Discussion in 'Comedy & Tragedy' started by AdamSmith, Oct 4, 2016.

  1. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Example of how Stevens's mind worked:

    "The Comedian as the Letter C" is a fairly complex work, evincing Stevens's impressive, and occasionally intimidating, vocabulary and his penchant for obscure humor. Stevens later declared that his own motivations in writing the poem derived from his enthusiasm for "words and sounds." He stated: "I suppose that I ought to confess that by the letter C I meant the sound of the letter C; what was in my mind was to play on that sound throughout the poem. While the sound of that letter has more or less variety ... all its shades maybe said to have a comic aspect. Consequently, the letter C is a comedian."
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2016
  2. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Stevens held a very low estimate of Eliot's work, even going so far as to write a poem explicitly critiquing the aesthetics of Eliot's verse practices. Stevens refers to Eliot here as "X." (In another poem he refers to Eliot as one of "the lean cats of the arches of the churches.")

    The Creations of Sound

    If the poetry of X was music,
    So that it came to him of its own,
    Without understanding, out of the wall

    Or in the ceiling, in sounds not chosen,
    Or chosen quickly, in a freedom
    That was their element, we should not know

    That X is an obstruction, a man
    Too exactly himself, and that there are words
    Better without an author, without a poet,

    Or having a separate author, a different poet,
    An accretion from ourselves, intelligent
    Beyond intelligence, an artificial man

    At a distance, a secondary expositor,
    A being of sound, whom one does not approach
    Through any exaggeration. From him, we collect.

    Tell X that speech is not dirty silence
    Clarified. It is silence made dirtier.
    It is more than an imitation for the ear.

    He lacks this venerable complication.
    His poems are not of the second part of life.
    They do not make the visible a little hard

    To see nor, reverberating, eke out the mind
    Or peculiar horns, themselves eked out
    By the spontaneous particulars of sound.

    We do not say ourselves like that in poems.
    We say ourselves in syllables that rise
    From the floor, rising in speech we do not speak.
  3. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    This Stevens poem illustrates the contrast between what Harold Bloom famously called the strength of Stevens's poetry and the weakness of Eliot's.

    Poem with Rhythms

    The hand between the candle and the wall
    Grows large on the wall.

    The mind between this light or that and space,
    (This man in a room with an image of the world,
    That woman waiting for the man she loves,)
    Grows large against space:

    There the man sees the image clearly at last.
    There the woman receives her lover into her heart,
    And weeps on his breast, though he never comes.

    It must be that the hand
    Has a will to grow larger on the wall,
    To grow larger and heavier and stronger than
    The wall; and that the mind
    Turns to its own figurations and declares,
    "This image, this love, I compose myself
    Of these. Of these I come forth outwardly.
    In these, I wear a vital cleanliness,
    Not as in air, bright-blue-resembling air,
    But as in the powerful mirror of my wish and will."
  4. WilliamM

    WilliamM Regent

    Until now, I did not see your link to Boston College Magazine. I graduated from the university in 1965, and must have received the magazine.

    Sadly the English classes did make much of an impression, @AdamSmith. But, I discover Proust, Mann and Kafka after college.
    TruHart1 and AdamSmith like this.
  5. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  6. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Last edited: Oct 6, 2016
  7. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Opening poem in John Ashbery's collection Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror. Stevens is Ashbery's favorite poet.

    As One Put Drunk into the Packet-Boat

    I tried each thing, only some were immortal and free.
    Elsewhere we are as sitting in a place where sunlight
    Filters down, a little at a time,
    Waiting for someone to come. Harsh words are spoken,
    As the sun yellows the green of the maple tree....

    So this was all, but obscurely
    I felt the stirrings of new breath in the pages
    Which all winter long had smelled like an old catalogue.
    New sentences were starting up. But the summer
    Was well along, not yet past the mid-point
    But full and dark with the promise of that fullness,
    That time when one can no longer wander away
    And even the least attentive fall silent
    To watch the thing that is prepared to happen.

    A look of glass stops you
    And you walk on shaken: was I the perceived?
    Did they notice me, this time, as I am,
    Or is it postponed again? The children
    Still at their games, clouds that arise with a swift
    Impatience in the afternoon sky, then dissipate
    As limpid, dense twilight comes.
    Only in that tooting of a horn
    Down there, for a moment, I thought
    The great, formal affair was beginning, orchestrated,
    Its colors concentrated in a glance, a ballade
    That takes in the whole world, now, but lightly,
    Still lightly, but with wide authority and tact.

