Ezra Pound |
I was in love with anatomy
the symmetry of my body
poised for flight,
the heights it would take
over parents, lovers, a keen
riding over truth and detail.
I thought growing up would be
this rising from everything
old and earthly,
not these faltering steps out the door
every day, then back again.
William Butler Yeats |
I summon to the winding ancient stair;
Set all your mind upon the steep ascent,
Upon the broken, crumbling battlement,
Upon the breathless starlit air,
"Upon the star that marks the hidden pole;
Fix every wandering thought upon
That quarter where all thought is done:
Who can distinguish darkness from the soul
The consecretes blade upon my knees
Is Sato's ancient blade, still as it was,
Still razor-keen, still like a looking-glass
Unspotted by the centuries;
That flowering, silken, old embroidery, torn
From some court-lady's dress and round
The wodden scabbard bound and wound
Can, tattered, still protect, faded adorn
Why should the imagination of a man
Long past his prime remember things that are
Emblematical of love and war?
Think of ancestral night that can,
If but imagination scorn the earth
And interllect is wandering
To this and that and t'other thing,
Deliver from the crime of death and birth.
Montashigi, third of his family, fashioned it
Five hundred years ago, about it lie
Flowers from I know not what embroidery -
Heart's purple - and all these I set
For emblems of the day against the tower
Emblematical of the night,
And claim as by a soldier's right
A charter to commit the crime once more.
Such fullness in that quarter overflows
And falls into the basin of the mind
That man is stricken deaf and dumb and blind,
For intellect no longer knows
Is from the Ought, or knower from the Known -
That is to say, ascends to Heaven;
Only the dead can be forgiven;
But when I think of that my tongue's a stone.
A living man is blind and drinks his drop.
What matter if the ditches are impure?
What matter if I live it all once more?
Endure that toil of growing up;
The ignominy of boyhood; the distress
Of boyhood changing into man;
The unfinished man and his pain
Brought face to face with his own clumsiness;
The finished man among his enemies? -
How in the name of Heaven can he escape
That defiling and disfigured shape
The mirror of malicious eyes
Casts upon his eyes until at last
He thinks that shape must be his shape?
And what's the good of an escape
If honour find him in the wintry blast?
I am content to live it all again
And yet again, if it be life to pitch
Into the frog-spawn of a blind man's ditch,
A blind man battering blind men;
Or into that most fecund ditch of all,
The folly that man does
Or must suffer, if he woos
A proud woman not kindred of his soul.
I am content to follow to its source
Every event in action or in thought;
Measure the lot; forgive myself the lot!
When such as I cast out remorse
So great a sweetness flows into the breast
We must laugh and we must sing,
We are blest by everything,
Everything we look upon is blest.
Allen Ginsberg |
takes him strolling
by railroad and by river
-he's the son of the absconded
hot rod angel-
and he imagines cars
and rides them in his dreams,
so lonely growing up among
the imaginary automobiles
and dead souls of Tarrytown
out of his own imagination
the beauty of his wild
he cannot inherit.
Will he later hallucinate
his gods? Waking
among mysteries with
an insane gleam
something so rare
in his soul,
met only in dreams
of another life.
A question of the soul.
And the injured
losing their injury
in their innocence
-a cock, a cross,
an excellence of love.
And the father grieves
complexities of memory
a thousand miles
of the unexpected
bumming toward his door.
- New York, April 13, 1952
Rafael Guillen |
Maybe, out there somewhere,
the possibility of fear; the wall
that might tumble down, because it's for sure
that behind it is the sea.
Fear has a countenance;
It's external, concrete,
like a rifle, a shot bolt,
a suffering child,
like the darkness that's hidden
in every human mouth.
Maybe only the brand
of the offspring of fear.
It's a narrow, interminable street
with all the windows darkened,
a thread spun out from a sticky hand,
friendly, yes, not a friend.
It's a nightmare
of polite ritual wearing a frightwig.
