Friday, September 17, 2004

Metaphor and Sweet Rhythm Stew

Tonight Beverly and I went to the Mango, a nice little restaurant stuck in a strip mall: you’d never know! But they have the best seafood chowder or stew that I’ve ever had, anywhere. These specials change often, and truth be told, if I saw their concoctions at any other restaurant I’d stay far away. But at the Mango, bring it on! And tonight’s Seafood with Sweet Potato Stew may not have been their best ever, but I finished it to the last drop.

But what if these stews and chowders were more like some works of poetry, and the waiter advises, well I’m sorry you didn’t relish the ultimate combination of these creative ingredients, but wait thirty years and you and others will have come to appreciate it. I’m sure I’d leave a wonderful tip, bastard that I am.

So the New Yorker publishes poems from proven sources. And why not? Nobody is writing for an audience any more. Everything is written for Art (who is this guy anyways). So a publication interested in a market (because that’s the world they live in) decides to bank on poets that have proven their popularity in some manner, even if in the rudest way possible. Do I blame them? Not at all. In fact, I applaud them just for sticking with an art that hardly any of its practitioners think should be necessarily accessible any longer.

And as for Anthony Hecht’s poem the other week. Maybe I’m getting older. Well, there’s no maybes about that at all! But maybe you have to be, in order to appreciate such a work of contemplation on the act of aging. The last lines I thought were brilliant. After complaining about the noisy youthful crowd during spring break, an aging couple is left with this disturbingly quiet aftermath:
Yet a week later what is their reward?
Views of the changeless ocean leave them bored,
And it would be ungenerous to deny
The girls were pretty and the boys were boys.
Oh sure, a water image. But a great allusion to what’s in front of these aging folk. And such a fine summation of life in that last line. I’ll take what the Hecht and thank the New Yorker to boot. Quietude? Sure, maybe. But what’s wrong with peace, love, understanding, and a little contemplation. Nobody attacks Zen monks for their ways.

And finally as for the question: who’s reading these blogs rather than Silliman’s anyways? Me! Over here! I am! I much prefer the soulful intelligence of Mr. Greenhouse and the exuberant intellect of Ms. Tabios. I may not agree with them all the time (and I'm sure that judgment is mutual if not moreso), but I respect their holistic outlook on life. Although Mr. Silliman does show some spirit of late when pondering his past. Ah, it must be that aging thing...


Stuart Greenhouse said...

Thank you!

& I'm glad you liked the Hecht--my criticism was art-based, not topic-based, and completely subjective, to boot (you've probably already seen that Eileen Tabios thought the poem lovely), and I'm glad it didn't prevent you from your appreciation. Fwiw, three are many Hecht poems I've admired/envied, so I guess implicit in my comments was comparison to other work by the man. And maybe a little indigestion.

I've really been enjoying your posts on Frost, by the way, & I linked to them yesterday (before I read this entry even!). And again, thank you for the compliment, it really made my day.


Loren said...

Though I'll have to admit that I've been a little lax lately on keeping up with all the links on my site, I'll have to admit that I like reading Sillman. Perhaps that's because I often disagree with much that he has to say, and that ends up forcing me to justify my own ideas.

That said, I also read Stuart regularly, too, probably because I often agree with his viewpoint, and that's always reassuring.

Maybe it is the aging, but I was thinking about going back sometime shortly and rereading Frost's collected poems.