Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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May 16, 2004
"There Is There Are"

That's how Anne Hyde Greet, in a volume I accumulated today, translates the title of this "calligrame" poem ("Il y a") by Apollinaire, written essentially in the trenches of WWI, in which the line that fascinates me the most this evening, for some reason, is:

"There's an inkwell I made in a 15-centimeter rocket they didn't send off."

The Anonymous Cheese

Hugh Kenner wrote in The Pound Era (1971) about T.S. Eliot, who, in this scene, has just been presented with the cheese board in a restaurant, as follows:

His attention was now bent on the toadstool-yellow specimen. This he tapped. This he prodded. This he poked. This he scraped. He then summoned the waiter.

"What is that?"

Apologetic ignorance from the waiter.

"Could we find out?"

Disappearance of the waiter. Two other waiters appear.



He assumed, at this silence, a mask of Holmesian exaltation:

"Aha! An Anonymous Cheese!"

He then took the Anonymous Cheese beneath his left hand, and the knife in his right hand, the thumb along the back of the blade as though to pare an apple. He then achieved with aplomb the impossible feat of peeling off a long slice. He ate this, attentively.

He then transferred the Anonymous Cheese to the plate before him, and with no further memorable words proceeded without assistance to consume the entire Anonymous Cheese.

I discovered this hilarious passage upon noting that the volume's index included an entry for "Stilton Cheese, pgs. 7, 440-1."

I found the Stilton entry while searching the index for any mentions of Algernon Charles Swinburne.

I went looking for Swinburne because he was the fellow, in part, for whom the young Ezra Pound wrote "Revolt: Against the Crepuscular Sprit in Modern Poetry."

(Does "crepuscular" mean "of, relating to, or resembling twilight"? Why, yes it does.)

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