Sunday, March 29, 2009

Callback to Plato

Found this in Tom Stoppard's English version of Das weite Land (Undiscovered Country), by Arthur Schnitzler:

Gustal: Madam, get a divorce. How can anyone marry a poet? They’re a subspecies. It was much better in the olden days, when one kept a poet like a slave or a barber – a tradition, incidentally, which survives in Isfahasn – but to let a poet run round loose is plain silly.

We used to be bad boys, with Dylan Thomas sleeping with students in the bushes and Oscar Wilde flirting with customs agents. Now it's the fiction writers who have the scandals, while poets ask themselves, "If I get tenure and implode, will I make a sound?" Didn't Robert Lowell or Ted Berrigan make Nixon's enemies list? Can you imagine any U.S. poet today making an enemies list?

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