SQUIRT

Charles Baudelaire's Poem Landscape, Read By Tom Healy

Squirt wrote a poem he thought was pretty good.

It said little, and was vaguely understood.

It mentioned breakfast, and how women are bad.

Its glimmering horizon was full of Baudelaire.

It was modern. Not exactly happy. Not exactly sad.

Squirt’s a modern guy. Does this Romantic care?

The truth is on Squirt’s side.

Dirty sunbeams glide.

Squirt’s poem is still there.

I wrote about Squirt’s poem in the past tense.

It still lives. In every single sense.

Women were bad. Now mine is good.

Squirting is the future. I really wish you would.

 

 

I DID THE RIGHT THING BUT SHE SAYS I DID NOT

Image result for the enormous hog

I did the right thing, but she says I did not;
I spoke the truth, but to her it was a sinister plot
Glorifying me, at the expense of her,
And so our love ended forever.
No more shall we travel to farms and pet the pig;
No more in her presence will I get excited and big.
We shall be away from each other, sometimes thinking
Who we are, or, perhaps, what the other is thinking.
She will slide into a store, as if she’s in a movie,
But leave the theater if she chances to see me.
And then those distractions; one thing life
Needs are those, losing a poem, losing a wife.

 

THE MOON HAS LOST HER WOE

Image result for the moon in renaissance painting

The moon has lost her woe,

And I have, too. She was right:

It would hurt but I would live. It took time.

The moon serenaded me every night;

The sonnets of the moon, sweet when she was low

In the heavens, near the sea,

And by those heavenly poems she spoke to me,

Through red clouds, traveling far above the skyline,

Seeming, with her woes, almost to touch mine:

The best way to experience poetry

And love. I felt all her woe.

But now I do not love her. I love you.

She told me, and I protested,

But now it turns out it is true.

She flew upwards, and then she rested

In that far melancholy blue.

Dusk. The earth will take me into her arms soon.

And the orb above will be to me merely the moon.

 

 

IS SCARRIET BASEBALL BACK?

Ebbets Field, Brooklyn 6/15/38 - Dodger fans this night ...

When Scarriet was young and the Scarriet editors more ambitious, an entire 154 game poetry baseball season happened: two leagues, 20 teams, and a world series in which the Philadelphia Poe defeated the Rapallo Pound 4 games to 1.

Teams were built around an American poet and every position was filled with figures (not only poets) associated with the team’s poet-manager.

The sports writing sounded like this:

Whitman picked up Gaugin, Melville, and Aaron Copeland as starting pitchers, but all three were hard-luck hurlers.  There was an odd chemistry to the Whitman club that never clicked: Robinson Jeffers, D.H. Lawrence, William Rossetti, Edgar Lee Masters, Bronson Alcott, Lawrence Ferlinghetti were in a lineup together that never hit in the clutch, didn’t run the bases enough, failed to move runners over, and even fought in the clubhouse; it was a mess.  Whitman’s verve never carried over to his interesting mix of players.

William Carlos Williams shared last place with Whitman; the lineup of Duchamp, Creeley, Rexroth, Duncan, Snyder, Loy, Noguchi, and Spicer just didn’t provide enough punch.

Mallarme and Hollander hit for Stevens, Dos Passos and Picasso for Cummings, and Dickinson got hitting from Keats and TennysonFrost was in the race for a while, getting good offense from Hardy, Larkin, Oliver, and Wordsworth.

After his heralded signing at mid-season, Jesus Christ of the Frost proved to be human on the mound at 10-5.  Pound and Eliot could not be caught.

The final standings:

AL

rapallo pound                       100-54   –
london eliots                          97-57    3
new england frost                  91-63    9
amherst emily                       78-76   22
hartford stevens                    75-79   25
cambridge cummings            72-82   28
new york moore                    69-85   31
iowa city grahams                  67-87   33
brooklyn whitmans                 61-93   39
new jersey williams                61-93   39

NL

philadelphia poe                   92-62    –
brooklyn ashberys                 89-65   3
boston lowells                       85-69   7
cambridge longfellows           83-71   9
new york bryants                   82-72  10
concord emersons                 79-75  13
maine millays                        75-79  17
tennessee ransom                 70-84   22
hartford whittiers                  66-88   26
new jersey ginsbergs            49-105  43

Why was the Pound so successful?  A bunch of players, added after the season was underway, wildly defied expectations.  Here’s a little commentary with the world series lineups:

The Philadelphia Poe’s projected starting lineup:

Gilmore Simms, RF.   Hurt for most of the year (Samuel F.B. Morse filled in admirably).  Simms can run.

