In Jinan, as previously in Dalian, we can post, but we cannot read the blog, nor can we make comments -- so let me take a moment to express our sympathy for you, Jim, on the loss of your father, and our appreciation of your poem. You're in our thoughts, good friend.
On Monday the 19th, lecturing on American poetry to a room of over 100 college juniors majoring in foreign languages, I read my fifty-line "Oxford Cento," all lines culled from "The Oxford Book of America Poetry." I asked the students to write down their favorite line and make it the opening line of a poem of their own. Near the end of the lecture a student stood up and told us her name in Chinese, then added that her "Western name" is Daisy. (Evidently, the Chinese choose their own Western forenames, which need have no relation to their Chinese names.) Daisy, who announced that Rabindranath Tagore has influenced her, recited the poem she had just written beginning with Poe's line from "Annabel Lee": "and the stars never rise but I see the bright eyes." The poem was about the Sichuan earthquake. "If you shed tears for the stars, you won't see the sun," she wrote. Her poem concluided, "and the sun also rises."
At this point a young man challenged me to write a one-line prose poem on the spot about my visit to the university. Luckily I had been reading Whitman. I said, "At your university I see a sea of faces and in the sea of faces I see the face of God." Appreciation was expressed with a collective murmuring sigh. The students liked two-line poems I read by Pound, Charles Reznikoff ("The Old Man"), J.V. Cunningham ("An Epitaph for Anyone"), Dryden, Dorothy Parker ("News Item"), A. R. Ammons ("Their Sex Life"), and Ogden Nash.
Someone asked for my opinion of Edgar Allan Poe. Just as at West Point, I encountered a strong, genuine, populist love of Poe that countered the received negative judgment that has dogged the writer from the start. The fact that Poe's name is identical with the first three letters of "poetry" seemed to clinch the case.
(May 20, 2008)