Hold It All

Tag: William Butler Yeats

Five Poems, Five Passages

Ezra Pound and Marcella Spann, ed.
From Confucius to Cummings: An Anthology of Poetry
New Directions, 1964

Guido Calvacanti, Sonnet 7
Saint Teresa d’Avila, Bookmark
Elizabeth I, When I Was Fair and Young
William Butler Yeats, Down by the Salley Gardens
H.D., “Never More Will the Wind”


What matters in poetry, as Coleridge would have agreed, is the intensity of the emotion, and the depth of comprehension registered by the writer.

My efforts to indicate part of the quality of Chinese metric have been sabotaged by the lethargy , or worse, of America endowments for the suppression of the life of the soul.

W.D.H. Rouse notes that Golding’s version [of Ovid] was one of the six great books that Shakespeare had read, as perhaps no other man ever will.

Shakespeare’s lyrics if not the absolute fountainhead are at any rate the channel from which almost all later melodic and rhythmic variety in song-strophe has flowed into English and American verse.

Nineteenth century rhetoric books used to recommend: clearness, force, and beauty. Medieval Latin gave it: ut doceat, ut moveat, ut delectet, that it teach, move, and delight.

Old, Learned, Respectable Bald Heads

I saw this book on my shelf, opened to a page, and found this–

But that is the sort of thing we can expect from the Abstract Owl, the dried-up Western descendant of the Confucianist Dedicated Scholar, who, unlike his Noble but rather unimaginative ancestor, thinks he has some sort of monopoly on—-

“What’s that?” Pooh interrupted.

“What’s what?” I asked.

“What you just said—the Confusionist, Desiccated Scholar.”

“Well, let’s see. The Confusionist, Desiccated Scholar is one who studies Knowledge for the sake of Knowledge, and who keeps what he learns to himself or to his small group, writing pompous and pretentious papers that no one else can understand, rather than working for the enlightenment of others. How’s that?”

“Much better,” said Pooh.

–Benjamin Hoff, The Tao of Pooh

Title above is line 2 from W. B. Yeats’s poem, “The Scholars”

Those Blasts of a Trumpet

I’ve recently finished reading Robert Richardson’s engrossing biography, Emerson: The Mind on Fire. The author regularly highlights the exuberant reading Emerson did throughout his life. Robertson not only identifies authors and titles of what Emerson read; he also notes how Emerson read. Twice, Robertson quotes Goethe, a dramatic influence on Emerson: “What is genius but the faculty of seizing and turning to account any thing that strikes us… every one of my writings has been furnished to me by a thousand different persons, a thousand different things.” Emerson was a proponent of skimming books:  “The glance reveals what the gaze obscures. Somewhere the author has hidden his message. Find it, and skip the paragraphs that do not talk to you.”  Read the rest of this entry »

Dear 1L

You’re sitting in Civ Pro—
Looking like you’re paying attention
Masking skillfully
Your ho-hum ennui
Let me remind you—
In your deep heart’s core
You can always visit Innisfree
Or even chat with Crazy Jane

Intercultural Exchange

Crazy Jane talked for hours
With the sheikh on the road
She made him giggle

Gratitude Journal/5 (“Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it”)

Several of us have been meeting weekly at a friend’s home on DeMun in a class, “Expanding the Heart: The Practice of Gratitude.”  We’re keeping gratitude journals.  Here’s a recent entry from mine.

Thank you, Sarah Bollinger, for thinking of me all the way over in Portugal and sending me that candor-drenched letter about your re-looking at the practice of writing, now that you’re done with your doctoral dissertation.

“Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning” Read the rest of this entry »

Desk Collage

Study Collage


She’s spent four years at SLU
And is moving on

I’ve spent fourteen years at SLU
And am moving on

We had class together fall 2008
Her tender sophomore year

We’ve met ten or twelve times since that class
Invariably in cafes and restaurants

(I never once used the “adjunct office”
For “office hours”)

And there was that spending binge downtown
At Left Bank Books right before Xmas break

I knew that she was a writer
From the student profile she turned in the first day

(Maybe I was too exuberant about it
She sometimes eyed me as if I had a screw loose)

She’d come to my mind when I’d read
What Brooklyn College teacher Allen Ginsberg said

“Older people gain vigor, refreshment, vitality, energy, hopefulness and cheerfulness
From the attentions of the young

And the younger people gain gossip, experience, advice, aid, comfort
Wisdom, knowledges and teachings from their relation with the old”

She wondered if Kerouac meant, “Accept loss forever”
Or “Accept loss forever

During the 75 minute conversation amid Café Ventana sunshine
We drank champagne

I toasted her with a clink
She took a photo of me from her fancy phone

Sitting there she looked out in the distance as if in a trance
Watching for Ecstasy to come around the corner

I didn’t tell her
That Yeats’ “For Anne Gregory” didn’t apply to her

I said “good for you!” to refuse the Fulbright and instead
To embrace Teach for America in D.C.

(Love conquers all
Besides, prestige is so overrated)

The word “soteriology” was never mentioned
The word “diarrhea” was used once

Karl Rahner never came up
But Shawn Copeland did

We agreed “women’s ordination” doesn’t go far enough
If it only installs women in hierarchical power position

(Still, I ponder
How many kids & women & men

In Catholic churches may never hear HER
Illuminate Word & World & Wonder)

There’s Marx’s thesis on Feuerbach that the philosophers have interpreted the world
The point, however, is to change it

There’s Jesus’ vision of the brokerless Kingdom of God
A program of free healing & open commensality

Broken Spanish & homesickness
Barbed wire & acrobatic empowerment–all shared

I invited her repeatedly to be guest speaker in social justice classes
For her riveting, no bullshit Nicaragua testimony

In a parallel universe Mev at 25
And she at 22 would be best pals

She’s soon to move to Washington DC
Accompanying the kiddos

She’s not got mind-reading power yet
But she knows how I am going to end this–

I can’t give her a big official prize for scholastic achievement, GPA, something quantifiable
I can only remind her of this

Alexis Mary Lassus:
“You’re a Genius all the time”

The Scholars by William Butler Yeats

Bald heads forgetful of their sins,
Old, learned, respectable bald heads
Edit and annotate the lines
That young men, tossing on their beds,
Rhymed out in love’s despair
To flatter beauty’s ignorant ear.

All shuffle there; all cough in ink;
All wear the carpet with their shoes;
All think what other people think;
All know the man their neighbour knows.
Lord, what would they say
Did their Catullus walk that way?