Categories: NER Classics, Nonfiction
Rachel Hadas’ piece, “On Poetry Anthologies,” appeared in NER 19.4:
. . . It’s true that the best poetry anthologies give the impression of being not siftings from other anthologies but personal statements, even personal testaments. And the reader who browses through poetry anthologies also brings personal responses beyond simply liking one poem or disliking another. Increasingly, for example, what I notice in anthologies are mistakes. Richmond Lattimore seems to be undergoing a sea-change into Richard Lattimore; my own first name has been misspelled and my date of birth gotten wrong; and an anthology edited by the late M. L. Rosenthal confidently glossed a short lyric by James Merrill as being addressed to the poet’s wife. Even more than errors, anthologies are known for sins of omission—how could Poem X or Poet Y possibly have been left out? But though I sometimes lament the absence of one poem or the inclusion of another, such ins and outs concern me less than the wider matter of context . . .
Categories: NER Classics
In NER 32.1, Rachel Hadas described the feelings of invisibility that haunted her after moving her husband into a dementia facility:
In her Notes to The Annotated Poems of Edward Thomas, editor Edna Longley comments that Thomas “often suffered from the paranoid belief that he was less visible or necessary to other people than they to him . . . he was perversely pleased when the changes effected in his appearance by the army confirmed this: ‘Nobody recognizes me now. Sturge Moore, E[dward] Marsh, & R. C. Trevelyan stood a yard off and I didn’t trouble to awake them to stupid recognition.’”
Was Thomas’s belief really all that paranoid? I suspect that Edward Thomas and I are not the only poets, or the only people, to have felt invisible. On the contrary, I’ve come to feel that it is probably a universal experience. I’ve also had occasion to remember that several of my poems that have nothing to do with George’s illness are about crossings or farewells, encounters in which one person fleetingly but significantly sees another one: “The Red Hat” (1994), for example, where our son walks to school alone up West End Avenue and George and I turn back home; or “The Golden Road” (2009), in which my now grown son and I, having walked in opposite directions on a country road, encounter one another before going our separate ways. Frost captures a related feeling at the end of his poem “Meeting and Passing”: “Afterward I went past what you had passed/ Before we met and you what I had passed.”
And there’s more to say about this ghostly realm…