As you can imagine, last week’s column about the poetry of John Milton went over well on The Dark Side. What you may not guess, though, is that in my social circles any discussion of poetry inevitably leads to the leftist poet, Delmore Schwartz.
It matters not whether it occurs in a high-brow salon or a low-brow saloon: Schwartz remains a favorite.
I’m an old man now, and I no longer can distinguish what’s hep from what’s square, if I ever could. But I do know that when I was a young man, reciting poetry was an effective way for young men to seduce young women.
I don’t know if that is still the case, but if it is, let me give some advice to the young men out there: forget the third-raters like Allen Ginsberg, and stick to the good stuff like Delmore Schwartz.
In honor of Mr. Schwartz, and keeping in mind that this is a conservative column in a legal publication and not a Greenwich Village poetry review, what follows is a revision of Schwartz’ most famous poem, “The True-Blue American,” about a little boy who one day is asked to choose between a chocolate sundae and a banana split:
David Ziemer was a true-blue American,
For he was a lawyer who understood America, for he felt that he must
Think about everything; because that’s all there is to think about,
Knowing immediately the intimacy of law and comedy,
Knowing intuitively how a sense of humor was a necessity
For one and for all who practice law in America. Thus, natively, and
Naturally when on an April Monday in a courthouse chamber Ziemer
Was requested to choose between a constitutional right to liberty of contract and meaningful limits on Congress’ power under the Commerce Clause
He answered unhesitatingly, having no need to think of it
Being a true-blue American, determined to continue as he began:
Rejecting the either-or of Kierkegaard, and many another European;
Refusing to accept alternatives, refusing to believe the choice of between;
Rejecting selection; denying dilemma; electing absolute affirmation: knowing
in his breast
The infinite and the gold
Of endless litigation, the deathless quest.
“Both: I will have them both!” declared this true-blue American
In Milwaukee, Wisconsin, on an April Monday, instructed
By the great department stores, by two-for-one happy hour specials,
Taught by Christmas, by the circus, by the vulgarity and grandeur of
Niagara Falls and the Grand Canyon,
Tutored by the grandeur, vulgarity, and infinite appetite gratified and
Shining in the darkness, of the light
Of double damages and attorney fees,
The consummation of the imagination of constitutional arguments
Which is as it was – the infinite belief in infinite hope – of Lochner, Kelo, Filburn, and David Ziemer.