Thursday, October 31, 2013

Poems for Lunch -- October 31

Cinquain by Adelaide Crapsey, (1878-1914) (on Poets Walk)
With faint dry sound
like steps of passing ghosts
the leaves, frost-crisped break from the trees
and fall

Macbeth, Act IV, Scene I [Round about the cauldron go
Unbidden by Rae Armantrout
When I Buy Pictures by Marianne Moore
The Courtesy of the Blind -- by Wislawa Szymborska
The Wound Dresser by Walt Whitman


With That Moon Language

Admit something: Everyone you see, you say to them, "Love me."

Of course you do not do this out loud, otherwise someone would call the cops.

Still though, think about this, this great pull in us to connect. Why not become the one who lives with a full moon in each eye that is always saying, with that sweet moon language, what every other eye in this world is dying to hear?

It may well be Halloween, but we gathered today dispensing with Shakespeare's witches, stereotypes in the stew rather quickly.
The Hafiz points out how we cannot be one without the other, what we do not say, balanced by what we long for, but rarely hear. Armantrout carries out this balancing of past, future, done/undone, plural ghosts swarming to singular voice, yet each with something undone, rather like the yellow flowers of the palo verde which bloom at the edge of the green branches in singular blossoms. We might miss the yet "unblushed" yellow, or carry the edges which cut like a scissored blade of grass. The enigmatic last sentence testifies
to our subjectivity, more curious about circumstance, provenance than in the word or thing of itself.

From there, Marianne Moore's poem which presents a tangle of phrases pinned by colons and semi-colons before arriving at the first period. We think to buy, but are "imaginary possessors" balancing "intensity of mood" with the "real" things which seem to have appeared from an antique market.
Perhaps as she said about Gertrude Stein, "Looking harder, one is abashed not to have understood instantly; as water may not seem transparent to the observer but has a perspicuous opacity in which the fish swims with ease.", it took us some time to navigate the waters of her poem.

"Where does the poem prick your interest" is one of my favorite questions. In this poem, we discussed at length this line:
the silver fence protecting Adam's grave, or Michael taking
Adam by the wrist.
first man... archangel Michael --what do we know? Noah's flood took care of any grave... or is Moore referring to the ancient barrow in England? Or an image of Archangel Michael reaching to save souls in purgatory, by Jacopo Vignali, 17th century?
The other details are puzzling as well: 6 shades of blue for artichokes (right up a surrealist's alley)
and snipe-legged 3 part hieroglyphic -- why three parts? and why snipe-legged?

She seems to chide herself, following these details with:
Too stern an intellectual emphasis upon this quality or
that detracts from one's enjoyment.

Four "It" amplify the possibilities... Elaine brought up the fact that it must be "lit with piercing glances into the life of things" is in quotes -- as if borrowing from some authentic source.
Back to the "sorts" -- our mood, and the thing itself... and how it is infused with a larger sense of spirituality.

From there, to Syzborska's rather tongue in cheek look at what a poet expects to do, and how the blind will listen... The second stanza seems broad enough to go beyond the poet's experience, which is turned on its head through "the test of darkness", (and perhaps wisdom equated with seers and the blind) as if to capture the feeling of what it is to offer one's own world to someone who "visibly" has a very different one.

He reads-- since it's too late to stop now--

He's like to skip--although it can't be done--
and we as reader can consider the details given... examine our own sense of "courtesy"...

The Wound Dresser bears a complex syntax replete with parenthetical (inner) emotion to end with a question after ten lines: Of those armies so rapid so wondrous what saw you to tell us?

In case the exaggerated adjectives --"unsurpassed heroes" balanced by "(was one side so brave? the other was equally brave)don't have effect on the reader's answer, he asks again:

What stays with you latest and deepest? of curious panics,
Of hard-fought engagements or sieges tremendous what deepest remains?

Very different poets, who invite us even after reading, to ask, what remains --
perhaps not bones of the dead, which like names on tombstones will fade leaving no trace--
but what stays with us after reading such fine poems? For me, a sense of gratitude for such a fine group of people sharing thoughts on how to understand both words and the contexts in which they were written.

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