    The prevalence of those gray flakes falling?
    They are sun motes. You have slept in the sun
    Longer than the sphinx, and are none the wiser for it.
    Come in. And I thought a shadow fell across the door
    But it was only her come to ask once more
    If I was coming in, and not to hurry in case I wasn't.

    The night sheen takes over. A moon of cistercian pallor
    Has climbed to the center of heaven, installed,
    Finally involved with the business of darkness.
    And a sigh heaves from all the small things on earth,
    The books, the papers, the old garters and union-suit buttons
    Kept in a white cardboard box somewhere, and all the lower
    Versions of cities flattened under the equalizing night.
    The summer demands and takes away too much,
    But night, the reserved, the reticent, gives more than it takes.
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2016
  8. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    A.R. Ammons, my favorite contemporary poet after Stevens and Ashbery (next would be Elizabeth Bishop), explains Ashbery.


    When you begin a poem, do you have a specific source of inspiration, or do you start with words and push them around the page until they begin to take shape?


    John Ashbery says that he would never begin to write a poem under the force of inspiration or with an idea already given. He prefers to wait until he has absolutely nothing to say, and then begins to find words and to sort them out and to associate with them. He likes to have the poem occur on the occasion of its occurrence rather than to be the result of some inspiration or imposition from the outside. Now I think that’s a brilliant point of view. That’s not the way I work. I’ve always been highly energized and have written poems in spurts. From the god-given first line right through the poem. And I don’t write two or three lines and then come back the next day and write two or three more; I write the whole poem at one sitting and then come back to it from time to time over the months or years and rework it.
  9. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    One Art
    By Elizabeth Bishop

    The art of losing isn’t hard to master;
    so many things seem filled with the intent
    to be lost that their loss is no disaster.

    Lose something every day. Accept the fluster
    of lost door keys, the hour badly spent.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    Then practice losing farther, losing faster:
    places, and names, and where it was you meant
    to travel. None of these will bring disaster.

    I lost my mother’s watch. And look! my last, or
    next-to-last, of three loved houses went.
    The art of losing isn’t hard to master.

    I lost two cities, lovely ones. And, vaster,
    some realms I owned, two rivers, a continent.
    I miss them, but it wasn’t a disaster.

    —Even losing you (the joking voice, a gesture
    I love) I shan’t have lied. It’s evident
    the art of losing’s not too hard to master
    though it may look like (Write it!) like disaster.
  10. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    At the Fishhouses
    By Elizabeth Bishop

    Although it is a cold evening,
    down by one of the fishhouses
    an old man sits netting,
    his net, in the gloaming almost invisible,
    a dark purple-brown,
    and his shuttle worn and polished.
    The air smells so strong of codfish
    it makes one’s nose run and one’s eyes water.
    The five fishhouses have steeply peaked roofs
    and narrow, cleated gangplanks slant up
    to storerooms in the gables
    for the wheelbarrows to be pushed up and down on.
    All is silver: the heavy surface of the sea,
    swelling slowly as if considering spilling over,
    is opaque, but the silver of the benches,
    the lobster pots, and masts, scattered
    among the wild jagged rocks,
    is of an apparent translucence
    like the small old buildings with an emerald moss
    growing on their shoreward walls.
    The big fish tubs are completely lined
    with layers of beautiful herring scales
    and the wheelbarrows are similarly plastered
    with creamy iridescent coats of mail,
    with small iridescent flies crawling on them.
    Up on the little slope behind the houses,
    set in the sparse bright sprinkle of grass,
    is an ancient wooden capstan,
    cracked, with two long bleached handles
    and some melancholy stains, like dried blood,
    where the ironwork has rusted.
    The old man accepts a Lucky Strike.
    He was a friend of my grandfather.
    We talk of the decline in the population
    and of codfish and herring
    while he waits for a herring boat to come in.
    There are sequins on his vest and on his thumb.
    He has scraped the scales, the principal beauty,
    from unnumbered fish with that black old knife,
    the blade of which is almost worn away.

    Down at the water’s edge, at the place
    where they haul up the boats, up the long ramp
    descending into the water, thin silver
    tree trunks are laid horizontally
    across the gray stones, down and down
    at intervals of four or five feet.

    Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
    element bearable to no mortal,
    to fish and to seals . . . One seal particularly
    I have seen here evening after evening.
    He was curious about me. He was interested in music;
    like me a believer in total immersion,
    so I used to sing him Baptist hymns.
    I also sang “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.”
    He stood up in the water and regarded me
    steadily, moving his head a little.
    Then he would disappear, then suddenly emerge
    almost in the same spot, with a sort of shrug
    as if it were against his better judgment.
    Cold dark deep and absolutely clear,
    the clear gray icy water . . . Back, behind us,
    the dignified tall firs begin.
    Bluish, associating with their shadows,
    a million Christmas trees stand
    waiting for Christmas. The water seems suspended
    above the rounded gray and blue-gray stones.
    I have seen it over and over, the same sea, the same,
    slightly, indifferently swinging above the stones,
    icily free above the stones,
    above the stones and then the world.
    If you should dip your hand in,
    your wrist would ache immediately,
    your bones would begin to ache and your hand would burn
    as if the water were a transmutation of fire
    that feeds on stones and burns with a dark gray flame.
    If you tasted it, it would first taste bitter,
    then briny, then surely burn your tongue.
    It is like what we imagine knowledge to be:
    dark, salt, clear, moving, utterly free,
    drawn from the cold hard mouth
    of the world, derived from the rocky breasts
    forever, flowing and drawn, and since
    our knowledge is historical, flowing, and flown.
  11. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore
    by Elizabeth Bishop

    From Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
    please come flying.
    In a cloud of fiery pale chemicals,
    please come flying,
    to the rapid rolling of thousands of small blue drums
    descending out of the mackerel sky
    over the glittering grandstand of harbor-water,
    please come flying.

    Whistles, pennants and smoke are blowing. The ships
    are signaling cordially with multitudes of flags
    rising and falling like birds all over the harbor.
    Enter: two rivers, gracefully bearing
    countless little pellucid jellies
    in cut-glass epergnes dragging with silver chains.
    The flight is safe; the weather is all arranged.
    The waves are running in verses this fine morning.
    Please come flying.

    Come with the pointed toe of each black shoe
    trailing a sapphire highlight,
    with a black capeful of butterfly wings and bon-mots,
    with heaven knows how many angels all riding
    on the broad black brim of your hat,
    please come flying.

    Bearing a musical inaudible abacus,
    a slight censorious frown, and blue ribbons,
    please come flying.
    Facts and skyscrapers glint in the tide; Manhattan
    is all awash with morals this fine morning,
    so please come flying.

    Mounting the sky with natural heroism,
    above the accidents, above the malignant movies,
    the taxicabs and injustices at large,
    while horns are resounding in your beautiful ears
    that simultaneously listen to
    a soft uninvented music, fit for the musk deer,
    please come flying.

    For whom the grim museums will behave
    like courteous male bower-birds,
    for whom the agreeable lions lie in wait
    on the steps of the Public Library,
    eager to rise and follow through the doors
    up into the reading rooms,
    please come flying.
    We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping,
    or play at a game of constantly being wrong
    with a priceless set of vocabularies,
    or we can bravely deplore, but please
    please come flying.

    With dynasties of negative constructions
    darkening and dying around you,
    with grammar that suddenly turns and shines
    like flocks of sandpipers flying,
    please come flying.

    Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
    come like a daytime comet
    with a long unnebulous train of words,
    from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
    please come flying.
  12. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    By Elizabeth Bishop

    At four o’clock
    in the gun-metal blue dark
    we hear the first crow of the first cock

    just below
    the gun-metal blue window
    and immediately there is an echo

    off in the distance,
    then one from the backyard fence,
    then one, with horrible insistence,

    grates like a wet match
    from the broccoli patch,
    flares, and all over town begins to catch.

    Cries galore
    come from the water-closet door,
    from the dropping-plastered henhouse floor,

    where in the blue blur
    their rustling wives admire,
    the roosters brace their cruel feet and glare

    with stupid eyes
    while from their beaks there rise
    the uncontrolled, traditional cries.

    Deep from protruding chests
    in green-gold medals dressed,
    planned to command and terrorize the rest,

    the many wives
    who lead hens’ lives
    of being courted and despised;

    deep from raw throats
    a senseless order floats
    all over town. A rooster gloats

    over our beds
    from rusty iron sheds
    and fences made from old bedsteads,

    over our churches
    where the tin rooster perches,
    over our little wooden northern houses,

    making sallies
    from all the muddy alleys,
    marking out maps like Rand McNally’s:

    glass-headed pins,
    oil-golds and copper greens,
    anthracite blues, alizarins,

    each one an active
    displacement in perspective;
    each screaming, “This is where I live!”

