The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

June 29, 2016

poetics, note

"More to my taste was 'Osymandias,' in which Shelley took death
and futility head-on and still managed to emerge with human
dignity intact. And here was Whitman, page after page of him,
tremulous with desire in the lilac-scented night. They were just
doing their job, these poets, which is really the job of all of
us--to keep applying coat upon coat of human passion and
grandiosity to thre world around us, trying to cover up whatever
it is that lies underneath." (Barbara Ehrenreich, Living with A
Wild God, A Nonbeliever's Searh for the Truth about Everything,
pp. 48-9.)

Is there a job for poets, and would this be the job, or would it
be in fact to uncover whatever's down there? And isn't what's
down there what _is,_ that rhetoric, language, gesture, being
itself, covers up? What can be done with something that resists
_doing_? What is it, that what it is being called here, is
uncalled-for? What are we writing, if not always already a

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