Am currently reading Robert Lowell’s collected, and having that experience where a writer who previously seemed lifeless to me, suddenly seems utterly gripping and poignantly odd, fantastic, even – Anyway, I’m at “Life Studies” and I do realize things might go downhill from here, but all I really want to point out are these bizarre and amazing little snippets that punctuate his often oddly enjambed or rhymed or seemingly well-formed pieces – It’s as if snark and genius just shimmer in the otherwise fairly normal surface of his poems:
“watery martini pipe dreams”
“grasshopper notes of genius!”
“fauve ooze for newts”
“I saw myself as a young newt,
and wild in the wild coffee-colored water.”
half my life-lease later,”
They go on and on. I can’t really explain it; I suppose turn of phrase is important in any poet; but something about his tone continuously defies itself, and makes me smile.