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)


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