Oct 26, 2022 • 7M

Jordan (I)

George Herbert, 1639

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     “I, too, dislike it,” said Marianne Moore at the beginning of her own poem about poetry, and I’m afraid that I’d say much the same thing about most of the work that she and her modernist colleagues produced.  That’s because they gave up singing for saying, and their successors often gave up saying for grunting, or for a sort of intellectual posing which is just another kind of grunting, the kind you do at a faculty wine and cheese affair to show other people that you, too, can be dull and incomprehensible and fashionable all at once.
     But directness and simplicity in verse can be great virtues indeed, and the best of poets avail themselves of it.  “O how unlike the place from whence he fell,” says Milton, comparing where Satan is now to where he used to be.  It is one sentence, one line, and that’s that.  “’Tis new to thee,” says the sad and elderly Prospero, when his daughter Miranda, marveling at the variety of human beings that she on their desert island has never beheld be…

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