29 December 2006

Hayden Carruth

[from Hayden Carruth's Collected Longer Poems, 1994]

excerpts from Contra Mortem, a poem in 30 parts

[The Wheel of Being I]

. . . A word is like an ant
dragging a dead spider the meant
and the unmeant     So upon ragged changing seas
the poem which is a ship
buoyed by its hollowness on the abstruse
coordinates of meaning carries the loop
of its horizon . . .

[The Stone]

Difficult to think of a stone’s gratitude
difficult for that matter to think of stone
essences so various . . . Birches
step forward and the stone rises like an earthspirit
snow dripping from its flanks
burnished and new but scarcely changed a merit
of the abiding between the banks
marking the upstream from down . . .

[The Water]

. . . snow had covered the ice serene
and cool as corpseflesh while quiet small sounds
came from the holes where the skein
of black water continued winding     But now
only the scraps and tatters of the snow
are left on the banks . . . In the shallows
where pebbles excite the current
the brook is shaken like the quivering lightandshadow
of aspenleaves or like the cadence
of hundreds of migrant wings . . .

[The Primavera]

. . . see the dog run     Light as a wish free
as a thought he runs with his nose to the ground
raising his bellvoice gone and returned
on his keen inquisitive course as swift as an echo
and the prints of his paws are flowers
and the shaking of his coat is soft rain and the glow
of his eyes is the making of nests his terror
is the scourging of somnolence for he is the dog of spring . . .

[The Child’s Being]

Extended and always uncentered which is why it scares
everyone but him     When an insistent finger
stabs him with a you he only stares
uncomprehendingly a stranger
to the pronomial itch and then pointing anywhere
to the tree the cloud the flower distant or near
expostulates in manic delight
me me me a spendthrift spate
of consciousness     And thus the child puts on
his being . . .

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