November 13th, 2018

Kate Light

I was sorry to see that the poet, Kate Light, had died. I had never read much of her until recently, when I picked up a book of hers, "Open Slowly", at the local used book store. She died a couple of years ago, it turns out, at the age of 56.

Anyway, I enjoyed reading this book. My favorite poem was one I don't see anywhere on the net, so I'm going to type it in here. It seems to be part of a series of poems about a man she loved but who was emotionally distant.

Funny, As In a Man,

one man, for instance, trying
to express tenderness with no model to base
his take on it on. How this severe face
struggles to be concerned, to be clear; shying
just short of simply saying what
he wants to say (or does he not
know?) As in a poet explaining, Class,
if you know what you want to say, you
will be clear; and if you don't
(sarcasm
here) nothing will help you get through,
not even a room full of anxious coaches.

Funny, as in this man, whom
it happens I feel quite tender towards,
stumbling on his attempts to put into words
kind words. Trying more direct approaches,
a drunken bull in a matador
shop, he's lurching at the spinning room;
searching, looking for a door,
to open into what - one can assume -
would be a wider field, a fuller range.
Look at him. It's kinda funny, I mean, strange.

I particularly liked the altered metaphor, the "drunken bull in a matador shop". That brought me up short. You see, you expect the bull indoors to be heedlessly wrecking things, but it turns out that the indoors location is actually dangerous for the bull.

It's not simply that the man cannot express his feelings, and so wounds his beloved by accident. It's that he believes that if he says the wrong thing he will open himself up to a skewering! I am certain that many men feel that way at times. Many women, too, I suppose!

One interesting aspect is that she seems to be a step removed from his efforts, observing him, as if she too is emotionally distant in her way. She sees him a funny and strange.

It's a bemused, ironic stance
toward her object of romance.

Melville Cane

Speaking of dead poets suddenly coming to my attention, there's Melville Cane.

Apparently he was a lawyer as well as a poet, and was admired in both capacities by Ayn Rand, who I've spent a lot of time studying.

According to this article, "reliable speculation" has it that she was a big admirer of these lines by Cane:

She was not bound by mortal sight,
The stars were hers, at noon.
Against the malady of night
She stood, alone, immune.

It reminds me a bit of "Invictus" at first glance.

Mr. Cane, although published in his time, and award-winning in his time, seems to have zero poetry represented on the web for some reason. He died in 1980, so perhaps his estate is trying to protect his copyrights, or perhaps everything is on the New Yorker site, a step removed from easy viewing.

Meanwhile, I bet,
Few are beating down the paywall door
For a chance to explore
His poetry, just yet.