Wednesday, May 27, 2009

for henry wadsworth longfellow

for henry wadsworth longfellow

o boston brahmin, so conventionally sentimental, so fine &
facile with yr lush legends & misty history who dared to fuse
america’s unconscious iconic with europe’s romantic

lyricism, the best known yankee poet of yr day. even the
metered syllables of yr name make percussive impact on the
air, cause a sudden blur of perception, evoking deep feeling

in trochee, trochee & dactyl, an ironic & inadvertant first half
of a sapphic stanza. i felt yr deep river feeling bubbling up not
in prince hiawatha’s song nor in the life of tragic

acadian evangeline or even in the hapless romantic attentions
of miles standish but in the twilight dark & the harsh kli-li-li
of the curlew, the neighing, stamping steeds at

morningbreak & the traveler who nevermore returns to the
shore & in the merry eyes, devouring kisses & entwining arms
of yr adoring alice, allegra & edith.

u breached my prejudicial walls, then, brahmin, & won me
over. i kept u safe in my dungeon & rounded tower from
poe’s paroxymal opiate onslaughts, his glib &

deadly accusations of affectation & imitation; & later from
william carlos williams & his hendecasyllabic lines, his own

sapphic stanzas of modern american imagist attack.

i hid u & my admiration for u like one hides an obsession, like
an avante gardist hides his love of melody & mimicked yr
poetic licks in the dark, secret corners of my verse.

© Joseph McNair; 2009

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