Thursday, January 31, 2013


Gustave Caillebotte, “Game Birds and Lemons,” 1883

I would like to make poems out of real objects. The lemon to be a lemon that the reader could cut or squeeze or taste—a real lemon like a newspaper in a collage is a real newspaper. I would like the moon in my poems to be a real moon, one which could be suddenly covered with a cloud that has nothing to do with the poem—

        —Jack Spicer, out of After Lorca (1957)

Poems are bullshit unless they are
teeth or trees or lemons piled
on a step. Or black ladies dying
of men leaving nickel hearts
beating them down. . . .

        —Amiri Baraka, out of “Black Art” (Selected Poetry of Amiri Baraka / LeRoi Jones, 1979)

The mean moon is like a nasty
little lemon above the ubiquitous
snivelling fir trees, and if there’s

a swan within a radius of
twelve square miles let’s
throttle it. We, too, are worried.

        —Frank O’Hara, out of “The Lover” (The Collected Poems of Frank O’Hara, 1971)

Lo, from the outside a poem is with us, of another composition.
Travelled from an antique place.
Writing, narrow and sparse, pungent as the lemon tree.

        —Barbara Guest, out of “Composition” (The Red Gaze, 2005)

Where the scenery is finer, and life is a thesis

Blue equals blue and lemon equals lemon

Here at my desk or under the umbrella

There where the waiters spread tablecloths

Markless as the sails blooming on the bay . . .

        —Ange Mlinko, out of “Imaginary Standard Distance” (Starred Wire, 2005)

                                                  At four in the morning
the art demonstrations begin, psalteries jingle, the whole damn ocean
is there, up for review, for us. It’s just

that we don’t understand. It’s my negative capability acting up
again. Well, I’m within my rights.
It’s like apples and pears, or oranges and lemons,
what I always say.

        —John Ashbery, out of “From Such Commotion” (Wakefulness, 1998)

boat crosses by. There is no monkey in me
leftt: sleep. There is something
sold, lemons. Corn is whizzing from the
ground. You are sleeping
and day starts its lipstick.
Where do we go from here?
Blue irises.

        —Joseph Ceravolo, out of “Passion for the Sky”
        (The Green Lake Is Awake: Selected Poems, 1994)

Self-oblivion, sacred information, God’s nudge—
I think I’ll piddle around by the lemon tree, thorns
Sharp as angel’s teeth.
                                            I think
I’ll lie down in the dandelions, the purple and white violets.
I think I’ll keep on lying there, one eye cocked toward heaven.

        —Charles Wright, out of “Basic Dialogue” (Appalachia, 1998)

In the land of the lemon trees, yellow and yellow were
Yellow-blue, yellow-green, pungent with citron-sap,
Dangling and spangling, the mic-mac of mocking birds.

        —Wallace Stevens, out of “An Ordinary Evening in New Haven”
        (The Palm at the End of the Mind, 1971)

The moocow came down the road where Betty Byrne lived: she sold lemon platt.

        —James Joyce, out of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man (1916)

Lemons, lanterns
hang late
into the evening.

But you are known
for your voluptuous retreat,

for leaving
your absence
on the air,

illicit, thin.

        —Rae Armantrout, out of “Second Person” (Money Shot, 2011)

The washing hanging from the lemon tree
in the rain
and the grass long and coarse.

Sequence broken, tension
of sunlight broken.
                                    So light a rain

fine shreds
pending above the rigid leaves.

Wear scarlet! Tear the green lemons
off the tree!       I don’t want
to forget who I am, what has burned in me
and hang limp and clean, an empty dress—

        —Denise Levertov, “The Five-Day Rain” (Collected Earlier Poems, 1940-1960, 1979)

You being readers who have long since lost hold on the rocky terrains. Wake and sigh, weep and ache. This world has lost its last wasp. This world has not the chance of display in a lemon-glass window. No scratched frames in the Film of Vain Design.

        —Clark Coolidge, out of Mine: The One That Enters the Stories (1982)

Then one day a completely by-the-way and nonobligatory
        sound occurs, a mumbling as of wasps or sheep
Sincere amazement—there are real holes in the wall
        reflecting light so that they appear lemon ocher
In one there are two men, in that rigid state of sociability
        wherein conditions common to the lives of both of them
        have militarized them momentarily—Americans
And they feel themselves, or some particle of themselves, to be
        a formidable force against the world, not denying reality
        but on the contrary facing it
And there is only reality

        —Lyn Hejinian, out of Oxota: A Short Russian Novel (1991)

O Europe, sting of the dull sad Atlantic!
In Tuscany, the cypress like dark fangs, in Greece,
Poppies blaring like horns on the roadsides &
Lemons orbing like constellations in the orchard fog.
In Paris, speaking French,
Hampering the pure vowel with a dipthongal sigh, my longing
To earn a place among the “ranks of men” seemed
Retchingly earnest in a tawdry
Sort of way.

        —John Latta, out of “Poem Beginning with a Line by John Latta” (Rubbing Torsos, 1979)

I’m not sure the garden-fresh broccoli was helped much by a hollandaise into which I put enough lemon juice to prevent an entire den of Cub Scouts from getting scurvy.

        —James Schuyler, out of a 3 October 1963 letter to John Ashbery
        (Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-1991, 2004)

Hitchhiked here, long valley of the Skagit. Old cars parked in the weeds, little houses in fields of bracken. A few cows, in stumpland.

Ate at the “parkway café” real lemon in the pie
              “—why don’t you get a jukebox in here”
              “—the man said we weren’t important enough”

        —Gary Snyder, out of “Lookout’s Journal”
        (Earth House Hold: Technical Notes & Queries to Fellow Dharma Revolutionaries, 1969)

        Such that one, being what was left,
blew up, an eye before that a blind
            blue lemon, teardrop adjournment,
    salt . . . So that everything it took took
        wing, newly adduced or indifferent, no
one to say which, well-paved outskirts
    of Nudge notwithstanding . . .

        —Nathaniel Mackey, out of “Song of the Andoumboulou: 58” (Splay Anthem, 2006)

                                                        . . . hear
those three lemons go “Hm” . . .

        —Charles Olson, out of “A Toss, for John Cage”
        (The Collected Poems of Charles Olson: Excluding the Maximus Poems, 1987)

The very kindness there is in all lemons oranges apples pears and potatoes.

        —Gertrude Stein, out of “What Happened” (Geography and Plays, 1922)

                    . . . a priestly plume rises, a signal, smoke

like flies intermediating between orange peel
]and buzzing blur: is a poem about garbage garbage

or will this abstract, hollow junk seem beautiful
and necessary as just another offering to the

high assimilations: (that means up on top where
the smoke is; the incinerations of sin,

corruption, misconstruction pass through the
purification of flame:) old deck chairs,

crippled aluminum lawn chairs, lemon crates
with busted slats or hinges, strollers with

whacking or spinningly idle wheels: stub ends
of hotdogs . . .

        —A. R. Ammons, out of Garbage (1993)

And he did teach them Luther, who undone
the sacramental system & taught evil
is ingrained. Why,

that was a sexy summer, with Mrs Thomas
sitting under her hair on a chair-form
& Mrs Harris & Mrs Neevel
who I may hope for Mr Harris & Mr Neevel
do giant shrimp in olive oil & lemon

taking no notes.

        —John Berryman, out of “Dream Song 254” (His Toy, His Dream, His Rest, 1968)

A crate of lemons discharges light like a battery.

        —Galway Kinnell, out of “The Avenue Bearing the Initial of Christ into the New World”
        (What a Kingdom It Was, 1960)

The Balancings Of The Clouds—their breeze
& darknesses. Wheaten emanations
of earth. A man come piping
over the hills—an interpenetration of
moth-wing & seed-case & burr, of tremulous grasses
& ripening apples.

I saw that at Shoreham.

In the ‘yellow spot’ of clear vision,
the apples grew & reddened—
the trunk of their tree come suddenly out
of a slope, as Arcimboldo’s lemons from a throat.

        —Ronald Johnson, out of “Of Certaine White Nights Wherein the Darkes Doe Seem
        to Gette Up & Walk & How Wee Saw Divers Wonders in Bothe Earth & Element”
        (The Book of the Green Man, 1967)

      Surely the poet is monarch of the clouds.
      He hovers, like a lemon-colored kite,
      over spring afternoons in the nineteenth century

while Marx in the library gloom
studies the birth rate of the weavers of Tilsit
and that gentle man Bakunin,
home after fingerfucking the countess,
applies his numb hands
to the making of bombs.

        —Robert Hass, out of “The Nineteenth Century as a Song” (Field Guide, 1973)

Letters of the world. Bright orange poppy next to white rose next to blue spike of larkspur and so on. Artichoke crowding garlic and sage. Hyssop, marjoram, orange mint, winter and summer savory, oregano, trailing rosemary, fuchsia, Dutch iris, day lily, lamb’s tongue, lamb’s ears, blackberry, feverfew, lemon verbena, sorrel, costmary, never reads it as it is, “poet living tomb of his / games.”

        —Michael Palmer, out of “Notes for Echo Lake 3” (Notes for Echo Lake, 1981)

Ah, trickery, you sassy lark, withered black pearl,
unfetter me from these latches, make me
the Director at every meatball’s burial,
lacerate this too, too static air
I’ve been eating my way through.
I lunch on eels and larks in lemonade, Lord,
I’m so happy I woke up in my right mind today.

        —James Tate, out of “Constant Defender” (Constant Defender, 1983)

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Notebook (Henry David Thoreau, John Clare, &c.)

