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Best Famous Nostalgia Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Nostalgia poems. This is a select list of the best famous Nostalgia poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Nostalgia poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of nostalgia poems.

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by Connie Wanek | |

Butter

 Butter, like love,
seems common enough
yet has so many imitators.
I held a brick of it, heavy and cool, and glimpsed what seemed like skin beneath a corner of its wrap; the decolletage revealed a most attractive fat! And most refined.
Not milk, not cream, not even creme de la creme.
It was a delicacy which assured me that bliss follows agitation, that even pasture daisies through the alchemy of four stomachs may grace a king's table.
We have a yellow bowl near the toaster where summer's butter grows soft and sentimental.
We love it better for its weeping, its nostalgia for buckets and churns and deep stone wells, for the press of a wooden butter mold shaped like a swollen heart.


by Barry Tebb | |

INCOMPATABILITIES

 For Brenda Williams



La lune diminue; divin septembre.
Divine September the moon wanes.
Pierre Jean Jouve Themes for poems and the detritus of dreams coalesce: This is one September I shall not forget.
The grammar-school caretaker always had the boards re-blacked And the floors waxed, but I never shone.
The stripes of the red and black blazer Were prison-grey.
You could never see things that way: Your home had broken windows to the street.
You had the mortification of lice in your hair While I had the choice of Brylcreem or orange pomade.
Four children, an alcoholic father and An Irish immigrant mother.
Failure’s metaphor.
I did not make it like Alan Bennett, Who still sends funny postcards About our Leeds childhood.
Of your’s, you could never speak And found my nostalgia Wholly inappropriate.
Forgetting your glasses for the eleven plus, No money for the uniform for the pass at thirteen.
It wasn’t - as I imagined - shame that kept you from telling But fear of the consequences for your mother Had you sobbed the night’s terrors Of your father’s drunken homecomings, Your mother sat with the door open In all weathers while you, the oldest, Waited with her, perhaps Something might have been done.
He never missed a day’s work digging graves, Boasting he could do a six-footer Single-handed in two hours flat.
That hackneyed phrase ‘He drank all his wages’ Doesn’t convey his nightly rages The flow of obscenities about menstruation While the three younger ones were in bed And you waited with your mother To walk the streets of Seacroft.
“Your father murdered your mother” As Auntie Margaret said, Should a witness Need indicting.
Your mother’s growing cancer went diagnosed, but unremarked Until the final days She was too busy auxiliary nursing Or working in the Lakeside Caf?.
It was her wages that put bread and jam And baked beans into your stomachs.
Her final hospitalisation Was the arena for your father’s last rage Her fare interfering with the night’s drinking; He fought in the Burma Campaign but won no medals.
Some kind of psychiatric discharge- ‘paranoia’ Lurked in his papers.
The madness went undiagnosed Until his sixtieth birthday.
You never let me meet him Even after our divorce.
In the end you took me on a visit with the children.
A neat flat with photographs of grandchildren, Stacks of wood for the stove, washing hung precisely In the kitchen, a Sunday suit in the wardrobe.
An unwrinkling of smiles, the hard handshake Of work-roughened hands.
One night he smashed up the tidy flat.
The TV screen was powder The clock ticked on the neat lawn ‘Murder in Seacroft Hospital’ Emblazoned on the kitchen wall.
I went with you and your sister in her car to Roundhay Wing.
Your sister had to leave for work or sleep You had to back to meet the children from school.
For Ward 42 it wasn’t an especially difficult admission.
My first lesson: I shut one set of firedoors while the charge nurse Bolted the other but after five minutes his revolt Was over and he signed the paper.
The nurse on nights had a sociology degree And an interest in borderline schizophrenia.
After lightsout we chatted about Kohut and Kernberg And Melanie Klein.
Your father was occasionally truculent, Barricading himself in on one home leave.
Nothing out of the way For a case of that kind.
The old ladies on the estate sighed, Single men were very scarce.
Always a gentleman, tipping His cap to the ladies.
There seems to be objections in the family to poetry Or at least to the kind that actually speaks And fails to lie down quietly on command.
Yours seems to have set mine alight- I must get something right.


by Barry Tebb | |

LEEDS 2002

 What ghosts haunt

These streets of perpetual night?

Riverbanks fractured with splinters of glass condominiums

For nouveam riche merchant bankers

Black-tied bouncers man clubland glitz casinos

Novotel, Valley Park Motel, the Hilton:

Hot tubs, saunas, swim spas, en suite 

Satellite TV, conference rooms, disco dinners.
I knew Len, the tubby taxi man With his retirement dreams of visiting The world’s great galleries: ‘Titian, Leonardo, Goya, I’ve lived all my life in the house I was born in All my life I’ve saved for this trip’ The same house he was done to death in Tortured by three fourteen year olds, Made headlines for one night, another Murder to add to Beeston’s five this year.
Yorkshire Forward advertises nation-wide The north’s attractions for business expansion Nothing fits together any more Addicts in doorways trying to score The new Porsches and the new poor Air-conditioned thirty-foot limos, fibre-optic lit, Uniformed chauffeurs fully trained in close protection And anti-hijack techniques, simply the best – See for yourself in mirrored ceilings.
See for yourself the screaming youth Soaring psychotic one Sunday afternoon Staggering round the new coach station "I’ll beat him to death the day I see him next" Fifty yards away Millgarth police station’s Fifty foot banner proclaims ‘Let’s fight crime together’ I am no poet for this age I cannot drain nostalgia from my blood


by David Lehman | |

A Quick One Before I Go

 There comes a time in every man's life 
when he thinks: I have never had a single 
original thought in my life 
including this one & therefore I shall 
eliminate all ideas from my poems 
which shall consist of cats, rice, rain 
baseball cards, fire escapes, hanging plants 
red brick houses where I shall give up booze 
and organized religion even if it means 
despair is a logical possibility that can't 
be disproved I shall concentrate on the five 
senses and what they half perceive and half 
create, the green street signs with white 
letters on them the body next to mine 
asleep while I think these thoughts 
that I want to eliminate like nostalgia
0 was there ever a man who felt as I do 
like a pronoun out of step with all the other 
floating signifiers no things but in words 
an orange T-shirt a lime green awning


by Stanley Kunitz | |

King of the River

 If the water were clear enough,
if the water were still,
but the water is not clear,
the water is not still,
you would see yourself,
slipped out of your skin,
nosing upstream,
slapping, thrashing,
tumbling
over the rocks
till you paint them
with your belly's blood:
Finned Ego,
yard of muscle that coils,
uncoils.
If the knowledge were given you, but it is not given, for the membrane is clouded with self-deceptions and the iridescent image swims through a mirror that flows, you would surprise yourself in that other flesh heavy with milt, bruised, battering toward the dam that lips the orgiastic pool.
Come.
Bathe in these waters.
Increase and die.
If the power were granted you to break out of your cells, but the imagination fails and the doors of the senses close on the child within, you would dare to be changed, as you are changing now, into the shape you dread beyond the merely human.
A dry fire eats you.
Fat drips from your bones.
The flutes of your gills discolor.
You have become a ship for parasites.
The great clock of your life is slowing down, and the small clocks run wild.
For this you were born.
You have cried to the wind and heard the wind's reply: "I did not choose the way, the way chose me.
" You have tasted the fire on your tongue till it is swollen black with a prophetic joy: "Burn with me! The only music is time, the only dance is love.
" If the heart were pure enough, but it is not pure, you would admit that nothing compels you any more, nothing at all abides, but nostalgia and desire, the two-way ladder between heaven and hell.
On the threshold of the last mystery, at the brute absolute hour, you have looked into the eyes of your creature self, which are glazed with madness, and you say he is not broken but endures, limber and firm in the state of his shining, forever inheriting his salt kingdom, from which he is banished forever.


