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Old 06-29-2018, 06:13 AM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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Hi John,

I’m not a psychiatrist, so I won’t argue the point. I'm a layman who does community work with people with psychiatric challenges, and I have real sympathy for the struggles. I think Lowell can write movingly of them. He concludes the vivid and harrowing “Eye and Tooth” with: I am tired. Everyone’s tired of my turmoil. Reading the poem, you understand, you feel it. And in “Home After Three Months Away”, he concludes: I keep no rank or station / Cured, I am frizzled, stale and small.

I don’t mean to derail Sam’s thread, but we tip our hats regularly and rightly to Wilbur, and Lowell was also a mind, a talent.

Anyway, the vid really is wonderful.
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Old 06-29-2018, 10:25 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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Hi Michael,

And thank you for the work you do - props! I just wanted to note that mental illness has episodes, but never departs after onset. Beyond that, I agree with you about Lowell, and those fine lines you post.

Cheers,
John
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  #13  
Old 06-30-2018, 06:25 AM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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Thanks for your kind words, John -- but it's one of those cases where I get more than I give.

I have for some time believed that most of us (all of us?) are 'crazy' in some way. I mean this seriously. I know I am, and most everyone I know well is, too. I don't mean this to diminish the difficulties of people with severe mental illness (like Lowell), but as an observation on human nature, and perhaps on the final opacity or puzzle of personality, of what it is to be human.

M
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Old 07-01-2018, 05:59 PM
John Isbell John Isbell is offline
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There's a great Simpsons episode where Homer visits Ned Flanders, who has gone mad, in the asylum, and is concerned on how he will get out again until they stamp the word SANE on his hand in all caps.
It's also a key plot point in the wonderful movie Harvey.

Cheers,
John
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Old 07-01-2018, 09:05 PM
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R. S. Gwynn R. S. Gwynn is offline
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Wilbur was an athlete (mainly tennis), and Lowell was sedentary. Wilbur drank, but Lowell drank a lot, on top of the smoking, the bipolar disorder, and the medications. All three of Lowell's wives were serious drinkers as well. As far as I know, Lowell had not had any serious illnesses until he died of a heart attack. I mention this as a response to a comment about how much older Lowell looks in the video. Wilbur was also blessed with good looks, which he retained into his 70s or later (though my wife, after chatting with him, said, "He puts something on his hair"). Wilbur and his wife did have a late-life struggle with a shared Valium addiction, which he discussed openly. As far as I can tell from his biography, he didn't suffer any serious PTSD after WWII (he served in the Monte Cassino area), but his older brother Laurie had a serious post-war breakdown and spent most of his remaining (and long) life in a VA hospital. I do believe that Ellen Wilbur's story "Wind and Birds and Human Voices" is primarily about him, though this is just speculation on my part.
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Old 07-02-2018, 04:12 PM
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Michael Ferris Michael Ferris is offline
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Thanks again, Sam. Very interesting (and first hand!) biographical morsels. I've viewed the vid yet again, and I am now as smitten with "Soft Wood", though I don't understand all of it, as with "Water". I've long loved Wilbur's "Love Calls Us..." Probably my favorite poem of his.
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Old 07-09-2018, 07:10 AM
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Catherine Chandler Catherine Chandler is offline
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Thank you for posting the link to this video, Sam.
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Old 07-09-2018, 03:53 PM
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Don Jones Don Jones is offline
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Excellent video. Is there a slight Southern vein in Lowell's accent? Or is he so Yankee posh Brahmin Boston that it only seems that way?

Neither poet did much good for their poetry out loud. They were not good public readers. At least not in this video. They both read their poetry like it's prose. Wilbur's poetry and some of Lowell's deserve as beautiful a rendering through the ear as they achieve through the eye.
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Old 08-02-2018, 01:46 PM
Terese Coe Terese Coe is offline
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I find the diction and delivery of their speech intriguing. Wilbur's Boston or Massachusetts accent makes me wonder whether he at some period worked to drop a presumed NY-NJ accent or it fell away naturally. I suppose Amherst could have started that process. I heard him read about ten years ago and he no longer had the seemingly intentional "authoritative" sonorousness that he does in this video, a common mannerism or technique of that era and later. I still find it obstructive to being attentive to a performed poem.

On the other hand, both Wilbur's and Lowell's natural speech patterns (more so than in their readings here) fascinate me. I feel I've gotten to know them a bit more than I had. Thanks, Sam.
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