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6

WEDNESDAY

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Errors can be beautiful, and not only to those of us who are paid to spot them. In a newspaper misprint for the word “mammoth,” Elizabeth Bishop found evidence of a furtive creature, the Man-Moth, who dwells in “pale subways of cement,” emerging only rarely to make a doomed climb to that pinhole at the top of the sky we know as the moon. Poets see the universe in a grain of sand—or in an n where an m should be; critics ponder each grain, revealing its origin as glass and using that glass as a prism. An accomplished reader can find mirth and depth, harmonics and scholarly references, in a poem. Done right, as by poet/critic Anthony Hecht, explication is neither selfishly showy nor punch-line-belaboringly nerdy; it is a beauty in itself. Hecht celebrates his 81st birthday with a discussion of “The Man-Moth” from his latest book, Melodies Unheard: Essays on the Mysteries of Poetry, at 7 p.m. at Chapters, 1001 Pennsylvania Ave. NW. Free. (202) 347-5495. (Pamela Murray Winters)