Thursday, August 16, 2018

Lost Puritan: A Life of Robert Lowell by Paul Mariani.

experience cannot tell you/experience is what you do not want to experience

Great book, and a palate cleanser/corrective after reading the recent River of Fire book focussing on Lowell's mania.

First seizure/manic episode in 1944 after writing "Colloquy on Black Rock."

Randall Jarrell on the intentional difficulty of modern poetry: with poet and public "staring at each other with righteous indignation, til the poet said, 'Since you won't read me, I'll make sure you can't.'"

Cold Harbor, "birth of the dogtag," in poem Inauguration Day: January 1953.

on writing prose: He wants to change every second word, but while he toys with revisions, "the subject sinks like a dead whale and lies in the mud of the mind's bottom."

most people were "warped old dogs set on lying in the sun and changing as little as rocks."

about the Beats: "the best poems are not necessarily poems that read aloud."

WC Williams was "right about our U.S. speech and emotional rhythms being unlike the British."

RL speech on the Gettysburg Address:  America's "struggles with four almost insoluble spiritual problems" which the Gettysburg address had somehow adumbrated: "how to join equality with excellence, how to join liberty with justice, how avoid destroying or being destroyed by nuclear power, and how to complete the emancipation of the slaves."

Mary McCarthy on Lowell's illness: "Poor Cal, one day in seven he's as God intended him to be."

One had "a thousand opportunities to misrevise."


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