Charles Brockden Brown, SS.    A slap hitter who advances runners.  George Lippard, another native Philadelphian, is the reserve infielder.

Charles Baudelaire, 2B.   Gap hitter, makes contact.

George Byron, 1B.    When Byron couldn’t play, Alfred Hitchock took over.  Byron slugged 29 homers.

Thomas Moore, C.    Excellent on-base percentage.

Fydor Dostoevsky, 3B.    Hit over .400 with 2 outs and runners in scoring position.   Team-leading 47 doubles.

Virginia Poe, CF.   Swift as a deer in center.   Surprising power: 17 homers.

Fanny Osgood, LF.     League-leading 14 assists.  Very hard to strike out.

Alexander Pope, P.     Great sacrifice bunter.

And, for the Rapallo Pound:

Aleister Crowley, CF.   Took over for Wyndham Lewis.  Crowley hit three triples in the Pound’s pennant-clinching victory.

Hilda Doolittle, 2B.   Great D from H.D.  She’s been nursing a sore ankle.  Flaubert may start instead.

William Butler Yeats, SS.  The best glove anyone has ever seen.  A disappointment at the plate, but does get on base.  Francis Villon, his replacement, can hit.

Ford Madox Ford, 1B.   41 homers, 134 RBIs.

James Joyce, LF.   .311 batting average.  Back from a late-season injury.  Basil Bunting was his replacement.

James Laughlin, 3B.  The New Directions kid wasn’t expected to hit.  He slugged 39 homers and batted .340.   MVP numbers from a mere editor.

Ernest Fenollosa, C.  Steady, handles pitchers well.  Missed the month of August.  Margaret Anderson of the Little Review is the back-up.

Benito Mussolini, RF.  Great clubhouse presence.  A gun for an arm in right.  Few go from first to third on him.

Marquis de Sade, P.   Chats with the opposing catcher the whole time he’s up.

Pound and his team were frankly, scary. But Poe, and his team were not intimidated, as the two clubs met in the world series.

Here’s a recap of the five games:

Game One

Philadelphia rightfielder Gilmore Simms homered in the bottom of the 14th inning as the Philadelphia Poe edged the Rapallo Pound in the first game of the World Series, 5-4.

The Pound took the early lead as Francois Villon hit a 2-home run in the first inning against Philadelphia starter Alexander Pope.  Manager Ezra Pound chose to start Villon at shortstop over Yeats, who has not hit well this year.  In the second inning,  Aleister Crowley made it 3-0 as he scratched a hit, stole second and third, and came home on a sacrifice fly by Ford Madox Ford.

Sade, the eccentric Rapallo starter, kept the Poe in check until Alfred Hitchcock, starting in place of Lord Byron—unable to play because of dizzy spells—doubled, and came home on a two-out single by Dostoevsky in the bottom of the fourth, to make it 3-1.

Pope, the Philadelphia starter, then scored a run for the Poe in the fifth to make it 3-2.  Sade hit Pope, who then went to third when Simms’s grounder to Villon was thrown into centerfield trying to get a force at second, and Pope scored on Baudelaire’s single to left with two outs.

Philly tied it in the bottom of the sixth on back-to-back singles by Thomas Moore, Dostoevsky, and Virginia Poe.

The Pound went ahead, 4-3, in the top of the seventh on a homerun by Benito Mussolini.

Then, in the bottom of the ninth, with Sade still on the mound, having retired the side in order in the seventh and eighth, James Laughlin, the young third baseman for Rapallo, allowed a grounder to go under his glove, allowing Virginia Poe to score the tying run.  She was on second with two outs, after a bloop double.

Richard Wagner and then Filipo Marinetti pitched well in relief for the Pound, while Winfield Scott and then Jaques Lacan kept the Pound in check into the middle of the 14th inning.

Charles Olson came in for the Pound in the bottom of the 14th, got two easy outs, and then faced Poe leadoff hitter William Gilmore Simms.  On the first pitch, a high fastball, the South took the North deep, and the Philadelphia Poe are up 1-0 in the first Scarriet World Series.

Game Two

Ernest Fenollosa drove his second homerun deep into the Philadelphia night against Poe reliever Conan Doyle to snap a 5-5 tie in the top of the ninth, and give the Rapallo Pound a victory over the Philadelphia Poe, to knot this tense series at one game apiece.

The contest now heads to Rapallo for game three on Saturday.

Alexander Humboldt yielded singles-hitter Ernest Fenollosa’s first of two shocking grandslams on a hanging curve in the second, then allowed a run in the third, before settling down and pitching well until he was lifted for a pinchitter in the bottom of the eighth.   Samuel F.B. Morse went down swinging for the Poe, and the game moved to the ninth, tied at 5.  Pound starter H.G. Wells left the contest in the bottom of the sixth when he allowed the Poe to tie the score with two runs, on a Charles Brocken Brown two-run double off the wall.

Poe reliever Jules Verne walked the bases loaded, after retiring the first two Pound batters he faced in the top of the ninth.  Poe then brought on Arthur Conan Doyle, and Fenollosa took his first pitch fastball deep to left-center.

Louis Zukovsky picked up the win in relief, as he held the Poe scoreless in the seventh and eighth, pitching out of jam in the eighth.  Hugh Kenner came in for the Pound to pitch a scoreless ninth.

After Fenollosa’s first grandslam in the top of the second, Charles Baudelaire got the Poe on the board in the bottom of the second with a two-run homer off H.G. Wells, to make it 4-2.

Game Three

It began with Blavatsky and ended with Dostoevsky.

Ezra Pound’s obtuse opinion of Russian Literature (“I have omitted the Rhooshuns.”  —How To Read) came back to haunt him yesterday, as Fyodor Dostoevsky broke a 0-0 tie in the 14th inning (Poe won the first game of the Series in 14 innings!) with a single punched through a drawn-in infield, scoring Philadelphian George Lippard.  It was Dostoevsky’s birthday, and surely the most exciting one of his life.

The Pound were bewitched for 10 innings by Lord Bacon, not quite in command of his 3 pitches, as the Pound left 12 runners-on-base, 7 in scoring position, threatening to score numerous times.  The French hero Lafayette pitched shutout ball for the next three frames.  Percy Shelley pitched the bottom of the 14th.  The Englishman struck out the Pound’s James Joyce, coming after him with 3 straight fastballs with two outs and the bases loaded to give the Poe a heart-stopping 1-0 victory, and a 2-1 series lead.

The Rapallo fans screamed themselves hoarse.  The game took six hours and eleven minutes to play.  Numerous celebrated authors were spotted in the stands: Homer, Socrates, and Dante were sitting together, as a matter of fact.  T.S. Eliot, of course, was on hand, and in the front row, accompanied by his lawyer John Quinn and the author Aldous Huxley.

The game was stopped at one point, when Poe complained to the umpires that team Pound was dimming the lights when it was team Poe’s turn to bat.
The lighting was apparently the same; no one was sure whether Poe’s complaint was legitimate, or not, but the managers almost came to blows, as Pound went ballistic.  The game itself was almost called.  The Rapallo fans, who were not privy to the discussions on the field, had no idea what was happening, but some started to take the field when they saw Pound rushing the Poe dugout.  It took three quarters of an hour to restore order.

The Pound’s Madame Blavatsky spun her black magic for 7 shutout innings; she was lifted for Harriet Monroe after walking two straight batters to start the top of the 8th.

Harriet Shaw Weaver pitched a scoreless 10th and Dorothy Shakespeare kept the Poe quiet in the 11th and 12th; Pound’s most successful reliever, Richard Wagner, entered wearing his cape for the start of the 13th, and promptly struck out the side, but he quickly got into trouble in the fourteenth, when suddenly he couldn’t find the plate with his magnificent curve.  George Lippard pinch-ran for Samuel F.B. Morse, who was struck on the knee by Wagner with a 3-0 fastball.  Two more walks loaded the bases, and with two outs, Fyodor Dostoevsky made “the Rhooshuns” proud, with perhaps the most important hit for the Poe all year.

Game Four

Samuel Taylor Coleridge scattered 11 hits and helped his team with a bases-clearing double as the Romantic poet led the Philadelphia Poe to an easy Game 4 win over Olga Rudge and the Rapallo Pound.

The Poe came into game 4 leading 2-1, with both wins coming in 14 inning contests.  The Pound missed countless opportunities to score in Game 3 and the team now seems haunted by those missed opportunities.  Rudge, who was 19-5 during the regular season, was not sharp, and Henri Gaudier-Brzeska fared no better in relief.

Gilmore Simms, who won Game One with a 14th inning homer, tripled to lead off the game and scored on a Baudelaire double, setting the tone for the one-sided contest.

Coleridge described his performance as “unreal,” telling reporters after the game he could not remember what he did on the mound, or with the bat.  “I honestly don’t recall the game at all,” he opined, his curls dangling sweat, looking oddly cherubic as he looked upward from the bench in front of his locker, blinking into the photographer’s lights.

Game One starter, the Marquis de Sade, goes for the Pound tomorrow to stave off elimination.

Game Five

Alexander Pope allowed 3 hits over seven innings to lead the Philadelphia Poe to a 5-1 victory over the Marquis de Sade and the Rapallo Pound. 

Osip Mandelstam hurled a pefect eighth for the Poe, and General Winfield Scott pitched the ninth, yielding a solo homerun to James Joyce, as the Poe won the first Scarriet World Series title by winning three straight at Rapallo, the Pound’s home park.

Arthur C. Clarke, starting in left field for Fanny Osgood, was the batting hero for the Poe, with 3 hits and 4 RBIs.

Lord Byron had the other RBI for the Poe, as he delivered a two-out single to knock in Charles Brockden Brown to start the scoring in the third, after looking foolish on the previous pitch by Sade, Byron falling down as he chased a slow pitch out of the strike zone.   “Poetry is nothing more than a certain dignity which life tries to take away,” Byron said later in a jubilant clubhouse.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

BREAKING NEWS

Scarriet may play another baseball season!!

And add more teams!!

More poets!!

Stay tuned.

 

ATTRACTION DOESN’T WANT TO ATTRACT

Thomas Ridegeway Gould (American, 1818-1881) "The West Wind ...

Attraction doesn’t want to attract

At four thirty in the morning. In fact,

Attraction never wants to attract.

It just wants to be attractive.

You would like to choose, sure.

But the attractive can’t be attracted.

Beauty sometimes gets what it wishes for:

The partially indoor museum,

Leaves strewn over lawn and floor.

Staring. Quiet. Bored.

Better the face when it’s sleeping.

Sleeping, you can see

What that person’s beauty was meant to be.

I know. Don’t wake her. What can you do?

Look at me. I’m attractive.

And look. I got you.

 

MY MIND ALWAYS DEFEATS ITSELF

Image result for adam driver

My mind always defeats itself.

This is not because I’m a smart person,

For then my mind would always win,

But my mind loses—to itself!

This is because I’m a quiet person;

Quiet is the worst trait of all; Blake

Said lack of energy is the only sin.

He’s right, unfortunately.

I even noticed it with my poetry.

My poems internally contradict

Themselves, subtly, strangely,

Even as I consciously pound my theme.

I wandered after an attractive man in a dream

Who I thought was ugly, like me.

I’m not ugly. I just don’t see

How others see me,

Until it’s too late. But I am ugly;

No, perhaps it depends. I live my dreams in my poetry,

Which is not a bad thing, except this

Makes me quiet. I don’t need to kiss

Anything, but I do.

I’m quiet. My mind is thinking how it can know your mind. Or you.

 

 

 

SINCE EVERY IDEA BEGINS AND ENDS IN A DREAM

Lewis Carroll | 1843

Since every idea begins and ends in a dream,

And each poem begins with no introduction,

As you look for a title or a mother in vain,

This is a dream. Forgetting in a dream is real,

Even though you never knew their name,

And the embarrassment was unwarranted.

A dream is embarrassed for you,

So you’re embarrassed, and the embarrassment is real.

Your dream has only your dream to tell you how to feel.

Your life is religion, talking to itself in poems.

Your pride in science is a joke.

I refused the landscape; I wasn’t aware of the smoke

Until “green” appeared in a dream, and somebody spoke.

It was a nursery rhyme the whole time, it was, which filled your lung,

The experiment experienced sung.

 

 

 

 

TO PUT ALL POEMS OF NOTE IN ONE

Lincrusta Wallpaper - VE1967 | Lincrusta Wallpapers in 2020 ...

“old magazines piled up against the hours” -Ben Mazer

To put all poems of note in one,

Sacrificial cries watched by Italians,

Exemplifying hills and small lakes,

Cold, held by higher mountains,

Landscapes bitten off by words

Put into little leather books by spies,

All the Germans who translated things

That stood missing a long time in the earth,

Statues discovered only yesterday,

Yet suspected to be Michelangelo’s;

Records indicate he lived nearby,

The rebellious villages giving alms

Where the best of them were found.

Even the English springs, not Victorian,

Edwardian, leftover scents underground

Where even bright petticoats could find them,

Gave us the greatest challenge, poems

Cooked in spice, eastern vegetables

Chopped, and baked in the ovens

Where I saw down into the hole, black

Not moving, something tiny,

Maybe just a sound that modifies

Living with itself, stands under grass,

Heaves large rocks for hours;

Some of us working, seeing in haze

And further murkiness just before

Five o’ clock, the hour we love,

The hour uniting us, in a definite distance

That puts us in the way of so many poems.

Jolly as a thief, covered, at all points,

The instructions vary, half-understood

By the drinking mind that knows us,

Pulp in the garden, the small things fidget,

O twice-painted Keatsian bicycle,

Described, once again, those tools for you,

Placated nicely, soothed in all the paths

Going to you and letting you know

That here in the limestone hills

Where gods develop, you can still,

In the hush of extraordinary vision,

See things grow, peeping, the smaller,

The better, as the trained discover what

They are good at, at last; but pursue,

Instead, something else, to earn a living,

What no one was good at, what sent

The guards down, always indifferent,

Breeding Shakespeare, keeping the whole thing

For later, for the better yesterday,

Because you, jammed up against the wall,

Thought to turn your head slightly,

Habituated or not, towards sunrise,

You, finally in the poem. You can stand here.

Go ahead, I’m waiting.

NOW THAT WE ARE SHUT DOWN

New York: The city that never sleeps on lockdown - BBC News

Now that we are shut down, we discover who we are;
Not the ego-driven star;
We are parts
To all innocent, stay-at-home, hearts
Who venture out, anyway,
Because not staying is how we stay.
We are gone already; we have already died
To crisis after crisis, alone, if not this one. We lied
About the others, even to ourselves;
They aspire to others; they wonder who
We can be, before we find and love and become those other loves.

 

THE FINAL FOUR AS MARCH MADNESS CONCLUDES!

ISLANDS > KARINA SMIGLA-BOBINSKI

Scarriet finishes its March Madness Poetry Tournament (the Sublime) for the year 2020 in this post. Congratulations to all the participants, in this our 10th anniversary season.

The crowds are fevered, excited, massing in great numbers into the arena with whoops and screams, as Final Four play descends upon March Madness Island.

Ovid (Classical Bracket) It is art to conceal art.

Matthews (Romantic Bracket) Green dells that into silence stretch away.

Fitzgerald (Modern Bracket) So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Sociu (Post-Modern Bracket) The quakes moving for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

When it comes to the sublime, we have no time to think.

The sublime stops thought as it overwhelms our senses.

