Monday, February 2, 2009

Yet another reason to feel discouraged about the wisdom of writing about Paradise Lost.

from On Mr Milton's 'Paradise Lost'

          Andrew Marvell (of "To His Coy Mistress" fame)

          Pardon me, Mighty Poet, nor despise
My causeless, yet not impious surmise.
But I am now convinced that none will dare
Within thy labors to pretend a share.
Thou hast not missed one thought that could be fit,
And all that was improper dost omit:
So that no room is here for writers left,
But to detect their ignorance or theft.

I've starting working on a new poem, which looks to be a narrative retelling of the fairy tale "East of the Sun and West of the Moon." I'm not sure why my recent poems have been narrative retellings of old stories. Last winter's spate of sonnet writing seems to have dissipated. This time I wondered if I might actually be writing prose fiction; but when I deleted the lineation and set up the tale in paragraphs, it looked and sounded terrible. Ah, the mysteries of verse.

I'm also girding my loins for another essay--this one an actual assignment: to review Daphne du Maurier's story collection Don't Look Now. Apparently, my embryo Adam Bede project will have to wait, which is actually okay because I was beginning to feel shy about approaching George Eliot and I don't feel at all shy about approaching du Maurier.

Activities that have nothing to do with writing: The weather's finally warmed up here, so I managed to get out of the house for a snowshoe this morning. I had planned to go out yesterday, but I had to superintend the making of a chocolate Super Bowl cake and chicken curry for a special Super Bowl dinner. I have no interest in football. Nonetheless, along with the two other members of my family who share my feelings about football, I sat around with the youngest member (the one who insisted on all this celebratory dining and who had previously affixed a homemade Super Bowl poster to the refrigerator, luridly decorated the cake, and dressed up in an imitation Arizona Cardinals outfit) and watched the Super Bowl on a dysfunctional digital-TV connection. Then we had to deal with the fan's hysterics when his team blew it. But at least I got to see Clarence Clemons dressed up like Sun Ra during the halftime show.

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