2. A letter expounds on black birds as written words. The author says that Richard Wilbur, in his poem An Event,
likens the writing of words on a page to a group of black birds alighting on a field and then rolling through the sky, "as if refusing to be caught/In any singular vision of my eye/Or in the nets and cages of my thought." As an editor, I am especially fond of the poem's final lines, which evoke one of the intangible benefits of the writing process:The letter writer is Anne Mattison, Falls Church, Va., An Event appears in Wilbur's 1956 collection Things of This World.
"It is by words and the defeat of words,/Down sudden vistas of the vain attempt,/That for a flying moment one may see/By what cross-purposes the world is dreamt."
3. Robert Pinsky's Poet's Choice column gives us three forms of poetic wit from Robert Herrick's Corinna's Going a-Maying, Elizabeth Bishop's Crusoe in England, and Sarah Arvio's new book, Sono.
Of the last named, Pinsky says, "Sono -- Italian for "I am" -- raises that process to an unusual, expressive intensity. In the accelerating riffs of these poems, the sounds of words express, in addition to comedy and insight, a nearly frantic pursuit of control. This is wit under duress, wrought to an extreme, less like a cool or amusing remark than a crying out." To demonstrate, he gives us the poem Amourette.
Here's an extract from that poem. The speaker tells of an old affair which "lasted many moons," but "never morphed into marriage."
in the end I think I was mortified.
Speaking of petite mort, there was also
petty murder. O ambrosia. I was
amortized, you know, or slowly murdered
while waiting for a metamorphosis.
It was disarming that it was over.
There was harm in him, and a dose of smarm--
that I wasn't dead was the miracle.