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“To One Who Loved Not Poetry” – Sappho


  “In The Days Of Sappho (1904) 

        John William Godward


if I digressed towards “Tragedy” in my
most recent chat about poetry, I perhaps
blurred the fact that there were several 
kinds of poetry Aristotle was speaking   
about, but that all had the essential 
elements of both rhythm and 
representation, the idea that a poem 
was a reproduction of something 
that was not itself, a retelling

some of these rhythmic utterances 
were tragedies“, others were mere,  
indeed, verses without much of an 
agenda other than being the replication 
of something with rhythm the poet
wanted to promote

o, what a beautiful morning, two dactyls
and a trochee, for instance, the poetic 
meters that describe – ta da da, ta da da, 
dah dah – the natural music of that 

and that can be a poem

here’s one of Sappho‘s, who lived 
sometime between 630 and 612 BCE
to around 570 of the same, of course,
era, famous for being from the island  
of Lesbos, yes, Lesbos 

it is To One Who Loved Not Poetry

    Thou liest dead, and there will be no memory left behind
     Of thee or thine in all the earth, for never didst thou bind
     The roses of Pierian streams upon thy brow; thy doom
     Is now to flit with unknown ghosts in cold and nameless gloom.”

so there, she says, I think, and all in iambic 
octameter, eight times ta dah

I preferred not to use one of her more
flirtatious, therefore controversial,
utterances, for fear of skewing to  
another, however compelling,

maybe next time


psst: the Pierian Spring was a spring in 
          Macedonia sacred to the Muses,
          the source of inspiration for 
          science, then, as well as the arts

Aristotle on poetry


      Aristotle” (1653)

        Luca Giordano


so what’s a poem

in an attempt to get a clearer picture 
of what a poem should be, rather 
than trust only my own, however 
informed perhaps, opinion – though 
it must be added that we all bring 
something to that word’s definition, 
mine no less worthy than yours, 
yours no less worthy than mine – 
thought I’d go back to authoritative 
sources to see what they might 
have said

and it doesn’t get any earlier and 
authoritative than Aristotlewriting 
in 350 B.C.E., at the height of 
Ancient Greek preeminence, 
dissecting the term in his 
penetrating and perspicacious, 
ahem, Poetics” 

I propose to treat of Poetry in itself and of its various kinds,
noting the essential quality of each, to inquire into the
structure of the plot as requisite to a good poem; into the
number and nature of the parts of which a poem is
composed; and similarly into whatever else falls within
the same inquiry.“, he says in Part 1 of his 
magisterial treatise

and proceeds to declare the parameters 
of “Poetry” for the ages  

Poetry in general seems to have sprung from two causes“, 
he proceeds, imitation and rhythm 

by imitation I think it best to think of 
representation, which is another way, 
anyway, of saying imitation, but 
much more evocative in this instance,
more attuned to our sense of his word 

a poem is a representation then, a 
reproduction of something other than 

while its rhythm is what George
Gershwin‘s got, and by extension, as  
you can see from this videoGene Kelly

and yes, that means that “Epic poetry and Tragedy, Comedy also
and Dithyrambic poetry, and the music of the flute and of the lyre in
most of their forms, are all in their general conception modes of

so, according to Aristotle, is dance 

all, therefore, poems

an interesting elaboration about “Tragedy” 
states that it should have the three unities 
that I grew up with during my French 
Canadian upbringing, the unity of time, of
space, and of action the famous French 
Classical dramatists, Racine and Corneille,
applied under the aegis of Louis XlV

not to mention Tragedy’s use of iambic 
pentameter, Shakespeare’s ubiquitous 
beat, a beat that persevered into the very 
Nineteenth Century, in France with 
Rostand‘s Cyrano de Bergerac“, for 
instance, and into the Twentieth Century 
with Eliot‘s Murder in the Cathedral“, 
about the assassination of Archbishop
Thomas Becket at Canterbury in 1170 
under Henry the Second‘s own aegis,
all written as poetry 

the most famous play to follow the 
three unities in the modern era is 
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?“,
the play which I think defines the 
Twentieth Century, which takes 
place overnight somewhere in 
New England college town, mid-
century, at George and Martha’s 

though followed closely by O’Neill‘s 
Long Day’s Journey int Night“, 
which transpires from morning, one 
day in August, 1912, till midnight, at 
the home ofunity of space, note, 
the dysfunctional Tyrones

so it appears not much has changed
about poetry, Aristotle got a lot of 
mileage out of his early definition, 
nearly 2500 years 

makes you wonder  why so much 
attention was paid instead to 
Platohis contemporary, the 
mystic, who would’ve banned
poetry, he thought it was 

psst: for a modern day application
          of the three unities, watch 
          In Treatment“, a television
          series, which takes place 
          in a psychotherapist’s office,
          each episode a session,  

