Wednesday, October 05, 2005

The looming presence of Yeats

I note this essay by John Drexel on Dana Gioia's Barrier of a Common Language: An American Looks at Contemporary British Poetry because it's interesting as well as amusingly obsessive, but mostly because Drexel writes "Yeats was a looming presence" from Ireland. Did Yeats loom? Here's what a looming presence looks like. Here's what the dictionary says about (the new-to-me noun form of) "loom":
A distorted, threatening appearance of something, as through fog or darkness.
[Perhaps of Scandinavian origin.]



(Note to self: based on the evidence of that essay, you don't know squat about Contemporary British Poetry - and you're not catching up at this rate, having not even read Hughes's last twenty years of work. Maybe in twenty years the important English writers of today will be winnowed enough to face...)

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2 Comments:

Anonymous John Drexel said...

I thank Rilkefan for his characterization of my review as "interesting as well as amusingly obsessive," and for linking that review to his blog. At the risk of reinforcing his suspicions and confirming any impression that I may be overly doctrinaire (but what are critics for?), I would agree that the critic should write about those subjects that most obsess him, and save more casual concerns for others to address. If in so doing I can amuse as well as enlighten the reader, so much the better.

And ah! that "looming presence of Yeats"! Rilkefan indeed has caught me out there, and I stand chastized, chastened, and corrected. Yet I hope I will be forgiven giving in to the temptation of this riposte: The Yeatsian loom looms large--and small--insofar as the study (obsessive or otherwise) of WBY can be described as a cottage industry.

And, of course, foggy weather is not unknown (at all, at all) in Ireland...

That said, I do regret not having saved "looming presence" (in that Scandinavian sense) for my review of Geoffrey Hill.

10/6/06 07:14  
Blogger rilkefan said...

Thanks for your comment - presumably (and thematically) "chastized" is the English version of the familiar "chastised". By "obsessive" I likely meant a certain tone or digressive manner also apparent in the above comment.

Also on theme, I've never managed to read a single poem by Geoffrey Hill with appreciation - but I think anyone who speaks English should love John Ashbery's "As One Put Drunk Into The Packet-Boat".

10/6/06 21:56  

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