Saturday, June 18, 2016

June 18: Charles Dickens, Adonis, "New Testament"

Emily Dickinson only published a few poems during her lifetime.  In fact, I've published more poetry in my life right now than Dickinson ever did while she was alive.  Walt Whitman just kept on revising the same book over and over and over.  It worked for him. 

I'm always fascinated by the lives of writers.  One of my favorite things to do is read biographies of famous authors.  Peter Ackroyd wrote a 1200-page biography of Charles Dickens.  I've read that book six or seven times.  I've read about Flannery O'Connor, Robert Frost, Ernest Hemingway, William Faulkner, Emily Dickinson, Walt Whitman, James Joyce, and e. e. cummings.

It's kind of a sickness, I think.  I like learning about the struggles these artists faced.   Alcoholism and mental illness and drug addiction.  Flannery O'Connor's battle with lupus.  Robert Frost's lifelong bouts of depression.  Hemingway and bipolar.  All of these great writers faced incredible life challenges, and, through those challenges, they created amazing things.

I suppose it has to do with facing human failings.  Every great writer that I've read about has dealt with some incredible hurdle.  I find that a little comforting.  These great poets and novelists and short story writers are incredibly flawed human beings, and they transform these flaws into works that shed a little light into the dark places of the universe.  Each of these people created their own testaments for the world to read.

That gives Saint Marty a great deal of hope.

New Testament

by:  Adonis

He doesn’t speak this language.
He doesn’t know the voices of the wastes—
a soothsayer in stony sleep,
he is burdened with distant languages.

Here he comes from under the ruins
in the climate of new words,

offering his poems to grieving winds
unpolished but bewitching like brass.

He is a language glistening between the masts,
the knight of strange words.

Everybody's a critic . . .

1 comment:

  1. I've felt surrounded by critics lately.

    I like to think that all the burdens life places on us is just increasing the likelihood that we'll become great artists, right?