by Weldon Kees | |

The Bell From Europe

 The tower bell in the Tenth Street Church
Rang out nostalgia for the refugee
Who knew the source of bells by sound.
We liked it, but in ignorance.
One meets authorities on bells infrequently.
Europe alone made bells with such a tone, Herr Mannheim said.
The bell Struck midnight, and it shook the room.
He had heard bells in Leipzig, Chartres, Berlin, Paris, Vienna, Brussels, Rome.
He was a white-faced man with sad enormous eyes.
Reader, for me that bell marked nights Of restless tossing in this narrow bed, The quarrels, the slamming of a door, The kind words, friends for drinks, the books we read, Breakfasts with streets in rain.
It rang from europe all the time.
That was what Mannheim said.
It is good to know, now that the bell strikes noon.
In this day's sun, the hedges are Episcopalian As noon is marked by the twelve iron beats.
The rector moves ruminantly among the gravestones, And the sound of a dead Europe hangs in the streets.


by Nazim Hikmet | |

Letters From A Man In Solitary

 1
I carved your name on my watchband
with my fingernail.
Where I am, you know, I don't have a pearl-handled jackknife (they won't give me anything sharp) or a plane tree with its head in the clouds.
Trees may grow in the yard, but I'm not allowed to see the sky overhead.
.
.
How many others are in this place? I don't know.
I'm alone far from them, they're all together far from me.
To talk anyone besides myself is forbidden.
So I talk to myself.
But I find my conversation so boring, my dear wife, that I sing songs.
And what do you know, that awful, always off-key voice of mine touches me so that my heart breaks.
And just like the barefoot orphan lost in the snow in those old sad stories, my heart -- with moist blue eyes and a little red runny rose -- wants to snuggle up in your arms.
It doesn't make me blush that right now I'm this weak, this selfish, this human simply.
No doubt my state can be explained physiologically, psychologically, etc.
Or maybe it's this barred window, this earthen jug, these four walls, which for months have kept me from hearing another human voice.
It's five o'clock, my dear.
Outside, with its dryness, eerie whispers, mud roof, and lame, skinny horse standing motionless in infinity -- I mean, it's enough to drive the man inside crazy with grief -- outside, with all its machinery and all its art, a plains night comes down red on treeless space.
Again today, night will fall in no time.
A light will circle the lame, skinny horse.
And the treeless space, in this hopeless landscape stretched out before me like the body of a hard man, will suddenly be filled with stars.
We'll reach the inevitable end once more, which is to say the stage is set again today for an elaborate nostalgia.
Me, the man inside, once more I'll exhibit my customary talent, and singing an old-fashioned lament in the reedy voice of my childhood, once more, by God, it will crush my unhappy heart to hear you inside my head, so far away, as if I were watching you in a smoky, broken mirror.
.
.
2 It's spring outside, my dear wife, spring.
Outside on the plain, suddenly the smell of fresh earth, birds singing, etc.
It's spring, my dear wife, the plain outside sparkles.
.
.
And inside the bed comes alive with bugs, the water jug no longer freezes, and in the morning sun floods the concrete.
.
.
The sun-- every day till noon now it comes and goes from me, flashing off and on.
.
.
And as the day turns to afternoon, shadows climb the walls, the glass of the barred window catches fire, and it's night outside, a cloudless spring night.
.
.
And inside this is spring's darkest hour.
In short, the demon called freedom, with its glittering scales and fiery eyes, possesses the man inside especially in spring.
.
.
I know this from experience, my dear wife, from experience.
.
.
3 Sunday today.
Today they took me out in the sun for the first time.
And I just stood there, struck for the first time in my life by how far away the sky is, how blue and how wide.
Then I respectfully sat down on the earth.
I leaned back against the wall.
For a moment no trap to fall into, no struggle, no freedom, no wife.
Only earth, sun, and me.
.
.
I am happy.


by Paul Eluard | |

Hunted

 A few grains of dust more or less 
On ancient shoulders 
Locks of weakness on weary foreheads 
This theatre of honey and faded roses 
Where incalcuable flies 
Reply to the black signs that misery makes to them 
Despairing girders of a bridge 
Thrown across space 
Thrown across every street and every house 
Heavy wandering madnesses 
That we shall end by knowing by heart 
Mechanical appetites and uncontrolled dances 
That lead to the regret of hatred 

