Having majored in English while focusing on poetry, it’s perhaps unsurprising I came away with a love for my textbook A Poet’s Guide to Poetry by Mary Kinzie. Embarrassingly though, I never spent enough time with the book while still in school. I’ve made myself the pact that I will finally read the entire book through, completing the exercises and reading her suggestions as I go.
One of the first suggestions I read was “His Rooms In College” by Thomas Gunn. It was suggested as an example of blank verse that presented a scene, which prompted the speaker to meditate, which then allowed the speaker to come to a different opinion about the original scene, one with understanding or resolution.
All through the damp morning he works, he reads.
The papers of his students are interrupted
Still by the raw fury, the awkward sadness
His marriage has become. The young serious voices
Are drowned by her remembered piteous wail
‘Discovering’ the one unfaithfulness
He never did commit.
Be more specific.
What do they have ahead of them, poor dears,
This kind of thing?
Today no supervisions;
But though he meant these hours for his research
He takes a book, not even in his ‘field,’
And some note touches him, he goes on reading
Hours long into the afternoon from which
The same low river fog has never lifted.
If every now and then he raises his eyes
And stares at winter lawns below, each time
He sees their hard blurred slopes the less. He reads,
He reads, until the chapel clock strikes five,
And suddenly discovers that the book,
Unevenly, gradually, and with difficulty,
Has all along been showing him its mind
(Like no one ever met at a dinner party),
And his attention has become prolonged
To the quiet passion with which he in return
Has given himself completely to the book.
He looks out at the darkened lawns, surprised
Less by the loss of grief than by the trust.