I like to do requests when I can, and sadly I was not able to fulfill one last week about Erictho, the amazing witch who appears in Book VI of Civil War. Not only that, but David beat me to it with this excellent post, which you should absolutely read if a grisly [...]
The first poem in Anne Carson’s Glass, Irony & God is called “The Glass Essay,” and if you’re anything like me, the title might seem odd. Essay? As Guy Davenport’s introduction to the collection explains, though, Carson’s poems can seem like verse essays: “She writes in a kind of mathematics of the emotions, [...]
Robert Nichols, a fellow English war poet, wrote an introduction to Siegfried Sassoon’s 1918 collection Counter-Attack and Other Poems that is reprinted in my Dover Edition of the War Poems of Siegfried Sassoon. In it, Nichols recounts a conversation he once had with Sassoon, on the topic of “certain exalté poems in [Nichols's] [...]
On Tuesday, one of the poems I wrote about, “To Any Dead Officer,” ends very bluntly, as I noted: “I wish they’d killed you in a decent show.” This kind of bluntness is characteristic, especially as a sort of epigrammatic last line to Sassoon’s poems. “Trench Duty” ends, “I’m wide awake; and some [...]
On Monday, Dwight pointed me to an article in The Guardian about new poems by Sassoon recently unearthed by his biographer. As reported, these poems “show how the young poet, who joined his battalion in France in November 1915, did not immediately plunge into writing angry poetry about the horrors of his experience, [...]
Yesterday I ended with a question about Sassoon’s bitterness. Today I want to discuss a theme in many of Sassoon’s poems that is often treated more sweetly than you might expect: death. I mean here the state of death, the afterlife in the most literal sense possible—what happens after life ends.
Sassoon speculates [...]
Why not have a week on Siegfried Sassoon? I mean to say, on his war poems. I can name a few good reasons: I’m not even really supposed to have read them yet; I probably ought to be writing about a lot of other things first; should one shortish book of poetry really [...]
Kathleen Rooney’s book of poetry, Oneiromance: an epithalamion, is one among several beautiful, extremely human, and extremely thoughtful pieces of literature I’ve read lately on marriage and coupling, and one I would be happy to give to any brides or grooms (if I knew any). It’s divided into six parts: two on a [...]
down among the old- for-America tall buildings that changed the streets of other cities, circulate elevated trains overhead, shrieking and drumming, lit by explosions of sparks that harm no one
The title of Slow Trains Overhead, a collection of poems and stories by Reginald Gibbons, comes from a different passage in that poem, [...]
Letter-writing is hardly a modern activity, and there were many epistolographers among the ancients I would like to read someday. I went with fiction: Ovid’s Heroides, a series of fictional letters between mythic figures. The first group are all single letters from a woman to a man; these are followed by three exchanges.