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« Bobby Darin sings Beyond the Sea (studio version & in performance) | Main | "Wan Chu's Wife in Bed" [by Richard Jones] »

November 05, 2023


Does the sunflower shun the bluebell?

I love this poem. Horrifying revelation almost neutralized by sober telling. Irony, indeed.

Fantastic. Thank you for introducing us to this poet.

Simon: great poem. I love the place of digression and of irony.
(I’ve been at this James Schuyler celebration and it was all about the genius of digression.)

Thanks Simon. The genius of digression. I like that way of describing it.

This is amazing, Simon. Particularly striking to me as my father was born in Baltimore on such a street in such a family in 1905.

Mencken was a rabid antisemite, not just a pedestrian jew denigrator. His sympathies were with the nazis in WW2, he didn't want America to enter the war, and like many German Americans he shilled for the Bund. His diaries were not published until long after his death because there was nothing cute about his rhetoric

I had read in the past that Mencken was an antisemite. The poem is a little gem of personal life history relating to todays rampant antisemitism. I especially liked the the ironic ending. Ron

OMG! Slam dunk, Simon!

Henry Mencken introduced my parents to each other. He was my common law godfather. I was appalled when I find ou about his antisemitism. But as my mother once told me, after a conversation with Henry Mencken you felt as if YoU were the most brilliant person ever. I spent some time at his house just before he died. I left his home feeling as if I was the most brilliant teenager ever.

Mencken also called Baltimore "that great Medieval city now in ruins."

But a terrific poem was inspired by Schuchat.

Simon, I wager Mencken was often beset with powerful feelings of disgust, for humanity in general, but being a man of his times, a sad example in any case, he had to choose "The Jews" to express his bile. A touching poem, you never know whom you like, but you do know what you like of the person you may not like everything about.

I discovered what a great poet Simon was when he was still a teenager and published his teenage poems profound beyond his years...happy to see he has remained a great poet (and I love the shirt

Indran:  you published it first.

Great poem.

Well done, Simon. My mother was raised on such a street in Baltimore. Excellent selection for these days, Terence. Recommend the short book Jews Don't Count by David Baddiel.

Simon, a powerful poem. Fiercely ironic and effective without being shrill. I recall how in grad school I took on the assignment of researching and reporting to the class on Mencken--I was thrilled by his style and appalled by his bigotry. Same for when we studied Ezra Pound. Bravo!

Thanks, Beth.

I admire the source and intent of this poem,--for me,it's a new way to write, direct, crystal clear but complex in its attitude toward Mencken's words. I'm inspired by Simon's creation of a personal poem that's completely social, that looks out at how other people are thinking and acting while it still involves the poet's own situation in the world he's describing. A very good choice TW, fresh interesting poem Simon.

Thank you for the poem, Simon. I've just added it to my selection for my poetry writing workshop students along with David Herz's "Non Poetic Memories of the East Village" (did he send you that one? The students like it quite a bit) I'm writing about Eliot and Pound at the moment, which is never completely comfortable. David

“Baltimore Sun” by Simon Schuchat is a sobering tour de force. Bravo, Simon, for writing it and bravo, Terence, for bringing it to our attention. It sparked my following comment:

Writing for THE BALTIMORE SUN, H. L. Mencken covered the infamous Scopes “Monkey Trial” conducted in Dayton, Tennessee, in 2025. The trial was over teaching “evil-ution” in a public high school. Whatever Mencken’s dismaying faults and proclivities were, he distinguished himself as a journalist chronicling that trial. I remember reading SIX DAYS OR FOREVER: TENNESSEE VS. JOHN THOMAS SCOPES by Ray Ginger in the Reading (Pa.) Public Library not long after watching the 1960 movie INHERIT THE WIND, whose co-stars included Gene Kelly playing E. K. Hornbeck, a character based on H. L. Mencken. That 1960 movie and 1958 book still stick with me. Together they made me read more about Mencken, flaws and all. Like it or not, the Fourth Estate is our last bulwark against tyranny.

Simon: Thanks for this powerful and memorable poem. Terence: Thanks for featuring it.
--- Casey

Earle:  Thanks, as always, for your informative comment.

Thanks for the comment, Casey.

The infamous Scopes “Monkey Trial” was conducted in Dayton, Tennessee, in 1925, not (obviously) in 2025. Mea culpa.

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"Lively and affectionate" Publishers Weekly


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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