“Dido and Aeneas” – Henry Purcell


         “The Meeting of Dido and Aeneas (1766)

                       Nathaniel Dance-Holland


despite difficulties with the presentation – 
a French production of an English opera 
supplying Spanish, I think, subtitles – this
Dido and  Aeneas is not only the best
version of it I’ve found, but one of the 
very best opera productions I’ve come
across, period

Dido is the queen of Carthage who, having 
fallen in love with Aeneas, a prince of Troy
bent on creating a new commemorative city, 
forsakes her very husband for this heroic 

Aeneas in turn will leave her, to follow his 
mission of founding Rome, Dido will not 
survive his departure 

ah, Belinda, I am pressed with torment not
to be confessed,  she cries, when she fears
her entanglement with so mighty a hero
will come to an unfortunate end, peace 
and I are strangers grown, she determines

figures in dark clothes in the production
are obviously up to no good, one most
evidently a sorceress, they cast a spell
on the fraught conjunction that the 
lovers cannot at all resist

away, away, Dido exclaims, enraged by
Aeneas’ mere hesitation, no, faithless
man, thy course pursue, she cries, for
’tis enough, no matter whate’er you 
now decree, that you had once the  
thought of leaving me, though Jove,
god of gods, had himself ordained that 
Aeneas pursue his original intention, 
to found the Eternal City, the Rome  
he would choose over her  

for Dido, there is no turning back

thy hand, Belinda, she of her trusted
confidante in those final moments 
requests, darkness shades me, on 
thy bosom let me rest, more I would 
but Death invades me, Death is now 
a welcome guest 

the asp has, in a metaphorical word, 
been cast

remember me, she thereupon moans 
and that for the very ages, remember, 
me, but, ah, forget my fate

last night I was Dido, watch, so can 

angels then appear, in the form of, 
granted, extras here, to accompany
her to a peaceful and immortal end,  
much as they did our own Princess 
Diana when she suffered a similar

may they both inform our progress


psst: a spoken preamble is not part of the 
         original text, nor did I find it especially 
         pertinent, however splendidly it might
         have been executed

what is a poet


                            Flowers In a Brown Vase (1904)

                                            Odilon Redon


if I imagine myself to be a poetwhat 
is a poet, I have to ask, or, more 
accurately, what do I imagine a poet 
to be

cause this is a two-way street, I am
defined by the word I inhabit, but I 
define the word as well, redefining 
it, essentially, to fit my etymological 

my moral purpose I leave to myself,
in a completely other ideological

if I can

a poet then is one who writes, paints,
composes, manifests, in a word, 
creates, poems

what is a poem

a poem is where beauty and truth 
combine to create harmony, 
coalescence, to the point of one’s
admiration, enchantment, wonder, 
enlightenment, in incremental steps 
leading to very transcendence, the 
feeling that something has moved 
in your heart

just a bouquet of flowers will do it,
for instance

that’s what I think


on truth


               “Truth Unveiled By Time (1645-1652)

                               Gian Lorenzo Bernini


a cousin once said to me about 
his father, that he was as honest 
as the day is long

though I didn’t say a word, this 
was emphatically not my opinion

but I concluded nevertheless that, 
once again, truth is in the eye of 
the beholder, not, of course, truth 
truth, the one we all would like to 
believe must exist, but the one 
which is the only one that we can 
work with, our own 

but what is true

no one knows but for personal 
intimations, truth must be, in other 
words, our individual constructions, 
a kind of existential prosetry,  
consistent story we tell ourselves, 
a walking shadowa tale / told by 
an idiotaccording to Macbethfull 
of sound and fury, / signifying 

I imagine I am a poet



psst: prosetry is poetry written in prose,
          see “up my idiosyncracies – a bio

on art, its purpose


                                Poet With Flower (2008)

                                          Stefan Caltia


wherefore art, I’ve long and often wondered,
with only a wink to Juliet’s Romeo, for my
question dug deeper, why, indeed, itself art

we build our souls on the stories we’ve 
heard, the impressions we’ve received
from voices that spoke directly to our 
senses, painters with paint, musicians
with music, writers with words, poets 
with poems

it started with fairy tales, which told of
right and wrong, good and bad, courage,
kindness, responsibility, and dire 
consequences for discord

