Kiss me, I'm Catholic.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

The Last Post.

Three and a half years is a pretty good run for a blog, I think. Looking through my archives, I'm struck by how much of my life is recorded there. And by how many fascinating and friendly people commented on my posts. I started Basia Me back in high school, and now I can see grad school on the horizon. It seems like a very short time when compressed into the archives of a blog. And yet I managed to do a lot of growing up in those months.

I know that some of you will be sad to see Basia Me end. I'm sad about it too, but I just can't keep up this particular blog anymore. For some time now I've been wanting to write a more focused blog, because all of my inspiration these days is coming from poetry and the discussion of poetry, and I always held myself back from narrowing Basia Me. But now I feel burnt out on this blog. I need a change, irrational as that may sound.

So, without further hemming and hawing, here's my new blog:

For Keats' Sake!

The name isn't just a cute pun. This blog is my crie de cour in defense of beauty and in defiance of 99% of the poetry that has been scribbled these last forty years. Some of you may remember the mouse poem in America and the contest it spawned. Well, this is the kind of stuff that keeps me up at night. I can either start writing about it, or suffer a breakdown of Eliotian proportions. Seriously, there's a reason why normal people find the mass of today's poetry to be about as enjoyable as a sharp stick in the eye, and it's not because all the good poets have been thrown in a gulag by Bush, or because modern poets are brilliant beyond mortal comprehension, or because there's something in the water nowadays that prevents us from writing anything musical, intuitive, or intricately made. Though I recently read an article in Poetry that came close to saying that:

Fifty years on, it may be impossible to write well in the exalted language that intoxicated Sylvia Plath (and me) in the days when poets aspired to rise through the magic of words to a level above ordinary life.

Without uncritically assuming that this is what the author really believes, I will respond by saying that if I believed that proposition were true, I would have to lie down and die. The rich music of verse, from inspired Isaiah to Auden at his most urbane and flippant, is what makes a poem a poem. Keats said that the poetry of earth was never dead, and meant that nature is always full of purpose and music; but I will be a plodder and have it mean that poetry has been with us from the beginning and will only leave us when we leave it.

The poetry of earth is ceasing never:
On a lone winter evening, when the frost
Has wrought a silence, from the stove there shrills
The Cricket’s song, in warmth increasing ever,
And seems to one in drowsiness half lost,
The Grasshopper’s among some grassy hills.

The world is wide and poetry surely thrives in many places outside of America, like the grasshoppers singing in one hemisphere when winter has silenced them in the other. But all my hopes and concerns lie in the Anglosphere, and I'm very interested in the fate of that hardy little cricket.

So here goes. Father Hopkins, pray for me!

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