Earl Gray

Earl Gray
"You can argue with me but, in the end, you'll have to face that fact that you're arguing with a squirrel." - Earl Gray

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Episode 4a - Poets Say the Funniest Things

DPK's "Beans"
      In "Where Have All The Poets Gone?" Juan Vidal wrote:  "For centuries, poets were the mouthpieces railing loudly against injustice."

      Actually, no, they weren't.  Not the poets we remember from when poetry had an audience, at least.  Drama, comedy, romance, elegy?  Sure.  Philosophy and religion?  Maybe.  Polemics?  For niche publishers, perhaps, but not as a general rule.  To be clear:  Mr. Vidal isn't saying "political" in the usual reductionist sense that everything is political (or dramatic, romantic or even humorous--whatever the pseudointellectual wants to argue).

      His example of "for centuries"?  "From Langston Hughes to Jack Kerouac..." leading to other contemporaries:  Pablo Neruda, Allen Ginsberg, and Amiri Baraka.

Garcia Lorca in 1914
      You couldn't guess his other example:  Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca (5 June 1898 - 19 August 1936).  In none of the theories about Lorca does anyone describe his body of work as "overtly political".  Lorca didn't consider it so, else he might never have left Madrid.  His Falangist friends and hosts didn't seem to have a problem with it.  Indeed, if the nationalists considered his poetry "overtly political" would it have taken them more than 30 minutes, let alone more than 30 days, to arrest and execute him?

      Needless to say, Mr. Vidal doesn't list examples of political pieces by Lorca.  Nor can anyone explain how badly one would have to misread Lorca's poetry before describing it as "overtly political".  Are we supposed to view "Llanto por Ignacio Sánchez Mejías" as...what?...a diatribe against bullfighting?

      Mr. Vidal continues unabated:  "At its root, poetry is the language of protest."

      Yes, that would explain the paeans, love sonnets, praise poems, non-satirical comedies, commercial jingles, bawdy limericks, and just about every canonical poem written before WWI.

      Do people actually think before they write these things?


     "I want to die decently in my bed." - Lorca, in "Romance Sonambulo"


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