"Abandon all hope, ye who enter here."
Or is it "All hope abandon, ye who enter here?"
Tonight I'm thinking about Dante. I'm thinking about the history of book-length poems. I'm thinking about (Sappho doesn't fit but I'm still thinking about her) Homer, Virgil, Ovid, Dante, Spenser, Milton, Shelley, Keats, Wordsworth, Pound, Williams, H.D., Eliot. Stein. Diane Williams, Lydia Davis, Carole Maso, Anne Carson, Selah Saterstrom. I'm making a list. It won't be the final list. I have time to revise it. But I'm thinking about it and these seem like a reasonable starting point when it comes to knowing the epic tradition.
I'm thinking: When will I have time to do these justice by enjoying them, by charting them, placing them in historical relation to one another?
I'm thinking: What are common threads? Mythology? Lyricism? Love? I'd like to make a list of epic love poems. That seems like a worthy project.
I'm thinking: What literary traditions are important to me? What themes? Why?
I'm thinking about first lines. How they establish rhythm, syntax, sonics, pace. How they need to establish so much in so little time. This isn't dissimilar to the story's, or novel's, first sentence. Does it sufficiently "hook"? And is it a modern sensibility to desire the hook?