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This poem is taken from PN Review 188, Volume 35 Number 6, July - August 2009.Chain Letter
Fastyng on a Friday forth gan he wende
Unto the bed wher that sche slepte,
And she was cleped madame Eglentyne,
Besely seking with a continuell chaunge
To change her hew, and sundry formes to don,
Studying inventions fine, her wits to entertaine:
With sweet musk-roses and with eglantine.
(He is starke mad, who ever sayes
Ill matching words and deeds long past or late
Could by industrious Valour climbe
Above the rest, their discords to decide.)
Proceeding on, the lovely Goddess
Asleep and naked as an Indian lay,
Of such, as wand’ring near her secret bow’r,
By youthful head and female art
Of varied beauty, to delight the wanderer and repose
Wi’ favours, secret, sweet, and precious.
His look and bending figure, all bespeak
A stifled, drowsy, unimpassion’d grief,
That he was forced, against his will, no doubt,
To own that death itself must be
Where there is neither sense of life or joys.
Anxious her lips, her breathing quick and short:
Her eyes blazed upon him - ‘And you! You bring us your
vices so near
And this gray spirit yearning in desire
As if alive. Will’t please you rise? We’ll meet
And hand in hand, on the edge of the sand,
Stepping with light feet… swiftly and noiselessly stepping
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch’d land,
The sighing sound, the lights around the shore,
The irresponsive sounding of the sea,
Untouched by morning and untouched by noon,
We can begin to feed.
Let us go hence together without fear.
I see what you are doing: you are leading me on.
What hours, O what black hoürs we have spent.
Some love too little, some too long,
Though both are foolish, both are strong
An’ they talks a lot o’ lovin’, but wot do they understand?
Consume my heart away; sick with desire,
I forgive you everything and there is nothing to forgive.
Now the mind lays by its trouble and considers
Openair love and religion’s reform,
The riddle of a man and a woman
All heavy with sleep, fucked girls and fat leopards.
Queer, what a dim dark smudge you have disappeared into!
Drifted away… O, but Everyone
is an enchanted thing
A pulse in the eternal mind, no less.
The songsters of the air repair
The hopelessness. Whatever hope is yours
Humanity i love you
and I am glad that you do not belong
Under a world of whistles, wire and steam.
A city seems between us. It is only love.
I take my curses back.
Only sometimes when a tree has fallen
In splendor and dissipation
In a world of sunlight where nothing is amiss
I feel as though I had begun to fall,
the whole misery diagnosed undiagnosed misdiagnosed.
Think of what our Nation stands for,
Of Captain Ferguson
In silk hat. Daylight.
The light is in the east. Yes. And we must rise, act. Yet
He didn’t fight.
he played dominoes and drank calvados unTil
They put him in the fields to dock swedes,
And the craters of his eyes grew springshoots and fire
And forty-seven years went by like Einstein.
My mind’s not right.
I too have ridden boxcars boxcars boxcars.’
(An ode? Pindar’s art, the editors tell us, was not a statue
source for bugling echoes and silvered laments. The
Power of some sort or other will go on
In the network, in the ruin.
We repeat our conversation in the glittering dark.
One - someone - stops to break off a bit of myrtle and
recite all the lines.)
If woman is inconstant,
How I loved those made of stone. And yet poetry has
Tough lips that cannot quite make the sounds of love,
strange hairy lips behind
and I am sweating a lot by now and thinking of
long legs, long waist, high breasts (no bra), long
confessions. Lady, I follow.
And still the machinery of the great exegesis is only
it will Invent a whole new literachure
From a cacophony of dusty forms…
O but what about love? I forget love.
The sun dries me as I dance
On the flowers of Eden.
Platonic England, house of solitudes,
I have hung our cave with roses.
O the dark caves of obligation.
I remember when I lived in Boston reading all of
Dostoyevsky’s novels one
right after the other,
And yet last night I played Meditations,
fugitive dialogue of masterwork.
Perhaps I’ve got to write better longer thinking of it as
echo-soundings, searches, probes, allurements.
A few months earlier I had taken a creative writing class:
‘The period in history termed Modern is now over’ it said.
Suddenly I feel silly and ill. This apartment
invents the world, holds it together in color of
your body waking up so sweet to me skin
we sit on the bed indian fashion not touching…
I was working on a different poem.
It was words that detained us, though they do not reach
the crush of it, the variety,
in which history itself is vanquished,
When he names the forgotten names
as if they might start speaking.