    Each screaming
    “Get up! Stop dreaming!”
    Roosters, what are you projecting?

    You, whom the Greeks elected
    to shoot at on a post, who struggled
    when sacrificed, you whom they labeled

    “Very combative ...”
    what right have you to give
    commands and tell us how to live,

    cry “Here!” and “Here!”
    and wake us here where are
    unwanted love, conceit and war?

    The crown of red
    set on your little head
    is charged with all your fighting blood.

    Yes, that excrescence
    makes a most virile presence,
    plus all that vulgar beauty of iridescence.

    Now in mid-air
    by twos they fight each other.
    Down comes a first flame-feather,

    and one is flying,
    with raging heroism defying
    even the sensation of dying.

    And one has fallen,
    but still above the town
    his torn-out, bloodied feathers drift down;

    and what he sung
    no matter. He is flung
    on the gray ash-heap, lies in dung

    with his dead wives
    with open, bloody eyes,
    while those metallic feathers oxidize.

    St. Peter’s sin
    was worse than that of Magdalen
    whose sin was of the flesh alone;

    of spirit, Peter’s,
    falling, beneath the flares,
    among the “servants and officers.”

    Old holy sculpture
    could set it all together
    in one small scene, past and future:

    Christ stands amazed,
    Peter, two fingers raised
    to surprised lips, both as if dazed.

    But in between
    a little cock is seen
    carved on a dim column in the travertine,

    explained by gallus canit;
    flet Petrus underneath it.
    There is inescapable hope, the pivot;

    yes, and there Peter’s tears
    run down our chanticleer’s
    sides and gem his spurs.

    Tear-encrusted thick
    as a medieval relic
    he waits. Poor Peter, heart-sick,

    still cannot guess
    those cock-a-doodles yet might bless,
    his dreadful rooster come to mean forgiveness,

    a new weathervane
    on basilica and barn,
    and that outside the Lateran

    there would always be
    a bronze cock on a porphyry
    pillar so the people and the Pope might see

    that even the Prince
    of the Apostles long since
    had been forgiven, and to convince

    all the assembly
    that “Deny deny deny”
    is not all the roosters cry.

    In the morning
    a low light is floating
    in the backyard, and gilding

    from underneath
    the broccoli, leaf by leaf;
    how could the night have come to grief?

    gilding the tiny
    floating swallow’s belly
    and lines of pink cloud in the sky,

    the day’s preamble
    like wandering lines in marble.
    The cocks are now almost inaudible.

    The sun climbs in,
    following “to see the end,”
    faithful as enemy, or friend.
  13. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Wallace Stevens

    Weaker and weaker, the sunlight falls
    In the afternoon. The proud and the strong
    Have departed.

    Those that are left are the unaccomplished,
    The finally human,
    Natives of a dwindled sphere.

    Their indigence is an indigence
    That is an indigence of the light,
    A stellar pallor that hangs on the threads.

    Little by little, the poverty
    Of autumnal space becomes
    A look, a few words spoken.

    Each person completely touches us
    With what he is and as he is,
    In the stale grandeur of annihilation.
  14. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Racking the noggin to recall which critical wag observed that parts of The Waste Land are, at base, Tennyson refracted through the sensibility of Bram Stoker.

    A woman drew her long black hair out tight
    And fiddled whisper music on those strings
    And bats with baby faces in the violet light
    Whistled, and beat their wings
    And crawled head downward down a blackened wall
    And upside down in air were towers
    Tolling reminiscent bells, that kept the hours
    And voices singing out of empty cisterns and exhausted wells.

    Although the thing does have its moments. Such as this explicitly queer (homosexual come-on) bit.

    Unreal City
    Under the brown fog of a winter noon
    Mr Eugenides, the Smyrna merchant
    Unshaven, with a pocket full of currants 210
    C. i. f. London: documents at sight,
    Asked me in demotic French
    To luncheon at the Cannon Street Hotel
    Followed by a week-end at the Metropole.

    The hotel Metropole (in Brighton, UK) being a known place for such.
  15. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Contrast with the (explicitly, consciously) anti-Eliot, Hart Crane. Whose great work The Bridge he conceived quite directly as a rebuke to The Waste Land.

