Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Hart Crane, The Complete Poems of Hart Crane

The Complete Poems of Hart Crane, Ed. Marc Simon, Liveright, New York, 2001.


His thoughts, delivered to me
From the white coverlet and pillow,
I see now, were inheritances—

(Praise for an Urn, White Buildings)


The apple on its bough is her desire,—
Shining suspension, mimic of the sun.
The bough has caught her breath up, and her voice,
Dumbly articulate in the slant and rise
Of branch on branch above her, blurs her eyes.
She is prisoner of the tree and its green fingers.
And so she comes to dream herself the tree,
The wind possessing her, weaving her young veins,
Holding her to the sky and its quick blue,
Drowning the fever of her hands in sunlight.
She has no memory, nor fear, nor hope
Beyond the grass and shadows at her feet.

(Garden Abstract, White Buildings)


The willows carried a slow sound,
A sarabande the window mowed on the mead.
I could never remember
That seething, steady leveling of the marshes
Till age had brought me to the sea.

(Repose of Rivers, White Buildings)


I was promised an improved infancy.

(Passage, White Buildings)



…where chimes
Before some flame of gaunt repose a shell
Tolled once, perhaps, by every tongue in hell.

(The Wine Menagerie, White Buildings)


The mind has shown itself at times
Too much the baked and labeled dough
Divided by accepted multitudes.
Across the stacked partitions of the day—
Across the memoranda, baseball scores,
The stenographic smiles and stock quotations
Smutty wings flash out of equivocations.
/
The mind is brushed by sparrow wings;
Numbers, rebuffed by asphalt, crowd
The margins of the day, accent the curbs,
Convoying divers dawns on every corner
To druggist, barber and tobacconist,
Until the graduate opacities of evening
Take them away as suddenly to somewhere
Virginal perhaps, less fragmentary, cool.

(For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen, White Buildings)


The earth may glide diaphanous to death;
But if I lift my arms it is bend
To you who turned away once, too alternate
With steel and soil to hold you endlessly.
I meet you, therefore, in that eventual flame
You found in final chains, no captive then—
Beyond their million brittle, bloodshot eyes;
White through white cities passed on to assume
That world which comes to each of us alone.
Accept a lone eye riveted to you plane,
Bent axle of devotion along companion ways
That beat, continuous, to hourless days—
One inconspicuous, glowing orb of praise.

(For the Marriage of Faustus and Helen, White Buildings)


—And yet this great wink of eternity,
Of rimless floods, unfettered leewardings,
Samite sheeted and processioned where
Her undinal vast belly moonward bends,
Laughing the wrapt inflections of our love;
/
Take this Sea, whose diapason knells
On scrolls of silver snowy sentences,
The sceptred terror of whose sessions rends
As her demeanors motion well or ill,
All but the pieties of lovers’ hands.
/
And onward, as bells off San Salvador
Salute the crocus lustres of the stars,
In these poinsettia meadows of her tides,—
Adagios of islands, O my Prodigal,
Complete the dark confessions her veins spell.
/
Mark how her turning shoulders wind the hours,
And hasten while her penniless rich palms
Pass suspercription of bent foam and wave,—
Hasten, while they are true,—sleep, death, desire,
Close round one instant in one floating flower.
/
Bind us in time, O Seasons clear, and awe.
O minstrel galleons of Carib fire,
Bequeath us to no earthly shore until
Is answered in the vortex of our grave
The seal’s wide spindrift gaze toward paradise.

(Voyages II, [complete] White Buildings)


Steadily as a shell secretes
Its beating leagues of monotone,

(Voyages VI, White Buildings)


Beyond siroccos harvesting
The solstice thunders, crept away,
Like a cliff swinging or a sail
Flung into April’s inmost day—
/
Creation’s blithe and petalled word
To the lounged goddess when she rose
Conceding dialogue with eyes
That smile unsearchable repose—
/
Still fervid covenant, Belle Isle
—Unfolded floating dais before
Which rainbows twine continual hair—
Belle Isle, white echo of the oar!
/
The imaged Word, it is, that holds
Hushed willows anchored in its glow.
It is the unbetrayable reply
Whose accent no farewell can know.