But paradoxically, poetry is not sensual—poetry is born of a priori thought; it is a medium made, and that medium, language, is a system of signs, not something which, in itself, is sensual; nor does the creative impulse have anything that we can recognize as sensual—we cannot “see” the chess player thinking, nor do we know how the moves of the chess pieces are shaped by the mind, or what sensuality belongs to any decisions as such.

And, as opposed to the mere 64 square chess board of the mere chess player, the blank page of the poet contains many more possible “moves” than a chess board, which nothing physical could understand in real time and not be overwhelmed and defeated before it starts.

Perhaps the sublime is the paradoxical attempt of thought to be physical—the poem understood physically is sublime by this very fact, beyond any “content” per se.

But this does not seem quite right—content must matter.  The sublime simply cannot be codified in words.  And  yet—would the sublime be satisfied with no definition of itself?

I suppose one could attempt a formula for the sublime, as Poe did, with his “Raven”—what is the best way to write a popular, yet learned poem?  How many lines?  What subject?  What structure?

To attempt a definition of the sublime right here and now (as fans at this moment are filling the arena, and before Marla Muse has appeared on the scene):

A sublime expression requires two compact, highly simple, and distinct, ideas which war and unite in a wave/particle state of paradox, in a manner which gives us a pleasant, non-thinking experience.

Ovid: It is art to conceal art.

If art is good, then we should not want to conceal it, and if art is bad, then art is good to conceal itself, but how can art be both good and bad?—in both cases Ovid’s assertion would seem to be false.

Unless art is both good and bad—bad when it is not concealed, good when it is concealed, and therefore good when it conceals itself, and therefore the concealing (which if it is good, we don’t see) is the good action, and therefore it does fit our definition: “two compact, highly simple, and distinct, ideas which war and unite in a wave/particle state of paradox.”  But does it meet the second requirement?  Does Ovid’s “It is art to conceal art” give us a “pleasant, non-thinking experience?” For the cheering, singing, and excitable Ovid fans, the answer would seem to be yes.

“Green dells that into silence stretch away” would seem—

But now it is too late.  Play has begun, Marla Muse has turned down the lights; fires lit all around dance to the collective urges of the fans.

Away, away stretch the green dells…

The vista resists the concentrated might of the screaming circle in the center of the throng.

The art of each opponent looks for an opening, creates an opening—but to enter, or to trap?

What risks are taken!  The “art” is momentarily exposed, and a gasp goes up from the crowd!  Matthews suddenly brings what he has from silence, into the green dells…

The play is unbelievable!

The fans are going crazy!

Ovid concealed a bit too long!

Cornelius Matthews wins! He’s going to the championship!

~~~~~~~~~

In the other Final Four match-up, F. Scott Fitzgerald has us “beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”

We attempt to go forward, but the current takes us back.

Here is the whole passage:

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an æsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

Fitzgerald’s passage has so many marvelous parts: “that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house…”

Please open your gold filigree program, Poetry March Madness acolytes, to Dan Sociu’s poem (Marla will bring up the lights in just a moment):

Nimic Nu Mai E Posibil

Nothing is possible anymore between me

And a nineteen year old girl, just as nothing

was possible when I was nineteen

years old. I listened to them carefully, they ruffled my hair,

they’d gently reject my touches, no, Dan,

you are not like this, you are a poet. They came

to me for therapy, they’d come with their eyes in tears

to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love

around the poet and none with him.

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

******

Here, then, the paradox which slams us in the heart as true:

“they’d come with their eyes in tears to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love around the poet and none with him.

Dan Sociu defeats F. Scott Fitzgerald!

~~~~~~~~~~

Dan Sociu faces Cornelius Matthews in the 2020 March Madness Championship!!

Sociu has saved the best for last.

“Green dells that into silence stretch away” has concision, it has painterly beauty, and loftiness and yes, sublimity.

And now the conclusion of Sociu’s poem:

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

The arena erupts. The fans are now pure energy. The sounds of the arena blare across the sea, the news hesitant and anxious no longer. Even the children know.

Dan Sociu has won the 2020 Poetry March Madness.

 

 

MADNESS PLAY IN ALL THE BRACKETS!

Giotto, Arena (Scrovegni) Chapel (article) | Khan Academy

We present the field narrowed down to 32 after first round play.

