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Showing posts from December, 2018

Some Poems Worth Your Time: Lessons of the War--Henry Reed

Some Poems Worth Your Time: Lessons of the War--Henry Reed

If you recognize Henry Reed, it is likely for "The Naming of Parts." But this is just one of six in a poem sequence called "Lessons of the War." Still, it's a good place to start.

Here is a link to the six-poem sequence. Do yourself a favor and read at least the first sequence (the aforementioned "The Naming of Parts").

"The Naming of Parts" is an exchange between a British sergeant and the speaker--though the speaker's words are likely only thought, rather than spoken. Reed gets the sergeant's overly officious and slightly clueless diction just right, so that we share (and delight) in the speaker's recognition that the sergeant doesn't quite understand everything he is trying to teach. And meanwhile, the speaker reveals his ambivalence toward the service he has been called to give, which invites others to identify with him--by "others," I mean "others …

Some Poems Worth Your Time: The Cool Web--Robert Graves

Some Poems Worth Your Time: The Cool Web--Robert Graves

Robert Graves may be best known to contemporary readers for his "I, Claudius" novels (I, Claudius, and Claudius the God)--not because they have actually read them, but because they were made into a well-known BBC miniseries. And some may actually know him for his World War I memoir, Goodbye to All That--again, not because they have read it, but because Joan Didion appropriated the title of Graves's memoir for her seminal essay/memoir about 1960s New York from her collection Slouching Towards Bethlehem (the title lifted from the Yeats poem. Didion only appropriated from the best!).

But Graves was also a poet, and if he had only written this one poem, his name--as well as this poem--would be worth committing to memory.

Here is a link to the poem.

Many people who read this poem try to excuse the first line "Children are dumb," likely because it seems like a cruel thing to say. They explain that Graves means …