(Voyages, VI, White Buildings)


How many dawns, chill from his rippling rest
The seagulls’s wings shall dip and pivot him,
Shedding white rings of tumult, building high
Over the chained bay waters Liberty—
/
Then, with inviolate curve, forsake our eyes
As apparitional as sails that cross
Some pages of figures to be filed away;
—till elevators drop us from our day…

(To Brooklyn Bridge, The Bridge)


O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring string!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,—
/
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sign of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
/
Under thy shadow by the piers I waited;
Only in darkness is thy shadow clear.
The City’s fiery parcels all undone,
Already snow submerges an iron year…
/
O Sleepless as the river under thee,
Vaulting the sea, the prairies’ dreaming sod,
Unto us lowliest sometime sweep, descend
And of the curveship lend a myth to God.

(To Brooklyn Bridge, The Bridge)


Be with me, Luis de San Angel, now—
Witness before the tides can wrest away
The word I bring, o you who reined my suit
Into the Queen’s great heart that doubtful day;
For I have seen now what no perjured breath
Of clown nor sage can riddle or gainsay;—

(Ave Maria, The Bridge)


An herb, a stray branch among salty teeth,
The jellied weeds that drag the shore, …

(Ave Maria, The Bridge)


O Thou who sleepest on Thyself, apart
Like ocean athwart lanes of death and birth,
And all the eddying breath between dost search
Cruelly with love thy parable of man,—
Inquisitor! incognizable Word
Of Eden and the enchained Sepulchre,
Into thy steep savannahs, burning blue,
Utter to loneliness the sail is true.

(Ave Maria, The Bridge)


And then a truck will lumber past the wharves
As winch engines begin throbbing on some deck;
Or a drunken stevedore’s howl and thud below
Comes echoing alley-upward through dim snow.
/
And if they take your sleep away sometimes
They give it back again. Soft sleeves of sound
Attend the darkness harbor, …

(The Harbor Dawn, The Bridge)


Your hands within my hands are deeds;
My tongue upon your throat—singing

(The Harbor Dawn, The Bridge)


And Rip was slowly made aware
That he, Van Winkle, was not here
Nor there…

(Van Winkle, The Bridge)


Mythical brows we saw retired—loth,
Disturbed and destined, into denser green.
Greeting they sped us on the arrow’s oath:
Now lie incorrigibly what years between…

(The Dance, The Bridge)


O Princess whose brown lap was virgin May;

(The Dance, The Bridge)


O Appalachian Spring! I gained the ledge;
Steep, inaccessible smile that eastward bends
And northward reaches in that violet wedge
Of Adirondacks! …

(Powhatan’s Daughter, The Bridge)


…I, too, was liege

(Powhatan’s Daughter, The Bridge)


Totem and fire-gall, slumbering pyramid—
Though other calendars now stack the sky,
Thy freedom is her largesse, Prince, and hid
On paths thou knewest best to claim her by.

(Powhatan’s Daughter, The Bridge)


And bison thunder rends my dreams no more
As once my womb was torn, my boy, when you
Yielded your first cry at the prarie’s door…
Your father knew
/
Then, though we’d buried him behind us, far
Back on the gold trail—then his lost bones stirred…
But you who drop the scythe to grasp the oar
Knew not, nor heard
/
How we, too, Prodigal, once rode off, too—
Waved Seminary Hill a gay good-bye…
We found God lavish there in Colorado
But passing sly.

(Indiana, The Bridge)


Combustion at the astral core—the dorsal change
Of energy—

(Cape Hatteras, The Bridge)


…return home to our own
Hearths, there to eat an apple and recall
The songs that gypsies dealt us at Marseille
Or how to the priests walked—slowly through Bombay—
Or to read you, Walt,—knowing us in thrall
/
To that deep wonderment, our native clay
Whose depth of red, eternal flesh of Pocahontas—

(Cape Hatteras, The Bridge)


Familiar, thou, as mendicants in public places;
Evasive—too—as dayspring’s spreading arc to trace is:—

(Cape Hatteras, The Bridge)


O simian Venus, homeless Eve,
Unwedded, stumbling gardenless to grieve

(Southern Cross, The Bridge)


Someday by heart you’ll learn each famous sight
And watch the curtain life in hell’s despite;

(Southern Cross, The Bridge)


The phonographs of hades in the brain
Are tunnels that re-wind themselves, and love
A burnt match skating in a urinal—
Somewhere above Fourteenth TAKE THE EXPRESS
To brush some new presentiment of pain—

(The Tunnel, The Bridge)


Through the bound cable strands, the arching path
Upward, veering with light, the flights of strings,—
Taut miles of shuttling moonlight syncopate
The whispered rush, telepathy of wires.

