Busy week-end, but not with writing.
Downloaded a set of Marianne Moore's poems and could not get excited. Too remote and dense with allusions and figurative language that I don't understand. Using the bookshop test - taking her book and opening it anywhere to try a poem - suck it and see: it would not make the grade with me. Knowing that Elizabeth Bishop and many others find her poetry so wonderful makes me wistful. What am I missing.
The exception was her poem A Grave, about the sea. Metaphor for the way we ignore death staring us in the face. I understood almost every line as I read it. What I did not understand, for instance:
The firs stand in a procession, each with an emerald turkey foot at the top...
Emerald turkey foot????
The beginning is great:
Man looking into the sea,
taking the view from those who have as much right to it as you have to it yourself
it is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing,
but you cannot stand in the middle of this;
the sea has nothing to give but a well-excavated grave...
Then cames that line about the firs and turkey feet.
I like, ...It is human nature to stand in the middle of a thing...
Could it be that she expresses here a Judeo-Christian view, which stems from the ingrained belief that Man ( as the Victorians used to say) is at The Top of The Tree, God's greatest creation. Other people hold different beliefs - Hindus, for instance.
MM's choice of 'Man' here not incidental.
A heap of poems written last Friday, about the house: P went out and left a phone off the hook in the kitchen, so no one called and I was busy till 3 pm before realising that something might be wrong. Not so wrong, really, it was worth while and I was happy doing it.
Whenever I feel bad about something I think about writing and feel better.
Besides MM, have been side-tracked again into a book entitled Before the Deluge by Otto Friedrich (1974, Michael Joseph, London). A witty and succinct description of the events leading up to Hitler, covering many aspects, theatre, music, the military, the Communists and the emergence of the Nazis, what the man in the street thought, as well as science. For instance: it was a mystery to me how Einstein happened to be so well-known and influential when his theory was incomprehensible to everyone except maybe 3 people in the entire world, at the time, and this book makes it somewhat clearer; also shows how he used his influence. Found out that when Walther Rathenau was murdered - Jewish Foreign Minister- the population poured into the streets in protest, all over Germany, hundreds of thousands marching in silence.
And now to work.