Helen Vendler

An Asshole in the Service of Heaven

October 21, 2010
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My aesthetic test for music when I was 13 still applied: if I play a song one hundred times in a row, and, on the last playing, it still has an effect, then it is part of my synaptic hit parade, and can never be vanquished.

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Seventeen Years Ago Last March: Elizabeth Bishop’s Grand Finale

March 6, 2010
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‘Crusoe in England’ was first published in The New Yorker in 1971, then later collected in ‘Geography III,’ perhaps Bishop’s finest single volume of poems. (Only recently I discovered the title of which was suggested to her by John Ashbery. He had found a little geography textbook of the eponymous name, and sent it to her, thinking she’d rather enjoy it. Turns out, she did.)

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