(Atlantis, The Bridge)


Bridge, lifting night to cycloramic crest
Of deepest day—O Choir, translating time
Into what multitudinous Verb the suns
And synergy of waters ever fuse, recast
In myriad syllables,—Psalm of Cathay!
O Love, thy white, pervasive Paradidm…!

(Atlantis, The Bridge)


And still the circular, indubitable frieze
Of heaven’s meditation, yoking wave
To kneeling wave, one song devoutly binds—
The vernal strophe chimes from deathless strings!
/
O Thou steeled Cognizance whose leap commits
The agile precincts of the lark’s return;
Within whose lariat sweep encinctured sing
In single chrysalis the many twain,—
Of stars Thou art the stitch and stallion glow
And like an organ, Thou, with sound of doom—
Sight, sound and flesh Thou leadest from time’s realm
As love strikes clear direction for the helm.

(Atlantis, The Bridge)


Forever Deity’s glittering Pledge, O Thou
Whose canticle fresh chemistry assigns
To wrapt inception and beatitude,—
Always through blinding cables, to our joy,
Of thy white seizure springs the prophecy:
Always through spiring cordage, pyramids
Of silver sequel, Deity’s young name
Kinetic of white choiring wings…ascends.
/
Migrations that must needs void memory,
Inventions that cobblestone the heart,—
Unspeakable Thou Bridge to Thee, O Love.
Thy pardon for this history, whitest Flower,
O Answerer of all,—Anemone,—
Now while thy petals spend the suns about us, hold—
(O Thou whose radiance doth inherit me)
Atlantis,—hold thy floating singer late!

(Atlantis, The Bridge)


Thou bidest wall nor flood, Lord!

(The Hurricane, Key West)


O, steel and stone! But gold was, scarcity before.
And here is water, and a little wind…
There is no breath of friends and no more shore
Where gold has not been sold and conscience tinned.

(Key West, Key West)


You who desired so much—in vain to ask—
Yet fed your hunger like an endless task,
Dared dignity the labor, bless the quest—
Achieved that stillness ultimately best,
/
Being, of all, least sought for: Emily, hear!
O sweet, dead Silencer, most suddenly clear
When singing that Eternity possessed
And plundered momently in every breast;
/
—Truly no flower yet withers in your hand.
The harvest you descried and understand
Needs more than wit to gather, love to bind.
Some reconcilement of remotest mind—
/
Leaves Ormus rubyless, and Ophir chill.
Else tears heap all within one clay-cold hill.

(To Emily Dickinson, Key West)


Though now but marble are the marble urns,
Though fountains droop in waning light and pain
Glitters on the edges of wet ferns,
I should not dare to let you in again.
/
Mine is a world foregone though not yet ended,—
An imagined garden grey with sundered boughs
And broken branches, wistful and unmended,
And mist that is more constant than all vows.

(Postcript, Uncollected)


Forgetfulness is like a song
That, freed from beat and measure, wanders.

(Forgetfulness, Uncollected)


And so it was I entered the broken world
To trace the visionary company of love, its voice
An instant in the wind (I know not wither hurled)
But not for long to hold each desperate choice.

(The Broken Tower, Uncollected)


The matrix of the heart, lift down the eye
That shrines the quiet lake and swells a tower…
The commodious, tall decorum of that sky
Unseals her earth, and lifts love in its shower.

(The Broken Tower, Uncollected)


…I being
The terrible puppet of my dreams,…

(The Visible the Untrue, Unfinished)


Like somethings left, forsaken,—here am I—
And are these stars—the high plateau—the scents
Of Eden—and the dangerous tree—are these
The landscape of confession—and if confession
So absolution? …

(Purgatorio, Unfinished)


Exile is thus a purgatory—not such as Dante built
/
But rather like a blanket than a quilt
And I have no decision—is it green or brown
That I prefer to country or to town?
I am unraveled, umbilical anew,
So ring the church bells here in Mexico—


(Purgatorio, Unfinished)

Thursday, March 02, 2017

Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems

Wallace Stevens, The Collected Poems, Vintage Feb 1990

Every time the bucks went clattering
Over Oklahoma
A firecat bristled in the way.

