Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Winter has returned. Siftings of snow on the crocuses, on the budding forsythia, and a sharp whipping wind in the treetops. The morning is bleak, and my sentences beg to be fragments.

I spent a few hours yesterday reading the poems of Phillis Wheatley, who sounds, here, almost like a forerunner of Keats--

Imagination! who can sing thy force?
Or who describe the swiftness of thy course?
Soaring through air to find the bright abode,
Th’ empyreal palace of the thund’ring God,
We on thy pinions can surpass the wind,
And leave the rolling universe behind:
From star to star the mental optics rove,
Measure the skies, and range the realms above.
There in one view we grasp the mighty whole,
Or with new worlds amaze th’ unbounded soul.

This is a single stanza from a longer work, "On Imagination," that otherwise mostly recalls Pope. But this section reminds me so much of "On First Looking into Chapman's Homer." It's eerie, really, how much it seems to predict that sonnet. I wonder if Keats ever read Wheatley.

By the way, I keep forgetting to mention that next Thursday I'll be in southern Maine reading at North Yarmouth Academy. It's open to the public, and I hope you can come. I realize that it's also opening day for the Red Sox, but maybe you can listen to the rest of the game on your drive home.

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