In an introduction to a collection of poems I've been reading by Robert Browning, Horace Gregory complained of the poet's "heartiness", in that it "conceals the cold heart, the inarticulate loneliness -- the wish to be Oh, so friendly -- so homespun, so eager to call everyone by the first name -- and beneath it, a deadly chill." He also compared Browning's strength of personality to a will that would not give in, a wholesale insensibility to poetic art, and (shudder) the act of shaking hands with an American.
Robert, you bad man.
Horace Gregory continues to slam Browning through his intro for another ten pages before he finally shuts up and Browning's work begins. Gregory's venting is pretty mild stuff (circa 1956) compared to what's written about authors these days, but it's obvious that Gregory considered himself way above Browning.
I can't say I agree. Robert Browning was an interesting 19th century poet who wrote some kickass verse. One of them, Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came, inspired Stephen King's Dark Tower books. Browning is remembered more for being married to Elizabeth Barrett, as well as being the subject of many of her love poems. Of particular note, #43 from Sonnets from the Portuguese, which starts off with one of the most famous lines of poetry in history: How do I love thee? Let me count the ways. I know there's more, that's just what I can think of off the top of my head.
20th century intro-writer Horace Gregory, on the other hand, I'd have to look up. Never heard of the dude.
Someday we will all be gone. I know that when I buy the farm, I'm leaving behind a body of work that can speak for me. Whether it will or not is up to the readers of the future. Chances are very slim that mine will; only a few books have that marvelous ability to carry their authors's voices for decades or centuries. The cool thing is that writing always levels the field; everyone has the same shot at becoming a Browning.
That's all the writer philosophy I'll inflict on you for this week. Any questions out there for me?
Storm update: A band of storms and tornadoes that came through our area during the middle of the night knocked out our power here, but we're fine, and so are our families. Please keep the victims of the storms in your thoughts and prayers; one of the major retirement areas was hit pretty hard. I'll check in and answer questions today when possible.