Sunday, January 10, 2010

Robert Lowell was a magnificently dense poet

I spent this morning trying to make sense of Lord Weary's Castle, which I picked up on a recent visit to Blue Bicycle Books in Charleston. My copy is a retro version of the one in the Amazon link, with a bland, nondescript cover, published in 1966, back when you could still buy a paperback book of poetry for $1.35.

The first poem is "The Exile's Return," and as is my usual custom I had to go through it about three times before I figured out what was going on, and I still don't know, except that it has something to do with post-WWII alienation, although you could probably figure that much from the title.

I keep telling myself to read more poetry -- and not just read more, but to read it in an intelligent, organized fashion, where you focus on a few poets and use that as a basis to understand more about what poetry is, feel less alienated from it. I probably listen to or read a poem every day, but those tend to be those glum, modern, easily accessible and usually uninteresting snippets of domestic anomie they read on "The Writer's Almanac." Lowell hits you with words and images that can be a challenge to untangle. He's no Mojo Nixon. (I'm listening to a very old Mojo disc right now. He doesn't mess around.)


Anonymous said...

You should read Green Revolver (USC Press, April 2010).

Don't be discouraged about Lowelltry. I love Bob Lowell. He is very complex, making frequent references to classical literature while talking about modern pavement and rocks and whatnot. But I tell you, every time I read Lowell I get more confused, yet spiritually disarmed at the same time.

RW said...

Thanks. Lowell wrote a poem I love reading called "Skunk Hour." One of my favorites. I have "Green Revolver." Look for a review in the coming weeks.