Robert Pinsky is an American poet, essayist, literary critic, and translator. From 1997 – 2000, he served as Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. Pinsky is the author of nineteen books, most of which are collections of his own poetry. His published work also includes critically acclaimed translations, including a collection of poems by Czeslaw Milosz and Dante Alighieri.His honors include an American Academy of Arts and Letters award, both the William Carlos Williams Award and the Shelley Memorial prize from the Poetry Society of America, the PEN/Voelcker Award for Poetry, and a Guggenheim Foundation fellowship. He is currently poetry editor of the weekly Internet magazine Slate. Pinsky has taught at both Wellesley College and the University of California, Berkeley, and currently teaches in the graduate writing program at Boston University. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
Topic: “The Last Canto of Paradise”
Robert Pinsky: I end Gulf Music which has so much about it – about forgetting and remembering as parts of the same process. I ended with a poem that’s mostly a translation from the very end of Dante’s Paradiso. In it he sort of accepts forgetting. To me its like he is accepting the idea of his own death and it’s a sort of sweet or reconciled sense of absence and adds to virtual story of the civil everything and she wrote down everything that would ever happen. She sat down and she wrote it all. She wrote it on leaves and leaves are so thin that as soon as the daughter of the temple began to turn out, the breeze came in, scatters the leaves up in the air and it’s a chaos and people the civil because of the frustration of that and this is from the last canto of Paradise. As I drew nearer to the end of all desire, I brought my longings order to a final height just as I want. My vision becoming pure and to more and more the beam of that high light that shines on its own truth from then my seeing became too large for speech which fails at a sight beyond all boundaries at memories undoing as when the dreamer sees and after the dream ---the passion endures imprinted on his beam though he can’t recall the rest I am the same. Inside my heart although my vision is almost entirely faded droplets of its sweetness come the way the sun dissolves the snows crust the way in the wind it’s third of the light leaves, the oracle that the sipper wrote was lost.
Recorded On: 3/25/08
Robert Pinsky: I think skepticism toward things like titles, good reviews, what the world calls distinctions, recognitions, can become mechanical, but it’s a good armor too.