Nostalgia of justice


by John Ashbery | |

Self-Portrait in a Convex Mirror

 As Parmigianino did it, the right hand
Bigger than the head, thrust at the viewer
And swerving easily away, as though to protect
What it advertises.
A few leaded panes, old beams, Fur, pleated muslin, a coral ring run together In a movement supporting the face, which swims Toward and away like the hand Except that it is in repose.
It is what is Sequestered.
Vasari says, "Francesco one day set himself To take his own portrait, looking at himself from that purpose In a convex mirror, such as is used by barbers .
.
.
He accordingly caused a ball of wood to be made By a turner, and having divided it in half and Brought it to the size of the mirror, he set himself With great art to copy all that he saw in the glass," Chiefly his reflection, of which the portrait Is the reflection, of which the portrait Is the reflection once removed.
The glass chose to reflect only what he saw Which was enough for his purpose: his image Glazed, embalmed, projected at a 180-degree angle.
The time of day or the density of the light Adhering to the face keeps it Lively and intact in a recurring wave Of arrival.
The soul establishes itself.
But how far can it swim out through the eyes And still return safely to its nest? The surface Of the mirror being convex, the distance increases Significantly; that is, enough to make the point That the soul is a captive, treated humanely, kept In suspension, unable to advance much farther Than your look as it intercepts the picture.
Pope Clement and his court were "stupefied" By it, according to Vasari, and promised a commission That never materialized.
The soul has to stay where it is, Even though restless, hearing raindrops at the pane, The sighing of autumn leaves thrashed by the wind, Longing to be free, outside, but it must stay Posing in this place.
It must move As little as possible.
This is what the portrait says.
But there is in that gaze a combination Of tenderness, amusement and regret, so powerful In its restraint that one cannot look for long.
The secret is too plain.
The pity of it smarts, Makes hot tears spurt: that the soul is not a soul, Has no secret, is small, and it fits Its hollow perfectly: its room, our moment of attention.
That is the tune but there are no words.
The words are only speculation (From the Latin speculum, mirror): They seek and cannot find the meaning of the music.
We see only postures of the dream, Riders of the motion that swings the face Into view under evening skies, with no False disarray as proof of authenticity.
But it is life englobed.
One would like to stick one's hand Out of the globe, but its dimension, What carries it, will not allow it.
No doubt it is this, not the reflex To hide something, which makes the hand loom large As it retreats slightly.
There is no way To build it flat like a section of wall: It must join the segment of a circle, Roving back to the body of which it seems So unlikely a part, to fence in and shore up the face On which the effort of this condition reads Like a pinpoint of a smile, a spark Or star one is not sure of having seen As darkness resumes.
A perverse light whose Imperative of subtlety dooms in advance its Conceit to light up: unimportant but meant.
Francesco, your hand is big enough To wreck the sphere, and too big, One would think, to weave delicate meshes That only argue its further detention.
(Big, but not coarse, merely on another scale, Like a dozing whale on the sea bottom In relation to the tiny, self-important ship On the surface.
) But your eyes proclaim That everything is surface.
The surface is what's there And nothing can exist except what's there.
There are no recesses in the room, only alcoves, And the window doesn't matter much, or that Sliver of window or mirror on the right, even As a gauge of the weather, which in French is Le temps, the word for time, and which Follows a course wherein changes are merely Features of the whole.
The whole is stable within Instability, a globe like ours, resting On a pedestal of vacuum, a ping-pong ball Secure on its jet of water.
And just as there are no words for the surface, that is, No words to say what it really is, that it is not Superficial but a visible core, then there is No way out of the problem of pathos vs.
experience.
You will stay on, restive, serene in Your gesture which is neither embrace nor warning But which holds something of both in pure Affirmation that doesn't affirm anything.
The balloon pops, the attention Turns dully away.
Clouds In the puddle stir up into sawtoothed fragments.
I think of the friends Who came to see me, of what yesterday Was like.
A peculiar slant Of memory that intrudes on the dreaming model In the silence of the studio as he considers Lifting the pencil to the self-portrait.
How many people came and stayed a certain time, Uttered light or dark speech that became part of you Like light behind windblown fog and sand, Filtered and influenced by it, until no part Remains that is surely you.
Those voices in the dusk Have told you all and still the tale goes on In the form of memories deposited in irregular Clumps of crystals.
Whose curved hand controls, Francesco, the turning seasons and the thoughts That peel off and fly away at breathless speeds Like the last stubborn leaves ripped From wet branches? I see in this only the chaos Of your round mirror which organizes everything Around the polestar of your eyes which are empty, Know nothing, dream but reveal nothing.
I feel the carousel starting slowly And going faster and faster: desk, papers, books, Photographs of friends, the window and the trees Merging in one neutral band that surrounds Me on all sides, everywhere I look.
And I cannot explain the action of leveling, Why it should all boil down to one Uniform substance, a magma of interiors.
