POETS Day! Mark Van Doren

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

POETS Day has arrived and it couldn’t have come at a more auspicious moment. About this time desperation for that final gift is settling in and you’re looking at videos and news reports of Black Friday melees and realizing that not only are those people done with Christmas shopping but their wounds have likely healed. It may be that the receiving end of a WalMart stomping pays peace of mind dividends. At the very least you could rely on mall related PTSD as an excuse to get you out of work early and jumpstart the… well…

Maybe jumpstarting the weekend isn’t for you this this time around. It’s still POETS Day and you still have to all that dissembling, obfuscating, truth fudging, and gleeful trespassing of societal norms and all the delicate pieties that preserve our hopefully durable civilization, but this time you are doing it for reasons other than increasing your opportunities for pleasure so it’s kinda selfless. No happy hours, no grassy parks to lay in, no pond swimming or light masochistic jogging. You have to get out of work so go ahead and Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. The problem is that this POETS Day you’re gobbling up extra me time to shop for others, and that’s the worst kind of shopping there is.

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POETS Day! Roy Campbell

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Sometimes I feel bad for people who don’t speak English and are stuck calling their master lyricists words like poeta, digter, imbongi, or tusisolo that don’t form tidy acronyms encouraging their better hedonist angels. Thankfully we are blessed by the vision of William the TBA who noticed that Godwinson was busy in York dealing with family issues and figured even if Harold could get to Hastings in time, he’d have to force march his men with out any bathroom breaks. William won and French words marginalized German words. Instead of the dubious Diners In Cardiff Hate Tasting English Rarebit we get the dulcet Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday, so Happy POETS Day! Disassemble, obfuscate, fudge the truth, and gleefully trespass the norms and delicate pieties that preserve our hopefully durable civilization. Nearly all means are justified by the urge to prematurely escape the bonds of employment and settle in at a friendly neighborhood joint a few hours before even happy hour begins, lay comfortably in the grass at a local park or cemetery, take a schvitz, or God forbid, go for a light jog. It’s your weekend. Do with it as you will, but in homage to the mighty Norman acronym may I suggest setting aside a moment for a little verse? It’s a particularly good way to pass time waiting on friends who may not run as roughshod over the delicate pieties and were not as successful as you were in engineering an early exit.

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In October of 1944, C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien spent an evening in discussion with Roy Campbell, this week’s featured poet. Lewis was put off by Campbell’s, according to Lewis, “particular blend of Catholicism and fascism.” Tolkien, who was writing The Lord of the Rings at the time, reportedly took Campbell as inspiration for a mysterious hobbit character named Trotter who he would over time rewrite as a man, rename Strider, and reveal as Aragorn. People didn’t react mildly to Campbell. Even when they were ostensibly friends and admirers of each other’s literary abilities and fellow members of The Inklings, Lewis wrote a mean poem at him.

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Thanksgiving Leftovers for POETS Day – Reheated Christina Rossetti

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

There’s not much to Piss Off Early from, despite Tomorrow being Saturday. I’m probably wrong about this but to me “seizing” implies taking from. Most people are off work the day after Thasnksgiving so…can you seize the beginning to a weekend if it’s uncontested? Unless you are mid-melee in an epic struggle with a fellow Walmart shopper vying for the last Play Station 5.2 I don’t see much seizing going on today at all. There’s no boss pressing you with a deadline and the threat of late Friday hours. You haven’t hit any stir-crazy milestones because it’s bound to have been a light week. There’s nothing of the standard annoyance to escape from.

Normally I suggest using your reclaimed time in a carpe diem way – hit the bars early, enjoy the park, etc. None of those things hold as much Friday afternoon appeal when they are permitted. I’m going to watch the US play England in the World Cup and do some laundry. My kids are going to the movies but I’m not joining them. I hate theaters now that they all sell nachos; might as well hand everybody a set of maracas. Also, they won’t pause when I have to go to the bathroom and the drinks are really expensive and big so I have to go to the bathroom at a wine bar like dollar to urination ratio. I have a pretty good mystery novel I’m midway through and I see that There Will Be Blood is available streaming on Paramount Plus and I’ve never seen that. It’s ho-hum, but I’ll be okay.

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A Quick Note on the Rossetti POETS Day Post

I mentioned the parallel between the sisters Laura and Lizzie in “The Goblin Market” and the sisters Lilian and Lilias in “An Apple Gathering” in my earlier post. I didn’t make clear my beliefs on why Rossetti didn’t use the names of the first set of sisters twice rather than give the second original names meant to call the first to mind.

This is probably something apparent to many, but I had an “Oh… of course.” moment when thinking about it so I figure it deserves mention if for no other reason to show that what you may consider obvious I may consider cryptic and secreted away. We know that in “The Goblin Market” it’s Laura that gives in to temptation and that Lizzie resists in the face (literally) of an onslaught of enticement. We know who was strong and who was weak. That is not the case with Lilian and Lilias. They are meant to be counterparts to the first but not individually. One of the two has sinned, but we don’t know which. We assume the heroine of “An Apple Gathering” knows which of the two needed forgiveness, but to the reader, so complete was the power of redemption that, Lilian is indistinguishable Lilias and vice versa. We’re not supposed to be able to tell the difference.

I thought that was a deft little move on Chrissie’s part.  

