by Katha Pollitt

Page 5

The next poem I'll read is called "The Dancers." One poet whom I've thought a lot more about than I have about Emily Dickinson until now is T.S. Eliot because I really can't stand him. I mean I like some things and I think he wrote really -- he has a vein of sort of beautiful melancholy and despair that appeals to me very much, but I hate all his ideas profoundly. I think all this very reactionary politics and this real assumption sort of the life we all live in the twentieth century of a great deal of--what do you want to say?--of different peoples all mingling together in a very polyglot way, is a very bad thing and that we should all go back to purer traditions in which, I must say, I wouldn't have much part, according to him, as a Jewish person. So, naturally, I don't like all that, and so I wrote this poem that takes off--the first two lines are sort of little references to some of his anti-semitic and other characters. And it's called "The Dancers."

So what if Sweeney buys drinks for Rachel Rabinowitz
or Aunt Helen's footman dandles the second parlormaid?
At the rank-and-file Greek furworkers' dinner
at Dante Caterers in Astoria last night
the floor was covered with iridescent vinyl
and the chandeliers were plastic and everyone spoke bad English
and said what a beautiful party
while to the electrified mandolins
of Athanasios and his Ethnorhythmics
the heavy-breasted, lacquered and mascaraed women
arose in their nylon dresses
of chemical turquoise, orange, and shocking pink
and danced with their dapper husbands
the foxtrot, the rhumba, and the lovely dances of Sparta
and did not profane them.

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