|Lake Superior at Marquette, Michigan|
|Lake Superior Morning|
|Seney, Michigan, Rts. 28 and 77. Great Cheeseburgers here.|
As I was looking for an easy link to the last post about Frost’s “The Draft Horse,” I came across an intriguing comment in 2007 by “Greg,” a blogger, I guess—at any rate someone unknown to me. In an effort at proper attribution, I’ll offer the website as well:
that qualifies a poem as being great is:
And the other single most important thing
that makes a great poem great is that it has
And the 3rd single most important requirement
that a poem be great is...well...
-- you remember the Ali-Foreman fight in Zaire in '74?
While Foreman was going down in the 8th round,
Muhammad was prepared to hit him again,
as he went down. But he chose not to.
And it was either Mailler or Plimpton who pointed out
that Ali's decision not to follow up with that one more,
superfluous punch, was an aesthetic choice.
Besides the beauty of the restraint,
and besides the possibility that Ali just
might not have connected with it (--which
would of course have spoiled the whole fight,)
there is also the fact that by not hitting Foreman
at that point Ali was in fact hitting him harder
than any purely physical blow could deliver.
Because that is what showed the world that Ali
was still in complete control of himself,
while Foreman was kissing the canvas good-night.
Universally: The single most attractive part
of any human being or poem,
is its self-control, and restraint.
I don't know how thoroughly I agree with Greg, or how completely boxing can be compared to poetry or the human personality. But in this world of extremes, I might be more than halfway to finding elegance where Greg does. In poetry, however, I might still be partial to touches of Romantic excess, if that's what it is, compared to Neoclassical restraint, which tends to include supercilious wit, symmetry, stiffness, coldness, and a host of topical allusions, which implies that "our" time in history, whether Augustan England or 21st century America, is so important that readers ought to recognize and care about its specific names and places. As much as I admire Yeats, he's guilty of that. Still, I'll take him, Hopkins, Dickinson, and Frost, for example, over Pope and Dryden.