June Allyson and Mickey Rooney, “Treat Me Rough,” out of Girl Crazy (1943)

Rain, the drubbing inveterate rain. Somewhere in the pitchy night, a long low growl of thunder, and the dog “feyn to sclynk a-wey & hyde.” Me, too. Pitching in disarray, divergency plashing at the night shingle. Skeptical of everything, blocked, ornery (a word that descends out of “ordinary, commonplace”). Thus Thoreau, for a gust of seemingly blunt practicality (what longing is, and what death is), out of the Journal (28 January 1852):
In those days when how to get my living honestly, with freedom left for my proper pursuits, was a question which vexed me even more than it does now, I used to see a large box by the railroad, six feet long by three wide, in which the workmen locked up their tools at night; and it suggested to me that every man who was hard pushed might get him such a one for a dollar, and, having bored a few auger-holes in it, to admit the air at least, get into it when it rained and at night, and shut the lid and hook it, and so have freedom in his mind, and in his soul be free. This did not seem the worst alternative, nor by any means a despicable resource. You could sit up as late as you pleased; and, whenever you got up in the morning, you would not have any creditor dogging you for rent. I should not be in a bad box. Many a man is harassed to death to pay the rent of a larger and more luxurious box, who would not have frozen to death in such a box as this. I should not be in so bad a box as many a man is in now.
Used, with changes, in Walden. Or John Clare, for august irascibility, out of the Autobiography:
I have often been accused of being a drunkard & of being ungrateful towards friends & patrons by a set of meddling trumpery to whom I owe none who never gave me further notice than their scandal which is too weak or foolish for me to notice or replye to they are a set of little curs without teeth whose barkings can do no harm & whose busy meddling rather serves to create laughter than anger the utmost breath of their satire blown up to bursting has not sufficient strength to bear up a soap bubble so let them rail most of them have known me from childhood & coud never find that I had any faults till now . . .
The first publication of my poems brought many visitors to my house out of a mere curiosity I expect to know whether I was realy the son of a thresher & a labouring rustic as had been stated & when they found it realy was so they lookd at each other as a matter of satisfied supprise askd some gossipy questions & on finding me a vulgar fellow that mimickd at no pretensions but spoke in the rough way of a thoroughbred clown they soon turnd to the door & dropping their heads in a goodmorning attitude they departed—
Or John Ashbery and James Schuyler, for a certain exit, the segue of the refused segue, petulant as squinty glee itself, one way out of the cloud (out of A Nest of Ninnies):
      The musicians held what sounded like a brief dish-throwing contest which proved to be, however, a segue. A loose-jointed beat struck up as the electric strings wailed something like “Barbry Allen.” Abel, holding a hand mike, came to the edge of the stage. “And now all you lovely people, an oldie but still a goldy.” He began hoarsely to whisper “Begin the Beguine.” The souped-up amplification made it sound as though a rushing freight train had been granted speech. . . .
      Once again the music bumped through a segue, on the far side of which lay a medley: “Broadway Lullaby,” “I’m a Dreamer (Aren’t We All?),” and “Treat Me Rough.” In the last, Abel managed a creditable imitation of the young Mickey Rooney . . .

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Notebook (A Nest of Ninnies, The Crying of Lot 49)

Looney Tunes, “The Blow Out,” 1936

Up out of the black pit of sleeplessness, its snakes and badgers, its grouch and finick, and proceeding thus chary into the mechanical world of ratchet and glare. There, the sun being winched up into place against my squint. There, the loud wheedling of compounded fatigue and downspout gush: rain all night. (Virginia Woolf: “The truth is that writing is the profound pleasure & being read the superficial.” And, rather sassily: “And if it comes to putting down talk, the truth is that, except in novels, people don’t talk.”) Rereading the Ashbery / Schuyler romp A Nest of Ninnies (1969), I think “how Pynchonesque!”—or I think, triggered by something like “Abel and the Antibodies,” rather, “isn’t The Crying of Lot 49 (1965) some kind of kin here—the same highly stylized speech, the same gaps in the semiotic fabric, the same stark revel in semi-esoteric refs, the same coincidence-gonged plot . . . recall for a moment “Mucho Maas, enigmatic, whistling ‘I Want to Kiss Your Feet,’ a new recording by Sick Dick and the Volkswagens (an English group he was fond of at that time but did not believe in), stood with hands in pockets . . .”? Ashbery / Schuyler:
      “Yes,” Madge said, “once again it’s the Volkswagen über alles.” She drained her glass and, turning to Victor, said, “Would you do the honors?”
      “Mais certainement,” replied Victor, whose cheeks were beginning to glow. “Another bottle of your pinard, Monsieur Duclos, s’il vous plait—‘with beaded bubbles winking at the brim.’”
      “That’s Keats, isn’t it,” the other teacher said. “I didn’t know Americans read Keats. I’m very fond of Dashiell Hammett,” he added quickly. Finding his overtures were not rebuffed, he continued. “I am Etienne Gilot, and this is my colleague, Marc Ducasse.”
      “Any relation to Isidor—the second most famous Palois of them all?”* Victor asked, with the air of one who has the ball and is running with it. Nadia gasped in admiration.
Or Pynchon:
      “What were you dreaming about him?”
      “Oh, that,” perhaps embarrassed. “It was all mixed in with a Porky Pig cartoon.” He waved at the tube. “It comes into your dreams, you know. Filthy machine. Did you ever see the one about Porky Pig and the anarchist?”
      She had, as a matter of fact, but she said no. “The anarchist is dressed all in black. In the dark you can only see his eyes. It dates from the 1930’s. Porky Pig is a little boy. The children told me that he has a nephew now, Cicero. Do you remember, during the war, when Porky worked in a defense plant? He and Bugs Bunny. That was a good one too.”
      “Dressed all in black,” Oedipa prompted him.
Ashbery / Schuyler:
      Coincidence, the real Dickensian thing, struck—again, of course. As so often before in the lives of these happy few, the lights went out. In the depths of the dining room a candlelit cake was seen, carried by an anxious girl in a chef’s hat. “Mia sorellina,” Giorgio said proudly. Someone struck up “Happy Birthday”; soon all had joined in; soon it was over. The lights came on.
      “Well!” was the consensus.
      The dead man, like Maxwell’s Demon, was the linking feature in a coincidence. Without him neither she nor Jesus would be exactly here, exactly now. It was enough, a coded warning. What, tonight, was chance? So her eyes did fall presently onto an ancient rolled copy of the anarcho-syndicalist paper Regeneración. The date was 1904 and there was no stamp next to the cancellation, only the handstruck image of the post horn.
      “They arrive,” said Arrabal. “Have they been in the mails that long? Has my name been substituted for that of a member who’s died? Has it really taken sixty years? Is it a reprint? Idle questions, I am a footsoldier. The higher levels have their reasons.”
Or, dipping freely: “‘Lord love a duck,’ summarized a boy holding a passkey . . .” (Pynchon). “‘Feet, do your stuff,’ Victor said with a loud laugh. ‘So long, Doc.’” (Ashbery / Schuyler). “‘You might have been one of Perry Mason’s spies,’ said Roseman. After thinking a moment he added, ‘Ha, ha.’” (Pynchon). “It seemed to Alice’s immediate neighbors that she muttered something like, ‘Precisely,’ but no one could be sure that she had spoken.” (Ashbery / Schuyler) . . .
* Isidore-Lucien Ducasse, the Comte de Lautréamont, of course. Born in Montevideo, Uruguay (1846), enrolled in the Lycée Louis Barthou in Pau in 1863. The “most famous Palois”: Henry IV of France (1553-1610).

Monday, January 28, 2013

Notebook (James Schuyler, Joe Brainard, &c.)

Kurt Schwitters, “Miss Blanche,” 1923

Weekend of vaguely distended fevers, “the first licentious hours of a hobbledehoy braggadocio and swagger” (Poe), something for the usual chores (and sleeps) to push “at.” Chickadees making thin slicing noises in a Sunday morning gust of sun. Yank of a nuthatch. Sweet burble of a red-bellied woodpecker. (See Williams, out of In the American Grain, of Poe’s labor “constantly . . . to detach SOMETHING from the inchoate mass.”) Out of something I sketched a few days back, some pertinent lines: “Antic / correspondences of the curtly acid / documentary sort, unleashed by melée. / Energy going without going off / for good . . .” Writing as a collecting of momentary druthers. Voices shouting out of the snowy undergrowth.

Out of James Schuyler’s wholly odd prose extravaganza of the trajectory of two lovers (“They are known as They”” the Kenward Elmslie epigraph reads) “Life, Death and Other Dreams”—a Paris Review- printed piece (1972) reprieved (a doing itself “wholly odd”) in Howard Moss’s poet’s prose anthology The Poet’s Story (1973), another use of Auden’s “baltering torrent”:
“How many ways do I love you? Clad, half-clad, starkers, erect, recumbent, tumescent, down right limp. Snoring. Smiling—as now—eyes shut, almost asleep. I love your fingers. They unlax, they unfurl. You are floating away from me on a dark, salt, refreshing tide. I will tell you softly and more softly still of the many ways I love you and gently ease my voice to a thread, to an all but invisible strand of silk loosened—so lightly—from the cocoon of sleep, unseen, within you. Dream. I love you, a whole dream world away from me, far as Mars and further than the Pleiades, who are seven. You no longer hear my voice: its “baltering torrent is shrunk to a soodling.” I will, all loving all of you, cease, now, to speak.”
“Go on, I’m listening.”
“Dear heart!”
And two other parts (out of a total of sixty-three):
“Let’s get rid of the junk.”

