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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Thursday, April 6, 2017

More Herrick

I've rebought the Herrick Complete Poetry, a book I owned in high school and lost track of at some point. It contains more than a thousand poems, many of them very short, over the stretch more than 500 pages. Did I read the entire thing when I was 15?  It is very likely.

It is likely that I assimilated vast amounts of knowledge from this poetry, of conventions and tropes, genres and subgenres.  In the brevity and variety of the poems there is an encyclopedic quality:  foods, flowers, articles of clothing, rituals and folk beliefs, customs, political attitudes, mythological tropes, metrical forms. There are metaphysical conceits, but they aren't Donne-like.

The easy shifts from sacred to profane are most enjoyable, and from pagan myths to conventional Christian devotion.


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