Monthly Archives: March 2013

Possible Subjects for Lyric Poetry

William Matthews

William Matthews

From one of Edward Hirsch‘s excellent Poet’s Choice columns in the Washington Post Book World, comes this hilarious and “short but comprehensive summary” of all the possible subjects for lyric poetry, taken from American poet William Matthews’ essay “Dull Subjects” in his prose book Curiosities (1989):

  1. I went out into the woods today and it made me feel, you know, sort of religious.
  2. We’re not getting any younger.
  3. It sure is cold and lonely (a) without you, honey, or (b) with you, honey.
  4. Sadness seems but the other side of the coin of happiness, and vice versa, and in any case the coin is too soon spent and on we know not what.

Writes Hirsch, “Matthews had a lucky wit and a startling intelligence … [he] had a fluent capacity to think in poetry. His writing has a conversational tone and a relaxed authority. Reading him is like spending the evening with a deliciously intelligent friend.”

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