My guide in these matters is your self, Firm, oblique, accepting everything with the same Wraith of a smile, and as time speeds up so that it is soon Much later, I can know only the straight way out, The distance between us.
Long ago The strewn evidence meant something, The small accidents and pleasures Of the day as it moved gracelessly on, A housewife doing chores.
Impossible now To restore those properties in the silver blur that is The record of what you accomplished by sitting down "With great art to copy all that you saw in the glass" So as to perfect and rule out the extraneous Forever.
In the circle of your intentions certain spars Remain that perpetuate the enchantment of self with self: Eyebeams, muslin, coral.
It doesn't matter Because these are things as they are today Before one's shadow ever grew Out of the field into thoughts of tomorrow.
Tomorrow is easy, but today is uncharted, Desolate, reluctant as any landscape To yield what are laws of perspective After all only to the painter's deep Mistrust, a weak instrument though Necessary.
Of course some things Are possible, it knows, but it doesn't know Which ones.
Some day we will try To do as many things as are possible And perhaps we shall succeed at a handful Of them, but this will not have anything To do with what is promised today, our Landscape sweeping out from us to disappear On the horizon.
Today enough of a cover burnishes To keep the supposition of promises together In one piece of surface, letting one ramble Back home from them so that these Even stronger possibilities can remain Whole without being tested.
Actually The skin of the bubble-chamber's as tough as Reptile eggs; everything gets "programmed" there In due course: more keeps getting included Without adding to the sum, and just as one Gets accustomed to a noise that Kept one awake but now no longer does, So the room contains this flow like an hourglass Without varying in climate or quality (Except perhaps to brighten bleakly and almost Invisibly, in a focus sharpening toward death--more Of this later).
What should be the vacuum of a dream Becomes continually replete as the source of dreams Is being tapped so that this one dream May wax, flourish like a cabbage rose, Defying sumptuary laws, leaving us To awake and try to begin living in what Has now become a slum.
Sydney Freedberg in his Parmigianino says of it: "Realism in this portrait No longer produces and objective truth, but a bizarria .
.
.
.
However its distortion does not create A feeling of disharmony .
.
.
.
The forms retain A strong measure of ideal beauty," because Fed by our dreams, so inconsequential until one day We notice the hole they left.
Now their importance If not their meaning is plain.
They were to nourish A dream which includes them all, as they are Finally reversed in the accumulating mirror.
They seemed strange because we couldn't actually see them.
And we realize this only at a point where they lapse Like a wave breaking on a rock, giving up Its shape in a gesture which expresses that shape.
The forms retain a strong measure of ideal beauty As they forage in secret on our idea of distortion.
Why be unhappy with this arrangement, since Dreams prolong us as they are absorbed? Something like living occurs, a movement Out of the dream into its codification.
As I start to forget it It presents its stereotype again But it is an unfamiliar stereotype, the face Riding at anchor, issued from hazards, soon To accost others, "rather angel than man" (Vasari).
Perhaps an angel looks like everything We have forgotten, I mean forgotten Things that don't seem familiar when We meet them again, lost beyond telling, Which were ours once.
This would be the point Of invading the privacy of this man who "Dabbled in alchemy, but whose wish Here was not to examine the subtleties of art In a detached, scientific spirit: he wished through them To impart the sense of novelty and amazement to the spectator" (Freedberg).
Later portraits such as the Uffizi "Gentleman," the Borghese "Young Prelate" and The Naples "Antea" issue from Mannerist Tensions, but here, as Freedberg points out, The surprise, the tension are in the concept Rather than its realization.
The consonance of the High Renaissance Is present, though distorted by the mirror.
What is novel is the extreme care in rendering The velleities of the rounded reflecting surface (It is the first mirror portrait), So that you could be fooled for a moment Before you realize the reflection Isn't yours.
You feel then like one of those Hoffmann characters who have been deprived Of a reflection, except that the whole of me Is seen to be supplanted by the strict Otherness of the painter in his Other room.
We have surprised him At work, but no, he has surprised us As he works.
The picture is almost finished, The surprise almost over, as when one looks out, Startled by a snowfall which even now is Ending in specks and sparkles of snow.
It happened while you were inside, asleep, And there is no reason why you should have Been awake for it, except that the day Is ending and it will be hard for you To get to sleep tonight, at least until late.
The shadow of the city injects its own Urgency: Rome where Francesco Was at work during the Sack: his inventions Amazed the soldiers who burst in on him; They decided to spare his life, but he left soon after; Vienna where the painting is today, where I saw it with Pierre in the summer of 1959; New York Where I am now, which is a logarithm Of other cities.
Our landscape Is alive with filiations, shuttlings; Business is carried on by look, gesture, Hearsay.
It is another life to the city, The backing of the looking glass of the Unidentified but precisely sketched studio.
It wants To siphon off the life of the studio, deflate Its mapped space to enactments, island it.
That operation has been temporarily stalled But something new is on the way, a new preciosity In the wind.
Can you stand it, Francesco? Are you strong enough for it? This wind brings what it knows not, is Self--propelled, blind, has no notion Of itself.
