Robert Pinsky on Ben Jonson and Robert Herrick

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky has a new column up at Slate about kvetching poets:

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Robert Pinsky

The Yiddish verb for complaining, kvetch—literally to squeeze or to crush—has an onomatopoetic quality to my ear. All of those consonant sounds, squashed into a single syllable, surrounding the explosive grunt of the short E sound, to me, like the prolonged insistence of a grievance. And who has not occasionally been a kvetch, the noun—a relentless complainer?

Possibly the most noble and eloquent poetry-kvetch in the history of the art in English is Ben Jonson (1572-1637).

Listen to Robert Pinsky read Ben Jonson’s “An Ode to Himself” at Slate
Listen to Robert Pinsky read Robert Herrick’s “Upon M. Ben Jonson, Epig.” at Slate

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