Monday, January 10, 2005

I think I may be developing a full-bore crush on Lisa Robertson. She has two poems in the new issue of Brick. From the longer poem, "After Trees":
It transpires that murmurs and clickings

Are nature to each body

Sound never resolves itself

And what we see erupts into other senses

Or perhaps it sways like a footbridge

Even our hands dream of stuff

They dream of pigments and fruit trees and puzzles

They dream of the honey that escapes from our work
And you have to love whoever could write the first line of the second poem, "On Painting": "Pliny says it is always the season in which they are painting navies." Why has Canada produced so many poets—well, okay, just two, Anne Carson and Robertson, but they're really good—with so lively and surprising an engagement with the classics ("After Trees," in the manner of Bjork, imagines Lucretius as a girl, and of course the poem continues her critique of the eclogue she started with Xeclogue)? Do they just have better schools up there?

Refuge in the classics—or more accurately, a processing of dismal present reality through them—is tempting nowadays. Somewhere I just read of someone bearing current events with considerably greater equanimity by reading Gibbon's Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire every Sunday evening. And some poet whose name escapes me I recall used to read Roman history every morning instead of the newspaper—as it happens, the assassination of Julius Caesar landed on November 22, 1963.

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