On Angels by Czeslaw Milosz
Paul, in abstentia said this about the selection of poems: "All poetry is philosophical, full of love of wisdom, imparted or absorbed.
As for Quarantine he mentioned An Gorta Mor (the Great Famine ) 1845-50. He find the poem " a harsh and beautiful love story set in abject-ness, the hopeless trudge to escape starvation, an gorta mor, of mid nineteenth century Ireland. So many unrecorded things, so many acts of love given and gone. A million others would follow them in death in and out of love. Eavan Boland, RIP."
Read aloud, we were sensitive to the sounds of the w's in the first stanza, the repetitions of worst hour/worst season...
The fragments in the third stanza and repeat of last heat / last gift. In her reading, she does not pause on the word
"inexact" and the sudden line break to "praise", but the visual impact of the enjambment puts a stress on "inexact",
in the middle of the quite precise details. She pronounces "inventory" the Irish way with the accent on inVENT...
The sibilance of Merciless disguises the cruelty... she has told us, "there is no place here for easy graces and sensuality".
Kathy reminded us that she distinguishes between "history" and "Past". History, with its chronicled dates might appear in books, but the "past" lies in personal human stories. This poem touches us by this short glimpse of a last night before
death and the last haunting line. Which darkness indeed, in this litany of death, suffering, how they were forced to live,
their life as man and woman...
bees -- and he, a human being, at the "threshold of personal nonexistence", that "vast-enough catastrophe".
Marc Harshman: Jan noted that he gives us a broad hint by noting "After Reverdy". On the Edge of Time is the English of "Au bords du Temps" which experiments with cubist technique, seeing "the sublime simplicity of reality." I am afraid Reverdy's short poem even though accurately translated by Lydia Davis has fewer overtones than Reverdy's poem "Afternoon" where there is also a rooster, a bridge, a ruined wall . Harshman's beautiful poem flows like Debussy's piano piece, "revêrie" or dream. We pondered who the "animal without feathers" could be. It is a lovely poem exploring time... The I and You suggest a love poem in Spring. However, there is no such reference in Reverdy. What the 21st century American and 19th century French do share however, is a sense of dream... that state of timelessness...
sent to those present 5/13: