185. (David Ferry)

David Ferry’s translation of the Aeneid is an argument that the poem is not tragic, but elegiac; it is impelled by a forward urgency, to found Rome but to overcome the pain of death, suffering, and destruction as only the founding and glory of Rome can, but it is also ensnared in the refusal to let go of loss, to mourn proleptically, before the fatal blow is … Continue reading 185. (David Ferry)

184. (Andrew Marvell)

Not that the poems are about language, but they are about a mild yearning for something beyond or before civilization and the human existence that seems, to Marvell, to demand and aspire to the civilization that he would see around and through; language being a part of such an existence, and such a civilization, the poems cannot but also reflect on their own means or … Continue reading 184. (Andrew Marvell)

183. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

I don’t think it’s much use denying that Tolkien’s mythology is in some ways racist: growing from Anglo-Saxon ideologies of race prevalent in the early twentieth-century world in which he grew into consciousness. I don’t think either that it is essential that we associate his characters with any one ethnicity, that anything falls if we imagine some of the characters as he does not describe … Continue reading 183. (J.R.R. Tolkien)

182. (Herman Melville)

Like many exciting periods in literary history, the middle of the nineteenth century saw in American authors intense and often implicit debates over how to read the world; literature is often, for Emerson, for Hawthorne, for Melville, for Thoreau, not a representation of the world, but a transcription and guide to how it is to be read. Hawthorne explored the method of typology, the logic … Continue reading 182. (Herman Melville)

181. (William Empson)

Empson’s final words on the poem “Bacchus,” a poem about drink, in one of his statements on it: “I think it sufficiently intelligible to sympathize with.” The trouble, with the poem and with Empson’s apologetic, uneasy defense, is that the relationship between intelligibility and sympathy is not as direct as this. A middle term, “understanding,” is missing, and what “understanding” requires is what Empson in … Continue reading 181. (William Empson)

180. (Anna Akhmatova)

Even in translations, her poems can seem such perfect instances of lyric utterance–the anchoring “I,” the impress, profound, suffocating at times, of public on private life, the oblique swerves of desire, the mystery of occasion and the satisfaction of sufficiency, the feeling of encountering a splinter of experience in the whole of a poem, or else a fragment of a poem and a whole experience, … Continue reading 180. (Anna Akhmatova)

178. (John Dryden)

Since both are masters of the heroic couplet, both scathing satirists, how, it might be asked, does Dryden achieve effects quite foreign to Pope? In what respects does Dryden offer something that is other than what Pope offers–something distinctly his own? To answer, consider some lines from a poem, “The Hind and the Panther” that even Dryden’s fervent admirers might concede to stretch the sympathies … Continue reading 178. (John Dryden)