Survey of Literature (John Crowe Ransom)

June 23, 2009

In all the good Greek of Plato
I lack my roastbeef and potato.

A better man was Aristotle,
Pulling steady on the bottle.

I dip my hat to Chaucer,
Swilling soup from his saucer.

And to Master Shakespeare
Who wrote big on small beer.

The abstemious Wordsworth
Subsisted on a curd’s worth,

But a slick one was Tennyson,
Putting gravy on his venison.

What these men had to eat and drink
Is what we say and what we think.

The influence of Milton
Came wry out of Stilton.

Sing a song for Percy Shelley,
Drowned in pale lemon jelly,

And for precious John Keats,
Dripping blood of pickled beets.

Then there was poor Willie Blake,
He foundered on sweet cake.

God have mercy on the sinner
Who must write with no dinner,

No gravy and no grub,
No pewter and no pub,

No belly and no bowels,
Only consonants and vowels.

*

Getting these Monday poems out each week isn’t much trouble when I’m reading poetry, which is most of the time. But as I have been ass-deep in a Jane Austen, I haven’t been reading much poetry these past couple of weeks (though some of Austen’s rolling, wind swept prose has its moments, as in: “…they sauntered about together many a half-hour…and venturing sometimes to sit down on one of the benches now comparatively unsheltered, remaining there perhaps till, in the midst of some tender ejaculations of Fanny’s on the sweets of so protracted an autumn, they were forced by the sudden swell of a cold gust shaking down the last few yellow leaves about them to jump up and walk for warmth.”) I did, however, bring my copy of John Ransom’s Selected with me camping up along the Little Miami over the weekend, and managed to read one poem (even as I foundered on Father’s Day cookies).

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: