Saturday, August 24, 2013

Of fairness to Tiger, and other Saturday concerns

    I keep meaning to remember
    not to get behind the wheel
    for a broadcast of All Things
    Considered, and I've become
    pretty good at it, if I may
    say. We're well trained, in
    our countryside, by the land-
    scape's interception of their
    local affiliate's already tep-
    id signal; but every now and
    again, an inadvertent tap on
    the wrong knob - in a sudden
    rainshower, say - will expose
    this resolution to serious ac-
    cident. So it was, yesterday,
    when an earnest commentator
    was urging fairness for Tiger.
    It went something like this:

Sure, the packaged god of our parasitic consumptions had fallen on ambiguous times, in the four tournaments of the year which rise to public awareness; but he remains, after all, still the unreasonably unapproachable leader by nature's neutral benchmark, the amassing of raw cash. Oughtn't indignation, then, with his treacherous fallibility be tempered by our universal instinct for gathering, per se? How soon we all seem to forget, this sermon ran, the underlying anxiety to exceed necessity in possession, upon which our nobler competitions are so pervasively structured.

 I admit, a Wüsthovian  tang so tapered to my  grasp, as if I'd for-  gotten the reward of a  well-tempered blade.

Anyone, I then reflected, could admire a pretty tree. Anyone could be grateful for a prettily chopped chive. But the malegloriously chopped chive must be reserved, we presume, for the vaingloriously knived; and who can enjoy his rapport with the tree, so well as by its engrossment? I hadn't meant to contemplate these exorbitant parameters, as I hopped into the car to join a few friends for a jereboam at a trusted cave. More impertinent nuisance of radio. And a good thing it is, these days, to have touchscreens we can swipe, to suit our exacting standards for existence as it ought to be.

iii  Damascene curiosity
iv   Urban villa

Friday, August 23, 2013

Suppose it were Friday lxxvi: It's fair to wonder

Mes anciens

    I sit here in a shelter
      behind the words
    Of what I'm writing,
      looking out as if
    Through a dim curtain of rain,
      that keeps me in here.

    The words are like a scrim
      upon a page,
    Obscuring what might be there
      beyond the scrim.
    I can dimly see there's something
      or someone there.

    But I can't tell if it's God,
      or one of his angels,
    Or the past, or future,
      or who it is I love,
    My mother or father lost,
      or my lost sister.

    Or my wife lost when I was
      too late to get there,
    I only know that there's something,
      or somebody, there.
    Tell me your name. How was it
      that I knew you?

    Mr Ferry's translations of Virgil
    and Horace enrich a Western mind's
    experience of life. To classicists
    they enable several layers of com-
    panionship, and for readers without
    Latin, only one or two less. At the
    same time, the publication of this
    collection of his own poetry strikes
    a sort of coup de foudre, in which
    an elating part of their challenge
    lies in revealing, as Ford Madox
    Ford has put it, that a man could
    stand up. For English speakers this
    is scrupulously and modestly, not
    showily or shallowly shorn of al-
    lusion to other glory, other times.
    The humble can understand it; we
    others are welcome to lay our bur-
    den down. This is original and gor-
    geous, as if its balsamic qualities 
    were infused with new wine, and its 
    flickering interwoven with the ages.

               I know such eyes that look so far,
               I follow them to parse the grit 
               they blink away. 
               It is not enough for me, to know 
               there is further sight, without 
               citing who would give it in his gaze.

               But admiring is remembering, while
               learning is differentiating, dis-
               tinguishing, and inconvenient. How
               do they persist, as if for me?  
               I always wonder.

David Ferry

  New Poems and

i    Ben Eidem
ii   Winchimes Cypress Point
iii  Jacob Wiechmann

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Restoration ii

I see you in the morning and I see you in the evening.
That doesn't stop the other things.
The shorebirds and the shellfish make merry in the giant oil spill. 
The fire drill bell rings and rings and rings.
Not everyone who wants to will.
I see you in the morning and I see you in the evening.

It's back to school. And, in our district, it is time to vote.
It's time to recognize it's fall,
And every larder will be full.
The fuel is mystical and has to be to feed us all.
I grab the supertanker by a hawser and I pull,
And I rewrite everything I ever wrote.

Frederick Seidel
Nice Weather
  Then All the Empty
  Shall be Full
op. cit.

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Origins of Wednesday

  This is nevertheless an autobiography that celebrates 
  an extraordinary confidence in self-determination and 
  in the efficacy of the conscious mind. There is no sug-
  gestion that the purposes of rational men are commonly 
  cross-purposes, and of the compulsion to repeat patterns 
  of behavior; therefore a life can be seen as a progress 
  and as a learning by experience, almost as if it were a 
  scientific inquiry. That element in human behavior which 
  makes puppets plausible is nowhere represented: the limit-
  ed repertory of expression and gesture, the disconnections 
  and abrupt reversals, and the expected repetitions. The 
  confession of a static, absurdly contrived nature which is 
  delightful to some philosophers, such as Sartre, who are 
  obsessed with the contingency of any individual’s interests, 
  is not permissible in Russell, for whom there must always 
  be freely willed development, and true self-assertion.


Stuart Hampshire
The Autobiography of
  Bertrand Russell, 1914-1944
The New York Review of Books©
August 22, 1968

1879 Hall
Hampshire's study above arch

Martin Conte

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

While August meadows somewhere clasp his brow

  There are the local orchard boughs
  With apples - August boughs - their unspilled spines
  Inter-wrenched and flocking with gold spousal wine
  Like hummocks drifting in the autumn shine

Hart Crane
The Poems of Hart Crane
Marc Simon, editor
The Wine Menagerie
  [posting title]
May, 1926
There Are the Local ...
  [text, entire poem]
August, 1930
Liveright, 1989©

Monday, August 19, 2013


  There were no hammocks,
  the lavatories and show-
  ers had been boarded up
  with boards the salt had
  turned pink, there wasn't
  a caravan or a tent, there
  wasn't anything. He hadn't
  expected this.

He crossed the road and went towards the sea. "Here was the girls' tent, and Ines's," he thought, and looked at the sea, which was wild, with great waves and spray; then he left. "Here were the go-karts, there the roast chicken on spits, here the tobacconist's where Maria-Rita bought ambre solaire and Ines went back to change it for another cream." The roads were full of sand blown in by the wind and forming small dunes, there was no music, no perfume, there were no cars, nothing.


Goffredo Parise
Sillabario n. 2
Arnoldo Mondadori, 1982©
Isabel Quigley, translation
J.M. Dent & Sons, Ltd, 1984©

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Sunday classics

   Rehearsing The Eumenides
   in our cursing schoolboy
   and groans,
   the liberal education
   wrought a constant consternation
   in its clones.

   But who might occupy the stage,
   so ungendered as a page,
   was not for us to muse about and fuss,
   elated to be freighted
   and by learning consecrated
   with the wherewithal to cuss.

   Aeschylus was daunting
   and the mem'ry of him's haunting
   even now,
   Orestes, sometimes naughty,
   somewhat risibly was haughty
   when impersonated spotty at his brow.

   Clytemnestra, with her ruler,
   was just not our fav'rite schooler,
   may I say,
   An instinct rose to fool her
   Rather than confront and duel her,
   To show how we were smitten by the play.

Having put Thorny to bed,
Saturday evening, I gave
myself a few moments to
admire how the wonderful
American storyteller, 
foundation for a break-
fast served to brothers.
He recalled the furniture
as volatile overnight, be-
fore relapsing to its mark
at dawn. He admitted it. 

          The sea of tears
          That washes Troy
          Is bottomless.
          Let it wash Argos -
          Salt, cold water
          Purge the blood
          Of Agamemnon.
          Our cries are bottomless. Out of our eyes
          Our tears are bottomless.
          Pour them for Agamemnon.

          Bring his avenger -
          Bring the resolving blade
          To cut the heavy
          Rope of guilt
          That chokes this house,
          The strangling cramp
          Of the two bodies
          Knotted in their crime.
          Hack them apart.

William Maxwell
Early Novels and Stories
  Bright Center of Heaven
The Library of America, 2008©

  (The Libation Bearers)
Ted Hughes, translation
Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999©