In Othello’s Vise

OR OUR OTHELLO’S VICE Othello isn’t easy. As A.C. Bradley noted in 1913, “from the moment when the temptation of the hero begins, the reader’s heart and mind are held in a vise, experiencing the extremes of pity and fear, sympathy and repulsion, sickening hope and dreadful expectation.” I find this to be terribly true; in fact I have a hard time reading Othello or watching a production of Othello, and I think this is not only due to the fact that I ‘know what’s coming’ (as I do, or we all do, with most of Shakespeare’s classic plays) but…

The saint manqué

+++ “In Iago we have, I think, a very remarkable portrait by Shakespeare of the villain as an inverted saint, a saint manqué. On the surface, nothing might seem less probable. Yet Shakespeare was surely right in suggesting this, because the saint and the villain have very similar psychologies. In both, ethics and aesthetics become almost the same thing.” -AUDEN, Lectures on Shakespeare +++

Without water

It is impossible to write a poem after Auden; Auden is the reason I write poems. That is all. FIRST THINGS FIRST by W. H. Auden Woken, I lay in the arms of my own warmth and listenedTo a storm enjoying its storminess in the winter darkTill my ear, as it can when half-asleep or half-sober,Set to work to unscramble that interjectory uproar,Construing its airy vowels and watery consonantsInto a love-speech indicative of a Proper Name. Scarcely the tongue I should have chosen, yet, as wellAs harshness and clumsiness would allow, it spoke in your praise,Kenning you a god-child of…

Louise Bogan

Born in Maine, Louise Bogan (1897 -1970; imagine having lived those years) was admired by W.H. Auden and served as poetry editor of The New Yorker for decades. In her exquisite poems, intellect rules over emotion, and “beauty is wrested from dark places” as Auden put it. Here are my favorites. … A Tale This youth too long has heard the breakOf waters in a land of change.He goes to see what suns can makeFrom soil more indurate and strange. He cuts what holds his days togetherAnd shuts him in, as lock on lock:The arrowed vane announcing weather,The tripping racket…

Louise Bogan

Born in Maine, Louise Bogan (1897 -1970; imagine having lived those years) was admired by W.H. Auden and served as poetry editor of The New Yorker for decades. In her exquisite poems, intellect rules over emotion, and “beauty is wrested from dark places” as Auden put it. Here are my favorites. … A Tale This youth too long has heard the breakOf waters in a land of change.He goes to see what suns can makeFrom soil more indurate and strange. He cuts what holds his days togetherAnd shuts him in, as lock on lock:The arrowed vane announcing weather,The tripping racket…

In Praise of Limestone

Perhaps my favorite Auden. Which is really saying something. In Praise of Limestone by W.H. Auden If it form the one landscape that we the inconstant onesAre consistently homesick for, this is chieflyBecause it dissolves in water. Mark these rounded slopesWith their surface fragrance of thyme and beneathA secret system of caves and conduits; hear these springsThat spurt out everywhere with a chuckleEach filling a private pool for its fish and carvingIts own little ravine whose cliffs entertainThe butterfly and the lizard; examine this regionOf short distances and definite places:What could be more like Mother or a fitter backgroundFor her…

In Praise of Limestone

Perhaps my favorite Auden. Which is really saying something. In Praise of Limestone by W.H. Auden If it form the one landscape that we the inconstant onesAre consistently homesick for, this is chieflyBecause it dissolves in water. Mark these rounded slopesWith their surface fragrance of thyme and beneathA secret system of caves and conduits; hear these springsThat spurt out everywhere with a chuckleEach filling a private pool for its fish and carvingIts own little ravine whose cliffs entertainThe butterfly and the lizard; examine this regionOf short distances and definite places:What could be more like Mother or a fitter backgroundFor her…