30 August 2010

Edgar Allen Poe

[from the preface of Poems by Edgar A. Poe, 1831]

A poem in my opinion is opposed to a work of science by having, for its immediate object, pleasure, not truth; to romance by having, for its object, an indefinite instead of a definite pleasure, being a poem only so far as this object is attained; romance presenting perceptible images with definite, poetry with indefinite sensations, to which end music is an essential, since the comprehension of sweet sound is our most indefinite conception.

21 August 2010

Patricia Goedicke

[from Patricia Goedicke's The Wind of Our Going, Copper Canyon Press, 1985]

Mahler in the Living Room

Low to the ground, the windows are full of lake water.
Leaden, the pure slabs rise straight up into the air

From the summerhouse, where we sit watching them,
Shivering on the threshold of late fall

As the bronze hills in their shabby coats
Arch themselves like hands over a cold radiator —

And Mahler in the living room like an earthquake. Behind the eyes
Sorrow heaves upward, the heavy planks of it gigantic

As armies at a distance, as oak trees, as the tar surface
Of a road giving way to frost, buckling under and over

To the white forces of winter; the underground tears bent
Like ribs cracking, hundreds of paralyzed veins

That are now, suddenly, released, in great silver floods
Powerful as oceans our whole lives rise up

Into a sky full of planets tumbling and shooting,
First lavender, then apricot, then plum-colored:

Hissing like skyrockets they streak
Over the slumberous oars in the depths voluptuously rowing

Velvet as elephants, whose liquid footsteps wallow
About to submerge everything: dock, landing place, lawn . . .

But there are jagged slashes too,
Impertinent brass flourishes, horns that bite air

And bray at each other like gold rifles

Over the little pebbles, the quaint Chinese sparrows
Of the piccolos humorously yammering, trying not to listen

To the huge hesitation waltz beneath them,
The passionate kettledrums rolling

In the throbbing cradle of the gut
Sighing over and over Let Go,

Abandon yourself to the pain, the wild love of it that surges,
Resistless, through everyone's secret bowels

Till the walls almost collapse, our clothes fall from us like leaves
Trembling, helplessly tossed

In an uncontrollable windstorm, the branches weave and sob
As if they would never stop, unbearable the sky,

Unbearable the weight of it, the loss, solitude, suffering,
The hills staring at us blindly,

The house nothing but a shell, the bare floors
Relentless, our eyes welling over with such pain

It is all absolutely uncontainable, in a few minutes
Surely everything will dissolve . . .

When the first duck of a new movement appears

In the middle distance, the bottlegreen oboe bobs
Blue-ringed, graceful, under the little rowboat;

The invisible red feet sturdily paddle
Like webbed spoons in the chill soup of the water

That turns into a flatness now,
The agonized surface lies down

In the glass eyes of the windows,
Those solid transparencies

We orchestrate ourselves
To keep the world framed, at bay

As the great lake of the symphony sways
Far down, far down

The violent sun sets,
Over the wet shingles, the shining flanks of the house

The threadbare arm of the hills sinks,
The wave of feeling rests.

14 August 2010

Donald Revell

[from Donald Revell's The Bitter Withy, Alice James, 2009]

Desert Willow

The yellowbirds will not come to a younger man.
And then you add the sky, creating trees
Which add their voices to the birds’.
Almost instantly, the sky falls down in flames.
Wait a moment. Take a drink. Brush
The fly from your wrist. Flesh falls away.
The bone becomes slender, more attuned
To little changes in the wind, and then
The bone-branch flowers — soft trumpets
So quietly purple they are also white.
Welcome bees. Creation is something else.
I was living with good women from Italy
Right upstairs. The winter, after a long while,
Was a heavy bird, yellow where the sun would rise.