Caught, post-up-north-momentum, in the transitorium (Transitus, id est is what they’d vainly bark out, the Roman merchants, drumming “the nygh parties of the populous Cyte” into the “three severall” fora. If one’s doing nothing, no capital accrues, no shirt is soil’d, nothing’s writ.) A smattering of rain only serves to stir up the comminute gag-particles of dust (“He can crumble a Showr into a Drisle, or Dust it into a Fog”), makes the dog-walking something of a chore. I flail and curse, half-unbalanced up here in the middle of the beam the solid sky is not divulging, fléau’d and plague’d by doubts. Out of the Larry Fagin-edit’d and defiantly low-tech Sal Mimeo (the newish numéro nine¹), I love (amongst others) two short pieces by Charles North, mysterious and elegiac, deftly limning the tentative (“That . . .”):
Spring is a big bag.
The 2 a.m. air circummuring the buildings
according with strings. Some heroes,
historiography (a hay field),
goodness planted like a headstone.
That the months line up before
they trun back in to WWII fighters
and simply take off,
reluctantly but purposefully.
Twisting in the WindNoted, too, some apparently fugitive pieces (provenance lacking) by the “disgracefully underpublished” Samuel Greenberg (1893-1917), including a piece call’d “Ruins of Prince Qulachrim” consisting playbill-style of a list of “Drama Persona” (“Qulachrim the Prince, Faston The Poet & Soothsayer, Talven—a faithful winekeeper, Hindo Valet Dalkurz, Surleton—Lute and Strang Player, The dreamer—Kalbone, Terfed—The Thespian (acter), Pauly—Coach Driver, Benfeld, Shay, The Haunts of The Ruined Castle, Szatleo, dancers: inheriters—Officers”) and compleat’d (with idiosyncratick orthography throughout) by a “Synopsis”:
It doesn’t sound so bad, depending of course on
the weather and your sense of real time
—September slowing to a crawl, the magnetic
chunks of March making headway if underneath to a fault—
from here the apartments plunked on the Palisades
bloom thickly under a sky littered with volley balls
and no palpably fluid intelligence, that feeling of adaptation
to one’s urgencies, sprawling but also lunging.
The night in a cave—Benfeld, Shay—Szatleo. Shay sings at the calm night—Benfeld speak of the Ruins on the Hill. They talk on Taking Possession of it. Dalkurz and the Prince in comes Faston who speaks of the Beauty of grace and pulsation—Kalbone’s Fantasie is placed before the princes desposal. Terfed and Talven at the Ruins. They see the waste of Perfect Labor pon an admirale mount. The Shepard Surleton with his lute neath an ugly Bark of Foliage. Surelton meets Terfed and Talven. tells that some one duells at night in the lower cellars of the ruins.—Pauly and the town maids of Sunday. Dalkurz is sent to the castle. News of the reck by the tempestous Heavens a week ago—Prince arrives—He go mongst the broken rock to seek for the lost safe—Build tents for night camping—the light in the cellar—Kalbone Dreamts a Horrible scorching eterity. The Poet Faston begs them not to venture forth. Perhaps bandits enfest the ruins—second days search. Dalkurz the Brave is sent to reconioter. The loss of the papers of confiscation—Terfed meets Benfeld—the Shay overhears the talk—that the prince is camping not far from her—the warning of play—The Haunt of the cellars, Surleton’s fright. Qulachrim and his lovers—Inheriters to the prince—a great loss—Pauly Drives the Prince about the town,—talven—Terfed—Dalkurz—Kalbone’s Scheme to trap the ghosts—The scare crow—Kalbone ventures to entrap him with a net—Terfed acts well his scare crow part—Surleton well with his lute. the capture of Shay and Szatleo—the Bonds and paper of the prince restored—departure—end—(Out of some autobiographical notes, a Greenberg line: “From the miniature of writing thoughts that have and will give brighter resource to my mind and perhaps leave a stronger phase of pleasing attitude:—It was morning; a chill hung in an airy altitude, but soon after the hot and silent beverage I turned my gaze upon this regarded medium which perhaps may show.”) One’s tempt’d to argue that—rather counter to Viktor Shklovsky’s “plotless prose”—a cluttery, extravagariant boundlessness ought seize the prosers, impossibly exfoliant barrages of plot—such that they may show. (Though, certes, some measure of the wonder-hut one inhabits here occurs by sparser means: what exactly, say, is “the Beauty of grace and pulsation”?)
I admit it, though. Some fool’s throb and grace pulsific (flag, again, the transitorium, the re-routinization, that ugh, of life) had me mostly diddling the Cavalcanti in lieu of quarting up more clear northern critical prose. Here it is:
“Perch’i’ no spero di tornar giammai”My diddling (combo of homophonicks and the will’d romp of waywardness, quick, quick, quick):
Perch’i’ no spero di tornar giammai,
ballatetta, in Toscana,
va tu, leggera e piana,
dritt’a la donna mia,
che per sua cortesia
ti farà molto onore.
Tu porterai novelle di sospiri,
piene di doglia e di molta paura;
ma guarda che persona non ti miri
che sia nemica di gentil natura;
ché certo per la mia disaventura
tu saresti contesa,
tanto da lei ripresa
che mi sarebbe angoscia;
dopo la morte poscia,
pianto e novel dolore.
Tu senti, ballatetta, che la morte
mi stringe si che vita m’abbandona,
e senti come ’l cor si sbatte forte
per quel che ciascun spirito ragiona.
Tanto è distrutta già la mia persona
ch’i’ non posso soffrire:
se tu mi vuo’ servire,
mena l’anima teco,
molto di ciò ti preco,
quando uscirà del core.
Deh! ballatetta mia, alla tua amistate
quest’anima che trema raccomando:
menala teco, nella sua pietate
a quella bella donna a cui ti mando.
Deh! ballatetta, dille sospirando,
quando le se presente:
—Questa vostra servente
vien per istar con voi,
partita da colui
che fu servo d’amore.—
Tu, voce sbigottita e deboletta
ch’esci piangendo de lor cor dolente,
coll’anima e con questa ballatetta
va ragionando della strutta mente.
Voi troverete una donna piacente
di sì dolce intelletto
che vi sarà diletto
davanti starle ognora.
Anima, et tu l’adora
sempre, nel su’ valore.
I grab no spar for turning JimmyAnd Ron Padgett’s finer work:
I grab no spar for turning Jimmy
ballet-like in Tuscany
there you go, leggy and piano’d
straight for my girl
who bolts off with a courtesan
making a big uproar.
What news you got you sigh about,
Dogberry to a bigger poverty.
My personal bodyguard admires the way
you make nature itself a nemesis—
as if Certs and soda’d disadvantaged
the sorriest countess of all,
such that she return’d
with all the anguish of a scarab beetle,
doped-up and near death
like a plaintiff in a sad novel.
You know it, ballet-boy, death
is a string that life abandons
and senses only when the heart beats hard
enough to choke off the raging breath.
So much strutting guys a person
up so nobody suffers
so see to it—you servile
menial, you tech-animal—
too much untarget’d love’ll break a man
when it underwrites the heart.
Duh, balletomane, all killing’s administer’d
by animals who tremble later in the rack,
amenable only to technical pieties
quell’d by the pretty girl who unmans each.
Duh. Nijinsky, suck down that dilly of a breath
when she presents herself.
“Here’s your servant girl now,
come half-molt’d to con you,
to portion out the anger
of some futile acerbic love.”
You, voice of the bigshot devotee,
hop down off that piano, indolent heart,
collar that animal call’d the ballet-boy,
go rage and strut for some other liar.
You found the girl impatient,
dicey, dull and intellectual,
a regular Que Sera, Sera dilettante,
a starling amongst hoopoes.
Animal, you’ll always adore her,
simper, kneel, and suck down valor.
Because I Have No Hope
Because I have no hope of ever going back,
little song, to Tuscany,
go, lightly and softly,
straight unto my lady,
who with her courtesy
will honor you greatly.
You'll bring her grievous news
of my great fear and sighs,
but see that you’re unseen
by low ignoble eyes,
for, through my dismal fate,
you’d surely be detained
and much of you be blamed,
causing me great grief,
and when I’ve died
more tears and yet more pain.
You can sense, little song, my life
is being driven out be death;
you sense my heart is beating hard
and all my thoughts are disagreed.
My body so destroyed is
that further pain I cannot bear.
If you would truly serve me well
accept my soul, when it leaves my heart,
and take it with you—this I pray—
when you too go away.
Oh, my song, to your kind care
this trembling soul I now entrust.
Take it, in its sad state, with you
to the wonderous lady I send you to.
Oh, song, tell her with your sighs,
when you have come before her eyes,
“This your servant,
departed from the one
who was to love a servant true,
has come to you to stay.”
You, voice downcast and faint
that issues from this grievous heart,
go with my soul and this small song,
telling of my ended life.
In that lady you will find
such pleasure in her sweet mind,
and delight, and so remain
with her forever more.
You too, my soul, adore her
for her goodness, always.