Vishvesh Obla wrote:
> An interesting article at :
> Some passages that struck me:
> literary criticism as it has been practiced
> from Aristotle to Helen Vendler...
The Jan/Feb issue of _American Poetry Review_ came in today's mail, with
an amusing column by Donald Hall, mostly a set of musings on the habits
of poetry anthology editors. Very often such editors simply do a cut and
paste job from other anthologies. "Otherwise," by Hall's wife (Jane
Kenyon, has appeared in a number of anthologies. I quote:
****But in Helen Vendler's _Poems, Poets, Poetry_ it appears with an
_I live with cancer; I know there is an otherwise_.
48, Artist, Rockport, Maine
These words were not part of Jane's poem. Someone is quoted talking
about her own cancer (when Jane wrote "Otherwise," she was not ill). The
comment comwes from one of Robert Pinksy's anthologies in which he
openly and usefully and clearly includes remarks by the Americans who
have chosen the poems. In assembling _Poems, Poets, Poetry_ the editor
photocopied a page from Pinsky and forgot to remove Pinsky's
Of course it was probably one of Helen Vendler's grad students who did
the photocopying. A friend from Minnesota told me years ago how Robert
Penn Warren collected the poems for _Understanding Poetry_; he gave his
secretary a copy of some anthology and told her to retype the poems he
had checked off. That would have been before the days of photocopying.
P.S. I mentioned a month or two ago that I was browsing in Christopher
Ricks's _Dylan's Visions of Sin_ (a good book to browse in, but a little
too rambling to read straight through). Ricks has a fine account of
what must be the best poem (at least in English) ever written by a
Song to Woody
I'm out here a thousand miles from my home,
Walkin' a road other men have gone down.
I'm seein' your world of people and things,
Your paupers and peasants and princes and kings.
Hey, hey Woody Guthrie, I wrote you a song
'Bout a funny ol' world that's a-comin' along.
Seems sick an' it's hungry, it's tired an' it's torn,
It looks like it's a-dyin' an' it's hardly been born.
Hey, Woody Guthrie, but I know that you know
All the things that I'm a-sayin' an' a-many times more.
I'm a-singin' you the song, but I can't sing enough,
'Cause there's not many men that done the things that you've done.
Here's to Cisco an' Sonny an' Leadbelly too,
An' to all the good people that traveled with you.
Here's to the hearts and the hands of the men
That come with the dust and are gone with the wind.
I'm a-leaving' tomorrow, but I could leave today,
Somewhere down the road someday.
The very last thing that I'd want to do
Is to say I've been hittin' some hard travelin' too.
The last two lines are a masterpiece of decorum, as Ricks points out (in
a different terminology). And Ricks is also illuminating on "The
Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll" and "Like a Rolling Stone."