    This is not The Bridge, but rather one of his greatest standalone short pieces.

    The Broken Tower

    The bell-rope that gathers God at dawn
    Dispatches me as though I dropped down the knell
    Of a spent day--to wander the cathedral lawn
    From pit to crucifix, feet chill on steps from hell.

    Have you not heard, have you not seen that corps
    Of shadows in the tower, whose shoulders sway
    Antiphonal carillons launched before
    The stars are caught and hived in the sun's ray?

    The bells, I say, the bells break down their tower;
    And swing I know not where. Their tongues engrave
    Membrane through marrow, my long-scattered score
    Of broken intervals… And I, their sexton slave!

    Oval encyclicals in canyons heaping
    The impasse high with choir. Banked voices slain!
    Pagodas, campaniles with reveilles out leaping--
    O terraced echoes prostrate on the plain!…

    And so it was I entered the broken world
    To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
    An instant in the wind (I know not whither hurled)
    But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

    My word I poured. But was it cognate, scored
    Of that tribunal monarch of the air
    Whose thigh embronzes earth, strikes crystal Word
    In wounds pledged once to hope - cleft to despair?

    The steep encroachments of my blood left me
    No answer (could blood hold such a lofty tower
    As flings the question true?) -or is it she
    Whose sweet mortality stirs latent power?-

    And through whose pulse I hear, counting the strokes
    My veins recall and add, revived and sure
    The angelus of wars my chest evokes:
    What I hold healed, original now, and pure…

    And builds, within, a tower that is not stone
    (Not stone can jacket heaven) - but slip
    Of pebbles, - visible wings of silence sown
    In azure circles, widening as they dip

    The matrix of the heart, lift down the eye
    That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower…
    The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
    Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.
  16. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Proem to The Bridge.

    To Brooklyn Bridge

    How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
    The seagull’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
    Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
    Over the chained bay waters Liberty—

    Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
    As apparitional as sails that cross
    Some page of figures to be filed away;
    —Till elevators drop us from our day . . .

    I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
    With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
    Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
    Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;

    And Thee, across the harbor, silver-paced
    As though the sun took step of thee, yet left
    Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
    Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!

    Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
    A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
    Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
    A jest falls from the speechless caravan.

    Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
    A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
    All afternoon the cloud-flown derricks turn . . .
    Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.

    And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
    Thy guerdon . . . Accolade thou dost bestow
    Of anonymity time cannot raise:
    Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.

    O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
    (How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
    Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
    Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—

    Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
    Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
    Beading thy path—condense eternity:
    And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

    Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
    Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
    The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
    Already snow submerges an iron year . . .

    O Sleepless as the river under thee,
    Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
    Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
    And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

    The University of Illinois' Modern American Poetry website analyses the symbolic meaning of "the bridge" as central image throughout the book:

    When Crane positions himself under the shadows of the bridge, he is, in one sense, simply the poet of the romantic tradition, the observer who stands aside the better to see; but he is, in another sense, the gay male cruising in an area notorious for its casual sex. Even the bridge itself, the Brooklyn Bridge that is the central object of the poem, was strongly identified in Crane’s own mind with [Crane's lover] Emil Opffer, to whom Voyages was dedicated. The appearance of the bridge secretly encrypts a highly personal memory and a specific presence in the text. Crane’s "epic of America" gets underway as a personal quest, as a poem divided against itself, in devotion to an urban setting that encourages social diversity, with secret inscriptions that retain their meanings to which only a privileged few are accessible.

    "Proem: To Brooklyn Bridge" is the short lyrical ode to the Brooklyn Bridge and New York City which opens the sequence and serves as an introduction (and New York City's urban landscape remains a dominant presence throughout the book). After beginning with this ode, "Ave Maria" begins the first longer sequence labeled Roman numeral I which describes Columbus' accidental voyage to the Americas. The title of the piece is based upon the fact that Columbus attributed his crew's survival across the Atlantic Ocean to "the intercession of the Virgin Mary." The second major section of the poem, "Powhatan's Daughter," is divided into five parts, and one well-known part, entitled "The River," follows a group of vagabonds, in the 20th century, who are traveling west through America via train. In "The River," Crane incorporates advertisements and references Minstrel shows. He claimed in a letter that "the rhythm [in this section] is jazz." The section also includes the story of Pocahontas (who was "Powhatan's Daughter") and a section on the fictional character Rip Van Winkle.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  17. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Soaring concluding canto of The Bridge.