“Get rid of the junk!” ?!?!

“Not that junk: all the other junk.”

They sold the basalt tea service, the Wedgwood mourning ware (place settings for eighteen), Robespierre’s curl, the Brunelleschi floor plan, the this, the that. They were comfortably off.

“Did you know that Catherine the Great died, straining at the stool?”

“So did George II. Now may I go on with my book?”

Watch it fellows: The best laid relationships can deteriorate—a strain here, a strain there.
A singular romp, très “’sixties,” poppers and mixmasters.

Joe Brainard, out of a 1965 letter to Schuyler (quoted in “Joe Brainard: Quotes and Notes,” in Schuyler’s Selected Art Writings):
      Working on a new construction that I am a bit suspicious of: it is practically floating together. (As though I am not really needed.) I do love it though: each object is crystal clear, but equally so, so they all seem to belong together very much. It is constructed in the simplest possible way: one thing on top of another. It has no theme except color: emerald green, royal blue, cherry red and black. It is not all gooky, which I am glad of. Also there is purple, and stripes of clear rhinestones. It is very geometrical. And of course very dramatic. Sometimes what I do is to purify objects. That is what I have done in this construction.
The assemblagist’s necessary and cordial (“belonging to the heart”: “what I do is to purify objects”) suspect. (That “practically floating together” suddenly recalling Kurt Schwitters’s lines: “There is no such thing as chance. A door may happen to fall shut, but this is not by chance. It is a conscious experience of the door, the door, the door.”) And, too, Schuyler’s report of seeing a Brainard “painting of a ribbon tied in a bow.” Brainard: “I don’t know what I’m going to do with it.” Schuyler, of Brainard:
He is a painting ecologist whose work draws the things it needs to it, in the interest of completeness and balance, of evident but usually imperceived truths. He is like Darwin deducing why there is more red clover where old maids live: they keep cats that catch the field mice that eat the clover.*

To note, too: out of Schuyler’s Schwitters squib (Selected Art Writings):
Looking at the small lyric Vogel (1923), a label and some pretty blue paper, it is clear that almost all of Black Mountain’s labored products can slip quietly back into the mist. It is not true to say of Schwitters, as does a note in the catalogue for this show, that “despite the usual small format of the pictures . . . they are monumental.” It is just in the grasp of scale and eschewal of the grandiose that they achieve the grandiose that they achieve the precision that can give to scraps of paper the life and breath a flower has. A lot has already been written about the pointedness of his work as an attitude to a culture based on waste. More can be said about his humor—a collage that says, among other things, “DELIVERED MESSAGE,” and, “NOT FANTASTIC,” is funny in a way that it’s too bad The New Yorker is not—and still more about his creative genius: the gift for making.
Pertinent to Schuyler’s own making. See, too, Virginia Woolf’s quoting (Diary, 22 August 1929) of “some lines I want to remember”—out of “the 7th book of the Prelude”:
The matter that detains us now may seem,
To many, neither dignified enough
Nor arduous, yet will not be scorned by them,
Who, looking inward, have observed the ties
That bind the perishable hours of life
Each to the other, & the curious props
By which the world of memory & thought
Exists & is sustained.
Me, too.
* Darwin—whose autobiography and letters in particular Schuyler loved (see the lines out of The Home Book: “. . . so modest and so delighted with his accomplishments. A little dumb, perhaps (“The sight of a naked savage in his native land is an event which can never be forgotten.”) but only in the gloriously innocent way of a man, whose concerns are on the largest and most detailed scale. He often sounds so surprised that he turned out to be him.”)—apparently didn’t make the final “old maid” deduction. Out of The Origin of the Species (1860):
From experiments which I have lately tried, I have found that the visits of bees are necessary for the fertilisation of some kinds of clover; but humble-bees alone visit the red clover (Trifolium pratense), as other bees cannot reach the nectar. Hence I have very little doubt, that if the whole genus of humble-bees became extinct or very rare in England, the heartsease and red clover would become very rare, or wholly disappear. The number of humble-bees in any district depends in a great degree on the number of field-mice, which destroy their combs and nests; and Mr. H. Newman, who has long attended to the habits of humble-bees, believes that “more than two-thirds of them are thus destroyed all over England.” Now the number of mice is largely dependent, as every one knows, on the number of cats; and Mr. Newman says, “Near villages and small towns I have found the nests of humble-bees more numerous than elsewhere, which I attribute to the number of cats that destroy the mice.” Hence it is quite credible that the presence of a feline animal in large numbers in a district might determine, through the intervention first of mice and then of bees, the frequency of certain flowers in that district!

Kurt Schwitters, “Mal Kah,” 1921

Kurt Schwitters, “Table Salt,” 1922

Kurt Schwitters, “Merz 19,” 1920

Friday, January 25, 2013

Notebook (Henry David Thoreau, Ronald Johnson, &c.)

Albrecht Dürer, “Tuft of Cowslips,” 1526

The slough of cold, its surly continuousness, and the day’s unemphatical and regular hum. To loll with a book and look is all my desire, damn all contrivance and effort. (Ronald Johnson, out of “Hurrah for Euphony”: “I spent years reading in the two huge volumes of the Dover Edition of Thoreau’s Journal to sharpen my eye and how it intersects with text. I learned how Henry David could set down the miniscules, then slip right into the unconscious, speculating about snakes in his stomach or eating a red raw muskrat.”) And Thoreau himself, in the Journal (29 April 1852), veering off an exhortatory antiphon for the newly conspicuous cowslip (“flower-fire bursting up as if through crevices in the meadow”) into the bigger surround itself, and off into the aery conjectural muster of what to do:
. . . the Season is most forward at the 2nd Div. Brook where the Cowslip is in blossom & nothing yet planted at home these bright yellow suns of the meadow in rich clusters their flowers contrasting with the green leaves—from amidst the all-producing dark-bottomed water. A flower-fire bursting up as if through crevices in the meadow. They are very rich seen in the meadow where they grow—& the most conspicuous flower at present, but held in the hand they are rather coarse—   But their yellow & green are really rich & in the meadow they are the most delicate objects. Their bright yellow is something incredible when first beheld. There is still considerable snow in the woods—where it has not melted since winter. Here is a small reddish topped rush (is it the Juncus effusus common or softrush?) now a foot high in the meadow with the cowslips. It is the greatest growth of the grass form I have seen. The butterflies are now more numerous, red and blue-black or dark velvety. The art of life—of a poets life is—not having anything to do, to do something.
(An urban rendering of that’d go somewhat like James Schuyler’s finally declarative “What”—“Why are they hammering / iron outside? And what / is that generator whose / fierce hum comes in / the window? What is a / poem, anyway.”) How do John Ashbery and Kenneth Koch put it, in the midst of a flurry of merely furnishing? “‘When I think that that chair / Once held Alice B. Toklas, I don’t give a fig for what I catch from the live-oak tree or the cowslip!’ Then the bathtub became silent as a desk.” (Out of “Crone Rhapsody,” a sestina: “all of the end-words are pieces of office furniture.” Too, each line contains “the name of a flower, a tree, a fruit, a game, and a famous old lady.”)

I see my aimlessly skittering tracks trace a trajectory: the “eye and how it intersects with text” deflected into “merely furnishing,” clarity and rambunct. Thus the “flower-fire bursting up” out of the “all-producing dark-bottomed water.” Thoreau, again, somewhat patchily quoting Asa Gray (the 1848 Manuel of the Botany of the Northern United States) and veering, again, off:
      “The plant—develops from the first in two opposite directions, viz. upwards [to expand in the light & air] to produce & continue the stem (or ascending axis), and downwards [avoiding the light] to form the root, (or descending axis. The former is ordinarily or in great part aerial, the latter subterranean.”*
      So the mind develops from the first in two opposite directions—upwards to expand in the light & air; & downwards avoiding the light to form the root. One half is aerial the other subterranean. The mind is not well balanced & firmly planted like the oak which has not as much root as branch—whose roots like those of the white pine are slight and near the surface. One half of the minds development must still be root—in the embryonic state—in the womb of nature—more unborn than at first. For each successive new idea or bud—a new rootlet in the earth. The growing man penetrates yet deeper by his roots into the womb of things.
And: “The mere logician the mere reasoner who weaves his arguments as a tree its branches in the sky—not being equally developed in the roots, is overthrown by the first wind.” Rootedness in the skittery aerial effusus itself. “Without Contraries is no progression.”
* Asa Gray (I think of Lorine Niedecker’s wonderful lines—“Asa Gray wrote Increase Lapham: / pay particular attention / to my pets, the grasses.”):
The first point of the stem preëxists in the embryo (i.e. in the rudimentary plantlet contained within the seed): it is here called the Radicle. Its elongation when the seed germinates in the soil commonly brings the budding apex to or above the surface, where the leaves which it bears or produces expand in the light and air. The growth which takes place from the opposite extremity downward, penetrating the soil and avoiding the light, forms the Root.
The plant, therefore, has a kind of polarity, and develops from the first in two opposite directions, viz. upwards to produce and continue the stem (or ascending axis), and downwards to form the root (or descending axis). The former is ordinarily or in great part aerial, the latter subterranean.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Notebook (William Carlos Williams, James Schuyler, &c.)

