Wednesday, November 02, 2005

# Posted 2:23 AM by Patrick Belton  

SEAMUS HEANEY on translation, war, and Antigone:
Shakespeare, as far as we know, didn't need to think twice. The problem identified once upon a time by Philip Larkin - of the discrepancy that often exists between the poems we would wish to write and the poems we are given to write - doesn't appear to have existed for him. According to the actors: "His mind and his hand went together." He possessed in abundance that "boldness in face of the blank sheet" which Pasternak regarded as the sine qua non of genius.

Readers recognise this rightness too. They take vicarious pleasure in the promise of openings such as "It is an ancient mariner/ And he stoppeth one of three" or "I will arise and go now and go to Innisfree". In such cases, you know that when the poets wrote the lines, they could have said what DH Lawrence says at the start of his Song of a Man Who Has Come Through: "Not I, not I, but the wind that blows through me ..."
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