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January 20, 2021

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But don't you suspect Percy cheated a little bit? Had a few lines, maybe a sestet, stored in the monogramed valise of his mind, ready for just such an occasion? I know I always keep some poesy on the back burner when I'm hanging with my banker friends. You never know.

Reminds me of a poem written by a long-ago friend of mine, Reed Clarke, a Canadian poet, about a room full of civil servants/poets participating in a poetry contest. The poem ends "No one looks up/TuFu will win." Funny what you remember.

I like "No one looks up / Tu Fu will win."

Dear JC, "the monogramed valise of his mind" is worth the price of admission. Shelley could write very rapidly and think in rhyme and meter and I do not believe he would have cheated. This was the eighth or ninth "masterpiece" column I did for the WSJ -- others were on Herbert, Marvell, Wordsworth, Coleridge, Yeats, Frost, Auden, and I'm leaving someone out. After this one came out, they sort of dropped me, though I don't think the provocative headline, "What Trumps Vain Boasts," did me in.
Thanks for commenting!

Thanks for this wonderful reading of the poem. I was amazed and thrilled when it made a brief appearance in the Coen Bros. film, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, delivered brilliantly by Harry Melling: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GdQKUvv3bew.

Terence, YES, and it was in another movie that I can't recall; a young woman recited it, maybe in an all-girls school. I can see and hear her doing it, but I can't place the damn movie.

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