Not that his writing isn’t moving when
it doesn’t seem it should be,
owing in part, at least, to the cloud of difficulty
surrounding his difficult life,
the pleasure of the low key
and mastery of cadence—but that it is
difficult to say why some of it
should be as good as it is, the life
of the writing apart from the life.
The quiet assertions made,
assertion becomes an extended lyric
which foregoing rapture (as it foregoes
rhapsody) presents feeling in such
a way that it ascends human heights,
both detailing and depending on
the level motion of the feeling tone,
like a long headline broken up into
individual letters and presented
at random, one letter at a time
throughout long and occasionally tedious
narrative and description, the promise of sunshine
throughout a long brightly overcast afternoon.
(As though —almost—one had to compete
with the weather and lose in order
to feel anything, or as though mere utterance
blended one with what was being uttered,
in this case ground and sky, the nature
and numerous pleasures of being between.)
Nor do the exceptions in what prevails,
“I was a stricken deer, that left the herd
Long since; with many an arrow deep infixt
My panting side was charg’d,” alter
the weather of the context, while lending a sense
of extra, unrepressed life to the whole;
to a whole consisting of dullness
as well as all the other neighboring kingdoms.
A sense that pleasure is often
pleasure of recognition which doesn’t depend
on prior experience — though one has had that too.
“Oh Winter, ruler of th’inverted year,
Thy scatter’d hair with sleet like ashes fill’d.
Thy breath congeal’d upon thy lips, thy cheeks
Fring’d with a beard made white with other snows
Than those of age, thy forehead wrapt in clouds,
A leafless branch thy sceptre, and thy throne
A sliding car, indebted to no wheels.
But urg’d by storms along its slipp’ry way,
I love thee, all unlovely as thou seem’st‚
And dreaded as thou art!”