Hemingway’s Blank Verse

Hemingway by David Levine[Blank Verse]

”                         “
       !             :                  ,                 .
              ,            ,            ,                 .
      ,              ;                              !
                     ,
1916

This is Hemingway at his poetic best. Half a step behind ee cummings and more convincingly modernist than anything Ezra Pound published in his Cantos, there is an unexpected pathos brimming from this verse.  He turned seventeen the year he wrote it, proving that juvenilia has its moments. Years later, John Updike would ape it in a sonnet composed of elegantly spaced commas, question marks and other typewriter-based punctuation. The effect is lighthearted, clever, ironic. Each comma is placed for maximum effect, the language is simple yet direct. Far from adhering to poetic creeds of the time (Imagism, Futurism, Autism, etc…), the verse is defiantly original both in its idiom and its form. One wonders if the world couldn’t use a few more poems of such transparency, bogged down as we are with the angst-ridden verse so much in vogue since Blake. As Oscar Wilde once put it, “All bad poetry is sincere.” Harold Bloom remarked in The Western Canon that this phrase should be engraved above the gates of every university in America.

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2 Responses to “Hemingway’s Blank Verse”


  1. 1 Alexwebmaster March 3, 2009 at 1:15 pm

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  1. 1 Poem 14: “[Blank Verse]“ | c h a n g e l o g Trackback on April 15, 2009 at 8:05 am

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Contrasting Views

"Literalism is a feature of boorish translators." Cicero "The clumsiest literal translation is a thousand times more useful than the prettiest paraphrase." Nabokov

The Faerie Queene

"John Ashbery said reading the Faerie Queene was like reading an endless beautiful comic strip." Kenneth Koch

Sigmund Freud

"Everywhere I go, I find a poet has been there before me."

a

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