Daily Archives: December 6, 2007

Swinburne, straight flush, Pound

NOT TIRED YET . . . Began day the other day in disappointing fashion, reading Hugh Kenner’s The Art of Poetry, where he gave Algernon Swinburne poem which I liked, “Ballad of Burdens,” in which one burden, about “long living,” says:

Thou shalt fear/ Waking, and sleeping mourn upon thy bed/ And say at night, “Would God the day were here”/ And say at dawn, “Would God the day were dead.”

On which Kenner: “Probably everyone should read enough of Swinburne to get tired of him.”

WHOOSH . . . Sunday 12/2 Sun-Times head caught my attention, for story about #3 Chi cop chasing guys who copped flush handles off urinals at Kennedy-King College: “Alleged copper thief flushed out by police brass.”

POUNDING AWAY . . . Ezra Pound accused fellow poet Lascelles Abercrombie, of “public stupidity” and challenged him. A. suggested as weapon their unsold books at 50 paces.

Pound thought Harriet Monroe’s Poetry Mag not careful enough about quality of what it printed, took to calling it “Harriet’s Home Gazette.” They had been friends, but this tore it.

However, as a sort of poetry doctor, Pound helped fellow writers, including Yeats and Eliot, improve their work. He was “the man you called on when you were having trouble with your lines,” says 11/23/17 Times Lit Supplement reviewer Stefan Collini.

He also helped bail out “habitual sponger” James Joyce.

Writing to his mother from England in 1909:  What’s not interesting and important enough to “be put into poetry” is “hardly worth saying” except as way to put bread on the table. So he turned out “an article a day for weeks” in 1917, compared himself to “a highly mechanized typing volcano.” Was never salaried, had no interest in literary journalism.

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