At a craft talk at Squaw Valley one year, Bob Hass said something like this: No one can say whose work will last. Alfred Lord Tennyson was the most famous poet of his day. But who reads him now? The important thing is to wrestle with our own demons, to get that struggle into our work. As for its worth, that’s not up to any of us to know.
I don’t read Tennyson either, although I did love the strong, almost irresistible music of his work when I was first reading poems. And many of his lines remain in my memory. So here is a poem of his, and afterwards, a poem of mine on a very similar theme. Not that I equate my work with his, but because the work itself is all there is, and we are all struggling to get it down on the page, famous or not.
Break, Break, Break
Break, break, break,
On thy cold gray stones, O Sea!
And I would that my tongue could utter
The thoughts that arise in me. Continue reading “Who?”