Frank, the Italian, stops the leaving priest,
and asks, scissors in hand, "Who’s the next pope,
Father?” The cleric smiles, “I’ve not the least
idea.” “Why the mystery? The bishop
of Milan, right? A powerful diocese.
Never Nigeria. He’s got no hope.”
The cleric leaves a generous tip. Greased,
Frank turns to the two darker barbers, who mope
like Carver’s men, and asks, “You know the ‘poop’?”
One nods vaguely. The other says, “I know,
yeah, yeah. The poop.” Frank points to his arse, “Poop.”
I sit down in Frank’s chair and think (“I know,
I know.”) about my job interview (“Poop,”
Frank chuckles.) and how Frank’s the best I know.
Yesterday I finished reading Earl Wasserman's The Finer Tone on Keats' major poems. I find his interpretations of the odes, "La Belle Sans Merci" and "The Eve of St. Agnes" persuasive. He attempts to reconstruct Keats' symbolic system on the assumption that Keats offers a coherent and consistent account of his system in his poems. The system comprises three strands: (1) the poet's aspiration to an oxymoronic mystical heaven's bourne, (ii) the pleasure thermometer of increasing intensities evoked by nature, art and love in turn, and (3) the necessary extinction of the self to merge with essence in heaven's bourne. Wasserman is particularly good at showing how the poetic structure, and not merely the paraphrasable content, enacts these three strands of Keats' system. He rescues Keats from those who see him as a mere picture-painter and from those who are just after his ideas.
Thou silent form, dost tease us out of thought,
As doth eternity: Cold Pastoral!