Even good Homer sleeps

Though I am dust beneath the feet of Louise Glück, poetically speaking, sometimes it's good to know that even the colossian poets of our day make mistakes that are the daily burden of mere mortals. Take her poem "Prism" in the most recent issue of The New Yorker (no on-line version, I'm afraid). A long and very interesting piece, worth reading and re-reading. But in the middle is stuck the line

Marvelous things, stars.

Now, I don't mean to bark at the passing caravan of poetic greatness, carping over a misbegotten word choice, but I can come right out and call this a line begging for the eraser: it is not doing any intellectual work, nor is it bearing any of the poem's structural weight.

A friend of mine occasionally suggests to me that I read poets who are good, but not great, so that I am not overawed. Then I can notice the occasional cracks in the poetic structure or the awkward creaking of ill-chosen meter or rhyme. It's good to know, on occasion, that even the great poets can help out us lessers in that way.

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