The Care and Feeding of William Faulkner
William Faulkner visits Iceland in the early 50’s.
Here, to Iceland
We’re to show him a good time
But, not too good
In Japan, he misbehaved badly
Drunk, on hard stuff
We should serve him beer
Just, not too much
Keep a constant careful eye on him
Slightly, on his glass
“Doesn’t anyone here drink hard liquor?”
Meet our guests:
Don’t you want to meet the famous authors of Iceland?
Here’s one, they think he’ll win the Nobel Prize, like you.
Bring it back to their ice and snow and buried boiling waters
Like you did to your sun and heat and gentle warm springs.
Too bad you won’t say much—at least you don’t talk about yourself.
The State Department sent you to Iceland
To convince them that we, that is, we Americans,
Are worth knowing, worth having around.
Your job is to show them our culture; and you can do that by just
Being there, by sharing your high and nobel presence.
You see, we write, too; and read.
True, we have to keep watch on our culture.
It drinks, you know, bourbon on the rocks in a tall glass.
And gets wobbly, and we have to send cablegrams
Addressed to the one Southerner in all of Iceland,
Explaining the care and feeding of our culture.
Since sometimes it cannot stand on its own.