Fear is a door slammed in your face.
I'm speaking here of a labyrinth
of doors already closed, with assumed
reasons for being, or not being,
for categorizing bad luck
or good, bread, or an expression
— tenderness and panic and frigidity - for the children
And the silence.
And the cities, sparkling, empty.
and the mediocrity, like a hot
lava, spewed out over
the grain, and the voice, and the idea.
It's not fear.
The real fear hasn't come yet.
But it will.
It's the doublethink
that believes peace is only another movement.
And I say it with suspicion, at the top of my lungs.
And it's not fear, no.
It's the certainty
that I'm betting, on a single card,
the whole haystack I've piled up,
straw by straw, for my fellow man.
William Butler Yeats |
We sat under an old thorn-tree
And talked away the night,
Told all that had been said or done
Since first we saw the light,
And when we talked of growing up
Knew that we'd halved a soul
And fell the one in t'other's arms
That we might make it whole;
Then peter had a murdering look,
For it seemed that he and she
Had spoken of their childish days
Under that very tree.
O what a bursting out there was,
And what a blossoming,
When we had all the summer-time
And she had all the spring!
Tony Hoagland |
At this height, Kansas
is just a concept,
a checkerboard design of wheat and corn
no larger than the foldout section
of my neighbor's travel magazine.
At this stage of the journey
I would estimate the distance
between myself and my own feelings
is roughly the same as the mileage
from Seattle to New York,
so I can lean back into the upholstered interval
between Muzak and lunch,
a little bored, a little old and strange.
I remember, as a dreamy
backyard kind of kid,
tilting up my head to watch
those planes engrave the sky
in lines so steady and so straight
they implied the enormous concentration
of good men,
but now my eyes flicker
from the in-flight movie
to the stewardess's pantyline,
then back into my book,
where men throw harpoons at something
much bigger and probably
better than themselves,
wanting to kill it,
wanting to see great clouds of blood erupt
to prove that they exist.
Imagine being born and growing up,
rushing through the world for sixty years
at unimaginable speeds.
Imagine a century like a room so large,
a corridor so long
you could travel for a lifetime
and never find the door,
until you had forgotten
that such a thing as doors exist.
Better to be on board the Pequod,
with a mad one-legged captain
living for revenge.
Better to feel the salt wind
spitting in your face,
to hold your sharpened weapon high,
to see the glisten
of the beast beneath the waves.
What a relief it would be
to hear someone in the crew
cry out like a gull,
Oh Captain, Captain!
Where are we going now?
William Butler Yeats |
Swear by what the sages spoke
Round the Mareotic Lake
That the Witch of Atlas knew,
Spoke and set the cocks a-crow.
Swear by those horsemen, by those women
Complexion and form prove superhuman,
That pale, long-visaged company
That air in immortality
Completeness of their passions won;
Now they ride the wintry dawn
Where Ben Bulben sets the scene.
Here's the gist of what they mean.
Many times man lives and dies
Between his two eternities,
That of race and that of soul,
And ancient Ireland knew it all.
Whether man die in his bed
Or the rifle knocks him dead,
A brief parting from those dear
Is the worst man has to fear.
Though grave-diggers' toil is long,
Sharp their spades, their muscles strong.
They but thrust their buried men
Back in the human mind again.
You that Mitchel's prayer have heard,
'Send war in our time, O Lord!'
Know that when all words are said
And a man is fighting mad,
Something drops from eyes long blind,
He completes his partial mind,
For an instant stands at ease,
Laughs aloud, his heart at peace.
Even the wisest man grows tense
With some sort of violence
Before he can accomplish fate,
Know his work or choose his mate.
Poet and sculptor, do the work,
Nor let the modish painter shirk
What his great forefathers did.
Bring the soul of man to God,
Make him fill the cradles right.
Measurement began our might:
Forms a stark Egyptian thought,
Forms that gentler phidias wrought.