It is inertia that once Acknowledged saps all activity, secret or public: Whispers of the word that can't be understood But can be felt, a chill, a blight Moving outward along the capes and peninsulas Of your nervures and so to the archipelagoes And to the bathed, aired secrecy of the open sea.
This is its negative side.
Its positive side is Making you notice life and the stresses That only seemed to go away, but now, As this new mode questions, are seen to be Hastening out of style.
If they are to become classics They must decide which side they are on.
Their reticence has undermined The urban scenery, made its ambiguities Look willful and tired, the games of an old man.
What we need now is this unlikely Challenger pounding on the gates of an amazed Castle.
Your argument, Francesco, Had begun to grow stale as no answer Or answers were forthcoming.
If it dissolves now Into dust, that only means its time had come Some time ago, but look now, and listen: It may be that another life is stocked there In recesses no one knew of; that it, Not we, are the change; that we are in fact it If we could get back to it, relive some of the way It looked, turn our faces to the globe as it sets And still be coming out all right: Nerves normal, breath normal.
Since it is a metaphor Made to include us, we are a part of it and Can live in it as in fact we have done, Only leaving our minds bare for questioning We now see will not take place at random But in an orderly way that means to menace Nobody--the normal way things are done, Like the concentric growing up of days Around a life: correctly, if you think about it.
A breeze like the turning of a page Brings back your face: the moment Takes such a big bite out of the haze Of pleasant intuition it comes after.
The locking into place is "death itself," As Berg said of a phrase in Mahler's Ninth; Or, to quote Imogen in Cymbeline, "There cannot Be a pinch in death more sharp than this," for, Though only exercise or tactic, it carries The momentum of a conviction that had been building.
Mere forgetfulness cannot remove it Nor wishing bring it back, as long as it remains The white precipitate of its dream In the climate of sighs flung across our world, A cloth over a birdcage.
But it is certain that What is beautiful seems so only in relation to a specific Life, experienced or not, channeled into some form Steeped in the nostalgia of a collective past.
The light sinks today with an enthusiasm I have known elsewhere, and known why It seemed meaningful, that others felt this way Years ago.
I go on consulting This mirror that is no longer mine For as much brisk vacancy as is to be My portion this time.
And the vase is always full Because there is only just so much room And it accommodates everything.
The sample One sees is not to be taken as Merely that, but as everything as it May be imagined outside time--not as a gesture But as all, in the refined, assimilable state.
But what is this universe the porch of As it veers in and out, back and forth, Refusing to surround us and still the only Thing we can see? Love once Tipped the scales but now is shadowed, invisible, Though mysteriously present, around somewhere.
But we know it cannot be sandwiched Between two adjacent moments, that its windings Lead nowhere except to further tributaries And that these empty themselves into a vague Sense of something that can never be known Even though it seems likely that each of us Knows what it is and is capable of Communicating it to the other.
But the look Some wear as a sign makes one want to Push forward ignoring the apparent NaÏveté of the attempt, not caring That no one is listening, since the light Has been lit once and for all in their eyes And is present, unimpaired, a permanent anomaly, Awake and silent.
On the surface of it There seems no special reason why that light Should be focused by love, or why The city falling with its beautiful suburbs Into space always less clear, less defined, Should read as the support of its progress, The easel upon which the drama unfolded To its own satisfaction and to the end Of our dreaming, as we had never imagined It would end, in worn daylight with the painted Promise showing through as a gage, a bond.
This nondescript, never-to-be defined daytime is The secret of where it takes place And we can no longer return to the various Conflicting statements gathered, lapses of memory Of the principal witnesses.
All we know Is that we are a little early, that Today has that special, lapidary Todayness that the sunlight reproduces Faithfully in casting twig-shadows on blithe Sidewalks.
No previous day would have been like this.
I used to think they were all alike, That the present always looked the same to everybody But this confusion drains away as one Is always cresting into one's present.
Yet the "poetic," straw-colored space Of the long corridor that leads back to the painting, Its darkening opposite--is this Some figment of "art," not to be imagined As real, let alone special? Hasn't it too its lair In the present we are always escaping from And falling back into, as the waterwheel of days Pursues its uneventful, even serene course? I think it is trying to say it is today And we must get out of it even as the public Is pushing through the museum now so as to Be out by closing time.
You can't live there.
The gray glaze of the past attacks all know-how: Secrets of wash and finish that took a lifetime To learn and are reduced to the status of Black-and-white illustrations in a book where colorplates Are rare.
That is, all time Reduces to no special time.
No one Alludes to the change; to do so might Involve calling attention to oneself Which would augment the dread of not getting out Before having seen the whole collection (Except for the sculptures in the basement: They are where they belong).