The Sublime March Madness Tournament was bent in a certain direction when Homer advanced in the Classical bracket and Plato did not.

Will spectacle prevail over thought?

Perhaps not. Two critics did advance. Leonardo da Vinci and G. E. Lessing.

Painting is chiaroscuro. Poetry is actions.  Leave it to the classical age to leave us with what is what.

Thomas Gray, 16th seed winner in the Classical Bracket, from the early 18th century, already sounds Romantic, and come to think of it, so does Shakespeare.

Sophocles has the first detective story—“Thou Art The Man” is a title of a lesser-known Edgar Poe crime story.  Homer rolls out Man Unsentimental.

Ovid’s icy “It is art to conceal art.”  What does it mean?  Would Socrates approve of the sentiment? Is “The Republic” art?  What, then, is “art?”

Unable to answer this question, Ovid proves too much for the rest of the competition, and advances to the Final Four.

CLASSICAL

Homer “Friend, you will die”
Sophocles “Thou art the man”
Ovid “It is art to conceal art”
Dante “Death had undone so many”
Shakespeare “When I waked, I cried to dream again”
da Vinci “Painting is crowned by chiaroscuro”
G.E. Lessing “Actions are the subjects of poetry”
Thomas Gray “The curfew tolls the knell of parting day”

~~~~~~~

Goethe seems to sum up the Romantic, “feeling is all,” but the Romantics could be accurate and lurid painters: “The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream.” “Green dells that into silence stretch away” “Down to a sunless sea.” “Tyger, tyger, burning bright.”

Shelley’s “I wield the flail of the lashing hail” is Romantic as hell.

The unknown Cornelius Matthews wins with “Green dells that into silence stretch away”

ROMANTIC

Blake “Tyger, tyger, burning bright”
Goethe “Feeling is all”
Coleridge “Down to a sunless sea”
Shelley “I wield the flail of the lashing hail”
Horne “The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream”
Barrett “In sorrowful complaint which trailed along the gorges”
Byron “They slept on the abyss without a surge”
Cornelius Matthews “Green dells that into silence stretch away”

~~~~~~~

In the Modern bracket, expressions of ennui and entropy: “Man slowly slipping back to all fours” “…borne back” “I am not Prince Hamlet” “…vaguely life leaks away” “All quiet”

Virginia Woolf has the intriguing “It is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex.”

Conrad’s hearty “yell for yell to a westerly gale” is definitely Homeric.

But an age defines itself. The winner of the Modern bracket has to represent the modern.  This is the understanding.

Emerging as the winner in the Modern Bracket is “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”

MODERN

Conrad “yell for yell to a westerly gale”
Remarque “All quiet on the western front”
Thurber “Man slowly slipping back to all fours”
Woolf “It is fatal for anyone who writes to think of their sex”
Fitzgerald “So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past”
Eberhart “In June, amid the golden fields, I saw a groundhog lying dead”
Eliot “No, I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be”
Auden “In headaches and in worry vaguely life leaks away”

~~~~~~~~~~

The Post-Modern Bracket has not had time to be immortalized; it is too recent.

The lineup is amazing. Sean Harvey’s heart-breaking memoir, Carolyn Forche’s harrowing tale of terrorism, Brian Rihlmann’s hopeless family crisis, Jeff Callaway’s paean to poetry, Stephen Cole’s mystical warning, Philp Nikolayev’s chemical intrigue, Dan Sociu’s introspective on the poet, and Mary Angela Douglas’ “until the sorrows”

The winner in the Post-Modern?

Dan Sociu

“the quakes moving for nothing, under uninhabited regions”

POST-MODERN

Sean Harvey  “I can sing it. I can sing “Eleanor Rigby” for you.”
Carolyn Forche “Something for your poetry, no?”
Brian Rihlmann “The crackle of the crematory flames told you nothing”
Jeff Callaway “The greatest poems are never written down”
Stephen Cole “In the high mystical arch where the pigeons blur”
Nikolayev “Music turned itself on and wouldn’t quit, that bizarre non-quitter music.”
Sociu “the quakes moving for nothing, under uninhabited regions.”
Douglas “until the sorrows ransacked you”

~~~~~~~~~~~

Congratulations to the Bracket Winners!

