Monday, May 19, 2008

poem to conquered land: I lay claim to wonder

John Tagliabue published this poem in the August 1960 issue of Poetry magazine. It's our 1960 version of Wallace Stevens's "Anecdote of the Jar." The poem (shaped like a flag, or a boat with a mast) plants its alphabetic flag on American soil and takes dominion everywhere, and, depending on the valuation of the simile, is ironically or not ironically a direct descendent of Columbus's hegemonic gesture. The imagination rules, and brings over a load of bric-a-brac from elsewhere (this poem itself). Poetics is inherently (theoretically and perhaps hilariously) colonialism.