Our time gets to be veiled, compromised By the portrait's will to endure.
It hints at Our own, which we were hoping to keep hidden.
We don't need paintings or Doggerel written by mature poets when The explosion is so precise, so fine.
Is there any point even in acknowledging The existence of all that? Does it Exist? Certainly the leisure to Indulge stately pastimes doesn't, Any more.
Today has no margins, the event arrives Flush with its edges, is of the same substance, Indistinguishable.
"Play" is something else; It exists, in a society specifically Organized as a demonstration of itself.
There is no other way, and those assholes Who would confuse everything with their mirror games Which seem to multiply stakes and possibilities, or At least confuse issues by means of an investing Aura that would corrode the architecture Of the whole in a haze of suppressed mockery, Are beside the point.
They are out of the game, Which doesn't exist until they are out of it.
It seems like a very hostile universe But as the principle of each individual thing is Hostile to, exists at the expense of all the others As philosophers have often pointed out, at least This thing, the mute, undivided present, Has the justification of logic, which In this instance isn't a bad thing Or wouldn't be, if the way of telling Didn't somehow intrude, twisting the end result Into a caricature of itself.
This always Happens, as in the game where A whispered phrase passed around the room Ends up as something completely different.
It is the principle that makes works of art so unlike What the artist intended.
Often he finds He has omitted the thing he started out to say In the first place.
Seduced by flowers, Explicit pleasures, he blames himself (though Secretly satisfied with the result), imagining He had a say in the matter and exercised An option of which he was hardly conscious, Unaware that necessity circumvents such resolutions.
So as to create something new For itself, that there is no other way, That the history of creation proceeds according to Stringent laws, and that things Do get done in this way, but never the things We set out to accomplish and wanted so desperately To see come into being.
Parmigianino Must have realized this as he worked at his Life-obstructing task.
One is forced to read The perfectly plausible accomplishment of a purpose Into the smooth, perhaps even bland (but so Enigmatic) finish.
Is there anything To be serious about beyond this otherness That gets included in the most ordinary Forms of daily activity, changing everything Slightly and profoundly, and tearing the matter Of creation, any creation, not just artistic creation Out of our hands, to install it on some monstrous, near Peak, too close to ignore, too far For one to intervene? This otherness, this "Not-being-us" is all there is to look at In the mirror, though no one can say How it came to be this way.
A ship Flying unknown colors has entered the harbor.
You are allowing extraneous matters To break up your day, cloud the focus Of the crystal ball.
Its scene drifts away Like vapor scattered on the wind.
The fertile Thought-associations that until now came So easily, appear no more, or rarely.
Their Colorings are less intense, washed out By autumn rains and winds, spoiled, muddied, Given back to you because they are worthless.
Yet we are such creatures of habit that their Implications are still around en permanence, confusing Issues.
To be serious only about sex Is perhaps one way, but the sands are hissing As they approach the beginning of the big slide Into what happened.
This past Is now here: the painter's Reflected face, in which we linger, receiving Dreams and inspirations on an unassigned Frequency, but the hues have turned metallic, The curves and edges are not so rich.
Each person Has one big theory to explain the universe But it doesn't tell the whole story And in the end it is what is outside him That matters, to him and especially to us Who have been given no help whatever In decoding our own man-size quotient and must rely On second-hand knowledge.
Yet I know That no one else's taste is going to be Any help, and might as well be ignored.
Once it seemed so perfect--gloss on the fine Freckled skin, lips moistened as though about to part Releasing speech, and the familiar look Of clothes and furniture that one forgets.
This could have been our paradise: exotic Refuge within an exhausted world, but that wasn't In the cards, because it couldn't have been The point.
Aping naturalness may be the first step Toward achieving an inner calm But it is the first step only, and often Remains a frozen gesture of welcome etched On the air materializing behind it, A convention.
And we have really No time for these, except to use them For kindling.
The sooner they are burnt up The better for the roles we have to play.
Therefore I beseech you, withdraw that hand, Offer it no longer as shield or greeting, The shield of a greeting, Francesco: There is room for one bullet in the chamber: Our looking through the wrong end Of the telescope as you fall back at a speed Faster than that of light to flatten ultimately Among the features of the room, an invitation Never mailed, the "it was all a dream" Syndrome, though the "all" tells tersely Enough how it wasn't.
Its existence Was real, though troubled, and the ache Of this waking dream can never drown out The diagram still sketched on the wind, Chosen, meant for me and materialized In the disguising radiance of my room.
We have seen the city; it is the gibbous Mirrored eye of an insect.
All things happen On its balcony and are resumed within, But the action is the cold, syrupy flow Of a pageant.
One feels too confined, Sifting the April sunlight for clues, In the mere stillness of the ease of its Parameter.
The hand holds no chalk And each part of the whole falls off And cannot know it knew, except Here and there, in cold pockets Of remembrance, whispers out of time.


