Notes Toward & So On (10)

Looking back at last week's outpourings... what was I thinking? Who can read all that? Have be more concise & focused.

OK, back to thinking out loud.

This all began with the question of "what is to come" in poetry. Crosses somewhat with the various bloggussions about reviews & reviewing.

I have certain models or benchmarks always in mind. People who read HG Poetics already know what they are. There was the moment in the late 70s when I found the David McDuff translations of Mandelstam : from that stemmed almost everything (in my 2nd life in poetry, that is : the 1st life being high school, college, NY School days - 60s to early 70s).

It was M's handling of imagery which struck me, & opened all the other doors : leading to Crane, then to the long poems (Pound, WCW, Olson, mostly), Celan, Montale... & back to Renaissance & other poetries (ring-structure, number symbolism in poetry, epic narratives, etc).

So there is a predilection for ut pictura.... & a sense of a divide between poetry and ordinary discourse & socializing. The literary work is a very highly-elaborated special environment, dense with particular affect(s), which should be approached with circumspection. The lion sleeps on its paws./It can kill a man.

Now what my tendencies are may have very little to do with where poetry-in-general is "going". I've been talking around a constellation (or muddle) involving symbolic facts with something like seriousness. Melopoeia (song, lyricism) underlies & supports phanopoeia (imagery) which radiates logopoeia (symbolism). Serious, in part because a "symbolic fact" is something irrevocably tied to experience; and in part because the tradition of poetic song involves intensity (of thought, of feeling, of encounter). But most poetry operates on a much broader, looser band of rhetorical effects than what I've focused on here. So let it go where it will.

What is to come, for me anyway, will circle around the core characteristics I have adumbrated in this lecture-babble series. Drawing from that lyric-ecphrastic-symbolic center, the resonant meanings will branch out in many directions.

In the Sunday Times book review section, there was another long take on Robert Lowell's Letters (reviewed by Walter Kirn). He quoted an early (adolescent) letter to Pound, in which Lowell magnified on Pound's greatness & force, & expatiated on how he (Lowell) would carry on the torch & take it further.

I had the odd thought that Lowell was narrowing in on the literary practitioner, & in so doing, had surrendered a certain critical distance. I thought about Ezra Pound, not perhaps as he would have thought of himself (a Great Modernist, an ego-beak thrusting into the future), but as a figure stemming from a certain time & place - post-Civil War America : the late 19th-cen. world of Henry James, Twain, Teddy Roosevelt, et al. Something about the Innocent-Abroad The American insouciance and command... as if he & Eliot, in a way, were perpetual cruisers on their Gilded Age, Belle Epoque, postgraduate jaunt to Europe. Rooted, despite all their struggles, like flies in amber - in the fading echoes of prewar Europe & Old America.

This I think would be an interesting way to read Pound, anyway.
Not sure what this has to do with the generalities with which I started today's maunder. Except that maybe it reinforces the notion of reading poems - even poems written today - as dense with background & cultural-historical resonances.

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