Friday, March 04, 2005

Between sniffly noses and snow days, it's been a while. So I'll start back in light.

I like the idea of choosing ten necessary poems for a desert island (honestly, I like the idea of just a desert island. Where can I get a ticket?). And my first thought is, does Dante's Commedia count? How about Leaves of Grass, or do I have to specify a single (singular?) poem, which I suppose might be "As I Ebb'd With the Ocean of Life." But then, I think to myself, I can remember the short necessary ones, like "Kubla Khan," right? Maybe I want to take poems I don't know so perfectly, to this desert island. Like, how long will I be isolated? Maybe I want Dante in the original Italian, to keep me occupied for a while.

But that seems to step out of the question's purpose with an overliterality. So here goes, I'll not list book-long poems like Dante's, or Spenser's. Or non-english writers, so no Rilke, either.

Somehow Paradise Lost feels like I don't have to isolate it as a super-long project (i.e. Dante), but I'm not going to include it anyhow.

10 poems that have meant the world to me, one way or another.


Whitman's As I Ebb'd with the Ocean of Life
Coleridge's Kubla Khan
Ashbery's Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror
Stevens' Auroras of Autumn
Shakespeare's Sonnet 113
Keats' Ode to Melancholy

I think I'll leave it at those six for now, and sort out what to name in the final four slots. I'm bound to have a few "how could I have forgotten that!" moments. And leave with this:

When asked what one author he would bring to a desert island, if he could bring only one, Joyce thought and replied something along the lines of "I'd like to say Dante, but the Englishman is [broader]." And the final word is bracketed because I forget the word he used, so I'll have to sort that out and fill it in tomorrow, as well.


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Kubla Khan was one of my first loves.

me too. Couldn't imagine the rest without it, really.
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