The Artistic Cruelty of the Spanish Dancer

Spanish Dancer

In the mid-1960s I was writing a lot of poetry. My idols in the world of poetry at that time were Theodore Roethke, Wallace Stevens, W. B. Yeats, William Blake, Alexander Pope, and my long esteemed favorite, John Keats. I think it is only fair to say that my poems stunk and even with the support of one college professor who read everything I wrote and made comments, all of my collected works were probably turned into rolling papers when I was in grad school.

But I guess I made copies (this was in the carbon copy age before the rise of Xeroxtopus) since I occasionally find a yellowing piece of folded paper in an old book which still can cause me embarrassment.

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The man in the concentration camp at Belsen

BelsinThere are an awful lot of them. There really are huge numbers of dead. Seven million Jews have been exterminated—transported in cattle cars, the gassed in specially built gas chambers, then burned in specially built ovens. In Paris, people don’t talk about the Jews yet. Their infants were handed over to female officials responsible for the strangling of Jewish babies and experts in the art of killing by applying pressure on the carotid arteries. They smile and say it’s painless. This new face of death that has been discovered in Germany—organized, rationalized—produces bewilderment before it arouses indignation. You’re amazed. How can anyone still be a German? You look for parallels elsewhere and in other times, but there aren’t any.

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