Thursday, November 03, 2005

Always a Pleasure

I hold all modern poets to the high standard of Yeats's The Second Coming, which is a centerpiece of Break, Blow, Burn. What stunning power of imagination and language! That poem is still fresh after nearly a century. Wallace Stevens wrote dozens of extraordinary poems that still live, and so did Roethke. But in my opinion Pound and Auden have lost contemporary relevance, except to literary historians. The mercurial language of Shakespeare, on the other hand, still dazzles, baffles, and enchants.

Robert Frost was destroyed for me in high school. All that plainspoken Protestant American piety--it made my skin crawl. At the time, I was hooked on the pyrotechnic aestheticism of Gerard Manley Hopkins and the raffish sexual adventurism of Edna St. Vincent Millay. I instinctively felt that Frost's "honesty" was false and repressive. It's no surprise that within a few short years, my culture idol would be the piratical Keith Richards of the Rolling Stones.

Lol! No bonus points for guessing whose voice that is. I always enjoy her, even when I disagree.