Wherever they went,
They went clattering,
Until they swerved
In a swift, circular lines
To the right,
Because of the firecat.

Or until they swerved
In a swift, circular line
To the left,
Because of the firecat.

(Earthy Anecdote, Harmonium)


And I remembered the cry of the peacocks.

(Domination of Black, Harmonium)


One must have a mind of winter
To regard the frost and the boughs
Of the pine-trees crusted with snow;

And have been cold a long time
To behold the junipers shagged with ice,
The spruces rough in the distant glitter

Of the January sun; and not to think
Of any misery in the sound of the wind,
In the sound of a few leaves,

Which is the sound of the land
Full of the same wind
That is blowing in the same bare place

For the listener, who listens in the snow,
And, nothing himself, beholds
Nothing that is not there and the nothing that is.

(The Snow Man,, Harmonium, complete)


A red bird flies across the golden floor.
It is a red bird that seeks out his choir
Among the choirs of wind and wet and wing.

(Le Monocle de Mon Oncle, Harmonium)


Alas! Have all the barbers lived in vain
That not one curl in nature has survived?

(Le Monocle de Mon Oncle, Harmonium)


And that whatever noise the motion of the waves
Made on the sea-weeds and the covered stones
Disturbed not even the most idle ear.

(Hibiscus on the Sleeping Shores, Harmonium)


What was the purpose of his pilgrimage,
Whatever shape it took in Crispin’s mind
If not, when all is said, to drive away
The shadow of his fellows from the skies,

(The Comedian as the Letter C, Harmonium)


What word have you, interpreters, of men
Who in the tomb of heaven walk by night
The darkened ghosts of our old comedy?
Do they believe they range the gusty cold,
With lanterns borne aloft to light the way,
Freemen of death, about and still about
To find whatever it is they seek?...

(Of Heaven Considered as a Tomb, Harmonium)


Not less because in purple I descended
The western day through what you called
The loneliest air, not less was I myself.

What was the ointment sprinkled on my beard?
What were the hymns that buzzed beside my ears?
What was the sea whose tide swept through me there?

Out of my mind the golden ointment rained,
And my ears made the blowing hymns they heard.
I was myself the compass of that sea:

I was the world in which I walked, and what I saw
Or heard or felt came not but from myself;
And there I found myself more truly and more strange.

(Tea at the Palaz of Hoon, Harmonium, complete)


Why should she give her bounty to the dead?
What is divinity if it can come
Only in silent shadows and in dreams?
Shall she not find in comforts of the sun,
In pungent fruit and bright, green wings, or else
In any balm or beauty of the earth,
Things to be cherished like the thought of heaven?

(Sunday Morning, Harmonium)


…she strews the leaves
Of sure obliteration on our paths,

(Sunday Morning, Harmonium)


Is there no change of death in paradise?
Does ripe fruit never fall? Or do the boughs
Hang always heavy in that perfect sky,
Unchanging, yet so like our perishing earth,
With rivers like our own that seek for seas
They never find…

(Sunday Morning, Harmonium)


I measure myself
Against a tall tree.
I find that I am much taller,
For I reach right up to the sun,
With my eye;
And I reach to the shore of the sea
With my ear.
Nevertheless, I dislike
The way the ants crawl
In and out of my shadow.

(Six Significant Landscapes, Harmonium)


The moon is the mother of pathos and pity
/
When, at the wearier end of November,
Her old light moves along the branches,
Feebly, slowly, depending upon them;

(Lunar Paraphrase, Harmonium)


But I am, in any case,
A most inappropriate man
In a most unpropitious place.

(Sailing After Lunch, Ideas of Order)


Oh! Blessed rage for order…

(The Idea of Order at c West, Ideas of Order)


…synagogue
…That church without bells.

(Winter Bells, Ideas of Order)

It was the custom
For his rage against chaos
To abate on the way to church,

(Winter Bells, Ideas of Order)


An infinite incantation of our selves

(Academic Discourse at Havana, Ideas of Order)



A little less returned for him each spring.
Music began to fail him. Brahms, although
His dark familiar, often walked apart.

(Anglais Mort a Florence, Ideas of Order)



To nail his thought across the door,
Its wings spread wide to rain and snow,

(The Man with the Blue Guitar, The Man with the Blue Guitar)


It is the chord that falsifies.
The discord merely magnifies.

