Len Krisak's blog

Housman as a touchstone

Still in the Touchstone mode (and blogging up to speed at a glacial pace):

 

A. E. Housman is a personal obsession, a poet who finds his way

into my work (and life) often enough that I should be asking rent

of the old fellow.

 

One of the many pieces (and how closely it comports with

Frost's "Fire and Ice") that have long held my utmost

admiration is his "Eight O'Clock":

 

He stood, and heard the steeple

Sprinkle the quarters on the morning town.

One, two, three, four, to market place and people

Housman as a touchstone

 
 

 
 

Touchstones

 

 

What are the poems one returns to, always taking pleasure?

Or to put it slightly differently, what poems would enjoy the

place of honor in one's Absolute Anthology (no fair including

warhorses, chestnuts, and poems one is supposed to like)?

 

I'd start with Frost's "Fire and Ice," for its astounding compression

and bite--a coiled spring of mostly monosyllables--snapping those

two dimeter lines in place while avoiding the risk of chiming

The Epigrammatic Power of Richar Wilbur

Another Touchstone: the utterly remarkable concision

Richard Wilbur could achieve in one brilliant metaphor.

Here is "Sleepless at Crown Point":

 

    All night, this headland

    Lunges into the rumpling

    Capework of the wind.

 

Hard to know where to begin singing the praises of this amazing poem, a haiku

that like many others by Wilbur, near-rhymes (here, "land" with "wind"). Perhaps

start by pointing out that all three touchstones so far are very short poems, making

Touchstones

What are the poems one returns to, always taking pleasure?

Or to put it slightly differently, what poems would enjoy the

place of honor in one's Absolute Anthology (no fair including

warhorses, chestnuts, and poems one is supposed to like)?

 

I'd start with Frost's "Fire and Ice," for its astounding compression

and bite--a coiled spring of mostly monosyllables--snapping those

two dimeter lines in place while avoiding the risk of chiming

(too-close rhyming). The rhymes "fit" perfectly yet catch one

off-guard.