Over breakfast we have have some pretty far ranging conversations. I am usually reading some poems (lately a selection Larry put together of his Berryman favorites), Larry is reading the Wall St. Journal or the NY Times. I read parts of these, too, the “soft” parts. I try to avoid the news, letting Larry be my filter. If it’s ever time to flee, I count on him to let me know.
Yesterday I was musing on what makes Louise Gluck’s poetry so powerful. Her imagery is not gorgeous, and her language tends to be plain not flashy. Yet the poetry is strong. Currents of feeling move though it and jump out at you. And Larry said: Yes, Berryman writes like a man on a high wire; but Louise stands on the ground.
This was after he commented that cities, counties and NY State are borrowing against their pension funds to make contributions to their pension funds. Sheer lunacy.
And Monday he noted that one of the reviewers of Sunday’s Academy Awards show wanted to know who he could sue to get his three hours back.
Then in response to something we were talking about, I was reminded of Frost’s short poem, “Fire and Ice,” and I recited it:
Some say the world will end in fire
Some say in ice.
From what I’ve tasted of desire
I hold with those who favor fire.
But if it had to perish twice
I think I know enough of hate
To say that for destruction ice
Is also great
And would suffice.
I commented on how tightly and neatly that was woven and rhymed. Larry looked up and said, “Yes, Frost was the Kay Ryan of his time.” (To get this joke, you have to know that Kay Ryan is often referred to as the Frost of the current era.)
These little asides are one of the great pleasures of my morning, the very kind of pleasure to be found in the room of available time referred to in Bill Dickey’s poem, On Being Asked to Define Bourgeois Individuality.
As a quick update, we went to hear Louise Glück read at the Lunch Poems at UC Berkeley today. She read from several of her dozen books, but not the first one, saying she had had technique but not experience. She commented that she “was trying to cultivate a fondness” for this book. On the way home, we were talking about this and Larry said, “Well if she has half-a-dozen copies and sees what they’re selling for, that should help.”