POETS Day! Christina Georgina Rossetti

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

POETS Day will sneak up on you if you let it. That doesn’t absolve you of your duties, of course. You still have to meet your obligations and do the day’s thing: Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. Just know that there are those of us who understand that sometimes a mid-afternoon escape from work will not benefit from a well thought out plan. You have to summon inspiration and work with the tools you find laying about. Thankfully those who intend to weasel out of the office before official release is granted probably mastered the art of the faked illness as a kid in order to get out of school, so they’ve seen a lot of mid-morning I Love Lucy reruns. That rascally redhead taught them three very important things. First, if you want something there is no limit to the amount of humiliation you are willing to endure to get it. Second, the only thing keeping you from a career in showbusiness is that smooth-talking, spotlight-hogging husband of yours. Third, whatever the consequences of your actions, they will not be so dire as to deter you from trying something as equally ill-advised seven days later, assuming the advertisers are still on board. Focus on the benefits of risking your source of income by lying to your boss and leaving your co-workers in the lurch for a few Friday afternoon hours. Ignore your conscience. Consciences are problematic. They keep people from doing great things like sticking with their mentor to rule the galaxy side by side just because he’s mean to their kid.

Fake temporary aphasia, cake oatmeal on your arm and claim leprosy, freak out saying “How?… No… I can’t move again…” when the UPS guy or a customer you’ve never seen before comes into the office and make sure and tell anyone who will listen that you are definitely not in the witness relocation program while safely cowering under your desk. Do whatever you must to kickstart your weekend and get out of there. Roll with the bon temps. But first, take in a little verse to stir your impulsive creativity.

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POETS Day! John Donne

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

Welcome to POETS Day! The John Donne Edition, so prepare to Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday. By the time this post is published you still won’t have voted yet so feel free to make your workplace a haven for free speech. Who will end up holding the reins of power is on quite a few minds. People say that it’s impolite to talk about politics or religion in public, but people love to talk about politics and religion. Once they get going it’s Katie bar the door. Indulge their desires by giving the people what they want and don’t hold back. If people are reticent to speak up start assigning positions like a debating coach. “Sally, you defend congressional stock trades. Bill. Abortion. I’ve got you down for anti. Tommy, pretend to be above it all and keep saying that there’s no real difference between the parties.” Have fun with it. Maybe designate a supply closet as the penalty box. I’ll give it thirty minutes before everyone is at each other’s throats and forty-five before the walk outs begin. Follow suit. You aren’t going to get any work done in this environment. Hit the bars, grab a matinee, surf PornHub for the articles, take a walk along a creek, or otherwise indulge yourself. It’s the weekend and it comes early to those willing to seize it. But first, some metaphysical stuff.

Samuel Johnson had some harsh words for the metaphysical poets. He thought they were showoffs always trying to impress on the reader how learned they were. He’s probably right about that. He also had issues with their devotional poetry. He felt that any communication with God was by de facto divine and attempts to improve the experience by framing it poetically were attempts wasted. The divine exists above poetry. I’m not a Johnson aficionado so I have no idea whether or not he had similar issues with devotional poetry by non-metaphysical poets, but I have read a few lines of his explaining why it was okay when Milton did it. I just skimmed his Milton excuses, but it seemed to me like he was protesting too much.

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POETS Day! Cecil Day Lewis

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]

I’d love to wish you a joyous POETS Day, but I don’t see my wishes making any difference. You’re still encouraged to embrace the POETS Day ethos, Piss Off Early, Tomorrow’s Saturday, but this time your motivation is not an early happy-hour beer and tolerably spicy chicken wings. It’s not a refreshing walk in the park with that fetching he or she that has caught your eye. It’s not even to declare independence and lay claim to time that should rightfully be yours to waste. It’s Halloween weekend, and though the actual holiday may not be until Monday, do you think those bratty little trick or treaters, hiding behind their oh-so-cute Davey Crocket, Nancy Drew, or misnamed Frankenstein costume, are going to innocently while away the time until the clock green lights their mischief? I’m telling you they won’t. They have a whole weekend, and they know that school ends at three and most homeowners don’t get to leave work until sometimes after five, giving them a free Friday reign of terror through neighborhoods unprotected by adults. Not even the cover of darkness will so embolden them. So lie, cheat, fake, disgrace yourself in front of your co-workers – whatever it takes to get out of work early to protect the homestead lest the Kinderly Ones get there first and egg your house, roll your trees with toilet paper, or sacrifice your cat at one of their Johnson’s Baby black masses.

Today I chose a selection from Cecil Day-Lewis, British Poet Laureate from 1968 – 1972, one time very active but eventually reformed Communist, friend and devotee of Auden, popular mystery writer (under the pseudonym Nicholas Blake) and father of four – among them Academy Award-winner Daniel Day-Lewis. His relation to the actor means he comes with a ghost story, which fits in nicely considering it’s the Halloween weekend.

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Notes and Nonsense

– This is why I should never be put on a jury. I’d hand the keys of the company and just about every asset of every employee involved over to this couple out of rage and fury, and that’s not actual justice. But they sure as hell deserve something. – ‘It has to be known what was done to us’: Natick couple harassed by eBay tell their story for the first time – The Boston Globe

– I rarely read City Journal and kick myself for my failure to keep up with them every time I do. From Lee Siegel, a long article but worth the time: “He writes that amour propre represents “a demand on others that they think better of us than they think of themselves.” That seems, in the current moment, just about right.” – Year Zero | City Journal (city-journal.org)

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The Consequences of Law and Order

Amanda Palmer is a twit. I met her after her Birmingham show and she seemed nice. She married a writer I’m quite fond of and otherwise has behaved as well as you’d expect despite some crappy political assumptions. Then she wrote this “poem.” The scare quotes are there because I want you, gentle reader, to understand that I don’t consider liberal use of the Enter button to constitute poetry.

At least one writer has called it the worst poem of all time. Well…

This is secondary. I mean secondary to Palmer as an intro to what I was actually thinking but first I want to point out, and that is neither first nor secondary as that honor has already been doled out so we’ll go with tertiary. Tertiarilly I want to point to a line from her Boston bomber elegy:

“you don’t know how to dance but you give it a shot anyway.”

That is dancing, right? That’s the fun of it.

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