Friday, December 14, 2012

the new york intellectual - robert lowell

The New York Intellectual
by Robert Lowell

How often was their last salute recast?
Did the old critic need three hundred words,
such tact and tough, ascetic resonance,
the preposition for, five times in parallel,
to find himself "a beleaguered minority,
without fantasies of martyrdom,"
facing the graves of the New York Intellectuals,
"without joy, but neither with dismay"?
This art was needed for his quiet message,
his firm and unpermissive final sentence.
How often one would choose the poorman's provincial
out of town West Side intellectual
for the great brazen rhetorician serpent,
swimming the current with his iron smile!

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