from Notes Toward a Supreme FictionIV Two things of opposite natures seem to depend On one another, as a man depends On a woman, day on night, the imagined On the real. This is the origin of change. Winter and spring, cold copulers, embrace And forth the particulars of rapture come. Music falls on the silence like a sense, A passion that we feel, not understand. Morning and afternoon are clasped together And North and South are an intrinsic couple And sun and rain a plural, like two lovers That walk away as one in the greenest body. In solitude the trumpets of solitude Are not of another solitude resounding; A little string speaks for a crowd of voices. The partaker partakes of that which changes him. The child that touches takes character from the thing, The body, it touches. The captain and his men Are one and the sailor and the sea are one. Follow after, O my companion, my fellow, my self, Sister and solace, brother and delight. - Wallace Stevens
The ColdAs if in a presence of an intelligence Concentrating. I thought myself Scrutinized and measured closely By the sky and the earth, And then algebraized and entered In a notebook page blank and white, Except for the faint blue lines Which might have been bars, For I kept walking and walking, And it got darker and then there was A flicker of a light or two Far above and beyond my big cage. - Charles Simic From Weather Forecast for Utopia and Vicinity: Poems, 1967-1982 (Station Hill Press, 1983)
MARVELOUS WILL IT BE IN THE EYES OF EVERY GENERATIONThere was a clearing, a readiness for first bells, an opening for the outpouring. A hand was raised: How much of the past would have to be overlooked? He stings, he bites, he is absolutely convinced, and all the time he figures himself as the heedless butterfly that flutters over the margin of the pages. Lizards bask in the walls, orange trees in flower and fruit together, the berries of grapes already flushed with color and growing tight. I repented of my resolve to leave here, in which everything is meant for you and nothing need be explained. The poem is the cry of its occasion, I said, part of the reverberation. What is this house if not of the sun? The shirt of fire was ready for the wearing. In place of "I promise to" we may have "I shall," and yet to learn something new from this -- how inexact, fluid and submersible instead of a bed of flat ground. A million words a year into the one book I never thought I'd write. Every night they could read it, take a week to understand it, longer to ever believe it. Just one example, then: To the worm the corpse is a pleasant sight. He learns from it that greatness once existed. Never touching, we would never make a thing. I repented of my resolve to leave here. I dressed, strolled slowly up the stony path between vineyards in the sunspeckled shade of the olives, once possible and thus possible again, never quite sure what I'm missing.
I had the honor of speaking at the Hartford Public Library in Hartford, Connecticut, earlier this week. I arrived a few hours early and wandered the stacks of books. This is a "found poem" -- a poem I "wrote" while there, using only words and phrases from ten books I chose randomly off the shelves. (For a list of books sampled, see below.) I recited the poem as part of my talk on the future of the public library system. SOURCES (All from the Hartford Public Library) Secret Gardens, by Alan Toogood As We Were, by E.F. Benson The Wallace Stevens Journal, Volume 36, #2 How To Do Things With Words, By J.L Austin Untimely Meditations, by Nietzsche Will The Circle Be Unbroken, By Studs Turkel Troy And Its Remains, by Dr. Henry Schliemann
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