Dear Helen,

Some say the Gospel of Mark was modeled on Homeric epics (Odysseus|Christ), much as Augustine later modeled his Confessions on Virgil’s Aeneid. (And Augustine held that Virgil’s fourth eclogue prefigures the second coming of Christ in the character Achilles.) I know you don’t care about Christ or old books, but I can’t help but start a letter to a Helen with something about Homer – and lo! your husband is called Mark.

Names again.

Thank you for the poem that you sent. I don’t think that I’ll be able to publish it because of its length. Seventy pages! What can I do with a poem that long? I haven’t the courage as an editor that you have as a writer. Bless you, curse me. What is the point of any of this if I don’t publish it? I haven’t published anything in years. It’s simply too long.

I wonder about the final stanza. Everything changes in that stanza – the length of the lines, the syntax, the clustered consonance. The poem gathers itself at the end and points towards the infinite, but the infinite is moving away from us. The heavens are darker by the hour. What do you mean by “shallow apotheosis”? Are we all so doomed?

I am a coward, but now I have faith. Poetry is still possible. Everything depends on your pen. Perhaps I will find courage. Until then…

vale bene,