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”


A Visitor to the Quarry

Limestone dust scoots across the road
And filters into the already dying June grass.
The peacock appears at the quarry windows,
Not looking in, not looking at the trucks,
Not engaged in any way with human life,
Abiding in its own peacock world
Of green velvet and sweeping coattails,
Gold-tipped cigarette holder and champagne
Glass, muddled fruit of peach and apricot. Continue reading “A Visitor to the Quarry”