From 14th century Queen’s College, broadcast live for, produced by Zappa Johns, with Professor Barbara Mossberg, on the news we heed, the news we heed, the news “without which men die miserably every day” (William Carlos Williams, who knows whereof he speaks): poetry. We are investigating the phenomenon that what goes for “new” (and news) and genius is an amalgam and collision of old and older and older again, different ways of knowing and expressing from the past and other disciplines. Thus we find ourselves with Oxford exemplars, who each study Latin and Greek and arts and sciences, from STEMers Sir Christopher Wren reading The Aeneid and Lewis Carroll reading Oxford poetry to T. S. Eliot and the new Oxford laureate Simon Armitage, who, naturally, are engaging classical worlds and The Odyssey. We consider Joyce Cary’s The Horse’s Mouth covering William Blake, and Nancy Willard covering Blake, and David Lehman covering Wordsworth (who was an honorary at Oxford). Features of our show this week include the theory that the architecture of Wren’s St. Paul’s Cathedral and Eliot’s “The Wasteland” are the same “new” breaking-away works of genius and beauty, jazz, chaos (theory), and colliding amalgamation, that make today’s headliner Armitage seem positively . . . in the company of ancients, as Wordsworth would have us have it:

Where holy ground begins, unhallowed ends,

Is marked by no distinguishable line;

The turf unites, the pathways intertwine;

And, wheresoe’er the stealing footstep tends,

Garden, and that domain where kindred, friends,

And neighbours rest together, here confound

Their several features, mingled like the sound

Of many waters, or as evening blends

With shady night. Soft airs, from shrub and flower,

Waft fragrant greetings to each silent grave;

And while those lofty poplars gently wave

Their tops, between them comes and goes a sky

Bright as the glimpses of eternity,

To saints accorded in their mortal hour. William Wordsworth

Wordsworth is speaking of joy, which Blake makes “poetic,” and that joy from the beauty of poetry is something incandescent. Thank you for listening, in whatever time zone (our listeners span 15 time zones), and for the joy, as it flies . . . . (thank you Mr. Blake).

© Barbara Mossberg 2015

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *