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Author Topic: New Songs, Post-Foetry  (Read 203968 times)
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Posts: 147

« Reply #30 on: June 25, 2005, 09:36:54 AM »

We The Vain And Beautiful

We, the vain and beautiful,
Are the most unhappy of our race,
Because we are unhappy at heart,
Being interested in only the face
And the things which adorn mere nature
To make her more beautiful still,
When the mouth is an ooze of blood,
And seeing releases the will.

Is life a jumble of rude sensations?
What good is ugliness, per se?
We did not dream of trench warfare,
Or of sending the different away.
Our single criterion is beauty,
And then simple worship of the same
In whomever we find beautiful,
Without note of number or name.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #31 on: June 25, 2005, 10:45:21 AM »

I Have Schooled Myself

I have schooled myself in all manner of things,
How the bridge was won at Charlottesville,
How the oracle at Delphi sings,
How at Georgia Bin Ramke fell,
How a voice is thrown across a room,
Why the star waits behind the gloom
And the sun is sometimes strangled by clouds.
I took a single length of string and made all music
And posited that if light allows us to look at light
All things heavier than light are really light too,
So what allows us to see and what we see are the same,
The act and the object are one,
The want and the object are one,
The glory and the dark earth are one,
Time and space and things less known are one,
Nothing is not known, and I am remarkable,
For I have schooled myself to know all manner of things.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #32 on: June 25, 2005, 11:13:51 AM »

For My Father, Henry James

I have heard the greatest poet is the one
With no opinion, no politics, no prejudice,
Makes pure image, pure fickleness, pure want,
A camera only to the walking and the dancing world.

And lower down, the lesser artists, who strive
To make us share their own points of view,
And last, the critics, dogs of dogged opinion,
Tearing at poems or biographical subjects
With a fierce noise, lowest in the animal chain.

My Father!  With icy intellect, with no childhood,
No ego, no sentiment, no secret views,
Aloof recorder of the after-dinner remark,
Catcher of the whispers and sighs of the mind,
How in the world do you manage to avoid ideas?

Towering sceptic!  with tremendous scope,
Who only sees and hears,
Tell me why you do not know!
Your failed speculations are like music,
For all ambitious unknowing is music, isn't it?

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Posts: 147

« Reply #33 on: June 25, 2005, 12:03:29 PM »

A Ballad For Scholars

With Sexton I was happy
And Plath was good to me,
We studied the muses's lines;
We were a happy three.

With terror I felt too much fear,
With horror much the same,
And with the youngest, beauty,
I felt a burning shame.

But beauty still would torture me
When I those poets wed,
"Oh dear poetry lover,
Why is your face so red?"

With Sexton I was happy!
And Plath was sweet as well,
But beauty came to visit often,
Just to break the spell.

One evening beauty arrived
On a quiet winter day.
She woke me from a quiet nap
When Sexton was away.

She tiptoed near my bed,
And sat upon my chair,
And stretched out her legs.
I wished my Plath were there.

Blushing, I beheld her,
Uninvited, in my room.
She shone there like a star
In my indoor gloom.

"What do you fear?" she whispered,
"What ails you?  Let me guess.
Is it me?  The hour?
Or is it my nakedness?"

"Why do you look so terror-struck?
No one knows I'm here.
Horror's a cheap kind of thrill
You need my kind of fear."

Then she stood, a colossus.
My shame turned into dread,
And trembling, I screamed for Sexton
As beauty laid down in my bed.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #34 on: June 26, 2005, 09:38:52 AM »

The Poem With The Long Last Line

The natural pond is never a perfect mirror.
Ms. Graham stares into her still mirror,
Holding her face still to examine it.
She wonders, which angle do they most admire?
Once, there was one who fell in love with her profile.
She turned.  And lost him.
Another would have loved her head were it a blur,
So taken was he by her complexion, her eye's fire, her hair.
She turned and turned.
She finally turned elsewhere.
Dancing on her inmost eye,
They are all two dimensional now,
Like spots of light on a pond.
But he who loved her profile once,
That gaze on her
And the arc which disappointed him--
The palpable turning which ruined the trust
Between her ear face and his facing eye--
Has the depth of eye, face
And face which turned-- alas! to eye
And saw the amazing change--
The man who quickly looked away.
That perfection he knew is all the depth she knows.
She almost saw what he saw in the corner of her eye,
The look askance like peeping dawn,
The beginning of a look
Which will see too much by noon.
She could not see how he saw her.
But he told her the whole madness later, outside their spot on the Champes d' Elysses.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #35 on: June 28, 2005, 10:45:03 AM »

New School

New school of poetry, coming this way,
All that matters, students, is the particular play
Of wit and language, and ten points is given
For any reasonable rhyme with heaven.
You must show how brilliant you are.
Then hang it all on a lonely star.
It has to have lung sense
And be pretty despairing,
And yet have an archness, a desire,
As when there is too much staring
And not enough applause.
Too skeptical for applause,
Not personal, oh no,
Quick when it's quick,
And just slow when it's slow.
Use what you have, and forget rules,
Then you'll be the best, the school among schools.
Tell the cranks and the bores, when all's said and done,
All that ever matters is fun, fun, fun.
Be a priest with a blurb,
An entertainer with a tear,
And don't ever tell them
Where you'll be next year.
Now lapse into elegy, put your feelings on ice,
Then erect upon a heaven a witty paradise.
Guess that's it.  Now I suppose
They want a theory.  Sure, give me a wink,
Then give them one of those.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #36 on: June 28, 2005, 11:07:03 AM »

The Anxiety of Flatulence

Poet devours blurb to halt devouring time.
Ravenous critics leave only poems' bones
Intact, feasting on the middle.  No wonder rhyme
And all the formalities of verse ring hollow--
The ear now in love with low tones--
After a century of sucking and chewing.
Stevens, late clown, eats poor Weldon Kees.
A belly ache eclipses the Bloomian sublime.
They were just getting their Ph. D.s,
They didn't know what they were doing.
Learned, ungainly, they roll in their sty,
The luxuriant scholars all scholars follow,
Blurbs, sweet light, no smell, buzz of fly.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #37 on: June 28, 2005, 12:21:12 PM »

Courting Song

If the music can touch the Roethke,
Let the Stevens play and play.
If the gibe can touch the Roethke,
Let the Jarrell have his say.

Let them amuse my Merwin.
Let them sometime amuse my Merwin.
Let them amuse my Merwin.

Lowell, I have brought you Bishop,
Bishop from the dark, dark, ground.
What's wrong my sad, sad, Lowell,
Why does the Lowell frown?

Oh the Lowell wants Ransom that dances,
Ransom that swings in the air,
Ransom that is Ransom mocking Ransom,
Ransom and the beautiful hair.

Oh the Lowell wants Wright that dances,
Wright that swings in the air,
Wright that is Wright mocking Wright,
Wright and the beautiful hair.

I would not displease my Lowell,
Let there be Merrill and mirth--
Or curse me that I love my Lowell
And labor in the dark, dark earth.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #38 on: July 01, 2005, 10:12:44 PM »

The Ear

Where is a shore for my song?
Born at sea, fed by longing,
Born of endless spaces
Where weather hurls itself headlong
With melody shrieking at the fore,
A harmony of winds upon the flanks,
Stunning silence just behind
And silence above, small crying below,
A crying like an oozing from the flow of water
Of a small green island, green trickling
Water which descends forever among
The little complicated water ways of rock
And wandering banks of fallen overgrowth
Of my tiny imagined island in the sea.

I am the venus of poetry not spotted yet by Botticelli,
The unthinkably large thing, out, out
In the universe alone.

Where is the store for my song?
It goes everywhere,
It spills over the mountains of the moon,
Flows wasted over desolate orbs which circle
The icy bounds of the dark outer universe,
Trapped in asteroids’ silence,
Their journeys through miles meant for some other god.

Where is a home for my utterance?
It sings to immense distances, howling
With the storms which triumph over dying stars,
Throwing its lyrics into the long
Bowels of the silence and the distance, dark
And cold, not seen, nor heard, nor echoed
By even the coldest mountain tops
Into lost and ruined valleys of stone and snow.

I know as much as you but I am dead to you.

Let me bring my face closer to the pines,
The ships which hurry with their bounties,
The seasons, the blue air, the mothers with their children,
Let me press my eyes closer to the breathing air,
Let me stick my tongue into your blurb,
Let me put my nose nearer to the buildings,
Shrouded in wispy clouds, let me push my hands closer
To the day, let me arrive on earth, even to fail!
I promise not to break anything.

Let my voice have a try beneath this dome,
Where poets flourish decidedly only in death,
And genius is usually lost among the leaves,
Where this one’s meter died within his scenery,
Where this one’s assonance died of luxury,
Where this one’s rhyme was killed by pedantry,
Where this one’s poetry died under the carpet,
Where this one’s poetry was smothered by wit,
Where her poetry was over-mathematical,
Where his poetry was detained by a story,
Where a rush of sudden feeling ambushed hers,
Where his was too pleasant,
Where hers had no intensity in its melody,
Where his had no harmony when most intense,
Where hers was too reflective,
And his poetry was spoiled by sighs,
And her verse was trivial,
And his poetry was not understood,
And her poetry was ruined by rebuke,
His poetry had too many odors,
Her poetry took off for the moon,
His verse had too many pauses,
Her poetry overslept,
His poetry believed the blurbs,
Her verse had no verse,
His poetry died in purple liquid,
Hers died in the plains,
His died upon a glacier,
Hers was a fiddle with no bow,
His was a bow with no fiddle,
Her poetry had too much ale,
His chant trampled his thought,
Hers killed her roses,
His died by its own monument,
Hers died in the mouth,
His died in the brain,
Hers had no house,
His had no sun,
But mine I feel will succeed,
Mine will be heard,
Like the murmuring of bees is heard,
And the single sigh of a lover is heard,
For the earth is kind because
There are echoes, and every sweet thing
Has a chance to touch the tongue,
To find the tip of the desperate tongue,
Or the heart, just as red,
Or the eye, the eye which strikes long distance,
Or the ear, your ear,
Which now listens to my song.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #39 on: July 05, 2005, 08:18:35 AM »

Doctor and Mourner

Doctor and mourner die too
After mourning over you.
So everything's equal in the end.
In the world, nothing to defend
But another moment of giving
By those lucky enough to be living.

