Monday, February 10, 2014

Poetry totters when she licks us with her tongue


"It totters when she licks it with her tongue." - Robert Frost

Two roads diverged in yellow wood. And then converged. And that has made no difference.

Is the new Sappho a bit disappointing--the fragment the best. Or is it that we need some cleaning by Pound. Still, it was always a life-long dream of mine that we would find a Sophocles around, a few Euripides, a book that Eco wanted: the golden book of Comedy by Aristotle. Let's all get together and translate the Sappho again. When my son was 12 he wrote a love poem that was: "You burn me." That seems a fairly authentic fragment. Most archaeologists tell me that what they want is a laundry-list, and one told me she particularly loved the listing of the boats. She hated poetry, she loved Egyptology.


Funny that Frost is as great as the idiots think. Poetry totters when she licks us with her tongue. Purposely and for him I like to play tennis at night with the net down, up and down. It's very difficult to play tennis without nets; but try it. You have to guess a lot and be quite accurate.


One week years ago I was studying Plath for an essay and felt bad except that it seemed no scholars had seen the Trakl in her work particularly the sudden expressionism in some late poems. But she appeared in a dream one week and I said to her: Sylvia, I like some of your poems but I don't like those who prefer the tape-recordings of your screams. She looked hard at my apology and slunk back into the dream--unappeasable it seemed. Years later I was asked in Prague whether I wanted to hear a recording of Jan Palach's last agony and screams. I said No. I preferred the paragon of freedom to his fearful cries...


One day Richard Kostelanetz asked me who was my favorite living poet. I said Wallace Stevens. He said But he is dead. I said Not for me.  Many other poets are not yet alive. Pasternak received special medicine from Dr. Zhivago. All my favorite poets are alive: Keats, Sappho, Akhmatova. Native American artist told me she had no word for art but used another: 



Tap my phones, keep my papers free.

-- David Shapiro 

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