I’d like to point out an interesting article by Ron Rosenbaum over at Slate who writes about his journey to find great blurbs of adulation on poetry and poets. He goes through how hard it is to blurb, to condense a great poet or poet’s book down to two sentences (with a great quote from T.S. Eliot on being chided for praising too little and too much):
“I wanted to find a way to praise the poem that would do justice to it after so many others had praised it to the point of exhaustion. I wanted to convey to others why I thought “To Autumn” was probably the greatest lyric poem in the language.”
Keat’s “To Autumn” is Rosenbaum’s trip down the rabbit hole. With more research, Rosenbaum starts to find some particularly choice praises for Keats. He brings up our distinguished teacher Stanley Plumly and his Posthumous Keats:
Plumly does a pretty good job of describing what is remarkable about “Autumn,” its burnished bucolic surface, and the Modernist shadows it harbors…
There is something ineffably “self-created” about the poem, a melancholy Grecian urn of the psyche (in ode-speak) set down like the monolith* in 2001 and leaving us little to do but gather round and gibber at its flawless alien perfection. He’s onto something.
Next, Rosenbaum tells us of his find at The Page, which has the best, wittiest, sharpest, and most striking two-line excerpts from reviews of contemporary poetry. They’ve also got a huge blog roll, and my favorite part is on the left-hand side at the bottom page: links to classic essays by Donald Hall, Marjorie Perloff, and others on what poetry is.
Like most of the Internet when you click on an article, you usually click another link in that article, then another, and farther down the rabbit hole you go. But these classic essays by Donald Hall and Marjorie Perloff are great for beginning poets and a spur in the backside when any poet needs a jumpstart.