Monday, March 11, 2013

The intellect of man is forced to choose

As someone who never took an English class post-high school, I had to teach myself literature, which I did, like most autodidacts, by reading as widely as possible – and indiscriminately. If there was any method in my madness (which involved getting a shit job in a library so I could read through the stacks from one side of the building to the other), it was to read the collected poems of anybody, famous or not, who had one. Toward the end of this weird and rather lengthy curriculum, which is to say, the end of the alphabet, I arrived at the work of William Butler Yeats. What a relief it was! Rhymey, romantic, folkloric, woman-crazy stuff with a fair amount of politics for flavor; oblivious to the fascism and self-absorption (I had those leanings myself, at that age, perhaps) what, I thought, was there not to love about Yeats? My tendency was to read the way young people do, if not untampered with: that is to say, innocently and without anxiety; in any case, I would have been too naïve or insecure to make critical judgments. Thankfully, no papers were ever due, and no professor was going to ask me to explain away a poem. If I liked one, it was good, if not, I didn’t disparage it – I just set it aside as a possible subject for further thought..

Read the rest, including a meditation on Yeats, politics, and bad poetry, here, at Voltage Poetry