Ptarmigan

a grouse with completely feathered feet

4/11/2005

Ron Silliman has a great post about the School of Quietude in poetry, its development and its roots in early American literary history. And, again, Poe pops up as a pivotal figure here, as he does for both science fiction and mysteries.

I don't think are so clearly cut and dried though. I was reading Randall Jarrell's Poetry and the Age this weekend. I guess it's a good sign of criticism that Jarrell actually made me want to read ROBERT FROST. Well, going back to some of his more obscure work. Speaking of obscure work, and the hand-wringing about obscurity (and this goes for SF/F too), there's this great quote:

"One judges an age, just as one judges a poet, by its best poems--after all, most of the others have disappeared; when posterity hears that our poems are obscure, it will smile indifferently--just as we do when we are told that the Victorians were sentimental, the Romantics extravagant, the Augustans conventional, the metaphysicals conceited, and the Elizabethans bombastic--and go back to its (and our) reading..."

And this brilliant quote from Proust:

"All that we can say is that everything is arranged in this life as though we entered it carrying the burden of obligations contracted in a former life; there is no reason inherent in the conditions of life on this earth that can make us consider ourselves obliged to do good, to be fastidious, to be polite even, nor make the talented artist consider himself obliged to begin over again a score of times a piece of work the admiration aroused by which will matter little to his body devoured by worms, like the patch of yellow wall painted with so much knowledge and skill by an artist who must forever remain unknown and is barely identified under the name Vermeer. All these obligations which have not their sanction in our present life seem to belong to a different world, founded upon kindness, scrupulosity, self-sacrifice, a world entirely different from this, which we leave in order to be born into this world, before perhaps returning to the other to live once again beneath the sway of those unknown laws which we have obeyed because we bore their precepts in our hearts, knowing not whose hand had traced them there--those laws to which every profound work of the intellect brings us nearer and which are invisible only--and still!--to fools."

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