As Shakespeare would say (and did in Act I, Scene 5, of his 1606 play, Antony & Cleopatra) these are “salad days” for poetry.
No, he didn’t mention the poetry part, just the salad days part, through the mouth of the beautiful Cleopatra reminiscing about her foolish, younger (read: greener) days.
Over time the foolish part has fallen off the salad, leaving the younger part, so “salad days” (the green of youth, which we have a tendency to worship) now indicate a good thing.
The New York Times Magazine, a Sunday staple in this house, is an example of salad days for poetry, but it’s not the only evidence to be seen. The poetry renaissance is partly due to political events in the U.S. Political poetry, once frowned upon, is very much in style these days. And the voices of minority poets have flourished in recent years thanks to the oppressive policies of the very vanilla and very wealthy powers-that-be.
But back to the Times Magazine. For over three years now they’ve been publishing poetry. One poem a week. Formerly curated by Terrance Hayes, Natasha Tretheway, and Matthew Zapruder, the honor is now Rita Dove’s, who recently assumed the title of “Poetry Editor.”
It’s viewable on-line in the Magazine section. Check it out Sundays. This week’s entry, about a couple in the Puerto Rican countryside, reads like a side of salad. It’s written by the very cooly named poet Blas Falconer. I leave the dressing to you:
“A man and a woman touched”
by Blas Falconer
at night under stairs,
pinball machines ringing, and,
Sundays, he drove her to
the springs of Coamo, the chapel of
San Germán. Had she ever known
happiness? The road
littered with mangos seemed
to go on
forever. She thought,
The people can’t eat
them fast enough,
as if she were not
one of those people.
Ah, love and sadness. And mangos. And salad days growing exactly where you want them—in as many broad circulation periodicals as possible.
T. G. I. M., people. Greens are good for you. And all of us. Even very vanilla and very wealthy powers-that-be, if only they’d partake.
There’s still time before Christmas! Give a little salad to a language lover you know!