gershon hepner

(5 3 38 / leipzig)

life's leitmotifs


LIFE’S LEITMOTIFS



Connecting poetry to prose
in life, as in the various books we read,
is necessary to compose
life’s leitmotifs that help us to succeed.

The original inspiration for this poem was Michiko Kakutani’s review of Zadie Smith’s third novel, On Beauty (“A Modern Multicultural Makeover for Forster’s Bourgeois Edwardians, ” NYT, September 13,2005) :
Kiki, who has ballooned to 250 pounds, resents Howard for not accepting her as she is - 'I'm not going to be getting any thinner or any younger, ' she angrily tells him - and for drawing her into an almost exclusively white world that often feels alien to her. 'I staked my whole life on you, ' she says. 'And I have no idea any more why I did that.' Howard, on his part, has grown more and more dogmatic over the years. Intent on importing his strict academic aesthetics into his home, he has become judgmental about what sort of paintings can be hung on the walls, what sort of music can be played in his presence. Like so many Forster characters, he has always had difficulty connecting the poetry and the prose in his life, and these days he seems increasingly incapable of expressing his feelings - to Kiki, to his aged father or to his children. He has recently started a perilous relationship with Monty Kipps's teenage daughter, Victoria - the very girl who broke the heart of his son Jerome, and who is now pursuing Zora's handsome protégé, Carl.
The second inspiration was Edmund White’s review of Frank Kermode’s book “Concerning E.M. Forster” (“Only Reflect, ” NYT Book Review, January 17,2010) , in which we read that Forster was, especially in his youth, a devoted Wagner¬ian and that the concept of leitmotifs influenced his ideas about literary rhythm, though Forster felt his own rhythms were less obtrusive than Wagner’s recurring themes.
The Vorlage of this poem was:

Only Connecting

Connecting poetry to prose
in life as in the books we read
is necessary to compose
the themes whose thrills help us succeed.


1/18/10

Submitted: Monday, January 18, 2010

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