This week’s broadcast includes a Poetry Corner. The hook here is New York City politician Bill de Blasio, currently polling far out ahead for the Mayoral election next month. De Blasio is liberal—very liberal, off-the-chart liberal. As I note elsewhere in the broadcast: “To call Bill de Blasio liberal is . . . like calling Charlie Sheen a fun-loving guy.”
De Blasio’s wife Chirlane is black. It’s not intrusive of me to mention this, as de Blasio has made a big point of featuring it in his campaign commercials. New Yorkers who know nothing else about de Blasio know that he has a black family—they’ve been all over local TV screens.
Well, Bill met Chirlane twenty years or so ago, and he fell for her. This week he vouchsafed to us one of the reasons he fell. It was the lady’s poetry.
Fair enough. Robert Browning felt the same way about Elizabeth Barrett. But was there a particular poem that caught Bill’s attention? There certainly was. It’s a piece titled “I Used to Think,” published in 1983 when the poetess was thirty. Bill called it, quote, “a very, very powerful poem.”
Would you like to hear some of it? Of course you would. The whole thing is 71 lines, so I can only give you the first stanza. I think it's a stanza, anyway: Mrs. de Blasio’s verse is of the kind that makes it hard to tell. Don’t be listening for any meter or rhyme: there isn’t any. That’s Ice People stuff!
I proceed to read aloud the first stanza of “I Used to Think.” What’s it about?
As Bill de Blasio helpfully explains: “It's about the way she perceived herself growing up as a young African-American girl in a racist society.” What else would she write about? Weren’t Elizabeth Barrett’s poems all about being a chronic invalid with a control-freak father? Of course they were.
Other topics in this week’s broadcast:
The whole thing is at Taki’s Magazine.