Wednesday, April 29, 2009

I, Lyric

Western lyric -- at least as it's traced through Italian pastoral (Petrarch et al) through England (Wyatt and Surrey) and on through to our own cutting fragments of a moment -- sparks against the impossible question, "Who am I?"

It's a trail worth following, making not only for one of the richest ways through which to read some of the best contemporary poetry, but also for brilliant insights into how we construct a male sense of self in the Western tradition. I talked about it in this review in the Boston Review, and certainly expect to go back to it in future reviews, essays and blogs since I've been thinking about it off-and-on for 20 years now. But then this morning I had a few minutes of coffee and Jack Spicer, and came upon his perfect "Sheep Trails Are Fateful to Strangers" -- inserted here like a bookmark to indicate the ongoing conversation:

Dante would have blamed Beatrice
If she turned up alive in some local bordello
Or Newton gravity
If apples fell upward
What I mean is words
Turn mysteriously against those who use them
Hello says the apple
Both of us were object.

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