Biblical stories also took up a lot of my own
childhood, Jesus, Adam and Eve, Moses
and the Ten Commandments, this last 
reinforced by Cecil B. DeMille’s epic

but soon enough it was Oliver TwistLittle
Nell, and by an inescapable authorial leap, 
since these were all by an irresistible 
Charles Dickens for a guy my age, Sydney
Carton, who valiantly stands in for his
friend, Charles Darnay, at the guillotine, a 
quantum, even existential, leap from 
Peter Pan and Mary Poppins 

though I had the good fortune to learn to 
read and write music as a boy, play music, 
learn about Bach, Brahms and Beethoven, 
it didn’t take anyone else much more than
their enthusiasm to see what the Beatles
were similarly doing, the Rolling Stones, 
the Supremes, they were not only singing, 
but making history, shaping it, and us, we 
followed the questions they rose, their 
responses, the effects upon ourselves
for nothing is considered until it’s 
mentioned, spoken, made clear, and they
were those prophets

the same goes for art, we see as we see
cause Monet, Picasso, Warhol showed 
us how to see, what to look at

and of course poets, Shakespeare, 
RostandDanteGoethe, to inform, each,
their individual language, and culture

I have been Philip CareyScarlett O’Hara, 
Blanche DuboisGary Cooper in High
Noon“, both Martha and George in 
Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf“, lately 
I’ve been even Hank Williams

as Babette would say, a French doll who 
gets abducted in Raggedy Ann and Andy:
A Musical Misadventure“, an animated 
movie from the Seventies, – oo aahrr yoo 


psst: all of them have been me too,

“The Man I Love” – George and Ira Gershwin


             Apollon” (1937) 

             Charles Despiau


when my heart is broken, I learn the 
words to torch songs, and wallow in 
my misery until the poignancy of the
poetry seduces me and I revel in its 

for a while now I’ve been yodelling 
along with Hank Williams, who, 
incidentally, sings in my key, though 
the accurate reach of his far-flung 
notes can be tricky

but today, I inadvertently slipped into 
this Sophie Tucker classic enough to 
change my tune

watch this wonderful rendition of 
The Man I Love in a version you’ll 
never forget for both its originality
and its great humanity


” Shakespeare and Politics”- Professor Paul Cantor


 On The Waterfront. Set Design For Shakespeare’s Drama

   “The Merchant Of Venice” (1920)


      Alexandre Benois





though this recommendation might seem 

erudite, esoteric, indeed eccentric, if not

even improbable, I vaunt this invaluable 

series to the stars, Professor Paul Cantor

of the University of Virginia, speaking from 

Harvard, however, here, shines such 

glorious light on the already extraordinary 

Shakespeare so as to make him the equal 

of very  Beethoven, poets of nearly 

supernatural ability 


Professor Paul Cantor views Shakespeare 

through Shakespeare’s understanding of  

politics, comparing his political settings – 

commercial Venice, imperial Rome, 

medieval and Renaissance England, 

Denmark under a Christian king – to not 

only shed light on those individual 

political systems alive at a time when 

democracy was being born, but as well 

on Shakespeare’s own unexpectedly 

probing philosophical insights in the 

matter of governance, right up there 

with John Locke and Machiavelli


who’d ‘o thunk it 


the professor is engaging throughout, his  

information entirely absorbing, you’ll come 

out a new wo/man



the lectures are not short at an hour, twenty
minutes, I break to powder my nose, get a
a glass of wine, even answer the phone to,
of course, preferred only parties, but have 
been returning addictively daily 

 it’s a heady indeed addiction


“Hank Williams: The Show He Never Gave”


                        Hank Williams


halfway through The Last Picture Show
recently, a celebrated movie from the early 
Seventies I was watching, about the early
Fifties, I was sidetracked by the Hank  
Williams soundtrack till I was out and out 
stopped by its fervent Cold, Cold Heart 

I put the film on pause 

another love before my time, I warbled,
made your heart sad and blue, and so 
my heart is paying now, I wallowed, for 
things didn’t do, in anger unkind words
were said, I rued, that made the teardrops 
start, why can’t I free, your doubtful mind, 
I fretted, and melt your cold, cold heart 

but I wanted to hear Hank Williams do
it too, live if I could, and lo and behold 
got it

but listed as an option among other 
options nearby was also a longer  
feature purporting to be a 
representation of a concert he 
never  gave the night, December 31, 
1952, he died, the movie is called,
not inappropriately, Hank Williams:
The Show He Never Gave

the actor who plays Williams steps
right into his shoes, he’ll break your 
heart, you’ll need a lot of Kleenex

one of he best film biographies I’ve 
ever seen 

watch it

Hank Williams died of a heart attack
on the night of December 31, 1952

he was 29

may he rest in everlasting peace


“Through a Glass, Darkly” – General George S. Patton, Jr.


