Monday, July 1, 2013

Poetry Magazine, June 1913

There are a few cool things in this issue of Poetry.   My favorite is John Reed's response to Pound's Contemporania in the April 1913 issue of Poetry.  Reed had published his poem "Sangar" in the December 1912 issue of Poetry.  It is an allegory of the muckraker Lincoln Steffens' attempt to reconcile opposing sides of a political struggle (spoiler alert)--a virtuous king is murdered by his son for attempting to reconcile with the Huns.  Pound then excerpts the ironic opening of "Sangar" for his poem "Pax Saturni" in the April number.  In June, Reed's rightly-pissed-off letter about it gets printed.  Clearly Pound was using Reed's poem as if that opening was serious, but as an allegory of contemporary events, it is supposed to be ironic.  Reed applies the same treatment to Pound: "How would you like it if I were to amputate 'Say there are no oppressions,/ Say that it is a time of peace./ Say that labor is pleasant,/ Speak of the American virtues' and clap it at the head of an ode titled "President Taft?' Wouldn't it seem ridiculous to you?"  The parting jab: "I am glad you and Walt Whitman are friends.  You should have known each other long ago."  Of course, Walt gets the last word: the issue closes with a quotation from him: "To have great poets, there must be great audiences too." 

Also noteworthy is the Poetry debut of William Carlos Williams, which surprised me most in how many exclamation points he used.  Four poems, 35 exclamation points! 

Tagore publishes more poems, too--hopefully continuing the controversies that he's sparked.

Witter Bynner takes a poetic potshot at Yeats in an extended epigram, in the correspondence section.

Note added 8/10/13: I almost forgot to mention that this is the same John Reed who wrote the awesome article for The Masses. Or did I say that elsewhere? 

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