To Donald Hall, April 26
By Charles Bane, Jr.
I read The Wasteland last night and again felt like Huck Finn at table with Aunt Polly. My clothes scratched and the moment I was free, I hurried to the waterway and Tennyson:
Come, my friends,
'Tis not too late to seek a newer world.
Push off, and sitting well in order smite
The sounding furrows; for my purpose holds
To sail beyond the sunset, and the baths
Of all the western stars, until I die.
It may be that the gulfs will wash us down:
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles
And see the great Achilles, whom we knew.
Though much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.
I have no doubt some among my peers will wonder that this poem grips my heart. But if I lose the desire to recast our lives in a heroic frame, I betray my knowledge that our work "takes its origins from emotion", and if I pall my longings in smoke, I betray the reader who is like me. Pain is common, and many want in return to find tenderness in my grip and what rained on paper before the modern age. It is counter to our times; but how beautiful the slant on the line.
Charles Bane Jr. is an American Poet. Curbside Splendor published his first book The Chapbook (July 2011) and will publish his second book New Poems (October 2012) via Concepcion Books, a new Curbside imprint.