MICHAEL SKAFIDAS: You’ve said that, “At 84, I lie awake at night, after a first sleep, and murmur Crane, Whitman and Shakespeare to myself, seeking comfort through continuity, as grand voices somehow hold off the permanent darkness that gathers though it does not fall.” Is poetry your elixir for longevity?
HAROLD BLOOM: Absolutely! Poetry is my medicine. At 85, one is a very bad sleeper. Last night in fact, I could not fall asleep again because of my health’s failures, and I found myself reciting poetry. Since I was a little one, I have a remarkable memory in terms of recalling poetic texts. So last night, I found myself chanting not Whitman directly, but Wallace Stevens’ magnificent complex vision of Whitman. I think I know it by heart so if you don’t mind, I’ll put it in the picture right now [Bloom recites by heart Stevens’ “Tea at the Palace of Hoon,” in which the speaker is Walt Whitman himself.] So, poetry is a cure.