Charles Hood recently sent me one of his poems, and I asked him if I could put it on my blog. He said yes.
But Hood’s poem below is short. And quite potent in the concision.
It demonstrates what he might do were he ever to put out a whole book of short poems. Since he is a museum hound, my vote would be for discreet ekphrastic poems—poems devoted to individual pieces of art—as when Dante Gabriel Rosetti wrote these lines in response to Leonardo da Vinci’s “Our Lady of the Rocks”:
Mother of grace, the pass is difficult,
Keen as the rocks, and bewildered souls
Throng it like echoes, blindly shuddering through.
Contra his long-form impulse, I wish Hood would write more short poems like Dante Gabriel Rosetti did, and like the one Hood wrote below, and put out a whole book of short poems. But, as Blake once cautioned, perhaps a crow shouldn’t advise an eagle.
In tone and subject, Hood’s “What Still Needs To Be Done” puts me in mind of Philip Larkin’s “Continuing to Live.” In “Continuing to Live”, Larkin reflects on what remains to be done with a life more than half over. He speaks of making “a lading-list” (a list of what is contained in a package you wish to mail over space and time).
Of course, not all packages accompanied by lading-lists reach their destinations.
Hood, perhaps thinking of Larkin, has made his lading-list (or at least flirted with one).
WHAT STILL NEEDS TO BE DONE
Sooner or later. Maybe reading Blake,
the parts nobody ever gets, maybe
dealing with the jewbaiting and
wife-beating of the high Modernists.
Learning to speak French. Apologizing
to all your teachers like you mean it.
The collected works of Marcel Proust.
Sooner or later. Picasso did not paint
on a canvas, but against it. Dylan,
Clapton, all these guys going back
down to the blues for their final CDs.
You can postpone marrying the past
but not paying interest on the dowry.
Like swans, debt mates for life. Picasso
in ’38 said of Manet’s Picnic in the Grass,
“Every time I see it, I just think to myself,
‘Grief for later.'”