William Carlos Williams, c. 1949
(Photograph by Musya Sheeler)

Sluggishness and torpor allied against the furious cold, and the ever-gingerly percept nigh-trammeled by it. If I begin, under usual strictures, with the gaunt armature of a quote—maquette or cartoon and kindling for a supposed uproar—of late the fires refuse to catch, the monumental thrusts go unachieved. I sally aimlessly, and sketch, and sulk. Or defer to sheer material unaccoutred, scrupulous as a stoat, punctilious as a quib.

William Carlos Williams, out of “Marianne Moore” (1925):
. . . a word is a word most when it is separated out by science, treated with acid to remove the smudges, washed, dried and placed right side up on a clean surface. Now one may say that this is a word. Now it may be used, and how?
      It may be used not to smear it again with thinking (the attachments of thought) but in such a way that it will remain scrupulously itself, clean, perfect, unnicked beside other words in parade. There must be edges . . .

James Schuyler, out of “The Morning of the Poem” (1980):
So many lousy poets
So few good ones
What’s the problem?
No innate love of
Words, no sense of
How the thing said
Is in the words, how
The words are themselves
The thing said: love,
Mistake, promise, auto
Crack-up, color, petal,
The color in the petal
Is merely light
And that’s refraction:
A word, that’s the poem . . .

John Ashbery, out of “The System” (1972):
Suddenly you realize that you have been talking for a long time without listening to yourself; you must have said it a long way back without knowing it, for everything in the room has fallen back into its familiar place, only this time organized according to the invisible guidelines that radiate out from both of you like the laws that govern a kingdom. Now there is so much to talk about that it seems neither of you will ever get done talking. And the word that everything hinged on is buried back there; by mutual consent neither of you examined it when it was pronounced and rushed to its final resting place. It is doing the organizing, the guidelines radiate from its control; therefore it is good not to know what it is since its results can be known so intimately, appreciated for what they are; it is best then that the buried word remain buried for we were intended to appreciate only its fruits and not the secret principle activating them—to know this would be to know too much. Meanwhile it is possible to know just enough, and this is all we were supposed to know, toward which we have been straining all our lives. We are to read this in outward things: the spoons and greasy tables in this room, the wooden shelves, the flyspecked ceilings . . .

Wallace Stevens, out of “Description without Place” (c. 1945):
Thus the theory of description matters most.
It is the theory of the word for those

For whom the word is the making of the world,
The buzzing world and lisping firmament.

It is a world of words to the end of it,
In which nothing solid is its solid self.
And, out of “Variations on a Summer Day” (c. 1940):
Words add to the senses. The words for the dazzle
Of mica, the dithering of grass,
The Arachne integument of dead trees,
Are the eye grown larger, more intense.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Notebook (James Schuyler, John Ashbery, &c.)

James Schuyler, 1923-1991

A four degree F. morning, with a rough finish of granular snow in the mars and gullies. Who knows how words come about? William James: “Nowhere is there jar, but every later moment continues and corroborates an earlier one.” (The corroboratory gap, though, may be a stickler, with a stickler’s ferocity . . .) Morass of wavering and hesitancy. Yesterday, reading prefatory material to The Diary of George Templeton Strong (James Schuyler: “. . . my writing, my poetry, is enormously influenced by my reading. I’m really much more of a reader than a writer. I particularly like diaries, for instance, Francis Kilvert’s diary, in three volumes, I’ve read many, many times. It’s extremely visual. I’m always reading in Thoreau’s diaries, and my favorite book is the diaries of George Templeton Strong . . .”), I thrilled to the line: “It is fairly plain that George Templeton Strong’s friends did not suspect him of being a note-taking chiel . . .” Chiel: vaguely Scots, one learns, with Robert Burns’s “A chield’s amang you, taking notes / And, faith, he’ll prent it,” out of “On Captain Grose’s Peregrinations Through Scotland, Collecting the Antiquities of That Kingdom,” quoted. (Schuyler’s listing of Kilvert and Thoreau makes him kin to Ronald Johnson. Kilvert the rural curate of the impeccable mordancy: “If there is one thing more hateful than another it is being told what to admire and having objects pointed out to one with a stick.”)

Out of the 1990 James Schuyler number of Denver Quarterly, some of John Ashbery’s remarks introducing Schuyler’s now legendary 15 November 1988 reading at the Dia Art Foundation in New York:
James Schuyler doesn’t ordinarily give poetry readings; as far as I know this is the first public one he has ever given. Until now, at least, he has resisted the urge to public utterance that has turned the heads of so many poets ever since poetry readings became popular in the late fifties, and which has resulted in a kind of performance-art of poetry parallel to the private consumption of poetry that one had known previously.
      This is not the place to debate whether poetry readings are good or bad, and indeed I’m sure that everyone here tonight is very glad to at last be able to see and hear Mr. Schuyler read his poems. I will only say that I think that the fad for seeing and hearing real live poets give utterance to their works is good insofar as it has drawn attention to poetry and resulted in a wider audience for it in the past few decades, and bad insofar as it can tempt the poet to undertake a kind of poetry he or she might not have attempted without the lure of the limelight that even modest tours on the remoter poetry circuits can provide. In any case, Schuyler has avoided these pitfalls, not out of principle, probably, but simply because they interfere with the business of living daily life as he means to lead it. And though I am myself ambivalent about the value of poetry readings, I can’t help regretting that his decision has possibly slowed the growth of Mr. Schuyler’s audience in a time when performance and personalities tend to upstage the written word. . . .
And Schuyler’s reply (out of a rather harassing 1990 interview with Robert Thompson):
RT:   When John Ashbery introduced your DIA reading . . . he spoke of the “pitfalls” of the “poetry circuit,” which you have avoided. Were you suspicious of the self-promotion of poetry readings?

JS:   Oh, well, I never really liked, I never particularly wanted to hear people read their work. I preferred reading it to myself, and, I don’t know, I had a whole lot of reasons then that I don’t really remember anymore. But they seemed quite viable.

RT:   The poem on the page interests you more than the verbal expression?

JS:   Well, no, not just seeing the poem but hearing the voice of the poem. Very often, if you hear a person read a poem, you don’t hear what the poem sounds like at all. It goes by too quickly, and their voice distracts you from all the inner sounds of a poem.
Of particular note in the new age of “sound” ubiquity, audio files of readings partout and de rigueur in the pedagogical vaults. That desire, increasingly rare, to put the poem beyond the mere tenor and squawk of authorial personality, there where intent is stymied by intent.

Douglas Crase, out of “A Schuyler Ballade,” terrific omaggio to Schuyler’s own assemblagist romp, “The Fauré Ballade” (recall, pertinently, the lovely lines out of Cecil Torr’s Small Talk at Wreyland (1918)—
Thus, if the Firmament gave forth the sound of f, the Sun gave f an octave higher up and the Moon gave f an octave higher still. Saturn, Venus and the Earth gave g in these three octaves, and Jupiter, Mercury and the Antichthon gave c in these three octaves also, while Mars gave d in the lowest octave by itself. And if that is what these orbs are ‘quiring to the young-eyed cherubins,’ I do not much regret ‘this muddy vesture of decay’ that hinders me from hearing it . . .
and, too, the John Ashbery line, spoken—reported too in a Schuyler letter to Frank O’Hara—“Sometimes I wish the raggle-taggle gypsies would come and take me away.”) Crase, expertly juxtaposing:
                                                    The days slide by and we feel we must
Stamp an impression on them. It is quite other. They stamp us . . .
                                                                                                              —“Hymn to Life”

The supreme virtue here is humility, for the humble are they that move about the world with the love of the real in their hearts.
                                                                                                              —Wallace Stevens

                                                                        . . . a never before seen liquefaction of the sun . . .
Unbelievable, unwanted and as lovely as though someone you knew all your life
Said the one inconceivable thing and then went on washing dishes . . .
                                                                                                              —“The Crystal Lithium”

Perhaps indeed the efforts of the true poets, founders, religions, literatures, all ages, have been, and ever will be, our time and times to come, essentially the same—to bring people back from their persistent strayings and sickly abstractions, to the costless, average, divine, original concrete.
                                                                                                              —Walt Whitman

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Notebook (James Schuyler, Wystan Auden, &c.)

