Messing About in Boats by Michael Hofmann (Professor of English, University of Florida)
Written by the eminent poet Michael Hofmann, this approachable and companionable book offers readings of four poems on the subject of boats. Based on Michael Hofmann's Clarendon lectures, this volume offers readings of four poems in German, French, Italian, and English, by Rainer Maria Rilke, Arthur Rimbaud, Eugenio Montale, and Karen Solie. All four poems are on the subject of boats: 'Emigrant Ship', the 'Bateau Ivre', 'Boats on the Marne', and 'The World'. The volume suggests an affinity between boats and poems, offers a partial lineage of boats in poems, and pursues four variant destinies: the boat that stays in port, the boat that gives itself to the world, the boat that is washed away down the river, and the one that goes manically and hubristically on forever. The volume retains the style of lectures and has an improvisational character, with the same fire and detail as the things it is about. It is written with a sense of fun, of revelation, and in a spirit of respect and attention.