Thursday, December 2, 2010

#44 - Inaugural Lecture (a few notes)

It began with notions of poetry as perjury (see Shakespeare's sonnets 152, 138, 121, 129, especially 111, and Pierre Joris's tranlsation of Celan: "the hundred-/ tongued My-/poem, the Lie-noem"). It ended with prophecy: today's literary scene is good for landfill. Society is plagued with scams including the banker's scam, the coalition scam, the education scam, the national happiness scam... Apparently the notion of intrinsic value is not to be reserved for poetry only. A poem may be a living entity (Pope's spider), but so is criticism: young Lowell benefited from a very critical review by R.P. Blackmur, and Christopher Ricks made a mistake in publishing a book about Bob Dylan's verse.

One example of the resistance that Hill is proposing is Shakespeare's 66th sonnet, which he declared impossible to paraphrase:

Tir'd with all these, for restful death I cry:
As, to behold desert a beggar born,
And needy nothing trimm'd in jollity,
And purest faith unhappily forsworn,
And gilded honor shamefully misplac'd,
And maiden virtue rudely strumpeted,
And right perfection wrongfully disgrac'd,
And strength by limping way disabled,
And art made tongue-tied by authority,
And folly doctor-like controlling skill,
And simple truth miscall'd simplicity,
And captive good attending captain ill.
Tir'd with all these, from these would I be gone,
Save that, to die, I leave my love alone.