Saturday, January 07, 2006

Sharp Reflection (and Layton poem),, Jan 5 06
by Steven Heipel, Toronto, Ontario
January 5. 2006

Dead Poet

Irving Layton died, as you'll know if you've seen the papers.

A friend on another blog said he doesn't like Layton's work, which is a bit, ah, all encompassing considering the man's temporal span and canon. Layton's "collected" and "uncollected" works (that, I learned in an article today, involved a fight with an editor as to what should be included in a collected works and what should not and Layton's response of going to a second publisher so it was ALL published in the end )equals some 600 pages of poetry.

His scope is huge, his sense of epic strong, yet I've always loved this poem in its simplicity of form, ferocity of tone, and sharp reflection of Layton's famous sense of (rightfully earned) self importance:

To a Young Girl Sunbathing

By Irving Layton

The bare-breasted young girl
doesn’t even try to hide
her disappointment
when I lie down beside her
to get my share of the Greek sun

Is it my fault
she can't perceive wild genius
under the greying locks of hair
or that my bronzed loins
are more supple than her own?

posted by Heipel at 5:08 PM


joon said...

woops..i don't know about him so well..woops...
9:09 PM

Mark said...

was he gay? because that last line makes him sound gay. and certainly wo uld explain why Bert doesn't like him.
9:23 PM

Heipel said...

Layton was not gay. Ah, no. He was bedding 20-something female students (and marrying them if I'm not mistaken) at a very ripe age. And I think the last line is not about gay but more to do with what age does to flesh, especially THAT flesh, creating an irony of the male loins which should be(idealized) hard and toned, not the femmine soft and round (supple)...
11:09 AM


Anonymous devin hiller said...


When I was in high school Irving Layton was equal to that of a rock star. Others viewed Kirk Cobain and Nirvana as their voice but for me Layton told me the truth. He showed me what it was to be a jew and to have a truely unique voice in the world. Shalom Layton

8:13 PM  

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