1 William Langland, The Vision of Piers Plowman; 2 John Gower, Confessio Amantis; 3 Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales; 4 Sir Thomas Wyatt, ‘They fle from me that sometyme did me seke’; 5 Edmund Spenser, The Faerie Queene; 6 Sir Philip Sidney, Astrophil and Stella; 7 William Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream; 8 John Donne, ‘The Broken Heart’; 9 John Milton, Paradise Lost, 10 Andrew Marvell, ‘An Horation Ode upon Cromwel’s Return from Ireland’; 11 John Dryden, ‘The Hind and the Panther’, 12 Jonathan Swift, ‘A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed’; 13 Alexander Pope, ‘An Epistle to Bathurst’; 14 Thomas Gray, ‘Elegy Written in a Country Church Yard’; 15 Christopher Smart, ‘Hymn II: Circumcision’; 16 William Blake, Milton; 17 Robert Burns, ‘Tam o’Shanter’; 18 William Wordsworth, ‘Old Man Travelling’; 19 Samuel Taylor Coleridge, ‘Dejection. An Ode’; 20 George Gordon, Lord Byron, ‘The Vision of Judgment’; 21 Percy Bysshe Shelley, ‘The Sensitive-Plant’; 22 John Clare, ‘I Am’; 23 John Keats, ‘The Eve of St Agnes’; 24 Elizabeth Barrett Browning, ‘Lord Walter’s Wife’; 25 Alfred, Lord Tennyson, ‘Ulysses’; 26 Robert Browning, ‘My Last Duchess’; 27 Edward Lear, ‘The Owl and the Pussy-Cat’; 28 Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass; 29 Matthew Arnold, ‘Dover Beach’; 30 Dante Gabriel Rossetti, ‘Sudden Light’; 31 Christina Rossetti, ‘The Thread of Life’; 32 Emily Dickinson, ‘Safe in their alabaster chambers’; 33 Lewis Carroll, ‘The Walrus and the Carpenter’; 34 Algernon Charles Swinburne, ‘A Leave-taking’; 35 Thomas Hardy, ‘After a Journey’; 36 Gerald Manley Hopkins, ‘I wake and feel the fell of dark, not day’; 37 Oscar Wilde, The Ballad of Reading Gaol; 38 A.E. Housman, ‘The laws of God, the laws of man’; 39 Rudyard Kipling, ‘Mandalay’; 40 W.B. Yeats, ‘Sailing to Byzantium’; 41 Gertrude Stein, Stanzas in Meditation; 42 Wallace Stevens, ‘Credences of Summer’; 43 James Joyce, ‘The Ballad of Persse O’Reilly’; 44 William Carlos Williams, Paterson III; 45 Ezra Pound, Canto XXXIX; 46 D.H. Lawrence, ‘The Mosquito’; 47 Siegfried Sassoon, ‘Everyone Sang’; 48 Marianne Moore, ‘The Mind is an Enchanting Thing’; 49 Rupert Brooke, ‘The Soldier’; 50 T.S. Eliot, ‘Lines to a Persian Cat’; 51 Wilfred Owen, ‘Strange Meeting’; 52 e.e. Cummings, ‘Humanity i love you’; 53 Charles Reznikoff, Jerusalem the Golden (55); 54 Hart Crane, ‘Powhatan’s Daughter’; 55 Laura Riding, ‘A City Seems’; 56 Langston Hughes, ‘Cross’; 57 Stevie Smith, ‘The Jungle Husband’; 58 Lorine Neidecker, ‘Thomas Jefferson’; 59 Louis Zukofsky, 29 Poems (‘18’); 60 Kenneth Rexroth, ‘Un Bel di Vedremo’; 61 Samuel Beckett, ‘Ooftish’; 62 John Betjeman, ‘In Westminster Abbey’; 63 W.H. Auden, ‘Taller to-day, we remember similar evenings’; 64 George Oppen, ‘Party on Shipboard’; 65 Charles Olson, ‘The Kingfishers‘; 66 Elizabeth Bishop, ‘The Fish’; 67 John Cage ‘25 Mesostics Re and Not Re Mark Tobey’; 68 R.S. Thomas, ‘On the Farm’; 69 Dylan Thomas, ‘Among those Killed in the Dawn Raid was a Man Aged a Hundred’; 70 John Berryman, Dream Songs (47); 71 Robert Lowell, ‘Skunk Hour’; 72 Lawrence Ferlinghetti, ‘Autobiography’; 73 Robert Duncan, ‘A Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar’; 74 Barbara Guest, ‘Twilight Polka Dots’; 75 Philip Larkin, ‘Church Going’; 76 Jackson Mac Low, ‘Trope Market’; 77 Philip Whalen, ‘Sourdough Mountain Lookout’; 78 James Schuyler, ‘The Crystal Lithium’; 79 Denise Levertov, ‘Stepping Westward’; 80 Kenneth Koch, ‘With Janice’; 81 Jack Spicer, ‘Phonemics’; 82 Allen Ginsberg, ‘This Form of Life Needs Sex’; 83 Frank O’Hara, ‘The Day Lady Died’; 84 Paul Blackburn, ‘The Once-over’; 85 Robert Creeley, ‘The Door’; 86 John Ashbery, A Wave; 87 Ed Dorn, Gunslinger II; 88 Thom Gunn, ‘In Santa Maria del Popolo’; 89 Gregory Corso, ‘Marriage’; 90 Gary Snyder, Myths & Texts: Burning; 91 Ted Hughes, ‘A Childish Prank’; 92 Geoffrey Hill, ‘An Apology for the Revival of Christian Architecture in England’ (‘The Laurel Axe’); 93 Sylvia Plath, ‘Nick and the Candlestick’; 94 Diane di Prima, ‘On Sitting Down to Write, I Decide Instead to Go to Fred Herko’s Concert’; 95 Ted Berrigan, ‘I Remember’; 96 Amiri Baraka, AM/TRAK; 97 Susan Howe, ‘Speeches at the Barrier’; 98 Clark Coolidge, ‘On Induction of the Hand’; 99 Seamus Heaney, ‘Station Island’; 100 Lyn Hejinian, My Life, 101 Ron Padgett, ‘Big Bluejay Composition’; 102 James Tate, ‘Nausea, Coincidence’; 103 Alice Notley, ‘Beginning with a Stain’; 104 Anne Waldman, ‘skin Meat BONES (chant)’; 105 Bernadette Mayer, ‘First turn to me…’; 106 Ron Silliman, Paradise; 107 David Shapiro, ‘Dido to Aeneas’; 108 August Kleinzahler, ‘A Case in Point’; 109 Charles Bernstein, ‘The Klupzy Girl’; 110 Paul Muldoon, ‘The More a Man Has the More a Man Wants’; 111 Maxine Chernoff ‘Breasts’
This poem is taken from PN Review 188, Volume 35 Number 6, July - August 2009.