Eric Hoffman


They put me in a little room aloft.
I was in no condition to dictate
And crept to bed. Armed with razors

And clean shirt I recovered courage
On a visit to the Cathedral of 1123
Where, in the vaulted cellar is laid

The scene of part of Rob Roy.
My guide spoke Scotch but swore
Her name was not Deans


Amid wild & desolate
Heathering hill
Without companionship
(save for his wife)
He speaks broad Scotch
With evident relish --
Ay, ay, & c. & c.


Gibbons’ Bridge
New York
To old
Plastic man
Small on this vast earth --
Oceans between us
And torturous waves
Far beyond
Dry earth
Where naked feet
Once stood
Where we now stand
Our principle
Is not rebellion
Unless it is against
A cold and callous heart


28 August 1833. Called upon Mr. Wordsworth.
His daughters called him in and he sat
Across from me in goggles, speaking with
The greatest simplicity, mainly of America,
A society he deemed enlightened by
A superficial tuition out of all proportion
To its being restrained by morality --

Schools do no good. He said ‘what
Is needed most in America
Is civil war to teach them the necessity
Of tying tighter the social bonds.’
America’s vulgarity, he insisted, is a result
Of its pioneer state, yet the world
Is too much with them,

There is a lack of class among men of leisure.
Outside, in his garden, the place
Where he wrote his thousands of lines,
I look into his red and sour eyes
That no longer read words,
And since he writes no prose
His head carries a book’s worth of verse

From which he freely quotes and it seems
So new, you’d think he’d newly improvised.
He spoke of Newton’s law as though
It were to be overturned. We’d walked
Over a mile, stopping every hundred paces or so
For him to quote a verse. His opinions
That of an old man who never aged past seventeen



Goethe, Newton, Gibbon -- expert spinners
Of superficialities to hide the universe

Of our ignorance. Tho poems and histories
Expedients for bread and to conceal

Boundless ignorance, Socrates’ famous saying:
The recantation of man.



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