Listen, my children, and you shall hear Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere, On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-Five: Hardly a man is now alive Who remembers that famous day and year. He said to his friend, "If the British march By land or sea from the town to-night, Hang a lantern
poems & poets
who by the time it arrived
had made its plan heretofore
stonewall it had not a penny
thats not true it had several pennies
can you make a sovereign nation a national park how condescending
instead just tell them to honor the treaty
Manifestos are an unruly lot. In opposition to a reigning ideology, they create vibrancy. But in support of dominant power? They stultify. This is true of William Wordsworth’s Preface to Lyrical Ballads. Written when he was just 28 years old, it had a tremendously generative run of at least 150 years. But Wordsworth wasn’t shooting merely for a good run; he wanted "to interest mankind permanently." I don’t know about eternity, but I know that two centuries after it was written, the Preface is certainly considered "definitive." Only, how much does it matter?
When Charles Bernstein praises Ron Silliman’s poems, he positions the work precisely against the type of poem championed by Wordsworth’s Preface: Silliman’s poems "may discomfort those who want a poetry primarily of personal communication, flowing freely from the inside with the words of a natural rhythm of life, lived daily" (Content’s Dream). Admiring how Silliman’s poems work against "official verse culture," Bernstein
doha: This common Hindi form is a self-contained rhyming couplet. Each twenty-four-syllable line divides into unequal parts of thirteen (6, 4, 3) and eleven syllables (6, 4, 1). A sortha, an inverted doha, transposes the two parts of the line. The simple form of the doha, which conveys an image or idea in two verses, has made it especially useful to describe devotional, sensual, and spiritual states, as in the mystical poetry of Kabir (1440-1518) and Nanak (1469-1539). It often has a proverbial feeling. Goswami Tulsidas employed dohas to adapt the Sanskrit epic Ramayana (fifth to fourth century B. C. E.). His Ramcharitmanas (sixteenth century) are as well known among Hindus in northern India as the Bible is rural in America.
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Excerpted from A Poet’s Glossary by Edward Hirsch. Copyright © 2014 by Edward Hirsch. Used by permission of Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company. All rights reserved.
Two years ago at Bennington College, I taught a course on the work of Sylvia Plath. I created the course in response to student requests and also because I had been thinking about Plath and talking about her with other poets and readers for years. In almost every conversation, the matter of her suicide was inevitably mentioned. I first read her poems while in college. Like many of my students, I was swept up in their drama and entranced by the persona speaking in registers I did not associate with the more measured, reasonable poems to which I had—up until that point—been drawn. In developing my class, I posed a question: Was it possible—even for a short time—to read and study her poems independent of her life story? How was it that we had come to see her creative work as a sort of extended suicide note, rather than as the work of an emerging poet whose career and output had been cut short by a tragic, early death?
I came into the classroom the first day of the term and found