What's All This Then?

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What's All This Then?

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A Poet’s Prose
by Louise Bogan

Field-Tested by Terry Teachout

in Central Park, New York City, New York

I go to New York's Central Park nearly every day, but I never read there. For me, the park is a refuge from necessity, and since I spend so many of my waking hours reading for professional purposes, I prefer to spend my time in the park basking in the sunshine and attending to the passing moment. On a recent Saturday morning, though, I broke my self-imposed rule for the best of all possible reasons: I couldn't help myself. I was walking through the park on my way home from an unpleasing museum visit, and all at once, I felt the irresistible urge to pull A Poet's Prose: Selected Writings of Louise Bogan out of my shoulder bag.

I'd started reading the book the night before and found it enthralling. Now, with half-remembered sentences (“The mature writer rejects the treasured ‘originality’ and the darling virtuosities of his apprenticeship in art”) bouncing about in my head, I knew I couldn't wait another moment to open it again. No sooner did I see an empty bench a few yards west of the Great Lawn than I sat down and started reading. The air was dense with the silvery clamor of birdsong and the cries of small children playing softball, but, within a minute or two, all sound had faded to silence, and the next thing I knew, an hour and a half had gone by.

Would that I never had to open another book save under the spur of an interior compulsion powerful enough to pull me away from the immediate delights of a spring morning.

Terry Teachout is the drama critic of the Wall Street Journal and the music critic of Commentary. He is the author of All in the Dances: A Brief Life George Balanchine, A Terry Teachout Reader, The Skeptic: A Life of H.L. Mencken, and several others. He keeps a blog at About Last Night.

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