Tuesday, January 23, 2007

He is all language, there is no man there.

Dylan Thomas's Boathouse,
Laugharne, 28 July 1955

The Clark biography of Olson continues to be revelation. This passage in particular:

Visions of a limber, physical, muscular new poetry were still dominating his thoughts when he attended a Dylan Thomas reading at the Institute for the Contemporary Arts in early March. "A wretched rabbit, fat and seedy," the much-publicized touring Welshman appeared to him a sadly deteriorated person. At a reception afterwords, fellow Washington poet Karl Shapiro (a Pulitzer Prize winner and poetry consultant to the Library of Congress) launched into praise of Thomas' rich language. Olson countered that the verbal beauties camouflaged a deep weakness at the center: "He is all language, there is no man there." Shapiro's puzzled stare of response - as if to say, 'What in Christ's name is Olson talking about?'"- was, as Charles told Frances afterward, a "look I am so well acquainted with." The obvious difference of opinion was implicit proof of how far he had come from accepted establishment views of poetry. "They dream too easily," he commented to her apropos of both Thomas and his mainstream followers, "they dip themselves too readily in the sensuous. The bones are not there.... a man must fight every instant to keep himself vertebra, bone from the neck to the tip of his cock."

Gravestone of Dylan Thomas
From Poet's Graves

1 comment:

Serena said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.