Identification or How To Tell If You are Dead

760px_Southworth__Hawes_First_etherized_operation_2I enjoy old books about the craft of poetry. My favorite, which I refer to often, is The Winged Horse by Joseph Auslander and Frank Ernest Hill from 1927. I have recently been reading The Order of Poetry, a 1961 text by David Silver.

In these old texts about poetry’s craft, I like the unequivocal language, the arrogance of intent: We are writing about the most important thing in the world, the dedication to specific words within a poem, the love of . . . a pervasive yet maligned art.

Silver just gave me a new way of explaining the difference between metaphor and simile (it seems so trite, so inadequate just to say that one is direct and one uses “like” or “as”—it’s like a kindergarten definition, isn’t it?). First Silver is highfalutin: “The differences between metaphor and simile are in grammatical procedure, in the degree of demand on the reader’s imagination, and in psychological effect, but not in kind.” Hmmmm. But he gets clearer: Continue reading “Identification or How To Tell If You are Dead”

Events, Musings, Poems

The Cruelest Month: Coming Attractions

wildindigoApril is the cruelest month, breeding
Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing
Memory and desire, stirring
Dull roots with spring rain.

–T.S. Eliot, The Waste Land

What to think of April? Is it the cruelest month? The “idiot, babbling and strewing flowers” as Millay called it? The time when the “shours soote” bathe “every veyne in swich licour”  (the sweet showers bathe every plant vein in such liquid), as Chaucer spoke of? Well, it’s all of this and more with cummings’ goat-footed balloon-man whistling far and wee through the “puddle-wonderful” world. Continue reading “The Cruelest Month: Coming Attractions”