Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Rimbaud and Trantner and a poem

Hotel de Ville (p. 197) of Poetry -- Dec. 2010

It's 14 lines. Unrhymed. rhythm changes each line. 8 lines : Mention of HS kids, Clinton, EEC debt, problem of reading difficult things to lead them astray. Why did Rimbaud turn from socialism to capitalism? as if

stanza break: 6 lines.
it matters. Rimbaud's uniform. Back to conditional. Present. We want to see all Modern art stuff too. (as if already on a visit to the history museum.) Press the button marked "monument" and see what happens: a recorded voice says/ "I have wasted my life," and we pay to listen.

A troubling poem. One I've read several times and pondered.

The notes say the question of wondering about Rimbaud -- dissolute youth for 3 years, then from 21 to 37 when he died, a capitalist -- is just as confusing as demanding politicians to be honest -- but our real demands force them to be dishonest... Poets excoriating the bourgeois, but hoping to survive by having these selfsame buy their books. Hmmm...

The goal of a visit to a history museum (Musee not "de beaux art" but de l'histoire)
to understand disgrace as a form of (Clinton's) victory. Balanced with bad dreams caused by EEC's debt. The weariness of pressing buttons. For what? What are we paying for?

Before you begin the workshop,ask if everyone knows the words,
at least their surface meaning,if not some etymology. The title is French. Hey! French! and a renegade 19th century French poet will appear. Hotel de Ville -- the French for City Hall -- the old idea of "Hotel" as being a Residence -- where a mayor passes through in increments of time. And those colons -- one in the penultimate line of first stanza of 8 lines, after astray; one in the penultimate line of the second stanza with six lines after "see what happens".

the use of quotations around
"I have wasted my life" :
may be a reference to James Wright's poem "Lying in a Hammock" etc. or a mis-
translation of something more literal than Rimbaud may have intended (J'ai perdu ma vie) or just a recording of the recorded voice.

O Tell
with a nod to Rimbaud and John Trantner "Hotel de Ville"

There is something irretrievable about
"I have lost my life", a deeper edge
to the sadness -- not of tossing out
life itself -- but a poet's sense of wastage
as the City decks its Halls.

Sing a little song in Winter, band
with those who ask for sixpence
and think how we all could stand
a trip to a museum, stand back, hence
for muse has time and wonder in its halls.

Question the whys, the Y's, as if
it matters. O tell it on the mountain.
Find a new translation for words like "hark"
a new way for the city to deck its halls with "if"
each child were truly cared for, body, mind, spirit
and the planet's people wore Greensleeves
you could truly make a holy night of it,
deck more than halls with it.

Change in last stanza.

Question the whys, the wives of Y's, as if
it matters. O tell it on the mountain! If
body, mind, spirit rejoice, all’s beck-
oning well and a word like "hark"
will wake up the city. Be on deck
for each child is this, don’t miss the mark.

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