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A poem from the inventive pen of Kenneth Koch (1925-2002), who helped us think about language and its stuffy forms in new and liberating ways.
The Promenade of the Ghostly Subtitles
It was the time of the promenade of the ghostly subtitles
No one could prevent their walking forth
Everywhere you looked you would see A Girl’s Story or
Vignettes of the Andalusian Forest or something of that sort,
While the real titles, slumbering in ignorance of this,
The great, heavy, burdensome, entitled titles,
The big, even gigantic refreshing and obvious titles,
The gorgeous titles, the fine titles, the magnificent ones,
Home for the Holidays, Anna Karenina, War and Peace, David Copperfield, The Red and the Black, Father Goriot, Barchester Towers, Emma, Hamlet, Julius Caesar, Death on the Installment Plan, Wozzeck,
Lay dead to the world in castles, chateaus and villas
All round the earth, while the subtitles sauntered forth
As if they were titles, showing the world their value
Which once the titles awoke they would never have.
**We are definitely violating copyright by posting this in full but hopefully Knopf will forgive us and welcome the free advertising. Knopf is one of the last great imprints publishing true literature, despite having been purchased and consolidated by Random House in the late 1990s. They publish poems daily on their tumblr account — we highly recommend it for anyone who enjoys poetry.