James Schuyler, 1923-1991

One of three short prose pieces by James Schuyler printed—with “A Memory Haunts Me” and “The Forty-First and Youngest Brother”—in the “Summer 1951” issue of Accent (wherein a note identifying contributors reads: “JAMES SCHUYLER is in Vermont working on a novel. The present publication is his first.”):
The Mouse Party

      The covers were slipping away like a dream. Alfred opened his eyes. The night-light was on in the nursery and at the windows the curtains breathed gently in their sleep. He looked over the edge of the bed: one of his sister Guinevere’s white mice was tugging, in a friendly way, at the blanket. Alfred shook his head and pointed to the bed where Guinevere lay, her long hair floating on the pillow. But the mouse looked bright-eyed at Alfred and skittering backwards was gone from the room.
      Leaving his empty bed, running barefoot, Alfred followed along the hall to the head of the kitchen stairs. The mouse ran down the bannister and he slid down behind it. Tic, tic, tic, tic, the tiny claws on the cold linoleum, across the kitchen and into the nameless room beyond where the cage of white mice was kept. It was dark in the cage, but Alfred could see a rummage of white and hear the whisk and slither of tails. In they went, and Alfred closed the little door: the cage filled with sunlight, green leaves sprang out of the joints of the bamboo bars, fresh morning grass rose underfoot.
      Alfred sat in the center of the lawn and the mice ran in a ring around him, each one holding between its teeth the tail of the mouse ahead. One of the mice, while the others squeaked in chorus, did a kind of dance, switching its tail and trotting rhythmically back and forth. They held a contest to see who could spit the furthest, and Alfred easily won.
      Then Alfred sang for them, Poor Butterfly and Some Winter’s Night, he trotted on all fours like a rooting pig, and he purred and meowed like a cat, which made them shudder and hide under the leaves. Over refreshments (tea and carrot-sticks for the mice, buttermilk and Lorna Doones for Alfred) he gave them names: Whiskers, Redeye, Longtail, Whitey and Snapperteeth.
      The sunlight waned. It was getting late. Before he left Alfred kissed each mouse and nestled it against his neck. In return they gave him mouse kisses, little nips and nibbles. Then he told what Guinevere had said, that if he picked them up they would scratch him. The mice flickered their tails and their eyes snapped. Alfred said good-bye and slipped out of the cage.
      He hooked the little door behind him and without looking back crossed the dawn silent kitchen and climbed the stairs. The curtains at the nursery windows were limp and blue with cold. Guinevere’s hair had drifted across her face. He crept into bed. Before the covers knew it, Alfred was fast asleep.
Oddly enough, not part of (and seemingly quite prior to) Schuyler’s 1958 novel Alfred and Guinevere. (Of the three prose pieces, Schuyler says in a 1986 interview with Carl Little: “Trevor Winkfield didn’t think they were up to snuff so he didn’t put them in The Home Book.”) In the issue of Accent, too, is Frank O’Hara’s (“FRANK O’HARA lives in Ann Arbor.”) poem “The Three-Penny Opera,” a piece Schuyler credits with triggering the abrupt and “broken” rhythms of Schuyler’s own “Salute.” And with causing him to meet O’Hara. In the Little interview:
      As for O’Hara, I had those three short stories published in Accent, and when it came out, and after I had finished reading my own things over and over, I read the other things, and I was very excited by a poem called “The Three Penny Opera” by someone called Frank O’Hara. The art dealer John Bernard Myers, who ran the Tibor de Nagy Gallery, called up and said, “My dear, you’re a poet!” and so I said, “Why, thank you, John.” Then I asked him if he’d read “The Three Penny Opera,” and he said, “Frank O’Hara is right here in the room with me.”*
* A few of the Little interview’s Schuyler-made anecdotes. Of O’Hara, working at the front desk of the Museum of Modern Art (“so he could see the Matisse show . . . every day”):
      One evening at the San Remo, he told me that one of his fellow museum employees, a girl, came up to him and said, “What do you think of my malocclusion?” and Frank said, “What was I supposed to say, ‘My dear, you have a smile like the sun?’”
In the spring of 1949, I was living in Auden’s house in Forio d’Ischia, which was not then developed at all into a resort; there were two small pensiones, and that was about it. But, I think, lured by the presence of Auden, Truman Capote and his friend Jack Dunphy, Tennessee Williams and Franky Merlo, and a few other disreputable American ticket-of-leave men showed up. One day, before lunch, Wystan and I went down to have an aperitif on the piazza, and Truman was there. I asked him what he’d been reading, and he said Stendhal’s The Red and the Black. And I asked, “Well, how do you like it?” and he said, “Well, I’m really quite disappointed. The transitions are so clumsy.” And all the way back to the house, Wystan, just white with rage, kept saying, “The cheek! The cheek!” [Laughter.]
      At another time, Truman and Jack had gone into Naples on the ferry, and Truman, very typically of him, had bought what he could find to buy in the city of Naples: a record of Mickey Rooney singing “Treat Me Rough” and a bottle of something called Old Lady Gin, which was made in Trieste. You couldn’t get liquor like gin then in Naples—in Italy—very easily. So Truman gave a little cocktail party and served martinis. At one point, Wystan was sitting in a rocking chair. Truman, who traveled with a portable phonograph and a collection of records, put on Ethel Merman singing “Life Is Just a Bowl of Cherries,” and as soon as Ethel began to belt out the song, Wystan jumped up and cried, “Take it off, take it off! It’s the jungle!”
Too, there’s Schuyler “lying on the beach in Forio, and Wystan . . . sort of staring off towards the mainland, and he suddenly said, ‘“The dolphin-torn, the gong-tormented sea.” What rubbish!’”
Schuyler’s story (repeated in several interviews) of being “called” (by Whitman, by the landscape itself) to writing is lovely:
I used to have a tent in back of the house in the summer, and one day I was in there reading a book called Unforgotten Years by Logan Pearsall Smith, a book of recollections. In it, he describes how Walt Whitman used to come to their house in Philadelphia and stay and sing “Jump Jim Crow” in the john. And knowing Whitman and reading him gave Smith the feeling that maybe someday he, too, would be a writer. And I looked up and the whole landscape shimmered, and I said, “Yes, that’s it.”

Monday, January 21, 2013

Notebook (James Schuyler, William Carlos Williams, &c.)

Joan Mitchell, “Drawing to James Schuyler’s poem ‘Daylight’,” c. 1975
“And when I thought, / ‘Our love might end’ / the sun / went right on shining”
(Out of
Hymn to Life, 1974)

Cold, with a barely calculable skiff of snow. Out of a footnote found in The Diary of James Schuyler (1997), Schuyler, in a letter to Joe Brainard, proposing a kind of half-serious ars poetica: “There really isn’t anything to photography except point and snap (I’m not sure that’s true) . . . On the other hand, perhaps there isn’t much more to poetry than point and snap.” The fealty to sheer looking and seeing, framed—with little overreaching or complaint—by a wholly unpresumptuous human scale, happily domestic, attending to particulars. (Schuyler’s entry for August 23, 1970: “Rain runs down the window and the view shivers.”) A kind of comfortably “puttering” art, utterly serious and seemingly unconcerned with any realm beyond its own doings.

Schuyler’s catalogue of weathers. The tug of immediacy, how the day, its entry, purely itself, with few other trappings, mundane or human (though Schuyler is willing to entertain an occasional deft metaphorical flight, slightly sardonic, out and back, in order to anchor some particular in the cahoots of a relation), begins:
                                                                                                                August 18, 1970
It’s a brisk & breezy morning, clear but pale and in the sky there are some bits and pieces of cloud which seem to have bounced up there from the bay, supernumerary waves.
                                                                                                                August 26, 1970
On the surface of the bay the sun counts its change, quick and expert, and with dignified stealth the water pockets its tribute.
                                                                                                                January 12, 1971
One thin cloud in the south like a scratch, and the reddish-violet of the highest elm twigs.
                                                                                                                February 20, 1971
It’s above freezing but well below comfort and the thin off-and-on rain falls like the scratches on a movie in a third rate movie house.
                                                                                                                Wednesday, July 12, 1989
The sky lightly smudged all over with one bright smudge, as though made by a thumb—a very large thumb, that is . . .
                                                                                                                Tuesday, March 6, 1990
Snow slants down like summer rain pausing, now and then, and a few feathery insubstantial flakes land there briefly. The effect not of rainfall, merely of wetness, except that a few copings now draw fresh white lines on the day: a day like a dirty window.

Schuyler’s affinity to William Carlos Williams. (In a 1986 interview with Carl Little, Schuyler says of Williams: “I never read a great deal of him, but I did read him in college. New Directions at the time had something called “Poet of the Month,” and every month you got a pamphlet, and one I got that I liked very much was A Broken Span by Williams. I liked the complete freedom in his poetry, which I also had liked earlier in D. H. Lawrence . . .”*) Out of The Broken Span (1941), Williams’s “Against the Sky”:
Let me not forget at least,
after the three day rain,
beaks raised aface, the two starlings
at and near the top twig

of the white-oak, dwarfing
the barn, completing the minute
green of the sculptured foliage, their
bullet heads bent back, their horny

lips chattering to the morning
sun! Praise! while the
wraithlike warblers, all but unseen
in looping flight dart from

pine to spruce, spruce to pine
southward. Southward! Where
new mating warms the wit and cold
does not strike, for respite.
Stripped of its Williamsesque frame, its rhetorical nods at a larger “import” (“Let me not forget at least” is akin to “So much depends upon”), the piece—particularly in the precision of its situating (“at and near”) elements of a momentarily caught ensemble—is nigh-Schuyleresque. “Point and snap” meaning to proceed without even Williams’s minimal rhetorical props.
* In the William Corbett-edited Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-1991, one recalls Schuyler’s putting Williams among “the greats” in a 20 September 1959 letter to Donald Allen regarding the “background” to Allen’s New American Poetry anthology:
. . . if you want to represent the influence of readers as systematically omnivorous as Frank, John A, Prof. Koch and, me too, well: wow. Frank sometimes tends to cast the splendid shadow of his own sensibility over the past, as well as his friends, and while a brush of his wings is delightful, it is also somewhat heady. I thought you might be interested in what I remember people as actually reading.
      John Wheelwright: particularly the poems in Rock and Shell.
      Auden: like the common cold. Frank and Kenneth still profess; I grudgingly assent (though if Auden doesn't drop that word numinous pretty soon, I shall squawk).
      For the greats: Williams, Moore, Stevens, Pound, Eliot. I doubt if any very direct connection can be found between Moore and anymore. I wanted to write like her, but her form is too evolved, personal and limiting. After a bout of syllable counting, to pick up D.H. Lawrence is delightful.
      Eliot made the rules everybody wants to break.
      Stevens and Williams both inspire greater freedom than the others, Stevens of the imagination, Williams of subject and style.
      Pound I wonder about. Like Gertrude Stein, he is an inspiring idea. But a somewhat remote one. . . .

