Tuesday, November 10, 2015


I’m totally sympathetic to the pity the poet is begging for here. Sick and sick, far from home, broke, wondering what on earth is ever going to be enough to make this poor wretch groan his way out of bed. I think we’ve all experienced some version of that desperate need to shrink under the blankets, even if just for awhile, and wish that everything out there has all gone away. I feel sorry for him. No cables with the money he’s owed coming, no letters from yearning former mistresses, sycophantic graduate students, or empathetic colleagues either. The thing about messing with the gods, as he imagines in the last line—they’re powerful, gods. Gods generally get in the last word, unless you’re some kind of damn hero. Henry ain’t no damn hero. If I was going to guess which god B. has pissed off the most, I would say his contempt of Adonis did the most to land him in this predicament. Adonis, the “annually-renewed, ever-youthful vegetation god, a life-death-rebirth deity whose nature is tied to the calendar.” Riiight…. No natural calendar cycles for Henry here. When you’re down with a 24-hour bug, say, you’re pig-sick and miserable for a day but you know if you curl up in a ball, endure four or five runs to the bathroom and some awful gagging and heaving, you’ll feel better tomorrow. You’ll cycle through it. Sometimes you know it’s deeper, and then you call on your reserves—your strength, your family, medicine, your faith—to either pull you through or else help you face what must be. Henry is in something deeper, and there’s no reason to hold on for tomorrow, which will be the same, and the next day, and the next, ad infinitum, in Ireland, of all places. Until the comfort of the grave eases things a bit. As for his reserves, well, I’m afraid they might have gotten drunk up. How he got this poem to rhyme so perfectly I’ll never understand.

1 comment:

  1. Agreed, I feel bad for him in this one. Thanks for pointing out the technical wizardry one again.