Thank you Parentheses Journal @ParenthesesArt for accepting my poem “Shades of Difficulty” for future publication,
The dream is still alive even if some choose to believe in a nightmare.
From A. R. Ammons “Garbage”
the hackers, having none
hack away at intensity: they want to move,
disturb, shock: they show the idleness of
pretended feeling: feeling moves by moving
into considerations of moving away: real
feeling assigns its weight gently to others,
helps them meet, deal with the harsh, brutal,
the ineluctable, eases the burdens of unclouded
facts: the strident hackers miss no chance to
dramatize, hurt, fairly or unfairly, for they
fear their emptiness: the gentlest, the most
refined language, so little engaged it is hardly
engaging, deserves to tell the deepest wishes,
roundabout fears: loud boys, the
declaimers, the deaf listen to them: to the whisperers,
even the silent, their moody abundance: the
poem that goes dumb holds tears: the line,
the fire line, where passion and control waver
for the field, that is a line so diffcult to
keep in the right degree, one side not raiding the other:
As is true for most readers, when I first encountered The Waste Land in the 1960s, I found myself in a very foreign poetic land. I read the annotations and explications. I listened to my professors. I reread and mad innumerable margin notes. I felt the poem’s power and despair. But its meaning seemed hard to parse.
Now, decades later, rereading yet again, I know the poem and the poem knows me. We still live in The Waste Land. The loss of all mooring after WWI still remains a debris we drift with. But the poem itself seems very approachable now, its discordant ballet of voices powerful as ever, but its sense much more apparent to me.
You must read and reread this poem. My critical opinion of it had moved over time to it being overrated—but now, no. It is a seminal poem of the last century. And its relevance today is profound.
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“There’s no such thing as writer’s block: you need only lower your standards.” William Stafford