Thursday theme – This Masquerade

Today’s theme song in ENGL 203-04 is “This Masquerade” by Leon Russell. It’s from Russell’s 1972 album Carney. Lyrics here.

At the song’s heart is the familiar idea that humans put up barriers between themselves and others in the form of masks. This “lonely game” of deception keeps us from making real contact with one another, and the result is especially problematic if we allow ourselves to play the game in a romantic relationship. In such a relationship it’s essential that we allow others access to the “real” self that lies behind the mask. Only when we let our masks fall can there be genuine “understanding” between us, the kind of understanding that’s an essential condition of love. Continue reading “Thursday theme – This Masquerade”


“Poetry Written in Porcelain” reads the headline in today’s New York Times about Edmund de Waal, potter and author. The headline asks us to consider de Waal’s carefully crafted vessels as metaphorical poems.

Or are we meant to take the statement literally?

“My making and my writing is one thing,” Mr. de Waal is quoted as saying “Pots turn into words, and words turn into pots.” And later: “When I make something, I hear it.”

This proposed equivalence between poetry and concrete objects isn’t new at all. You’ll find it, among other places, in Keats’ ” Ode on a Grecian Urn” and in Archibald MacLeish’s “Ars Poetica.”

If the “practice of criticism” has a theoretical side that consists, in part, of defining the terms in which that practice is conducted, then poetry is one of those terms we’re called upon to define.

What is poetry? Should our definition be broad enough to encompass de Waal’s pots as literal poems? If not, what would our definition require in order for the pots to count as metaphorical poems?