About Me

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As the resident poet at EcoHealth, my verse finds inspiration these days in the spectre of global pandemics. At LMU Munich's Amerika-Institut, where I tutor composition and poetics, I'm anatomizing the sonnets of E. A. Robinson for my dissertation. I also teach at Münchner Volkshochschule and Amerikahaus.

20170704

To the Reader of These Sonnets.


Into these Loves, who but for Passion lookes, 
At this first sight, here let him lay them by, 
And seek else-where, in turning other Bookes, 
Which better may his labour satisfie. 
No farre-fetch'd Sigh shall ever wound my Brest, 
Love from mine Eye a Teare shall never wring, 
Nor in Ah-mees my whyning Sonnets drest, 
(A Libertine), fantastickly I sing: 
My Verse is the true image of my Mind, 
Ever in motion, still desiring change; 
And as thus to Varietie inclin'd, 
So in all Humors sportively I range: 
     My Muse is rightly of the English straine, 
     That cannot long one Fashion intertaine.


Michael Drayton, Idea

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170623

Sonnet

by William Wordsworth

Scorn not the Sonnet; Critic, you have frowned, 
Mindless of its just honours; with this key 
Shakespeare unlocked his heart; the melody 
Of this small lute gave ease to Petrarch's wound; 
A thousand times this pipe did Tasso sound; 
With it Camoëns soothed an exile's grief; 
The Sonnet glittered a gay myrtle leaf 
Amid the cypress with which Dante crowned 
His visionary brow: a glow-worm lamp, 
It cheered mild Spenser, called from Faery-land 
To struggle through dark ways; and, when a damp 
Fell round the path of Milton, in his hand 
The Thing became a trumpet; whence he blew 
Soul-animating strains—alas, too few! 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170622

On First Looking into Chapman's Homer

by John Keats


Much have I travell'd in the realms of gold, 
And many goodly states and kingdoms seen; 
Round many western islands have I been 
Which bards in fealty to Apollo hold. 
Oft of one wide expanse had I been told 
That deep-brow'd Homer ruled as his demesne; 
Yet did I never breathe its pure serene 
Till I heard Chapman speak out loud and bold: 
Then felt I like some watcher of the skies 
When a new planet swims into his ken; 
Or like stout Cortez when with eagle eyes 
He star'd at the Pacific—and all his men 
Look'd at each other with a wild surmise— 
Silent, upon a peak in Darien. 

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170621

Dear Friends

by E. A. Robinson

Dear friends, reproach me not for what I do,  
Nor counsel me, nor pity me; nor say  
That I am wearing half my life away  
For bubble-work that only fools pursue.  
And if my bubbles be too small for you,
Blow bigger then your own: the games we play  
To fill the frittered minutes of a day,  
Good glasses are to read the spirit through.  
  
And whoso reads may get him some shrewd skill;  
And some unprofitable scorn resign,
To praise the very thing that he deplores;  
So, friends (dear friends), remember, if you will,  
The shame I win for singing is all mine,  
The gold I miss for dreaming is all yours. 
Note: A recitation can be heard here.

20170620

XXIII

by John Milton

Methought I saw my late espoused Saint
Brought to me like Alcestis from the grave,
Whom Joves great son to her glad Husband gave,
Rescu'd from death by force though pale and faint.
Mine as whom washt from spot of child-bed taint,
Purification in the old Law did save,
And such, as yet once more I trust to have
Full sight of her in Heaven without restraint,
Came vested all in white, pure as her mind:
Her face was vail'd, yet to my fancied sight, 
Love, sweetness, goodness, in her person shin'd
So clear, as in no face with more delight.
But O as to embrace me she enclin'd,
wak'd, she fled, and day brought back my night.

20170617

Zola

by E. A. Robinson


Because he puts the compromising chart
Of hell before your eyes, you are afraid;
Because he counts the price that you have paid
For innocence, and counts it from the start,
You loathe him.  But he sees the human heart
Of God meanwhile, and in His hand was weighed
Your squeamish and emasculate crusade
Against the grim dominion of his art.

Never until we conquer the uncouth
Connivings of our shamed indifference
(We call it Christian faith) are we to scan
The racked and shrieking hideousness of Truth
To find, in hate's polluted self-defence,
Throbbing, the pulse, the divine heart of man.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.

20170601

Continuties

by Walt Whitman

[ From a talk I had lately with a German spiritualist.] 

Nothing is ever really lost, or can be lost,
No birth, identity, form—no object of the world.
Nor life, nor force, nor any visible thing;
Appearance must not foil, nor shifted sphere confuse thy brain.
Ample are time and space—ample the fields of Nature.
The body, sluggish, aged, cold—the embers left from earlier fires, 
The light in the eye grown dim, shall duly flame again;
The sun now low in the west rises for mornings and for noons continual;
To frozen clods ever the spring's invisible law returns,
With grass and flowers and summer fruits and corn.

Note:  A recitation can be heard here.