                 General George S. Patton, Jr.


Through a Glass, Darkly

Through the travail of the ages,
Midst the pomp and toil of war,
I have fought and strove and perished
Countless times upon this star.

In the form of many people
In all panoplies of time
Have I seen the luring vision
Of the Victory Maid, sublime.

I have battled for fresh mammoth,
I have warred for pastures new,
I have listed to the whispers
When the race trek instinct grew.

I have known the call to battle
In each changeless changing shape
From the high souled voice of conscience
To the beastly lust for rape.

I have sinned and I have suffered,
Played the hero and the knave;
Fought for belly, shame, or country,
And for each have found a grave.

I cannot name my battles
For the visions are not clear,
Yet, I see the twisted faces
And I feel the rending spear.

Perhaps I stabbed our Savior
In His sacred helpless side.
Yet, I’ve called His name in blessing
When after times I died.

In the dimness of the shadows
Where we hairy heathens warred,
I can taste in thought the lifeblood;
We used teeth before the sword.

While in later clearer vision
I can sense the coppery sweat,
Feel the pikes grow wet and slippery
When our Phalanx, Cyrus met.

Hear the rattle of the harness
Where the Persian darts bounced clear,
See their chariots wheel in panic
From the Hoplite’s leveled spear.

See the goal grow monthly longer,
Reaching for the walls of Tyre.
Hear the crash of tons of granite,
Smell the quenchless eastern fire.

Still more clearly as a Roman,
Can I see the Legion close,
As our third rank moved in forward
And the short sword found our foes.

Once again I feel the anguish
Of that blistering treeless plain
When the Parthian showered death bolts,
And our discipline was in vain.

I remember all the suffering
Of those arrows in my neck.
Yet, I stabbed a grinning savage
As I died upon my back.

Once again I smell the heat sparks
When my Flemish plate gave way
And the lance ripped through my entrails
As on Crecy’s field I lay.

In the windless, blinding stillness
Of the glittering tropic sea
I can see the bubbles rising
Where we set the captives free.

Midst the spume of half a tempest
I have heard the bulwarks go
When the crashing, point blank round shot
Sent destruction to our foe.

I have fought with gun and cutlass
On the red and slippery deck
With all Hell aflame within me
And a rope around my neck.

And still later as a General
Have I galloped with Murat
When we laughed at death and numbers
Trusting in the Emperor’s Star.

Till at last our star faded,
And we shouted to our doom
Where the sunken road of Ohein
Closed us in it’s quivering gloom.

So but now with Tanks a’clatter
Have I waddled on the foe
Belching death at twenty paces,
By the star shell’s ghastly glow.

So as through a glass, and darkly
The age long strife I see
Where I fought in many guises,
Many names, but always me.

And I see not in my blindness
What the objects were I wrought,
But as God rules o’er our bickerings
It was through His will I fought.

So forever in the future,
Shall I battle as of yore,
Dying to be born a fighter,
But to die again, once more.

                 General George S. Patton, Jr.


General George S. Patton, Jr., a 
celebrated American general who 
fought bravely during the Second  
World War, is known to my  
generation especially through the 
much acclaimed film, Patton“, 
which lionized him then, 1970 

George C. Scott portrayed him 
impeccably, indelibly searing him 
into our collective consciousness

he appears to have been the very
paradigm of American heroism, 
rough, coarse even, wilful, 
inflexible, unforgiving, righteous 
to a fault, but instilled with a 
sense of divine mission 

he believed in reincarnation, notably,
the poem above recounts throughout 
history his many lives as a warrior

to me he seems the very incarnation 
of the Greek god Ares, rather, come 
down from high Olympus, again 
throughout history and time, to  
 effect his defining role as the
immortal God of War

George S. Patton was also, it would 
appear, a poet, if the example above 
is to count, maybe he was, indeed,