(The Man with the Blue Guitar, The Man with the Blue Guitar)


…Am I a man that is dead
/
At a table on which the food is cold?
Is my thought a memory, not alive?

(The Man with the Blue Guitar, The Man with the Blue Guitar)


Place honey on the altars and die,
You lovers that are bitter at heart.

(The Man with the Blue Guitar, The Man with the Blue Guitar)


The imperfect is our paradise.

(The Poems of Our Climate, Parts of a World)


If he will be heaven and death,
If, while he lives, he hears himself
Sounded in music, f the sun,
Stormer, is the color of a self
As certainly as night is the color
Of a self, if, without sentiment,
He is what he hears and sees and if,
Without pathos, he feels what he hears
And sees, being nothing otherwise, he has not
To go to the Louvre to behold himself.

(Prelude to Objects, Parts of a World)


Birds that came like dirty water in waves

(Prelude to Objects, Parts of a World)


The web is woven and you have to wear it.
/
The winter is made and you have to bear it,

(The Dwarf, Parts of a World)


Where is it that you think, baffled
By the trash of life,
Through winter’s meditative light?

(The Bagatelles the Madrigals, Parts of a World)


The night should be warm and fluters’ fortune
Should play in the trees when morning comes.

(Girl in a Nightgown, Parts of a World)


If the stars that move together as one, disband,
Flying like insects…

(On an Old Horn, Parts of a World)


How often had he walked
Beneath summer and the sky
To receive her shadow into his mind…
Miserable that it was not she.
/
The sky is too blue, the earth too wide.
The thought of her takes her away.
The form of her in somethings else
Is not enough.
/
The reflection of her here, and then there,
Is another shadow, another evasion,
Another denial. If she is everywhere,
She is nowhere, to him.

(Bouquet of Belle Scavoir, Parts of a World)


…But one looks at the sea
As one improvises, on the piano.

(Variations on a Summer Day, Parts of a World)


The wind dissolving into birds

(Woman Looking at  a Vase of Flowers, Parts of a World)


Hoot, little owl within her, how
High blue became particular
In the leaf and bud and how the red,
Flicked into pieces, points of air,
Became—how the central, essential red
Escaped its large abstraction, became,
First, summer, then a lesser time,
Then the sides of peaches, of dusky pears.

(Woman Looking at a Vase of Flowers, Parts of a World)


The good is evil’s last invention. Thus
The maker of catastrophe invents the eye
And through the eye equates ten thousand deaths
With a single, well-tempered apricot…

(Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas, Parts of a World)


…Or is it the multitude of thoughts,
Like insects in the depth of the mind, that kill
The single thought? The multitudes of men
That kill the single man, starvation’s head,
One man, their bread and their remembered wine?

(Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas, Parts of a World)


…Ercole,
Of what do you lie thinking in your cavern?
To think it is to think the way to death…

(Extracts from Addresses to the Academy of Fine Ideas, Parts of a World)


What more is there to love that I have loved?
But if there be something more to love, amen,
Amen to the feelings about familiar things,
Delivering the prisoner by his words,
So that the skeleton in the moonlight sings,
Sings of an heroic world beyond the cell
/
No, not believing, but to make the cell
A hero’s world in which he is the hero.
Man must become the hero of his world.

(Montrachet-le-Jardin, Parts of a World)


One of the sacraments between two breaths

(Montrachet-le-Jardin, Parts of a World)


So you’re home again, Redwood Roamer, and ready
To feast…Slice the mango, Naaman and dress it
/
With white wine, sugar and lime juice. Then bring it,
After we’ve drunk the Moselle, to the thickest shade
/
Of the garden. We must prepare to hear the Roamer’s
Story…

(Certain Phenomena of Sound, Transport to Summer)


The wind moves like a cripple among the leaves
And repeats words without meaning.

(The Motive for Metaphor, Transport to Summer)


The lies the misery, the coldest coil
That grips the centre, the actual bite, that life
Itself is like a poverty in the space of life,
So that the flapping of wind around me here
Is something in tatters that I cannot hold.

(So-and-So Reclining on Her Couch, Transport to Summer)


Tell X that speech is not dirty silence
Clarified. It is silence made still dirtier.