    The Bridge: Atlantis
    By Hart Crane

    Through the bound cable strands, the arching path
    Upward, veering with light, the flight of strings,—
    Taut miles of shuttling moonlight syncopate
    The whispered rush, telepathy of wires.
    Up the index of night, granite and steel—
    Transparent meshes—fleckless the gleaming staves—
    Sibylline voices flicker, waveringly stream
    As though a god were issue of the strings. . . .

    And through that cordage, threading with its call
    One arc synoptic of all tides below—
    Their labyrinthine mouths of history
    Pouring reply as though all ships at sea
    Complighted in one vibrant breath made cry,—
    “Make thy love sure—to weave whose song we ply!”
    —From black embankments, moveless soundings hailed,
    So seven oceans answer from their dream.

    And on, obliquely up bright carrier bars
    New octaves trestle the twin monoliths
    Beyond whose frosted capes the moon bequeaths
    Two worlds of sleep (O arching strands of song!)—
    Onward and up the crystal-flooded aisle
    White tempest nets file upward, upward ring
    With silver terraces the humming spars,
    The loft of vision, palladium helm of stars.

    Sheerly the eyes, like seagulls stung with rime—
    Slit and propelled by glistening fins of light—
    Pick biting way up towering looms that press
    Sidelong with flight of blade on tendon blade
    —Tomorrows into yesteryear—and link
    What cipher-script of time no traveller reads
    But who, through smoking pyres of love and death,
    Searches the timeless laugh of mythic spears.

    Like hails, farewells—up planet-sequined heights
    Some trillion whispering hammers glimmer Tyre:
    Serenely, sharply up the long anvil cry
    Of inchling aeons silence rivets Troy.
    And you, aloft there—Jason! hesting Shout!
    Still wrapping harness to the swarming air!
    Silvery the rushing wake, surpassing call,
    Beams yelling Aeolus! splintered in the straits!

    From gulfs unfolding, terrible of drums,
    Tall Vision-of-the-Voyage, tensely spare—
    Bridge, lifting night to cycloramic crest
    Of deepest day—O Choir, translating time
    Into what multitudinous Verb the suns
    And synergy of waters ever fuse, recast
    In myriad syllables,—Psalm of Cathay!
    O Love, thy white, pervasive Paradigm . . . !

    We left the haven hanging in the night
    Sheened harbor lanterns backward fled the keel.
    Pacific here at time’s end, bearing corn,—
    Eyes stammer through the pangs of dust and steel.
    And still the circular, indubitable frieze
    Of heaven’s meditation, yoking wave
    To kneeling wave, one song devoutly binds—
    The vernal strophe chimes from deathless strings!

    O Thou steeled Cognizance whose leap commits
    The agile precincts of the lark’s return;
    Within whose lariat sweep encinctured sing
    In single chrysalis the many twain,—
    Of stars Thou art the stitch and stallion glow
    And like an organ, Thou, with sound of doom—
    Sight, sound and flesh Thou leadest from time’s realm
    As love strikes clear direction for the helm.

    Swift peal of secular light, intrinsic Myth
    Whose fell unshadow is death’s utter wound,—
    O River-throated—iridescently upborne
    Through the bright drench and fabric of our veins;
    With white escarpments swinging into light,
    Sustained in tears the cities are endowed
    And justified conclamant with ripe fields
    Revolving through their harvests in sweet torment.

    Forever Deity’s glittering Pledge, O Thou
    Whose canticle fresh chemistry assigns
    To wrapt inception and beatitude,—
    Always through blinding cables, to our joy,
    Of thy white seizure springs the prophecy:
    Always through spiring cordage, pyramids
    Of silver sequel, Deity’s young name
    Kinetic of white choiring wings . . . ascends.

    Migrations that must needs void memory,
    Inventions that cobblestone the heart,—
    Unspeakable Thou Bridge to Thee, O Love.
    Thy pardon for this history, whitest Flower,
    O Answerer of all,—Anemone,—
    Now while thy petals spend the suns about us, hold—
    (O Thou whose radiance doth inherit me)
    Atlantis,—hold thy floating singer late!

