Seymour Glass, lack of poetry and two offerings.

Last week I read Seymour: An Introduction, a short story by J.D. Salinger. It is the reminiscences of Buddy Glass about his older brother, Seymour, and he spends a large amount of the story talking about Seymour’s poetry. We never do get to read any of this poetry, except for one poem, sent to Buddy by their sister Booboo, from when Seymour was young:


John Keats

John Keats


Please put your scarf on.



As intriguing as that scrap of poetry is, I began to feel deeply the loss of the missing poems. This shows Salinger’s brilliance since, as far as I know, he is describing poems that don’t exist.



Seymour writes Haikus, or rather “double Haikus” ā€“ his own invention. Inspired by the negative space in the story, I paused to compose my own Haiku (a single). Here it is:



Baby sleeps. I read.

Use bank receipts as bookmarks.

Ten degrees, March sixth.



Traditionally, the last line of a Haiku is supposed to touch on Nature. See how I did? The syllables are tricky, though, and to be perfectly honest it was twenty three degrees and March seventh when I wrote the poem. But there’re way too many syllables in twenty three and seventh. In my defense, the previous day, March sixth, had been ten degrees (-15 with the wind-chill, a fact which made me question my sanity at choosing to live in Boston).



Even with my Haiku, though, I still feel a lack of poetry. So I’m posting another one of mine, free form, that I wrote a couple of years ago. A little mythological background: Prometheus, if you remember, is the god who took pity on chilly men (who quite possibly were living in Boston, I don’t recall) and brought them fire from heaven to warm themselves. He was punished for this divine rebellion, though at the moment the nature of his punishment escapes me. Edith Hamilton would be glad to tell you all about it, if you really want to know.


Here you go. Enjoy.



Prometheus’s Gift

When I opened the door of my study

A piece of paper ā€“ an idea for a story

Fluttered into the candle and began to burn.

And I thought of all the centuries before electricity,

When people worked by candlelight,

And drafts caused similar accidents.



I didn’t think of other writers,

Though that never-published novel

Which I consequently never read

May be the reason for

That deep and lonely

Ache I sometimes




No, I thought of physicists, philosophers,

Economists, politicians and theologians.

Countless numbers of them, huddled over documents

That would have ended world hunger,

Brought about peace on earth,

Or taught men and women how to understand each other;

In a careless moment, opening a window,

Prometheus’s gift licking the thin pages.


They caught it in time, like I did ā€“

Grabbing the paper and dropping it into the sink.

Their house did not burn down, their wives (or husbands)

And children were safe. No smoke

Choked the family pets, or ruined the drapes.

No one even knew.



And I’ll write that story anyway:

I have a pretty good idea what it was going to be about.

But the exact wording, that particular plot twist

That could have made it Nobel prize-worthy

Is lost. So, maybe, the secret meaning of life,

Discovered, maybe, again and again throughout history,

Was blown into a single flame,

And given back to the gods.


4 comments on “Seymour Glass, lack of poetry and two offerings.

  1. thesilentq says:

    hey! i think i understand why he’s not publishing anymore…i mean the amount of stuff there is online written by people who think he’s losing it…
    but omg yes i so want to get my hands on that and devour it…and yeah it’s going to be published many years after his death…

    …im up for that break in!
    or we could stalk him…become his friends…and change his mind? šŸ˜‰


    • Hen says:

      J.D. Salinger es uno de los mejores escritores del siglo XX, Nada tiene que envidiarle a Kafka, Borges, o Faulkner, por nombrar algunos. Su estilo es absolutamente perfecto y personal. El cuidado de su obra, inigualable.


  2. Tru Green says:

    Nice post. I learn something totally new and challenging on blogs I stumbleupon every day.
    It will always be helpful to read articles
    from other authors and practice something from other sites.


  3. Sam Meals says:

    I love Prometheus’s Gift. I was looking for something about the poetry of Seymour Glass and found this bonus. Thank you. I have always regretted that I could not read Seymour’s poetry, or see the paintings of Asher Lev.


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