The Way of the Poem—7th-century BC Sparta


Alkman was a professional poet in Seventh Century BC Sparta, specializing in big productions with music and dancing. Yet this fragment gives voice to Everyman in the between—-between his finite life and the transcendence that allows us to envisage the universals of space in light of human existential response. Davenport’s economic handling of the universals of way, pity, need, and walk without self conscious ‘poetry’ strike one as authentic not only to Alkman but to poetry itself then and now.

Author: Tom D'Evelyn

Tom D'Evelyn is a private editor and writing tutor in Cranston RI and, thanks to the web, across the US and in the UK. He can be reached at D'Evelyn has a PhD in Comparative Literature from UC Berkeley. Before retiring he held positions at The Christian Science Monitor, Harvard University Press, Boston University and Brown University. He ran a literary agency for ten years, publishing books by Leonard Nathan and Arthur Quinn, among others. Before moving to Portland OR he was managing editor at Single Island Press, Portsmouth NH. He blogs at and other sites.

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