Poetry & History
One of the problems of writing historically based poetry is that of "knowing too much." For example, the fact that the Ambassador to Brazil went to Paris for several months in 1864 is useful to me. It provides an opportunity for Martin Johnson Heade to spend a bit of time with the ambassador's young and beautiful wife. That he did so--spend social time, that is--is a matter of record. Whether anything more happened is not.
That the purpose of the Ambassador's trip was to negotiate an agreement with Napoleon III for the withdrawl of French troops from Mexico is fascinating. I can do something with that information. What did the Emperor of Brazil, Dom Pedro II (pictured, left), himself a member of the Bourbon and Hapsburg families, think?
But then I am off on a tangent, aren't I?
Perhaps that is why so much history gets told in lyric rather than narrative forms--in ballads, for example. How much of the real history gets glossed or obscured because it gets (very much) in the way of the actual truth-telling, of the lyric moment? Which, by the way, is occuring in the mountain resort of Petropolis, on the porch of the Ambassador's house, while the Ambassador is in Paris, and the servants are away.
No, I am not writing a ballad.
I must also get some poems into the mail.