Tag Archives: poetry

“That is no country for old men.” — William Butler Yeats

“I thought we might bring the halves together if we had a national literature that made Ireland beautiful in the memory, and yet had been freed of provincialism by an exacting criticism, a European pose.” — W.B. Yeats William Butler … Continue reading

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“Language most shows a man. Speak that I may see thee.” — Ben Jonson

“O rare Benn Johnson.” — Jonson’s incorrectly-spelled epitaph in Westminster Abbey It’s his birthday today. Ben Jonson did everything. Plays, poems, satires, elegies, epigrams. His talent was wide and flexible. Everything he wrote feels inevitable. However, as Michael Schmidt writes … Continue reading

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“I want to write poems that will be non-compromising.” — poet Gwendolyn Brooks

It’s her birthday today. I first encountered Gwendolyn Brooks’s stuff in Humanities in high school. Brooks’ most famous poem is “We Real Cool”. We Real Cool The Pool Players. Seven at the Golden Shovel. We real cool. We Left school. … Continue reading

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“Literature is the written expression of revolt against expected things.” Happy Birthday to the least happy man ever, Thomas Hardy

“A certain provincialism of feeling is invaluable. It is the essence of individuality, and is largely made up of that crude enthusiasm without which no great thoughts are thought, no great deeds done.” — Thomas Hardy That quote above from … Continue reading

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“[My ambition is to] give something to our literature which will be our own.” — Walt Whitman

“I like to think that eventually he will shame us into becoming Americans again.” — Guy Davenport on Walt Whitman Whitman is the organizing principle behind my review of Martin Scorsese’s Rolling Thunder Revue. Bob Dylan quotes Whitman all the … Continue reading

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“If I am going to be a poet at all, I am going to be POET and not NEGRO POET.” — poet Countee Cullen

Yet do I marvel at this curious thing: To make a poet black, and bid him sing! — Countee Cullen It’s his birthday today. Cullen is often compared to Langston Hughes (my post on Hughes here), seems a little unfair, … Continue reading

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“When I aim at praise, they say I bite.” — Alexander Pope

How happy is the blameless vestal’s lot! The world forgetting, by the world forgot. Eternal sunshine of the spotless mind! -— Alexander Pope, from “Eloisa to Abelard” Alexander Pope was born on this day in 1688. He was so huge … Continue reading

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“My dear child, I’m sure we shall be allowed to laugh in Heaven!” — Edward Lear

Edward Lear (the “father of nonsense”) was born on this day in 1812 in London. I could recite from memory a lot of his stuff when I was pretty close to the age I was in the “candid” photo above. … Continue reading

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“I know that for myself, what is deeper than I understand is often the most pertinent to me and the most lasting.” — Lorine Niedecker

It’s her birthday today. I had not heard of Lorine Niedecker, until 2010, when I took the Norton Anthology out to Block Island with me, in the hopes it would help me get back to reading again. It worked. And … Continue reading

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“Before verse can be human again it must learn to be brutal.” — Irish poet Austin Clarke

“He cleared a non-Yeatsian space in which an Irish poet might build a confident poetry in English for which the term ‘Anglo-Irish’ is meaningless.” – Michael Schmidt, Lives of the Poets Austin Clarke was born in Dublin on this day … Continue reading

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