Sunday, September 30, 2012


Christopher Ricks gave a brilliant reading of Hardy's poem "Wives in the Sere" at the ALSCW-sponsored panel at Poets House on Friday. He defended Hardy's rhymes from the criticism of John Crowe Ransom and showed how the two atypical rhymes in the poem "unknows" and "muser" carry the burden of significance. After the talk, EN and I walked from Battery Park City to the West Village and had dinner at the Irish pub Dublin.

S and R came to stay with us last night. In the afternoon they went by themselves to the Cloisters. Then we went with them to the Met, to the rooftop to see Cloud City, and the real city sparkling in the blue night. We whizzed through the Andy Warhol show. I looked only at his works and not at the work of his imitators and followers. I was resistant at the beginning, but at the end his work was so clearly superior to others around it. A consistent insoucience that dared to laugh at all the pretensions of serious art, its power was corrosive. The last room, covered with his cow wallpaper and filled with silver balloons that he called silver clouds, made me feel very happy. BUT he had no effect on Matisse when I saw the French master's works after the show. Matisse is impervious to Warhol, but I cannot explain why.

After brunch today with S and R, we went to the Museum of Art and Design. Doris Duke collected Islamic art and built a house on Honolulu to live amongst her collection. Shangri La, as the house is called, was gloriously photographed for the MAD show. The doors, screens, tables, clothes, jewellery, mosaics were intricate and beautiful. After seeing the show, GH was more amenable to a possible visit to Hawaii.

This evening, Rhina Espaillat read at Carmine Street Metrics. I have always found her poems witty and skilful. The dramatic monologue at the end, about the rejection of love, went deeper. It was psychologically acute and genuine moving. TM read a good poem about a chalk giraffe on a sidewalk. EN's poem about the twentieth-century dead, spoken from Charon's point of view, was strong. I also enjoyed John Foyle's poem about boys taking apart a TV set for the presents and weapons that could be fashioned from the machine.

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