Thursday, April 17, 2008

Emotion recollected in daffodils

I find it difficult to write poetry on the road. I guess I'm a Wordsworth kind of guy: the poetry comes whilst I'm distracted at my desk or during a really boring meeting. I hope I am storing materials which will produce those subsequent poems, though I suspect most of that occurred long ago, and I am still living off the capital, and I can alway write a poem out of sheer will, if I want to, but those aren't the poems one believes in most. Those come later, if they come at all.

At the moment I am noting, once again, that the English robin and the American robin are two completely different birds and wondering why, all those years I was studying English lit, no one ever said so. Important as the robin is to Merrie Old EngLit, no one mentioned it. One of the hazards of an American kid being taught English books by American teachers: I suspect they didn't know either. I think about this every time I'm here, wondering what else I've missed and what a British student, reading Faulkner or Twain, passes by unawares.

4 comments:

Nic Sebastian said...

You forgot to tell about C.S. Milton's birthday.

RHE said...

Haven't been yet.

I don't fancy Lewis much. He was a fine literary scholar, of course, but that's not what he's remembered for now. I think his kids' books are weakly derivative. And I find his Christian apologetics lamentable. Screwtape is clever enough, but the theology is vicious. I tend towards Empson's Milton's God, and that's not a mind set which would find Lewis's line congenial. His autobiography, both in print and on the screen, has promoted his reputation a good deal, I think; being portrayed by Anthony Hopkins will do that.

Nic Sebastian said...

Things you read and liked when you were 8 or 9 have their own unusurpable place in the scheme of things. I grant you all the rest. Looking forward to the birthday report whenever it happens.

RHE said...

Well, that's true of course--we do retain a soft spot for the books which introduced us to reading or, more, literature. Sometimes we're lucky, and they turn out to be Stevenson or Kipling. Sometimes not. But people make literary claims for Lewis they wouldn't make for Amelia Bedelia. Sometimes that's way of pushing a nonliterary agenda. Alison Lurie had an interesting discussion of the matter a couple years ago in the NY Review of Books-- http://www.nybooks.com/articles/18672