Monday, July 25, 2011
Wait, for now.
Distrust everything, if you have to.
But trust the hours. Haven't they
carried you everywhere, up to now?
Personal events will become interesting again.
Hair will become interesting.
Pain will become interesting.
Buds that open out of season will become lovely again.
Second-hand gloves will become lovely again,
their memories are what give them
the need for other hands. And the desolation
of lovers is the same: that enormous emptiness
carved out of such tiny beings as we are
asks to be filled; the need
for the new love is faithfulness to the old.
Don't go too early.
You're tired. But everyone's tired.
But no one is tired enough.
Only wait a while and listen.
Music of hair,
Music of pain,
music of looms weaving all our loves again.
Be there to hear it, it will be the only time,
most of all to hear,
the flute of your whole existence,
rehearsed by the sorrows, play itself into total exhaustion.
My poetry may not be typically American, or at least in matter, not
solely so: but I think it does make use of certain techniques which, even
when not invented by American poets, find their particular exponents
there in contemporary letters, from Pound & Doctor Williams, to younger
writers like Paul Carroll or Duncan or Creeley.
Techniques of juxtaposition.
Techniques of speech rhythms,
sometimes very intense,
sometimes developed slowly, as
one would have
conversation with a friend.
Personally, I affirm two things:
the possibility of warmth & contact
in the human relationship :
as juxtaposed against the materialistic pig of a technological world,
where relationships are only "useful" i.e., exploited, either
psychologically or materially.
20, the possibility of s o n g
within that world: which is like saying 'yes' to sunlight.
On the matter of song: I believe there must be a return toward the
musical structure of poetry, just as there must be, for certain people at
least, a return to warmth within a relationship.
However impractical that may seem in a society controlled in some of its
most intimate aspects by monstrous, which are totally irresponsible,
corporations, organized for the greatest gain of the most profit: and whose
natural growth, like that of any organism, is toward monopoly,
self-support, self-completion, self-
and eventually self-competition and self-destruction.
In a world that is so quickly losing its individuals, it can only be the
individuals who persist, who can work any change of direction, i.e. control
the machines, or destroy them.
Machines can be very beneficent as means
to a better
life, as either
democratizing or socializing agents.
But as a means to control for the limited number of men who now own them,
(but the president or general manager of the corporation
really owns nothing but his own salary (and his power) so that
even the controlling minds of these gigantic corporate machines
are irresponsible. That is, not subject to the effects
of their own decisions)
the personnel, the individuals
are replaceable, all the way to the top. The machine, the organisation, has
itself created the position and will function without the individual, has,
in that sense created the person to fill the 'p o s i t i o n'
and its own needs) so that
when, in these upper reaches, the 'organisation' the machine itself
becomes master, it can only mean disaster, global and particular.
I do not claim that a greater frequency of rhyme than is now made use of
in American poetry will, in time, set things right.
Only that if a man could sing the poems his poets write
- and could understand them - and if
the poets would sing something from their guts, rather than
the queasy contents of same,
then that man would stand a better
chance, of being a whole man, than
him who stands or sits and says but 'Yes' all day.
Enough man to stand where it is necessary to take a stand.
and man enough to receive, LOVE,
when he finds it offered.
To take the sun and the goods of the earth, while it lasts.
fight in whatever way he can
the monstrous machines that try, and will try, to
o b l i t e r a t e him, for
Translated from the ninth-century Irish poem by Seamus Heaney
Pangur Bán and I at work, Adepts, equals, cat and clerk: His whole instinct is to hunt, Mine to free the meaning pent.
More than loud acclaim, I love Books, silence, thought, my alcove. Happy for me, Pangur Bán Child-plays round some mouse's den.
Truth to tell, just being here, Housed alone, housed together, Adds up to its own reward: Concentration, stealthy art.
Next thing an unwary mouse Bares his flank: Pangur pounces. Next thing lines that held and held Meaning back begin to yield.
All the while, his round bright eye Fixes on the wall, while I Focus my less piercing gaze On the challenge of the page.
With his unsheathed, perfect nails Pangur springs, exults and kills. When the longed-for, difficult Answers come, I too exult.
So it goes. To each his own. No vying. No vexation. Taking pleasure, taking pains, Kindred spirits, veterans.
Day and night, soft purr, soft pad, Pangur Bán has learned his trade. Day and night, my own hard work Solves the cruxes, makes a mark.
For some time now, I have
lived anonymously. No one
appears to think it odd.
They think the old are,
well, what they seem. Yet
see that great egret
at the marsh's edge, solitary,
still? Mere pretense
that stillness. His silence is
a lie. In his own pond he is
of some renown, a stalker,
a catcher of fish. Watch him.
Tuesday, July 5, 2011
around the streetlights in Paris
and what I see is an aberration
caused by old age, an affliction.
I tell you it has taken me all my life
to arrive at the vision of gas lamps as angels,
to soften and blur and finally banish
the edges you regret I don't see,
to learn that the line I called the horizon
does not exist and sky and water,
so long apart, are the same state of being.
Fifty-four years before I could see
Rouen cathedral is built
of parallel shafts of sun,
and now you want to restore
my youthful errors: fixed
notions of top and bottom,
the illusion of three-dimensional space,
from the bridge it covers.
What can I say to convince you
the Houses of Parliament dissolve
night after night to become
the fluid dream of the Thames?
I will not return to a universe
of objects that don't know each other,
as if islands were not the lost children
of one great continent. The world
is flux, and light becomes what it touches,
becomes water, lilies on water,
above and below water,
becomes lilac and mauve and yellow
and white and cerulean lamps,
small fists passing sunlight
so quickly to one another
that it would take long, streaming hair
inside my brush to catch it.
To paint the speed of light!
Our weighted shapes, these verticals,
burn to mix with air
and changes our bones, skin, clothes
to gases. Doctor,
if only you could see
how heaven pulls earth into its arms
and how infinitely the heart expands
to claim this world, blue vapor without end.