by Pablo Neruda | |

XVII (Thinking Tangling Shadows...)

 Thinking, tangling shadows in the deep solitude.
You are far away too, oh farther than anyone.
Thinking, freeing birds, dissolving images, burying lamps.
Belfry of fogs, how far away, up there! Stifling laments, milling shadowy hopes, taciturn miller, night falls on you face downward, far from the city.
Your presence is foreign, as strange to me as a thing.
I think, I explore great tracts of my life before you.
My life before anyone, my harsh life.
The shout facing the sea, among the rocks, running free, mad, in the sea-spray.
The sad rage, the shout, the solitude of the sea.
Headlong, violent, stretched towards the sky.
You, woman, what were you there, what ray, what vane of that immense fan? You were as far as you are now.
Fire in the forest! Burn in blue crosses.
Burn, burn, flame up, sparkle in trees of light.
It collapses, crackling.
Fire.
Fire.
And my soul dances, seared with curls of fire.
Who calls? What silence peopled with echoes? Hour of nostalgia, hour of happiness, hour of solitude.
Hour that is mine from among them all! Megaphone in which the wind passes singing.
Such a passion of weeping tied to my body.
Shaking of all the roots, attack of all the waves! My soul wandered, happy, sad, unending.
Thinking, burying lamps in the deep solitude.
Who are you, who are you?