27 October 2007

Friedrich Nietzsche

[from Friedrich Nietzsche's Beyond Good and Evil]

He who despises himself, nevertheless esteems himself thereby, as a despiser.

26 October 2007

W. H. Auden

[from W. H. Auden's The Dyer's Hand, 1962]

A society which was really like a good poem, embodying the aesthetic virtues of beauty, order, economy and subordination of detail to the whole, would be a nightmare of horror for, given the historical reality of actual men, such a society could only come into being through selective breeding, extermination of the physically and mentally unfit, absolute obedience to its Director, and a large slave class kept out of sight in cellars.

Vice versa, a poem which was really like a political democracy -- examples, unfortunately, exist -- would be formless, windy, banal and utterly boring.

The Dyer's Hand

22 October 2007

John Milton

[from John Milton's Paradise Lost Book 7]

. . . and in his hand
He took the golden Compasses, prepar'd
In Gods Eternal store, to circumscribe
This Universe, and all created things:
One foot he center'd, and the other turn'd
Round through the vast profunditie obscure,
And said, thus farr extend, thus farr thy bounds,
This be thy just Circumference, O World.

18 October 2007

Jean Day

[from Jean Day's Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium, 2006]

from Ode in Pencil

. . .
               Last brief rays
in repetition's machine
set the scene [or Spiel]
on permanent sputter:
a woman entering
the frame of a murderous
cloud clobbers a man
ratcheting back
behind silent
credits (all clear
in underwear),
hogtied at the end
to the twang
of a player piano,
the small
unhappy voice of allegory
in snow scrub the blood
ponders longer than seconds
and spreading
out from its unrecoiled arrest
so you may see days raging,
as days rage
          Scratched out.
. . .

Enthusiasm: Odes & Otium (Adventures in Poetry)

17 October 2007

Linda Gregerson

[from Linda Gregerson's Bright North, 2007]

Bright Shadow
      for Peter Davison

Wherever they come from whether the all-
                     but impenetrable bracken
                               on the nearer
                side of Maple Road (so closely does she bed

them down) or deeper in the wetland (each
                     new season surrendering further to
                               the strangle
                of purple loosestrife) they

have made for weeks a daybed of
                     the longer
                               grass beneath the net
                that sometimes of an evening marks

the compass of our shuttlecock
                     so Steven
                               when at last he finds
                an afternoon for mowing must purposely

chase them into the woods where she
                     so watchful
                               in the normal course of foraging but
                lulled or made a stranger to her own

first-order instinct for dis-
                     quietude (so firmly
                               have the scents and apparitions of
                this people-riddled bit of earth impressed

themselves upon the wax that stands for world-
                     as usual) (a scant
                               twelve months ago she was
                herself the sucking diligence that made

the mother stagger on the dew-drenched
                     lawn) will find them near the salt lick and
                               as by a subtle field-of-
                force will reel them back to

stations-of-the-daily-path that portion out
                     their wakefulness
                               (the ravaged
                rhododendrons bearing witness) forever en-

grafting the strictures of hunger (bright shoots)
                     to the strictures (bright
                               shadow) of praise.

Magnetic North

15 October 2007

Lucie Brock-Broido

[from Lucie Brock-Broido's Trouble in Mind, 2004]

Leaflet on Wooing

Wanting is reposed and plump
As the hands of a Romanov child

Folded in the doeskin sashes of her lap,
Paused before the little war begins.

             This one will be guttural, this war.
How is it possible to still be startled

As I am by the oblong silhouette of the coiling
Index finger of a pending death.

No longer will
                         Wooing be the wondrous

Thing; instead, a homely domesticity, constant
As a field of early rye and yarrow-light.

What one is fit to stand is not what one is
Given, necessarily, and not this night.

Trouble in Mind

Ron Silliman & the National Book Award

Thanks, Ron Silliman, for throttling PoBiz, this time the latest nominating panel and nominations for the 2007 National Book Awards.

