218. (William Wordsworth)

Perverse as it is to redefine words against conventional meanings, it is nonetheless possible to loosen from conventional meanings an implication that enlarges the significance of a word. The word “tact” seems to me susceptible to such an operation, where beneath its concern for social proprieties, for the embarrassment of others, and for good manners is a suggestion of tactility, so that the word might … Continue reading 218. (William Wordsworth)

211. (Percy Shelley)

Shelley’s poetry has challenged some of the finest critics, and even Hazlitt, who stands opposed to Shelley’s most notable detractors, such as Eliot and Hazlitt, is chary in his praise. It’s thought now that the matter is behind us, but that is only because the matter of critical argument over taste isn’t much done, but taste remains a standing challenge to powers of articulation and … Continue reading 211. (Percy Shelley)

207. (Amy Clampitt)

Amy Clampitt’s “Nothing Stays Put” opens with an allusion to Wordsworth’s “The World is Too Much With Us,” and the turn her allusion takes is indicative of what she makes of the excess of the world: “The strange and wonderful are too much with us.” That line itself can be heard numerous ways: the description itself, “how strange and wonderful” is too often spoken and … Continue reading 207. (Amy Clampitt)

202. (William Wordsworth)

Unlike Samson, whose strength returns with his hair and whose blindness, though indignity and infirmity, is not absolute impotence, Wordsworth’s lack of visionary powers seems to the poet in the Intimations Ode to be a total loss. It takes little effort to read Wordsworth’s “Ode” as his response to Milton’s Samson Agonistes, as much in its premises as in its verbal texture: Samson, whose capacity for … Continue reading 202. (William Wordsworth)

201. (Sarah Kirsch)

The 2014 Ice Roses: Selected Poems of the German poet Sarah Kirsch, published a year after her death (Kirsch was born in 1935), and translated into superb English poems by Anne Stokes, opens with “By the white daisies”: . By the white daisies In the park I stand Underneath the willow as he instructed me Unkempt ld woman without leaves See she says he isn’t … Continue reading 201. (Sarah Kirsch)

200. (Wallace Stevens)

Stevens’ poetry is the culmination of romantic idealism, and in comprehending its method and ambitions, the words of philosopher Sebastian Rödl (from his most recent work, Self-Consciousness and Objectivity) are apposite: This explains what may appear a curious character of the present essay: it propounds no theses, advances no hypotheses, does not recommend a view or position; it does not give arguments that are to support a … Continue reading 200. (Wallace Stevens)

192. (Mary Sidney)

Renaissance translations of the Psalms are maybe the closest English poetry comes to what we encounter in the religious paintings of Renaissance art: variations on standard subjects, which are exceptional in the opportunity they offer for imagining divine love, human suffering, and the alloying of the one onto the other. Keeping Renaissance religious paintings in mind when we read the Psalms might be helpful in … Continue reading 192. (Mary Sidney)