O Cordelia, my name is Lear. My name is
Primo Levi. I sit naked between
The open window and the dark TV screen,
My hands and sex bathed in the fires of the evening.
The eminent scholar “took the bull by the horns,”
substituting urban black speech for the voice
of an illiterate cop in Aristophanes’ Thesmophoriazusae.
And we sat there.
Dana’s purple eyes deepened, Becky
twitched to her hairtips
and Janice in her red shoes
scribbled he’s an arschlock; do you want
to leave? He’s a model product of his
education, I scribbled back; we can learn from this.
Read in great, long stretches — especially outdoors — Rumi’s work has a churning, cumulative effect, not unlike the gyres that so often expose themselves in his metaphysics. He is a romantic in the biggest of ways, always seeking the unity of the beloved, and it is this romance, this endless reliance on love, the rose gardens of the heart sweet with perfume, which has likely drawn so many readers from so many places across so many times.
The Holy Ghost was browsing in his or her library
one day in the future, unaccountably bored,
oddly querulous, vaguely wanting something that would be
quietly unfamiliar. “It doesn’t have to be great,”
said the Holy Ghost with the faintest note of exasperation
in his or her voice, “just so long as it has its own special character.”
For the last three hundred years or so, prose writers have, from time to time, glanced over in the direction of the poets for some guidance in certain matters of life and writing. Contemplating the lives of poets, however, is a sobering activity. It often seems as if the poets have extracted pity and terror from their work so that they could have a closer first-hand experience of these emotions in their own lives. A poet’s life is rarely one that you would wish upon your children. It’s not so much that poets are unable to meet various payrolls; it’s more often the case that they’ve never heard of a payroll. Many of them are pleased to think that the word “salary” is yet another example of esoteric jargon.
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