14 October 2007

10/4/7 RealPoetik reading @ the Bowery Poetry Club

Niels Hav, Tao Lin, Elisa Gabbert, Carol Peters, Sampson Starkweather, and Sharon Dolin

13 October 2007

Stanley Fish

[from Stanley Fish's How Milton Works, 2001]

In speech act theory (as originated by J. L. Austin) . . . a "declarative" [is] an utterance that brings into being the state it names, and does so by virtue of the unique authority of the speaker (when an umpire declares "You're out," you're out, but when a fan or fellow player says it, he succeeds only in expressing his opinion).

How Milton Works

Suzanne Langer

[via Jay Wright via Ange Mlinko in her recent book review in Poetry, October 2007]

Quoting Suzanne Langer in Elaine's Book (collected in Transfigurations), Wright lays claim to her insight: “and the triumph of empiricism is jeopardized by the surprising truth that our sense data are primarily symbols.”

03 October 2007

Matthew Zapruder

[from Matthew Zapruder's The Pajamaist, 2006]

Andale Mono

Today I walked past my door in the rain
and put an old key
in a lock from which gold light shone.
Gold light through the keyhole like didactic
material below a painting glows to explain
the nineteenth century and other things we must know.
In the poem we want to try to set off a light each time
the door of the closet is closed. And to be
for the reader a mechanism attached to a string
the poem pulls. And piecing together
as desperately as we can. By fragments we mean
pieces of things we thought we have heard,
and when we say them mean though we cannot
see you we love you. By light we mean light.
Fear is a mechanism thinking too much
and not enough about the closet
holding something. The light in the closet
is on, the garments are thinking,
the door to the closet opens
into a long empty corridor we fear
for verily it like a torch
in the british sense through a dusty room
pervades us. When we are walking
with our torch meaning flashlight before us
reaching for the long poem inside us
one door explains how to read for both meaning
and pleasure. Another shuts.
The poem Andale Mono begins.
When I was a child I used to give speeches
into the mouth of the dishwasher open and gleaming.
When in a private language I said
ritual laughter mother and father
without knowing commit transmits
a kind of anger it understood,
though they were not.
Today I walked right past the face of a woman
I was sure was in Andale Mono.
Today I walked right past the poem
I knew and looked
into a lake which is now my wife.
My wife has entered the room. She is
a finger lake. In one hand she is holding
a sweater, pink, in the other a cream colored
spatula. Which one do you like best?
The poem is now my wife. For the first time
today in Andale Mono I drew my shoulders
back and looked straight forward and slightly
up. All day for the first time things were
true size. Droplets hung from my lashes
strobing at times the warehouse
next to the elevated, at others the brand-new
cathedral from which small people were streaming,
lugging large black musical instrument cases.
Large black chambers hold the delicate
wooden chambers for making chamber music.
In Andale Mono things are both breakable
and strong. In Andale Mono just out of reach
of my dangling hand the lock was a tiny door.

The Pajamaist

01 October 2007

Carl Sandburg

[from Carl Sandburg: Poetry for Young People, Frances Schoonmaker Bolin, editor; thanks to David Wayne Hampton for pointing me at this poem]

Boxes and Bags
by Carl Sandburg

The bigger the box the more it holds.
Empty boxes hold the same as empty heads.
Enough small empty boxes thrown into a big empty box fill it full.
A half-empty box says, “Put more in.”
A big enough box could hold the world.
Elephants need big boxes to hold a dozen elephant handkerchiefs.
Fleas fold little handkerchiefs and fix them nice and neat in flea
    handkerchief boxes.
Bags lean against each other and boxes stand independent.
Boxes are square with corners unless round with circles.
Box can be piled on box till the whole works comes tumbling.
Pile box on box and the bottom box says, “If you will kindly take notice
    you will see it all rests on me.”
Pile box on box and the top one says, “Who falls farthest if or when we
    fall? I ask you.”
Box people go looking for boxes and bag people go looking for bags.

Poetry for Young People: Carl Sandburg (Poetry For Young People)