Michael Angelo left a proof
On the Sistine Chapel roof,
Where but half-awakened Adam
Can disturb globe-trotting Madam
Till her bowels are in heat,
proof that there's a purpose set
Before the secret working mind:
Profane perfection of mankind.
Quattrocento put in paint
On backgrounds for a God or Saint
Gardens where a soul's at ease;
Where everything that meets the eye,
Flowers and grass and cloudless sky,
Resemble forms that are or seem
When sleepers wake and yet still dream.
And when it's vanished still declare,
With only bed and bedstead there,
That heavens had opened.
Gyres run on;
When that greater dream had gone
Calvert and Wilson, Blake and Claude,
Prepared a rest for the people of God,
Palmer's phrase, but after that
Confusion fell upon our thought.
Irish poets, earn your trade,
Sing whatever is well made,
Scorn the sort now growing up
All out of shape from toe to top,
Their unremembering hearts and heads
Base-born products of base beds.
Sing the peasantry, and then
Hard-riding country gentlemen,
The holiness of monks, and after
Porter-drinkers' randy laughter;
Sing the lords and ladies gay
That were beaten into the clay
Through seven heroic centuries;
Cast your mind on other days
That we in coming days may be
Still the indomitable Irishry.
Under bare Ben Bulben's head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by!
Rainer Maria Rilke |
O trees of life, oh, what when winter comes?
We are not of one mind.
Are not like birds
in unison migrating.
overdue, we thrust ourselves into the wind
and fall to earth into indifferent ponds.
Blossoming and withering we comprehend as one.
And somewhere lions roam, quite unaware,
in their magnificence, of any weaknesss.
But we, while wholly concentrating on one thing,
already feel the pressure of another.
Hatred is our first response.
are they not forever invading one another's
boundaries? -although they promised space,
hunting and homeland.
Then, for a sketch
drawn at a moment's impulse, a ground of contrast
is prepared, painfully, so that we may see.
For they are most exact with us.
We do not know
the contours of our feelings.
We only know
what shapes them from the outside.
Who has not sat, afraid, before his own heart's
curtain? It lifted and displayed the scenery
Easy to understand.
garden swaying just a little.
Then came the dancer.
Not he! Enough! However lightly he pretends to move:
he is just disguised, costumed, an ordinary man
who enters through the kitchen when coming home.
I will not have these half-filled human masks;
better the puppet.
It at least is full.
I will endure this well-stuffed doll, the wire,
the face that is nothing but appearance.
Here out front
Even if the lights go down and I am told:
"There's nothing more to come," -even if
the grayish drafts of emptiness come drifting down
from the deserted stage -even if not one
of my now silent forebears sist beside me
any longer, not a woman, not even a boy-
he with the brown and squinting eyes-:
I'll still remain.
For one can always watch.
Am I not right? You, to whom life would taste
so bitter, Father, after you - for my sake -
slipped of mine, that first muddy infusion
of my necessity.
You kept on tasting, Father,
as I kept on growing, troubled by the aftertaste
of my so strange a future as you kept searching
my unfocused gaze -you who, so often since
you died, have been afraid for my well-being,
within my deepest hope, relinquishing that calmness,
the realms of equanimity such as the dead possess
for my so small fate -Am I not right?
And you, my parents, am I not right? You who loved me
for that small beginning of my love for you
from which I always shyly turned away, because
the distance in your features grew, changed,
even while I loved it, into cosmic space
where you no longer were.
: and when I feel
inclined to wait before the puppet stage, no,
rather to stare at is so intensely that in the end
to counter-balance my searching gaze, an angel
has to come as an actor, and begin manipulating
the lifeless bodies of the puppets to perform.
Angel and puppet! Now at last there is a play!
Then what we seperate can come together by our
And only then the entire cycle
of our own life-seasons is revealed and set in motion.
Above, beyond us, the angel plays.
must not the dying notice how unreal, how full
of pretense is all that we accomplish here, where
nothing is to be itself.
