Monday, January 18, 2010

O Pen

January 18, 2010 -- A Look at Henry Reed

Each Monday, a group of us meet to discuss poems... It started in February 2008, with 6 people showing up, for a six-week trial period at the local library in Pittsford, NY. Now, with a roster of 45 people, we continue to meet every week...

Today's problem: How to organize two years worth of poetry and poetry discussion?
I've decided to jot down a few notes by poet author...

January 4, 2010
Henry Reed : The Naming of Parts from Lessons of War
The epigram is from one of Horace’s Odes, “For ladies’ love I late was fit,/And good success my warfare blest.”

January 11, we read part six of "Lessons of War"
and today, the 18th, we read his clever satire of TSE, Burnt Norton. "Chard Whitlow". Human kind indeed cannot bear very much reality, and we get caught up in time. Is anything different from then? (section 3: "Distracted from distraction by distraction/Filled with fancies and empty of meaning/Tumid apathy with no concentration/ Men and bits of paper, whirled by the cold wind/That blows before and after time,/ Wind in and out of unwholesome lungs/Time before and time after.)

Words after speech, reach/Into the silence.

It is good to meditate on blasts of heaven such as the hurricane in Haiti -- the wind within a wind unable to speak for wind;

How different his "Naming of Parts". It is read with two voices which accentuates the tension between the drill sargent and the natural images of Japonica, branches holding silent eloquent gestures in the garden, blossoms, bees fumbling the flowers, almond blossoms.

This five stanza poem also addresses time opening and closing both the first stanza and poem with the line "Today, we have naming of parts" repeated three times in the first stanza.
Today is sandwiched between daily cleaning of yesterday, which perhaps is the same as tomorrow's
"what to do after firing". Swivels, for parts you will have or never will have; safety catch; bolt; spring are explained.
Strength of thumb, sliding. We have not got point of balance and piling swivels.

The second Part: Judging Distances is also time related: "Not only how far away, but the way the you say it / Is very important. Perhaps you may never get/The Knack of judging a distance, but at least you know/How to report on a landscape.

We discussed the sixth and final part, "Returning of Issue". What is issued to a soldier -- what does he return if he does not rejoin? To what does he return? What is restored? The item a soldier is allowed to keep, "his shirt. And whatever you wear underneath."

How would you feel, choosing "to learn once more the things I shall one day teach: /A rhetoric instead of words; instead of a love, the use/ Of accoutrements, impedimenta, and fittings and military garments,/and harlots and riotous living.

On a different note, we discussed Reed's "A Map of Verona" -- whose epigram is from Rimbaud, "Villes" .
Here, the 2nd and 4th lines rhyme in each of the 12 quatrains. Verona, river-embraced, setting of a the best -known love story, Verona as Green Earth, home of Mona Lisa, Verona, as an open map waiting exploration.
Naples, the youthful chapter, and plans, as in the French "plan" or city map, is an indication of place, "not time, nor can they say the surprising height and colour of a building, nor where the groups of people bar the way."

Arms -- as in embracing arms, arms as in armed and ready, capital A Arms, as if arms of God or death.. What propitious hour restores a region "from whence my dreams and slightest movements rise."

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