(The Creation of Sound, Transport to Summer)


His firm stanzas hang like hives in hell
Or what hell was, since now both heaven and hell
Are one, and here, O terra infidel.
/
The fault lies with an over-human god,
Who by sympathy has made himself a man
And is not to be distinguished, when we cry
/
Because we suffer, our oldest parent, peer
Of the populace of the heart, the reddest lord,
Who has gone before us in experience.
/
If only he would not pity us so much
Weaken our fate, relieve us woe both great
And small, a constant fellow of destiny,
/
A too, too human god, self-pity’s kin
And uncourageous genesis… It seems
As if the health of the world might be enough.
/
It seems as if the honey of common summer
Might be enough, as if the golden combs
Were part of a sustenance itself enough,
/
As if hell, so modified, had disappeared,
As if pain, no longer satanic mimicry,
Could be borne, as if we were sure to find our way.

(Esthetique du Mal, Transport to Summer)


It may be that one life is a punishment
For another, as the son’s life for the father’s.

(Esthetique du Mal, Transport to Summer)


If there must be a god in the house, must be,
Saying things in the rooms and on the stair,
/
Let him move as the sunlight moves on the floor,
Or moonlight, silently, …

(Esthetique du Mal, Transport to Summer)


The grotesque is not a visitation. It is
Not apparition but appearance…

(A Word with Jose Rodriguez-Feo, Transport to Summer)

The poem must resist the intelligence
Almost successfully…

(Man Carry Thing, Transport to Summer)


Through centuries he lived in poverty.
God only was his only elegance.

(The Good Man Has No Shape, Transport to Summer)


Of the limits of reality
Presents itself in Oley when the hay,
Baked through long days, is piled in mows. It is
A land too ripe for enigmas, too serene.

(Credences of Summer, Transport to Summer)


How clean the sun when seen in its idea,
Washed in the remotest cleanliness of a heaven
That has expelled us and our images…

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


…and yet so poisonous
/
Are the ravishments of truth, so fatal to
The truth itself,…

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


Being virile, it hears the calendar hymn.

(Notes Towards a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


…Perhaps
The truth depends on a walk around a lake,
/
A composing as the body tires, a stop
To see hepatica, a stop to watch
A definition growing certain and
/
A wait within that certainty, a rest
In the swags of pine-trees bordering the lake.

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


It is of him, ephebe, to make, to confect
The final elegance, not to console
Nor sanctify, but plainly to propound.

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


…like a photograph of fate

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


On her trip around the world, Nanzia Nunzio
Confronted Ozymandias. She went
Alone and like a vestal long-prepared.
/
I am the spouse. She took her necklace off
And laid it in the sand. As I am, I am
The spouse. She opened her stone-studded belt.
/
I am the spouse, divested of bright gold,
The spouse beyond emerald or amethyst,
Beyond the burning body that I bear.
/
I am the woman stripped more nakedly
Than nakedness, standing before an inflexible
Order, saying I am the contemplated spouse.
/
Speak to me that, which spoken, will array me
In its own only precious ornament.
Set on me the spirit’s diamond coronal.
/
Clothe me entire in the final filament,
So that I tremble with such love so known
And myself am precious for your perfecting.
/
Then Ozymandias said the spouse, the bride
Is never naked. A fictive covering
Weaves always glistening from the heart and mind.

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


What am I to believe? If the angel in his cloud,
Serenely gazing at the violent abyss,
Plucks on his strings to pluck abysmal glory,
/
Leaps downward through evening’s revelations, and
On his spredden wings, needs nothing but deep space,
Forgets the gold centre, the golden destiny.
/
Grows warm in the motionless motion of his flight,
Am I that imagine this angel less satisfied?
Are the wings his, the lapis-haunted air?
/
Is it he or is it I that experience this?

(Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction, Transport to Summer)


This is where the serpent lives. This is his nest,
These fields, these hills, these tinted distances,
And the pines above and along and beside the sea.

(The Auroras of Autumn, The Auroras of Autumn)


Farewell to an idea… A cabin stands,
Deserted, on a beach. It is white,
As by a custom or according to
/
An ancestral theme or as a consequence
Of an infinite course. The flowers against the wall
Are white, a little dried, a kind of mark
/
Reminding, trying to remind, of a white
That was different, something else, last year
Or before, not the white of an aging afternoon,
/
Whether fresher or duller, whether of winter cloud
Or of winter sky, from horizon to horizon.
The wind is blowing the sand across the floor.
/
Here, being visible is being white,
Is being of the solid of white, the accomplishment
Of an extremist in an exercise…
/
The seasons change. A cold wind chills the beach.
The long lines of it grow longer, emptier,
A darkness gathers though it does not fall
/
And the whiteness grows less vivid on the wall.
The man who is walking turns blankly on the sand.
He observes how north is always enlarging the change,
/
With its frigid brilliances, its blue-red sweeps
And gusts of great enkindlings, its polar green,
The color of ice and fire and solitude.

