Sunday, March 02, 2008

Poetry Cornered

This is not a criticism of Michael Ignatieff. I am being playful, interactive. It’s Sunday. But can you really corner poetry? The title of his latest blog post caught my eye Poetry Corner which sounds something like an elementary school educational unit safely stored in the sunny corner of the classroom to be visited on specified days in the curriculum; cute pictures and little poems under a fading sign “Poetry Corner” an edge of which has become untaped from the wall near the neglected end of semester. A special place near the window where flies come to die.

My idiosyncratic negative reaction is directed only toward the title because I liked the rest of the post a great deal. Knowing he shares incidental poems with Zsuzsanna, spotting one on the subway, makes me like him more than before.

No, I am just thinking about the title. The poetry is put in its corner, like a picture-frame which tells the bourgeois “This is art!” because otherwise they would not recognize it. But isn’t good poetry the sort of thing that even if you think that you have safely put it in its place its words escape again?

And I think over again
My small adventures
When with a shore wind I drifted out
In my kayak
And thought I was in danger

Of course, I am just joking around about poetry cornered. I am glad to see in an earlier post on the same blog that Michael Ignatieff reconfirms his support for the leader’s decision not to bring the government down over the budget. The media reports about conflict were quite remarkable. There have always been plenty of ambitious men and women in the Liberal party who know their own mind strongly --I wouldn’t want it any other way. So the fact that there would be disagreement over the timing of the election does not seem out of the ordinary. What is remarkable, though, is that the discussions were leaked to the media. There seem to be some rogue elements willing to trade in bad faith, people whose instincts tend toward the self-serving and the destructive. What do you say to people in that mood?

Anyway, since Michael Ignatieff has set such a good example, here is a poem by Frost that I like and comes to my mind from time to time.

I'm going out to clean the pasture spring;
I'll only stop to rake the leaves away
(And wait to watch the water clear, I may);
I sha'n't be gone long. –You come too.

I’m going out to fetch the little calf
That’s standing by the mother. It’s so young
It totters when she licks it with her tongue.
I sha'n’t be gone long. –You come too.

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