Tuesday, April 09, 2013

Great Regulars: When he speaks to a post-war audience of

"a country concerned with itself", he summons a character from old-time America--and although we cannot exactly pin down the era, when "boys wore knickers" (short trousers), we assume it to be around the 1880s. But that the poem's date marks the start of Eisenhower's second term as President of a US committed to its role in international politics and the Cold War is no coincidence. For, as [Donald] Hall told the Paris Review in 1991, "Even when I write about my grandfather, I lie. I don't believe poets when they say I, and I wish people wouldn't believe me". Hall's "grandfather" is, however, more than just a device: he is a means of dealing, apparently artlessly, with the burden of the past.

An Old Man Remembers

from The Times Literary Supplement: Poem of the Week: "An Old Man Remembers"


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