Anthony Hecht, Algeria


I've been reading  Anthony Hecht or, more exactly, I've been reading a lecture Christopher Ricks gave at Bard College on Hecht's borrowings or allusions or whatever you want to call them, from Eliot and others. Hecht is one of the poets who fascinate and repel me equally (Robinson Jeffers is another).  Why?  Probably because he does things I both do and don't want to do, writing, and on subjects that fascinate me as well, viz, the intersection of violence and eroticism.  I gorge on his poems and feel sick.  They make me think of over-furnished rooms, with moldings, parquet ("parquet-moulures-cheminées," as the French say of Paris's c19 Hausmanian style), gilding and lots of expensive bibelots (="inanités sonores")--see Hecht's caustically sensual poem on the 16th arrondissement and the Algerian War, "The Deodand."

Algeria, the Sahara, clean as an ocean.  Saw an aerial view, recently, of Ghardaia.  Looked down at the flat roofs and tried to pick out the place we stayed in as students on a Canadian university-sponsored trip in the summer of....  Too hot to sleep.  We wrapped ourselves in wet bedsheets and climbed up to the roofs.  There were no other visitors; it was the end of the Algerian war.