    So to thine Everpresence, beyond time,
    Like spears ensanguined of one tolling star
    That bleeds infinity—the orphic strings,
    Sidereal phalanxes, leap and converge:
    —One Song, one Bridge of Fire! Is it Cathay,
    Now pity steeps the grass and rainbows ring
    The serpent with the eagle in the leaves. . . . ?
    Whispers antiphonal in azure swing.
    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  18. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    And how that closing line is echoed in ('influence' :eek: ) the conclusion of Ashbery's great Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror.

    ...Therefore I beseech you, withdraw that hand,
    Offer it no longer as shield or greeting,
    The shield of a greeting, Francesco:
    There is room for one bullet in the chamber:
    Our looking through the wrong end
    Of the telescope as you fall back at a speed
    Faster than that of light to flatten ultimately
    Among the features of the room, an invitation
    Never mailed, the "it was all a dream"
    Syndrome, though the "all" tells tersely
    Enough how it wasn't. Its existence
    Was real, though troubled, and the ache
    Of this waking dream can never drown out
    The diagram still sketched on the wind,
    Chosen, meant for me and materialized
    In the disguising radiance of my room.
    We have seen the city; it is the gibbous
    Mirrored eye of an insect. All things happen
    On its balcony and are resumed within,
    But the action is the cold, syrupy flow
    Of a pageant. One feels too confined,
    Sifting the April sunlight for clues,
    In the mere stillness of the ease of its
    Parameter. The hand holds no chalk
    And each part of the whole falls off
    And cannot know it knew, except
    Here and there, in cold pockets
    Of remembrance, whispers out of time.

    Last edited: Oct 12, 2016
  19. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Farewell to Florida

    Go on, high ship, since now, upon the shore,
    The snake has left its skin upon the floor.
    Key West sank downward under massive clouds
    And silvers and greens spread over the sea. The moon
    Is at the mast-head and the past is dead.
    Her mind will never speak to me again.
    I am free. High above the mast the moon
    Rides clear of her mind and the waves make a refrain
    Of this: that the snake has shed its skin upon
    The floor. Go on through the darkness. The waves fly back.

    Her mind had bound me round. The palms were hot
    As if I lived in ashen ground, as if
    The leaves in which the wind kept up its sound
    From my North of cold whistled in a sepulchral South,
    Her South of pine and coral and coraline sea,
    Her home, not mine, in the ever-freshened Keys,
    Her days, her oceanic nights, calling
    For music, for whisperings from the reefs.
    How content I shall be in the North to which I sail
    And to feel sure and to forget the bleaching sand . . .

    I hated the weathery yawl from which the pools
    Disclosed the sea floor and the wilderness
    Of waving weeds. I hated the vivid blooms
    Curled over the shadowless hut, the rust and bones,
    The trees likes bones and the leaves half sand, half sun.
    To stand here on the deck in the dark and sand
    Farewell and to know that that land is forever gone
    And that she will not follow in any word
    Or look, nor ever again in thought, except
    That I loved her once . . . Farewell. Go on, high ship.

    My North is leafless and lies in a wintry slime
    Both of men and clouds, a slime of men in crowds.
    The men are moving as the water moves,
    This darkened water cloven by sullen swells
    Against your sides, then shoving and slithering,
    The darkness shattered, turbulent with foam.
    To be free again, to return to the violent mind
    That is their mind, these men, and that will bind
    Me round, carry me, misty deck, carry me
    To the cold, go on, high ship, go on, plunge on.
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2016
  20. AdamSmith

    AdamSmith Count de Crisco

    Evening Hawk
    Robert Penn Warren, 1905 - 1989

    From plane of light to plane, wings dipping through
    Geometries and orchids that the sunset builds,
    Out of the peak's black angularity of shadow, riding
    The last tumultuous avalanche of
    Light above pines and the guttural gorge,
    The hawk comes.
    His wing
    Scythes down another day, his motion
    Is that of the honed steel-edge, we hear
    The crashless fall of stalks of Time.

    The head of each stalk is heavy with the gold of our error.

    Look! Look! he is climbing the last light
    Who knows neither Time nor error, and under
    Whose eye, unforgiving, the world, unforgiven, swings
    Into shadow.

    Long now,
    The last thrush is still, the last bat
    Now cruises in his sharp hieroglyphics. His wisdom
    Is ancient, too, and immense. The star
    Is steady, like Plato, over the mountain.

    If there were no wind we might, we think, hear
    The earth grind on its axis, or history
    Drip in darkness like a leaking pipe in the cellar.