conference,  
         black wings carry off the words,  
    bits of flesh still clinging to them.

    — Robert Bly, “The Teeth Mother Naked At Last” (1970)

  • Is it evening reading time yet?

  • To make a prairie it takes a clover and one bee,
    One clover, and a bee.
    And revery.
    The revery alone will do,
    If bees are few.

    — Dickinson

  • Poetry marks occasion, speaking the language of heart & imagination.

    Sometimes Even Newspapers Need Poetry | The Atlantic

    About “Voyage to the Moon,” the poem the The New York Times commissioned from Archibald MacLeish for its 21 July 1969 front page.

  • Poems for a Federal Holiday

  • Come, in my labor find a resting place
    And in my sorrows lay your head,
    Or rather take my life and blood
    And buy yourself a better bed—
    Or take my breath and take my death
    And buy yourself a better rest.

    Thomas Merton, “For My Brother Reported Missing in Action, 1943”

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