O hours of childhood,
when behind each shape more that the past lay hidden,
when that which lay before us was not the future.
We grew, of course, and sometimes were impatient
in growing up, half for the sake of pleasing those
with nothing left but their own grown-upness.
Yet, when alone, we entertained ourselves
with what alone endures, we would stand there
in the infinite space that spans the world and toys,
upon a place, which from the first beginnniing
had been prepared to serve a pure event.
Who shows a child just as it stands? Who places him
within his constellation, with the measuring-rod
of distance in his hand.
Who makes his death
from gray bread that grows hard, -or leaves
it there inside his rounded mouth, jagged as the core
of a sweet apple?.
The minds of murderers
are easily comprehended.
But this: to contain death,
the whole of death, even before life has begun,
to hold it all so gently within oneself,
and not be angry: that is indescribable.
Li Po |
Since yesterday had throw me and bolt,
Today has hurt my heart even more.
The autumn wildgeese have a long wing for escort
As I face them from this villa, drinking my wine.
The bones of great writers are your brushes, in the school of heaven,
And I am Lesser Hsieh growing up by your side.
We both are exalted to distant thought,
Aspiring to the sky and the bright moon.
But since water still flows, though we cut it with our swords,
And sorrow return,though we drown them with wine,
Since the world can in no way answer our craving,
I will loosen my hair tomorrow and take to a fishing-boat.
Walt Whitman |
SCENTED herbage of my breast,
Leaves from you I yield, I write, to be perused best afterwards,
Tomb-leaves, body-leaves, growing up above me, above death,
Perennial roots, tall leaves—O the winter shall not freeze you, delicate leaves,
Every year shall you bloom again—out from where you retired, you shall emerge again;
O I do not know whether many, passing by, will discover you, or inhale your faint
believe a few will;
O slender leaves! O blossoms of my blood! I permit you to tell, in your own way, of the
is under you;
O burning and throbbing—surely all will one day be accomplish’d;
O I do not know what you mean, there underneath yourselves—you are not happiness,
You are often more bitter than I can bear—you burn and sting me,
Yet you are very beautiful to me, you faint-tinged roots—you make me think of Death,
Death is beautiful from you—(what indeed is finally beautiful, except Death and
—O I think it is not for life I am chanting here my chant of lovers—I think it
For how calm, how solemn it grows, to ascend to the atmosphere of lovers,
Death or life I am then indifferent—my Soul declines to prefer,
I am not sure but the high Soul of lovers welcomes death most;
Indeed, O Death, I think now these leaves mean precisely the same as you mean;
Grow up taller, sweet leaves, that I may see! grow up out of my breast!
Spring away from the conceal’d heart there!
Do not fold yourself so in your pink-tinged roots, timid leaves!
Do not remain down there so ashamed, herbage of my breast!
Come, I am determin’d to unbare this broad breast of mine—I have long enough
—Emblematic and capricious blade, I leave you—now you serve me not;
Away! I will say what I have to say, by itself,
I will escape from the sham that was proposed to me,
I will sound myself and comrades only—I will never again utter a call, only their
I will raise, with it, immortal reverberations through The States,
I will give an example to lovers, to take permanent shape and will through The States;
Through me shall the words be said to make death exhilarating;
Give me your tone therefore, O Death, that I may accord with it,
Give me yourself—for I see that you belong to me now above all, and are folded
together—you Love and Death are;
Nor will I allow you to balk me any more with what I was calling life,
For now it is convey’d to me that you are the purports essential,
That you hide in these shifting forms of life, for reasons—and that they are mainly
That you, beyond them, come forth, to remain, the real reality,
That behind the mask of materials you patiently wait, no matter how long,
That you will one day, perhaps, take control of all,
That you will perhaps dissipate this entire show of appearance,
That may-be you are what it is all for—but it does not last so very long;
But you will last very long.