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« Emerson on "Compensation" | Main | It Might as well Be Spring [by DL] »

April 12, 2018


David-do you know what the reference is for the following from Mayhall's poem,particularly my quote within the quote?

"These obviously unstable and ridiculous concepts given over to donkeys, ("some great
gross braying") predicaments out of date"


David - I have a vivid memory from about 1995 of sitting downstairs in the Commons at Bennington with Liam Rector, Don Hall, and you, and reading an article in the Boston Globe about the effects of smoking on the smoker's skin. The author used a picture of Auden's "wrinkled Grand Canyon" as an example. As we were looking at the picture, Maria Flook walked by, peered over my shoulder, and said, in a voice loud enough to be heard in Ulan Bator, "THAT didn't come from smoking; THAT came from blow jobs!" Ah, grad school!

Laura, what an extraordinary recollection! I'd quite forgotten that scene. I believe WHA likened his latter-day face to "a wedding cake left out in the rain."

Sally, I wish I knew where the quoted phrase comes from. It sounds like a Marianne Moore moment: meaning the phrase could have come from anywhere, a magazine article included.

Do you remember that popular song McArthur's Park, with the refrain, "someone left the cake out in the rain / I don't think that I can take it / 'cause it took so long to bake it / and I'll never have that recipe again." I've often wondered if the songwriter had WHA in mind when he wrote it. The words do seem to apply to Auden.

I remember two versions of that song: a really corny version by, of all people, Richard Harris, and a disco version by Donna Summer. I did some fancy steppin' to the Summer one back in the day, usually while dressed in spandex on a floor that lit up. I always wondered how a cake could get left out in the rain, though. Unless there was a picnic and a thunderstorm came - but then, wouldn't you have cut the cake into slices ahead of time so it would be easier to eat at the picnic? Then, when the rain started, you could just throw the slices back into the picnic basket. If you just forgot a slice and it got rained on, that would hardly seem to be worth a whole song about loss and the passage of time. This doesn't have anything to do with Auden, but it's kind of fun to think about.

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That Ship Has Sailed
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I left it
on when I
left the house
for the pleasure
of coming back
ten hours later
to the greatness
of Teddy Wilson
"After You've Gone"
on the piano
in the corner
of the bedroom
as I enter
in the dark

from New and Selected Poems by David Lehman


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