What we strain--with our souls--to say
Cannot be articulated anyway
Except in vague gestures understood
By ceremony and the common good.
So do not panic about your fate--
The poetry contest prize always arrives too late.

The happy do not heed fame.
After burying you,
Doctor and mourner will be buried too
With furious indifference the same.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #40 on: July 08, 2005, 10:08:39 PM »

Ashbery and Auden

England and its England,
Your memory and its memory,
The memory your memory has,
The green the text told you of,
Went for you on your sad voyage to England's England,
An apology of the complex knowledge seen in a book.
I don't read poems anymore.  I look at them.
You could train puppies, doves,
To fly in the air, you could be bored
In front of the servants, or the newspaper, or not be bored.
Bear with me.  If birds were your constant companions
You might not wreck the voice or create the habit of verse
For the interest of your neighbors.  Verify,
And you'll see that it's all a folly,
The Bin Ramke choice wasn't really there,
Your neighbors had their appointments, true,
But you were never sure why or how
Their sundown became each other's, or yours either,
For that matter.
Perhaps you can't remember much,
Even about what you saw a line or two ago,
But why should you be held to that,
Or the idea of a poem, this one,
Since the poem was the object you always held in your hand?

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Posts: 147

« Reply #41 on: July 08, 2005, 10:54:32 PM »

The Children Of Gorokhovaya

The children are fond of industry.
They are capable.  They march in lines
And are good at linking hands in a ring.
When it gets dark they always go right in.
But I'm afraid they do not sing.

The children understand the irresistible law
Of opposites.  They know what it means
To supply a high-church need for a king.
They know all the lessons on hierarchies.
But I'm afraid they do not sing.

The children are interested in science.
They know the planets which are not abstract
And can feel the touch of the comos's wing;
They've been taught to make it a part of their life.
But I'm afraid they do not sing.

The children are given repetition
And reject it as a tyranny
Even as ability arrives beneath its sting.
You will find they are watching the watchers.
But I'm afraid they do not sing.

You might see them Sundays
Walking over the flattened landscape,
The million lunches they always remember to bring.
You can't know if this is good or this is bad,
But tomorrow we teach them to sing.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #42 on: July 08, 2005, 11:05:30 PM »

I Was Not Supposed To Be Happy

I was not supposed to be happy.
The huge airport, my girl leaving,
The crowds of people, so many of them anxious,
Face after face, (always some beautiful)
The limbs of people and their walk, and all the sights
On the way to the airport, and the big, efficient
Terminal itself, and the bouquet of flowers
From God-knows-who which she carried on to the plane
And the tears on her cheek and on my shirt
And the thought of all those flights ferrying
Millions and millions above muddy Styx silently.

Travel of blood up veins, and eyes darting one to another,
Transportation's all, journeys are journeys to journeys,
Going is all there is; goodbye, darling, goodbye, goodbye.
Tell every one you meet there that in the name of _____ I love them.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #43 on: July 08, 2005, 11:13:55 PM »

The Only Point To Life Is The Aesthetic One

The only point to life is the aesthetic one,
A melody decided upon
In the way you speak, in the way you move your arms.
How will you support your breasts?
Will you shave today?
No one is looking down upon you,
No one is thinking about you quite the way you actually are.
They want you to convince them of something,
Anything, as long as you look at them directly
And tell them first that nothing is wrong.
Place them here, if you would,
At the metro on some autumn afternoon.
They don't really have any place to go.
As long as you can seem artistic, you've won.
As long as you can do it fast, they will love you,
The one who is not really there,
The one they don't really know.
The only thing is you can't linger,
You have to let them get to their destination
And be distracted by the puzzling distances.
You must already be there and help them in that way.

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Posts: 147

« Reply #44 on: July 08, 2005, 11:31:06 PM »

For T.S. Eliot (1888-1963)

I'm trying to get to the whole thing
By imagining it (the whole thing) really contains everything
And so less of this everything--
That is, by subtraction alone--
Makes an identified thing what it is.
By taking away from the block
We get the sculpture, by breaking the
Sentence, poetry,
By dimming the lights, Romance.
All these small goodbyes
Make our tragic heroes grow in stature
Until they are big enough to watch the play.
We are actors now, going by the ocean.
We are halved, we are useless and longing.
Someone just said, "Just for a walk by the sea,"
Some called it something else.
The line, the word--look, it's frightening to itself,
All the confusions, all the sounding odd,
Reconciled by twelve notes--only twelve!
And there was infinity to choose from!--a few of which
Keep repeating so we place a melody (in the mouth?  Month?)
And how was it we thought to keep harmony to ourselves
Until we were ready to greet you with it and make you
Sad?  Sir?  See, it's HARVARD.
You did very well there.

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