(The Auroras of Autumn, The Auroras of Autumn)


We were as Danes in Denmark all day long
And knew each other well, hale-hearted landsmen,
For whom the outlandish was another day
/
Of the week, queerer than Sunday. …

(The Auroras of Autumn, The Auroras of Autumn)


How mad would he have to be to say, “He beheld
An order and thereafter he belonged
To it”? He beheld the order of the northern sky.
/
But the beggar gazes on calamity
And thereafter he belongs to it, to bread
Hard found, and water tasting of misery.
/
For him cold’s glacial beauty is his fate.
Without understanding, he belongs to it
And the night, and midnight, and after, where it is.

(In a Bad Time, The Auroras of Autumn)


A source of pleasant outbursts…

(A Primitive Like an Orb, The Auroras of Autumn)


In all the solemn moments of/human history…poets rose/to sing the hymn of victory or/the psalm of supplication…Cease, then, from being the astute calligraphers of congealed / daydreams, the hunters of /cerebral phosphorescences. / LETTER OF CELESTIN VI, POPE, / TO THE POETS/ P.C.C. GIOVANNI PAPINI. (Reply to Papini, The Auroras of Autumn)


The day is great and strong—
But his father was strong, that lies now
In the poverty of dirt.

(World Without Peculiarity, The Auroras of Autumn)


The eye’s plain version is a thing apart,
The vulgate of experience…

(An Ordinary Evening in New Haven, The Auroras of Autumn)


The point of vision and desire are the same.

(An Ordinary Evening in New Haven, The Auroras of Autumn)


…It is as if
Men turning into things, as comedy,
Stood, dressed in antic symbols, to display
/
The truth about themselves, having lost, as things,
That power to conceal they had as men,

(An Ordinary Evening in New Haven, The Auroras of Autumn)


Of bird-nest arches and of rain-stained-vaults.
/
The sound drifts in. The buildings are remembered.
The life of the city never lets go, nor do you
Ever want it to. It is part of the life in your room.
Its domes are the architecture of your bed.
The bells keep on repeated solemn names
/
In choruses and choirs of choruses,
Unwilling that mercy should be a mystery
Of silence, that any solitude of sense
Should give you more than their peculiar chords
And reverberations clinging to whisper still.
/
It is a kind of total grandeur at the end,
With every visible thing enlarged and yet
No more than a bed, a chair and moving nuns,
The immensest theatre, the pillared porch,
The book and candle in your ambered room,
/
Total grandeur of a total edifice,
Chosen by an inquisitor of structures,
For himself. He stops upon this threshold,
As if the design of all his words takes form
And frame from thinking and is realized.

(To an Old Philosopher in Rome, The Rock)


Among the more irritating minor ideas
Of Mr. Homburg during his visits home
To Concord, at the edge of things, was this:

(Looking Across the Fields and Watching the Birds Fly, The Rock)


…Wanderer, this is the pre-history of February.
The life of the poem in the mind has not yet begun.
/
You were not born yet when the trees were crystal
Nor are you now, in this wakefulness inside a sleep.

(Long and Sluggish Lines, The Rock)


His place, as he sat and as he thought, was not
In anything that he constructed, so frail,
So barely lit, so shadowed over and naught,
/
As, for example, a world in which, like snow,
He became an inhabitant, obedient
To gallant notions of the part of cold.
/
It was here. This was the setting and the time
Of year. Here in his house and in his room,
In his chair, the most tranquil thought grew peaked
/
And the oldest and the warmest heart was cut
By gallant notions on the part of night—
Both late and alone, above the cricket’s chords,
/
Babbling, each one, the uniqueness of its sound.
There was no fury in transcendent forms.
But his actual candle blazed with artifice.

(A Quiet Normal Life, complete, The Rock)



It is an illusion that we were ever alive
Lived in the houses of mothers, arranged ourselves
By our own motions in a freedom of air.


(The Rock, The Rock)