[lit-ideas] Re: Poetry and Madness

  • From: David Ritchie <ritchierd@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Fri, 22 Sep 2006 15:56:37 -0700

On Sep 22, 2006, at 2:47 PM, Lawrence Helm wrote:

<x-tad-bigger>Now that we’ve established the difference between poetry and prose, we need to move on to the difference between mere poetry and great poetry.  Here is what John Berryman had to say about that (quoted on page 114 of Jaimison’s </x-tad-bigger><x-tad-bigger>Touched with Fire</x-tad-bigger><x-tad-bigger>):</x-tad-bigger>

And here is Robert Lowell on the same subject, in "Fable for Critics" :

But what's that? a mass meeting? No, there come in lots
The American Disraelis, Bulwers and Scotts,
And, in short, the American everything-elses,
Each charging the others with envies and jealousies;--
By the way, 'tis a fact that displays what profusions
Of all kinds of greatness bless free institutions,
That while the Old World has produced barely eight
Of such poets as all men agree to call great...
With you every year a whole crop is begotten,
They're as much of a staple as corn is, or cotton...
I myself know ten Byrons, one Coleridge, three Shelleys,
Two Raphaels, six Titians, (I think) one Apelles,
Leonardos and Rubenses plenty as lichens,
One (but that is plenty) American Dickens,
A whole flock of Lambs, any number of Tennysons,--
In short, if a man has the luck to have any sons,
He may feel pretty certain that one out of twain
Will be some very great person over again.

David Ritchie,
Portland, Oregon

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