By Heather McHugh

"When I name poetry a sort of partiality," writes Heather McHugh, "I suggest its economies function by way of powers of intimation: glimmering and sparkles, instead of exhaustible sums. it's a damaged language from the start, brimming with non-words: all that white welled as much as maintain the road from surrendering to the margin; all that quiet, to maintain the musics marked." In damaged English, McHugh applies her poetic sensibility and ambitious severe perception to issues starting from the poetry of Valery and Rilke to historic Greek drama and Yoruba people songs, supplying excessive, passionate, hugely own readings which are expert and unified by way of her hindrance for the relationships between language, tradition, and poetry.

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Extra info for Broken English: Poetry and Partiality

Sample text

When the cheek of the pregnant antelope was marked her child was also marked. If there is one piece of meat left in the pot it will surely be taken by the spoon. Everything the landlord does is known to the swallow. Everything that is in your brain, my father, let it be known to me. This one's mysteries are lucid in time. " The poem is called "Memory" and like all poems asks its reader to circle from its end back to its beginning: in the father's brain is what the son will need, a kind of future made of past.

The statue's sensual surface in "Archaic Torso," remember, was compared to everything but the human slun it represents. ) In his object (that object so likely to slip into subject, as the statue does, and as the rose window will) u7elose ourselves, in an annihilation intimately related to a death; that is why he invokes the wild animal, the dangerous whirlpool. And all of these figures are full of paradox-spirit and flesh, still and dizzying, seeing and seen-the spectator at the same moment seen, and the one reaching out at the same moment seized.

From the totemic figure dangle tiny knives and hoes and hammers and machinery-parts; in him many ages meet. Both gods and men can be appeased. Among the functions of the professional poets is the making of honorific names. Unlike naming in patronymic cultures, Yoruba naming occurs not only at birth or marriage, but throughout one's life. There is the name that comes from circumstances of the birth (the-one-with-the-cord-around-his-neck,let us say); there is the name recording the parents' (sometimes unsentimental) sentiments about the event (the-straw-that-broke-the-camel's-back).

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