Friday, January 18, 2013

Notebook (Lord Byron, W. H. Auden, &c.)

W. H. Auden, c. 1956
(Photograph by Alfred Eisenstaedt)

Youth, with its giggles untethered, aimless, sustainable. Lord Byron, out of a letter to John Murray (“Bologna, August 12th, 1819”):
You ask me for the plan of Donny Johnny—I have no plan—I had no plan; but I had or have materials—though if like Tony Lumpkin—I am “to be snubbed so when I am in spirits” the poem will be naught—and the poet turn serious again.—If it don’t take I will leave it off where it is with all due respect to the Public—but if continued it must be in my own way—you might as well make Hamlet (or Diggory) “act mad” in a strait waistcoat—as trammel my buffoonery—if I am to be a buffoon—their gestures and my thoughts would only be pitiably absurd—and ludicrously constrained.—Why Man the Soul of such writing is its licence?—at least the liberty of that licence if one likes—not that one should abuse it—it is like trial by Jury and Peerage—and the Habeas Corpus—a very fine thing—but chiefly in the reversion—because no one wishes to be tried for the mere pleasure of proving his possession of the privilege——But a truce with these reflections;—you are too earnest and eager about a work never intended to be serious; —do you suppose that I could have any intention but to giggle and make giggle?—a playful satire, with as little poetry as could be helped—was what I meant—
Purity of intent, what “disgathers” with any smidgen of the larger world’s attending. How sustain that giggle (what is corroded by pomposity, self-import, the officious brow of the earnest . . .)? Frank O’Hara (out of the extended giggle of “Second Avenue”):
“And the simple yet exquisite pertinence of that race
above the airfield, those tubby little planes flopping
competitively into the wind sleeve, was keen as a violin,
as colorless and as intent. It seemed there was no one there
but children, and at each flaming accident a crumbling giggle
tumbleweeded over the flats and into the hangars and echoed.
What must the fliers have thought? a performance
like a plate of ham and eggs with a fur collar on . . .”

Reading (or rereading, such faulty excurrency of my memory nowadays, I list in uncertainty) the Nathan Kernan-edited Diary of James Schuyler (1997), I am struck by Schuyler’s fussy pooh-poohing of the gaiety of mere lingual rambunct, its giggles. Entry for “Friday, February 12, 1988”:
      Why does it slightly depress me—or perhaps just make me feel tired—that now twelve volumes of the OED are available on two—what? chips? discs? whatever. Partly because it makes the horrid word-game aspect of the great dictionary too available. I always blame the OED for all those lines of Wystan’s like, “where the baltering torrent shrinks to a soodling thread,” words used with no precision based on no observation at all.
Kernan’s footnote to the Auden line reads:
“Yes, these are the dog days, Fortunatus: / The heather lies limp and dead / On the mountain, the baltering torrent / Shrunk to a soodling thread . . .” from “Under Sirius,” in Auden’s book Nones, much of the manuscript of which Schuyler typed for Auden on Ischia. The phrase stuck with Schuyler and he quoted it more than once; on July 15, 1968, Schuyler wrote Ron Padgett, “I bought a camera, and ‘the baltering torrent’ of my checking account ‘has shrunk to a soodling thread’ to borrow one of Auden’s mellifluencies.” According to P. J. Kavanagh (TLS, September 6, 1996), Auden, accused of having coined “soodling,” defended it as “good Derbyshire.”
(The OED entry for “soodle” points to John Clare’s use of the word in the 1821 volume The Village Minstrel, and Other Poems: “How half a ninny he was like to be, / To go so soodling up and down the street, / And shun the playing boys whene’er they chanced to meet . . .” and the lovely “The horse-boy, with a soodly gait, / Slow climbs the stile.”) Kavanagh’s complaint, under the title “Bywords,” begins:
      Red Admiral, Peacock, Tortoiseshell, Painted Lady, Brimstone, Meadow Brown—I looned along a hedge, identification book in hand; it seemed the least one could do in way of gratitude, because the invasion, end of August, was so sudden, lively and various. Perhaps “just reeling off their names is ever so comfy”, as Auden, in one of his camper moments, said of lake-formations. There was even a small Blue—Adonis? Holly?— which obligingly posed, papery-white when shut, when open a small square of darker blue at the base of each wing. This required a weightier consultation, later, in a butterfly book that has always daunted me, and, as I feared, there seemed about sixty varieties of Blue. None of them corresponding to the one I peered down upon. The ones in the colour plates were skewered and dead. Those in the lane were eager and energetic, a cause of pleasure, while I was walking a little astonished, at a lucky hour, along a lane that shimmered and jigged with their colour and restless movement.
      Sacral, floscular, rundle, semble, curmurr, cloop, depatical, olamic: W. H. Auden at his most playfully lexical, all in one poem. “Tonight a Seven-Thirty”. James Michie once congratulated Auden on the brilliance of his coinages—the description of a stream “shrunk to a soodling thread” was, I think, his example. Auden was indignant, declared he had never perpetrated a coinage in his life, “soodling” was good Derbyshire. Perhaps because of the daylight hour spent (and pleasure derived from) securely identifying those butterflies, it seemed, in the evening, worth taking Auden up on his claim of non-invention, and trying securely to identify those words. Should a reader, reasonably vocabularied, have to look up a word in a poem? Perhaps not, but dictionaries are thick, and we tend always to handle the same currency. Besides, that poem was about the ceremony of having friends to dinner: middle-class therefore, domestic, and in need of jazzing up: also, evidently, Auden was having fun . . .
(Ashbery’s line about O’Hara’s “At night Chinamen jump / On Asia with a thump” being a case of the poet “amusing himself, another highly suspect activity” is pertinent here.) Kavanagh proceeds to define Auden’s words—“‘curmurr’ (Echoic) is a low rumbling noise, such as that made by ‘young doters’, too intimate, who should not be at the dinner but head-to-head in a restaurant”—only to stumble with “depatical” (“the Blue I cannot find”). (The pinch-off, I see, is in the spelling: Auden’s word is “dapatical,” meaning, apparently—the OED contents itself with the usual etymological gewgaw (“Latin dapātic-us sumptuous . . . Greek δαπάνη cost, expense”) and three demotic-defying citations, each out of an earlier dictionary—“sumptuous, costly.”) At the end of “Bywords” Kavanagh rather jocularly points to a single Auden coinage: that of “grahamgreeneish” in the line “How grahamgreeneish! How infra dig!” (out of the 1963 poem “On the Circuit”). A new coinage “grahamgreeneish” undoubtedly is, though I wonder if its impetus and exemplar may be O’Hara’s line in the 1957 “Poem Read at Joan Mitchell’s”: “It’s so / original, hydrogenic, anthropomorphic, fiscal, post-anti-esthetic, / bland, unpicturesque and WilliamCarlosWilliamsian!”

Whereat the week’s “baltering torrent,” this curmurring I maintain in dapatical self-amusement is now “Shrunk to a soodling thread . . .”

Thursday, January 17, 2013


Claude Monet, “The Bodmer Oak,” 1865

Oak oak! like like
it then
      cold some wild paddle
so sky then;
flea you say
“geese geese” the boy
June of winter
of again
Oak sky

        —Joseph Ceravolo, “Drunken Winter” (The Green Lake Is Awake: Selected Poems, 1994)

                “We have,” said Mencius, “but phenomena.”
monumenta. In nature are signatures
        needing no verbal tradition,
oak leaf never plane leaf. John Heydon.

        —Ezra Pound, out of “Canto LXXXVII” (Section: Rock-Drill, 85–95 de los cantares, 1956)

                                                                            . . . rimmed with suns
apothecary realms sift back and the adjusted vault strikes oak
till told in fires between the seas a green poke comes to root . . .

        —Clark Coolidge, out of “Ex Libris Prospero” (The Book of Stirs, 1998)

                                            . . . Hue
gait a day—by new
sill a rose pause seen—
nape—horse whose tizzied head
O my—lip own anatomy
the oak I. Trivial uttered
hard to stand under . . .

        —Louis Zukofsky, out of “A”-23 (“A”-22 & -23, 1975)

What if the discovery is only that
office tower covered in felt the green inevitably dropped
angling for birds reformed with e.g. valley stiffed by a bell
and skywalks linking the trapeze with the year-round
in situ first pearled, vieux tub of the fort year
produced in quantity as oak trees flush
Wings So. endless nights a kite no a Walloon.

        —Charles North, out of “Elegiacal Study” (Leap Year: Poems 1968-1978, 1978)


Lion’s shin, oak-limb, tomb:
all acquire
a hundred years’

a winter’s pelt—bones

that ‘being
striken one against

break out
like fire

& wax greene’.

        —Ronald Johnson, out of “The Oak of the Maze” (The Book of the Green Man, 1967)

A sheer loops in and berries bead
the oak’s sticky lofts: twittering
blooms a dense stippling, a burn

that eases off with settling, but
just then before dusk's blurs,
a loaded twig snaps and the whole

sheet ripples in report;
the black sheer unfurls and swirls
away to fold into night elsewhere.

        —A. R. Ammons, “December Starlings” (Brink Road, 1996)

            . . . There was no life you could live out to its end
And no attitude which, in the end, would save you.
The monkish and the frivolous alike were to be trapped in death’s capacious claw
But listen while I tell you about the wallpaper—
There was a key to everything in that oak forest
But a sad one . . .

