Thoughts . . . by Mark Rich

. . . scribbled . . . scrawled . . . trimmed . . . typewritten . . . grubbed up . . . squeezed from circumstance . . .

Friday, March 12, 2010

That Particularly Thorny Legacy

In working on poetry, which is a matter I attend to daily even if usually not for too long a period at any one sitting, I have come to recognize, or perhaps come to grips with, a not altogether salutary influence. I have no idea what the circumstances are for young writers in this day and age, but when I was a child and then still when I was growing a bit older the presence of T.S. Eliot, or that of his works, loomed and thrummed and intoned. His works had a way of doing this -- at the back of your mind, if not right in your face. When I was younger the concern was not to be imitative of Eliot; when older, it was to balance, somehow, in my mind, the attractiveness of Eliot's verbal music, so markedly present in some of his poems, against the negative aspect of his exhausted and autumnal conservatism and the even more negative aspect of his leanings toward fascism. It has seemed to me that partly through their examples Eliot and Pound helped stamp the mark of greatness upon Joyce and Hemingway, among the prominent Moderns of that period. The former pair's tonal brilliance -- sparingly meted out in the one and profligately splashed onto the canvas of global history in the other -- when combined with their fascist leanings made the quite-different brilliancies of Joyce and Hemingway seem untarnished and invigorating in comparison.

What was troubling, however, was the lasting attractiveness of the models of Eliot and Pound -- more particularly the former, because of his stern, upright correctness of appearance and his public assumption of authority. Pound seemed destined to err, at very least politically -- but always quite humanly. His variety of pride seemed to require that he go full-throttle into the vortex.

Cheers ...

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