Sunday, July 8, 2007

A colder eye

Hugh Kenner is perhaps my favorite literary critic, and his book A Colder Eye: The Modern Irish Writers is perhaps my favorite of his works. I was reminded of the phrase "a colder eye" this morning, as I quoted the following couplet from W.H. Auden:
Looking up at the stars, I know quite well
That for all they care, I can go to hell.
                – "The More Loving One"
This couplet reminded me of perhaps my favorite of all limericks, also written by Auden:
As the poets have mournfully sung,
Death takes the innocent young,
      The rolling-in-money,
      The screamingly funny,
And those who are very well hung.
                – "The Aesthetic Point of View"
And taking these two small verses together, I realized that Auden had as cold an eye as anyone...and I myself seem to have a colder eye. I'm skeptical, even at times sardonic (scornful, mocking, cynical—my standard attitude toward all things Bushevik; of course, when it comes to our "president," a lot of us are sardonic).

Maybe I really do have a colder eye, and that's why I'm so drawn to James Joyce and Flann O'Brien and W.B. Yeats? (Yeats's tombstone enjoins us:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!)
I've made a note now to re-read A Colder Eye.

No comments:

Post a Comment