Sunday, May 16, 2010
Probably purchased at Rust Belt Books. I first heard of Thomas Hardy the poet via W.H. Auden. In a class I took as an undergraduate, we read Auden's book of essays, The Dyer's Hand, that contains an essay in which Auden doles out advice to young poets. I can remember sitting in the basement of the Fordham reading that essay.
He tells the would-be poet to seek a model poet to imitate, but to choose a one who is imperfect. He says there is basically nothing to learn but frustration and envy by reading someone like, for instance, Milton.
He suggests the young writer choose a model like Hardy, whose faults, upon multiple readings, become more and more apparent. That way, says Auden, the would-be poet will eventually feel he has mastered the master, faults and all, and will learn from them more than he could learn from studying the fortified verse walls of Milton.
I guess that is pretty good advice, if you can use it.
from Selected Poetry
If but some vengeful god would call to me
From up the sky, and laugh: "Thou suffering thing,
Know that thy sorrow is my ecstasy,
That thy love's loss is my hate's profiting!"
Then would I bear, and clench myself, and die,
Steeled by the sense of ire unmerited;
Half-eased, too, that a Powerfuller than I
Had willed and meted me the tears I shed.
But not so. How arrives it joy lies slain,
And why unblooms the best hope ever sown?
--Crass Casualty obstructs the sun and rain,
And dicing Time for gladness casts a moan....
These purblind Doomsters had as readily strown
Blisses about my pilgrimage as pain.