Tuesday, November 3, 2009

One thing that has always intrigued me about Hayden Carruth is the way in which he so skillfully uses form as a container for chaos. I know I've mentioned his poem "Adolf Eichmann" before (sorry: I can't find a link to it anywhere), but I can't stop thinking of it as an exemplar of this technique. For the poem is not only written in terza rima (rhyme scheme ABA, BCB, etc.) but also repeats exact words rather than simply using rhymes:

man
mind
man

mind
chief
mind

chief
Adolf
chief

etc.

One might guess that this method would come across as heavy-handed and oppressive, but the effect is in fact breathtaking; for the poem is about obsession and hate . . .  not simply Eichmann's but the speaker's growing awareness of his own evil. Without its suffocating form, the piece would be unremarkable. As it is, "Adolf Eichmann" is one of the scariest poems I've ever read. 

If you're interested in seeing the poem as a whole, email me and I'll send it to you.

Dinner tonight: Venetian meatballs, Brussels sprouts from the garden, arugula salad with feta and our own pullet eggs. To think I possess children who adore Brussels sprouts! But of course homegrown sprouts are divine. The meatballs are a recipe from one of Marcella Hazan's cookbooks. They're time-consuming to make, but everyone here loves them, so they're a good choice when we're missing a family member for dinner. It's a safe bet he's eating better food than we are anyway. . . .

3 comments:

charlotte gordon said...

I am out of sorts and have come to your page to read you and am cheered at the thought of you making time consuming meatballs. I just ate a cupcake I bought at a store for lunch. I did not know the Eichmann poem. Reading you is good for my [soul] -- I can't really write that word except wreathed in brackets, although I believe entirely in its existence in other people especially. xo

Dawn Potter said...

You could try capitalizing "soul," like a 17th-century writer. Or even trickier, be like Blake and capitalize an "unimportant" word that turns lowercased soul into ominous irony.

XX

Feel better soon and stop eating store cupcakes. They are Certainly bad for the soul.

Monique said...

Dear Dawn,
In my search for Carruth's "Adolf Eichmann" I stumbled across your blog. I would like to use the poem for my MA thesis on WWII and the Vietnam War in collective and individual memory, but Dutch university libraries tend to not collect American poetry. So, I would like to respond to your offer to e-mail the entire poem. Hope to hear from you soon.

Kind regards,
Monique van Hout