Terrance Hayes Named New Poetry Editor of The New York Times - Terrance Hayes has been named the new poetry editor of the New York Times. Hayes will be stepping into the role after Matthew Zapruder’s tenure as Times ed...
Wednesday, October 6, 2010
Dreaming Sloth Leisure
Still mourning the passing of summer--the slippage from heat, light and leisure to frost, darkness and haste. Once the semester starts I feel forever behind--in tatters, belated, in arrears. Breathless. I will never catch up. So I hear, particularly loudly, Robert Lowell's lament to Elizabeth Bishop, when, in the full sweep of too much going on he writes:
[C]an anything be well done that isn't accompanied by dreaming, sloth, contemplation, leisure?
In part, he's trying to make Bishop feel better about the painstaking slowness with which she writes--months and years may run out before she completes a poem. Though at this writing, in late October 1963, revolution and a military coup are brewing in Brazil, where Bishop lives with Lota de Macedo Soares, and Kennedy will soon be assassinated--preoccupations that may slow even the speediest of poets. And within weeks Lowell will be hospitalized by the onset of another manic episode--his own painful way of braking excessive speed.
I just catch the flu--and then scramble on. As Lowell writes, signing off, "Pardon this flurry. It's just in the nerves."
Robert Lowell to Elizabeth Bishop, "Letter #285" (October 27, 1963). Words in Air: The Complete Correspondence between Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop. Thomas Travisano and Saskia Hamilton, eds. (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 2008): 513, 514.