        —John Ashbery, out of “The Ecclesiast” (Rivers and Mountains, 1966)

What an oak! the immense expanses of silver,
and the green river below, trembling in rocks,
each leaf like a Russian farmhouse at night
in the Adirondacks where we fed the fox.

And the melancholy oaks have no disease,
they are simply fragile from being bigger,
their leaves like feet hanging in whitewashed air.
The air is calm as a pencil . . .

        —Frank O’Hara, out of “Sneden’s Landing Variations”
        (The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara, 1971)

An orange and blue box of Poulain chocolate
Is what I think of often
As I sit just outside the late afternoon sunlight—
I see it in another light
Sitting on a brown oak or something table,
Maybe a white kitchen one,
And when I reach out for it
My hand touches it
And I pick it up

        —Ron Padgett, “Poulain” (Great Balls of Fire, 1969)

How about an oak leaf
if you had to be a leaf?
Suppose you had your life to live over
knowing what you know?
Suppose you had plenty of money

“Get away from me you little fool.”

Evening of a day in early March,
you are like the smell of drains
in a restaurant where paté maison
is a slab of cold meat loaf
damp and wooly. You lack charm.

        —James Schuyler, “Poem” (Collected Poems, 1993)

Your lover will be guilty of murder & you will turn her in.
Sometimes I’d like to take off these oak leaves and feel
        like an ordinary man.
You get older the more you remember. And one lives, alone,
        for pure courtship, as
To move is to love, & the scrutiny of things is merely syllogistic.

        —Ted Berrigan, out of “My Tibetan Rose” (The Selected Poems of Ted Berrigan, 2011)

WRITER: This is all in defense of our story
READER: And of the room in which we first read it, with faded water stains on
                   the wallpaper, and a daddylonglegs on the curtain at the window
                   beyond which the blue-black oak leaves quietly dripped with fog
                   It is day and night both and we are alive

        —Lyn Hejinian, out of A Border Comedy (2001)

The man of law
        on the uses
                of grief

The poet
        on the law
                of the oak leaf

        —Lorine Niedecker, “The man of law” (Collected Works, 2002)

The Truth—is stirless—
Other force—may be presumed to move—
This—then—is best for confidence—
When oldest Cedars swerve—

And Oaks untwist their fists—
And Mountains—feeble—lean—
How excellent a Body, that
Stands without a Bone—

How vigorous a Force
That holds without a Prop—
Truth stays Herself—and every man
That trusts Her—boldly up—

        —Emily Dickinson, “#780” (The Complete Poems of Emily Dickinson, 1960)

I’m here in the land of sunbeams and
silk oak.

Very easy. But heavy
on the initials.

        —Barbara Guest, out of “Tessera” (Fair Realism, 1989)

            . . . the kiss
of oak leaves—

He who has kissed
a leaf

need look no further—
I ascend

a canopy of leaves

and at the same time
I descend

for I do nothing

        —William Carlos Williams, out of Spring and All (1923)

Hard to imagine that no one counts,
                                                                      that only things endure.
Unlike the seasons, our shirts don’t shed,
Whatever we see does not see us,
                                                              however hard we look,
The rain in its silver earrings against the oak trunks,
The rain in its second skin.

        —Charles Wright, out of “Scar Tissue II” (Scar Tissue, 2006)

The Imagination is not a State: it is the Human Existence itself
Affection or Love becomes a State, when divided from Imagination
The Memory is a State always, & the Reason is a State
Created to be Annihilated & a new Ratio Created
Whatever can be Created can be Annihilated Forms cannot
The Oak is cut down by the Ax, the Lamb falls by the Knife
But their Forms Eternal Exist, For-ever. Amen Halle[l]ujah

        —William Blake, out of Milton (c. 1811)

Is that an oak leaf or a hawk?

Actually it's Originalism
as practiced by the polka-playing,
potato pancake-shredding
beeristas of Bear Mountain

        —Ange Mlinko, out of “Trolling Dark” (Shoulder Season, 2010)

The audacity of the lower gods—
whatever we name we own.
Diversiloba, we say, unfolding poison oak.
Lovers go untouched as we lean from bay windows
with telescopes trained on a yellow sky.

I'd rather let the flowers
keep doing what they do best.
Unblessing each petal,
letting go a year's worth of white
death notes, busily unnaming themselves.

        —Yusef Komunyakaa, out of “Audacity of the Lower Gods”
        (Neon Vernacular: New and Selected Poems, 1993)

There is a new German 50 pfennig postage stamp (a grapheme
            to be paid for and cancelled)
That shows a chapel and an oak tree
And the oak tree looks like a picture of Hitler.
Graphemes should not be looked at so minutely. The
Forest for the trees. The kisses for the love. The
Oakman grows behind every chapel.
The fine
Print on the contract.
God gives us that. The Bundespost Reichsminister says that the
            issue will continued. “I know what I designed and it’s
            not a countenance of Hitler. It doesn’t speak very well for
            the German people if they see Hitler everywhere.”

        —Jack Spicer, out of “Grahemics”
        (My Vocabulary Did This to Me: The Collected Poetry of Jack Spicer, 2008)

                        The poem
is about what,
even it asks.
Anthropomorphized, grinning
like a big oak tree.

        —Ron Silliman, out of “What” (The Alphabet, 2008)

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Notebook (Marianne Moore, Tom Clark, &c.)

Tom Clark, c. 2008

Cold, with cold’s tendency toward detachment. Lazing at the periphery of things. Think of Marianne Moore writing of being reviewed in The Dial by Eliot: “If bolstering by the profession can do one any good it certainly will advantage me.” I love the feigned fussiness of the ennui therein. Bolstering, who needs it? The order of the day: lassitude with a hint of torpor. A desire to hoe a singular row, tentatory and gradual, adhering to no gimmickry, no undue hoist in the blade. Moore, to Pound (9 January 1919): “My work jerks and rears and I cannot get up enthusiasm for embalming what I myself, accept conditionally.” That brave refusal of complacency, the gratifying certainty of its “finish.” Or any finish.

Out of some persistent documentary vein. Tom Clark’s lengthy reply in a 16 October 1979 interview “conducted by Ed Dorn” (out of Little Caesar No. 11, 1980) to Dorn’s remark “It strikes me that your generation is really embattled in a funny way. For instance, I don’t remember these kinds of fights between John Wieners and myself and Robert Creeley.” Clark:
      There’s a whole lot of differences. First of all the growth of this group that you were in took place in an area far from an urban center. The writers that came to Black Mountain were from a real diverse set of backgrounds and they must have been feeding into that place a tremendous amount of divers energy.
      Whereas this New York movement was really a combination of Tulsa plus an adherence to Frank O’Hara. It was much more single. In other words there was a lot less variety to begin with. Also the individuals in it were of nowhere near the same degree of strength or interest. When you compare Michael Rumaker and Wieners and [Fielding] Dawson and Creeley and yourself, all these individuals seemed to have expressed in their work at Black Mountain a certain degree of sense of the social and economic alienation that’s necessary in the American experience.
      Nobody in the New York scene ever wanted to face up to that because we always could go uptown and hang around the edge of something rich. Black Mountain was the sticks, it never had any access to that stuff. I mean the dues that were being paid were significantly higher. It wasn’t part of this big hip poetry movement. It was this very straight little writing school. Talk about stringency, consider Creeley’s statements in Black Mountain Review when he starts talking about care: Franz Kline’s* quality of caring about things. It was almost like a critical test of concern that Creeley was giving, based on the fact that all these poet of the Establishment of his time—the ones that I was seeing at Ann Arbor—didn’t care, because it was too easy for them. They didn’t have to show that they fucking cared at all. They were on a network. And what St. Mark’s became was another network, another form of mini-establishment of its own. Which pleased people socially but didn’t have anything to do with the development of an angular sense of an individual as a writer. I thought the given behind Black Mountain, which Olson managed to get through to the people that were there, was that their own experience was their field but that there wasn’t any commonality of a readymade stylistic vocabulary that everybody was going to get to milk constantly. That you had to go back into your own, and the best that got produced was produced out of personal work experience and economic experience. In the best work that came out of Black Mountain there came across a consciousness of being put in a social corner to a certain extent, far from the New York cosmopolitan crowd, and you could read a lot of mid-American situation out of that.
      Ed Sanders aside, I don’t think there was ever a legitimate social address in the St. Mark’s movement. I don’t mean the “polite society” sense of the term. There’s some work by Ted [Berrigan] and Dick [Gallup] in the early days when the poverty and joy of the East Side life came through in their work that was intelligible in social terms. For the most part, though, there was a total denial of the possibility of that being part of the content, and instead an emphasis on a kind of language-activity which I guess Trungpa** would describe as “playful.”
      So when I look at Black Mountain, I look at every writer there having gone through a process that is one of the main things you’ve got to learn about writing, that is, how to incorporate the social experience into words. Whereas in the St. Mark’s scene, in keeping with the whole tradition that Allen [Ginsberg]’s talking about of Rimbaud and Artaud and everything else, it was the high of the strictly personal experience. This also includes the experience of personality, which of course is what this type of poet is supposed to become.
      Those things played very little part in the rhetoric of Black Mountain. You’d have to go far to find an equal valuation placed on the intensity of personal vision or a personal high. Personally, almost everybody at Black Mountain was off in some fucking corner, walking their own personal plank, which was hardly to be celebrated.
      The same is true when the place split up and dispersed into project such as Wild Dog***—the same is true of Wild Dog. The same basic social experience of routine American space and distance from the urban economic center.
      Of course there’s an important exception, “personal” as he was, Frank O’Hara did have a lot of social reality in his poetry which came out of that special uptown thing he knew, and he carried it off that there’s nothing embarrassing in that, shit!
      But I wouldn’t dignify this group of people that I came up with by even comparing them with Black Mountain because St. Mark’s was a school only in the loose sense that a salon becomes a school, not a school in the sense in which information is conveyed.
      I think Olson’s main thing is that he hammered home the axiom that information about the world is your subject and you go and find a corner of it that you map out for yourself, and you find out about it, even if you have to go to some book maybe.
      The use of books with Ted and the people I was with in New York was raw plunder. You didn’t read a book like Merk’s Westward Movement**** to find out about some agro-economic reality. You went to any book for lines that you could take and incorporate into your own work. That’s what you used books for!
      The whole aesthetics of Black Mountain are much closer in my mind to a certain Thirties’ aesthetics.
Needed: a volume of Clark’s interviews.
* Philip Guston, not Franz Kline. Out of Creeley’s 1956 Black Mountain Review “Philip Guston: A Note”:
For a sense of it, say—I tried to be careful, but the form would not have it. My care was the form I had given to it. How to care, that one does care? Care, it seems comes from several words, among them the Anglo-Saxon caru, cearu (anxiety) and the Old Saxon kara (sorrow). Is it moving with care through care, that it comes to?
And: “Somehow not to be accidental, not even enough or too much ‘accidental.’”

** Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche founded the Naropa Institute in 1974. See Clark’s 1980 The Great Naropa Poetry Wars.

*** Wild Dog, is the mimeographed magazine founded in early 1963 and initially edited by Dorn (with John Hoopes) in Pocatello, Idaho. Twenty-one numbers through 1966.

**** Premier item under “Basic Reading List” in Olson’s A Bibliography on America for Edward Dorn (1964): “Merk (Harvard Press) on Westward Movement.” Ralph Maud, in Charles Olson’s Reading, writes that Olson’s squib “means Frederick Jackson Turner and Frederick Merk, List of References on the History of the American West (Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1922; revised 1930).”

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Kent Johnson’s “Forgotten American Poets of the 20th Century”

Kent Johnson

The redoubtable Kent Johnson, he of the utterly charming “Forgotten American Poets of the 19th Century”—called by one errant trooper “scintillose in its wit” (Johnson himself being, too—though “elsewhere”—singled out as being “more hable then the rest, for speciall gyftes of wytte and Musicke”)—here offers up a new piece in an inexorable series, an “aborted eclogue” called “Forgotten American Poets of the 20th Century.” One ascertains herein a cursory—though hardly begrudging—nod “at” Pound’s “All ages are contemporaneous.” Too, as if unrolling the star-charts (I am recalling William Matthews’s one-liner “The Invention of Astronomy”: “The eyelids fall, the star-charts”) Johnson here assembles a kind of Möbius band of the by-now innumerous and worldly poet-components, denatured, inimical, shrewd, and one-sided—and subjects it (and them) to what I can only identify as time’s own precarious weight. The result—saucily rendered in odd sesquipedalian rhythms, in equally plangent dotings with a rather anonymous state citizenry feel, in colicky rhymes coughed up as if preternaturally—is moving enough to discharge forever all the scruples and animosities of heaven. One thinks of the mustering of unanchored particulars up out of the rudest black depths of oceanic consequence and down “into” a Klein bottle, the poet become non-orientable surface, made only more fickle by vigor, Edmund Spenser (“The vaunted verse a vacant head demaundes . . .”) turning into Oscar Wilde (“Everybody seems in a hurry to catch a train. This is a state of things not favorable to poetry or romance.”) Or of a brace of Leibniz, out of New Essays on Human Understanding:
The outcome of these little perceptions is therefore more efficacious than one would think. They form that je ne sais quoi, those inclinations, those images of the qualities of the senses, clear as a whole, but confused in their parts; those impressions that surrounding bodies make on us, and that embody infinity; the bond that every living being has with the rest of the universe. One may even say that as a consequence of these little perceptions the present is pregnant with the future and laden with the past, which plots all (sýmpnoia pánta, as Hippocrates put it), and that in the smallest of substances penetrating eyes like those of God might read all the concatenation of the things of the universe.
In the final unequivocal grunt: “We did as we were able.” (See, too, Frank O’Hara’s unforgettable: “it is good to be several floors up in the dead of night / wondering whether you are any good or not / and the only decision you can make is that you did it . . .”)

Forgotten American Poets of the 20th Century [aborted eclogue]

“Sometimes I wonder what will happen to me.”
—Janna Levin, particle astrophysicist


I ask that poet 33 be put back on the table, he did as he was able. The river bed is sandy and the water races along; the material synthesized in the centers of stars gets ejected back out into space when the star dies. Everyone tries. I ask that poeta triginta tres be put back on the table.


I ask that poet 15 be put back on the table, the horses have fled the stable. The front of the hut slides open, and the woman just sits there, staring out; dominant structures pull on their subordinate neighbors, causing small local motions against the background expansion. He died over his scansion. I ask that poeta quindecim be put back on the table.


I move that poet 501 be put back in circulation, there’s no need for oblivion. Eventually, the prayer halls and all the icons they contain are pulled down; the hole is marked by a singularity: in other words spacetime is infinitely curved down a nozzle in the core. She couldn’t have suffered more. I move that poeta quingenti unus be put back in circulation.


I beg that poet 247 be entered into conversation, he wrote with deep conviction. As I said, the pilots are pretty inexperienced, and nine times out of ten they crash their planes upside down; fifteen billion years later, we’re here. He couldn’t make it cohere. I beg that poeta ducenti quadraginta septem be entered into conversation.


I demand that poet 99 be rescued from nothingness, save her memory from emptiness. Boiling is done in enormous cauldrons that belong to the boss; from this perspective, as observers and performers of thought experiments, we can chart out the field on which we live. She wrote out her heart and had nothing left to give. I demand that poeta nonaginta novem be rescued from nothingness.


I plead that poet 12.3 be redeemed by the young critics, his oblivion is described by no existing physics. True, where the main car park in the center of town is today there used to be row upon row of eel baskets, strung right across the water; this space has handles which we could not see any more than the inhabitants of a torus could see the handle of their manifold surround. Like a tree with no one around, he fell without a sound. I plead that poeta duodecim punctum tres be redeemed by the young critics.


I implore that poet 57 be returned to the Norton, she is now so forgotten. Incidentally, it’s the custom at funerals in our village for the family to scatter coins about in front of their house and in the temple; we are the product of this universe, and I think it can be argued that the entire cosmic code is imprinted in our brains. She laid down on the track and was run over, repeatedly, by trains. I implore that poeta quinquaginta septem be returned to the Norton.


I urge that poet 756 be returned to the podium, he won a MacArthur and appeared on Nickolodeon. In those days, people slept with their heads on wooden box pillows—the test was to sneak into a room where someone was sleeping and saw the pillow in half lengthwise very carefully; I suppose the life of the academic topologist is so good sometimes it seems ridiculous to complain. He died in a shack on the coast of Maine. I urge that poeta septingentos quinguaginta sex be returned to the podium.


I petition that poet 11,942 be salvaged from the vacuum, her concepts and marketing have dissolved into talcum. Poetry is mountainous and its forests are hard to reach, but in these times there is plenty of brush on flat land for people to harvest; the hot and cold spots are etched into the background radiation as light climbs out of the hills and hollows. Around her Goth optics, grad students flitted like swallows. I petition that poeta undecim milia nongenti quadraginta et duo be salvaged from the vacuum.


I entreat that poet 72,519 be raised from time’s cellar, his doggerel, once so hipster, was a stunning bestseller. Ironically, I’d thought to tie a large piece of cloth around the boy’s waist just in case he was dragged away by the tide; the infinite curvature that relativity predicts raises to the surface all kinds of weird quantum phenomena. He streaked across the sky to die at a community college in Oklahoma. I entreat that poeta septuaginta duo milia centum decem et novem be raised from time’s cellar.


I insist that poet 146.8 be forgiven for his treason, his avant-garde red weather is now the Official season. In summer, the poets wear white uniforms and carry short swords with gleaming scabbards, while in winter they wear dark blue tunics, with short capes over their shoulders; if one tosses magnetic shavings in the presence of a magnetic field, the shavings will gather along the field lines, showing the presence, direction, and shape of said unseen field. The name of an actual war ciriminal was imprinted on his shield. I insist that poet centum quadraginta sex punctum octo be forgiven for his treason.

Piers and Cuddie as One

Now we are very tired and you, of course, are tired, too. And so we determine to bid you adieu. For so many, alas, forgotten have been, and so many more as well shall be, that such strange eclogue as ours, forsooth, could never, ever cease. Another thing is that today you have breeders producing chickens on a massive scale, not like it used to be, when farmers only kept a few birds; the bright star burns out, becoming a black vortex that fades invisibly against the darkness of space. O, poets, our art does make of us one eternal race. And so we part with these rhymes of bittersweet scent, may they lend some gentle grace to our great predicament:

Forget thee, poet, never! ‘till the sun shall in glory cease to shine, and this earthly sphere shall melt beneath the wrath divine; when the stars that twinkle bright shall long have ceased to be the light of lonely mariners, over love’s tempestuous sea; when all that is bright and beautiful has fled each sacred spot, Oh, then—and not ‘till then—shalt thou ever, by Poetry, be forgot!