Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Danger of Wisdom - Jack Gilbert

We learn to live without passion.
To be reasonable. We go hungry
amid the giant granaries
this world is. We store up plenty
for when we are old and mild.
It is our strength that deprives us.
Like Keats listening to the doctor
who said the best thing for
tuberculosis was to eat only one
slice of bread and a fragment
of fish each day. Keats starved
himself to death because he yearned
so desperately to feast on Fanny Brawne.
Emerson and his wife decided to make
love sparingly in order to accumulate
his passion. We are taught to be
moderate. To live intelligently.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Binding by Striking - Robert Kelly

Say I come to you by circles. Say the line
that carries my name keeps me
from knowing you as a car knows a garage.
Say I am a wine you know better than to drink.
Say I, seeing the pale skin inside your upper arms,
become a better animal and become water.
Say this water doesn't pull but when you fall
takes you altogether in. Say you are in.

Say we sit on some steps together, or a wall.
Say something falls. I come to you then confused by lime,
sand, long hair holding the mortar together.
Say we stand a long time and one of us falls and one
catches, one catches and one lets go and it's night already.
We are still together. Say I am oily and you're dry.
Say a straight path and a twisted gate. Say something
not easy to say. Say the self-renewing knot of flesh
they call the rose blocks at times the future prong.
Say we belong to each other. Say the same thing
that holds us holds us apart. Say we struggle
to get in and stay in and not ever leave. Say for a change
you are out and I am in and I have trees too
your path gets lost in. Say you have numbers I can count
and numbers that leave me out. Say we change
but say we are always being held to the same.

Not to say little of same. Not to say one is more than some
or some less worth than every. Not to say every.
Not to say your pale skin is paler than this or this wall higher.
We rise where we fall. Not to say the word that draws us
doesnt some way let us in. Not to say in is the only.
We are held where we call. We know something and are held
to what we know. We fall through the wall. Not to say
there is only one garden or one car. Not to say one
when we mean "a road" and not to say going when we mean "home."
Not to say time when we mean space. Not to say stone
when a wind blows through the place where we've fallen.

Say you come to me by line. Say the circle you understand
has more light than a bone and more air than a tower. Say
the broad leaf of burdock plays two pieces of music:
bug-holes and leaf-shadow. Say a skin is like that and that
what we have consumed gives us light and what is gone
is the constellation that guides us. Say you have come
and will come. Say the language is dry and the wall is low.
Say a word gets over the wall. Say we are in. Say my skin
draws you. Say what we do with each other goes on.

Say a voice that you hear. Say that we know ourselves
chiefly in many. The Oil of Others is the light-giving flame.
Say we are the same. Say we come to it simply again.

Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Landscape with the Fall of Icarus - William Carlos Williams

According to Brueghel
when Icarus fell
it was spring

a farmer was ploughing
his field
the whole pageantry

of the year was
awake tingling

the edge of the sea
with itself

sweating in the sun
that melted
the wings' wax

off the coast
there was

a splash quite unnoticed
this was
Icarus drowning

Musee des Beaux Arts - WH Auden

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.