Charles River

Charles River
Upper Limit Cloud/Lower Limit Sail


"Messianicity is not messianism ... even though this distinction remains fragile and enigmatic." (Jacques Derrida)

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Best Poetry Lines Ever, with Special Reference to Edwin Rolfe

As Eileen Simpson recounts in her marvelous book Poets in Their Youth, Berryman and Lowell used to play a game where they challenged each other to name the three best lines in English. Berryman's, as I recall, were from Yeats' "The Wild Swans at Coole."

For a long time mine were from Keats' "Ode to a Nightingale":

"But here there is no light
Save what from heaven is with the breezes blown
Through verdurous gloom and winding mossy ways."

Later, it was Pound, in the late Cantos:

"Do not move.
Let the wind speak
that is paradise."

I won't say that the two lines below, from Edwin Rolfe's "First Love," have replaced either Keats or Pound for me. But they're certainly worth quoting.

"and always I think of my friend who amid the apparition of bombs
saw on the lyric lake the single perfect swan."

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