On to the Final Four!

 

 

 

 

LAST TWO FIRST ROUND MATCHES IN SUBLIME MARCH MADNESS!

Clearing in the Woods | Detroit Institute of Arts Museum

We love the hum of crowds, their jostling, anonymous company, when, with friends, we climb the stairs, joking with each other, on the way to our seats in the Poetry Arena, for Poetry March Madness.

After these two matches, all 64 contestants will have made their sublime presence known against an opponent in the 2020 Scarriet March Madness—its 10th anniversary.

Ten years of Poetry March Madness on Scarriet.  It’s hard to believe.

What do you think, Marla?  A proud moment, huh?

Marla Muse:  It’s only time, Tom. Don’t be so full of yourself. It’s only time.

True, Marla, true.

The fans are crazy about this contest.  Here’s one of the most haunting love poems ever written, “Litany” by 7th seeded Carolyn Creedon:

Tom, will you let me love you in your restaurant?
I will let you make me a sandwich of your invention and I will eat it and call
it a carolyn sandwich. Then you will kiss my lips and taste the mayon­naise and
that is how you shall love me in my restaurant
.
Tom, will you come to my empty beige apartment and help me set up my daybed?
Yes, and I will put the screws in loosely so that when we move on it, later,
it will rock like a cradle and then you will know you are my baby
.
Tom, I am sitting on my dirt bike on the deck. Will you come out from the kitchen
and watch the people with me?
Yes, and then we will race to your bedroom. I will win and we will tangle up
on your comforter while the sweat rains from our stomachs and fore­heads
.
Tom, the stars are sitting in tonight like gumball gems in a little girl’s
jewelry box. Later can we walk to the duck pond?
Yes, and we can even go the long way past the jungle gym. I will push you on
the swing, but promise me you’ll hold tight. If you fall I might disappear
.
Tom, can we make a baby together? I want to be a big pregnant woman with a
loved face and give you a squalling red daughter.
No, but I will come inside you and you will be my daughter
.
Tom, will you stay the night with me and sleep so close that we are one person?
No, but I will lie down on your sheets and taste you. There will be feathers
of you on my tongue and then I will never forget you
.
Tom, when we are in line at the convenience store can I put my hands in your
back pockets and my lips and nose in your baseball shirt and feel the crook
of your shoulder blade?
No, but later you can lie against me and almost touch me and when I go I will
leave my shirt for you to sleep in so that always at night you will be pressed
up against the thought of me
.
Tom, if I weep and want to wait until you need me will you promise that someday
you will need me?
No, but I will sit in silence while you rage, you can knock the chairs down
any mountain. I will always be the same and you will always wait
.
Tom, will you climb on top of the dumpster and steal the sun for me? It’s just
hanging there and I want it.
No, it will burn my fingers. No one can have the sun: it’s on loan from God.
But I will draw a picture of it and send it to you from Richmond and then you
can smooth out the paper and you will have a piece of me as well as the sun
.
Tom, it’s so hot here, and I think I’m being born. Will you come back from
Richmond and baptize me with sex and cool water?
I will come back from Richmond. I will smooth the damp spiky hairs from the
back of your neck and then I will lick the salt off it. Then I will leave
.
Tom, Richmond is so far away. How will I know how you love me?
I have left you. That is how you will know
.
.
Does this need any commentary?  Do great poems need any added words?
.
Opposite Carolyn Creedon is a poet of faith and exquisite beauty, whose many poems invoke childhood reigning over the fallen: the sensitive and delicate 10th seeded Mary Angela Douglas. She presents a portion of a poem; many of the sublime examples are excerpts. Few words, but we still feel Mary Angela Douglas has a good chance to win, since how can the soul deny the steady iamb (the voice you hear from long a-go…) drifting into a surprise, which stuns—the trochaic ransacked.  Never has one word been so elevated by the melody of poetry.
.

the voice you hear
from long ago
could be the voice
of all the snows
could be the light of all the stars
of all the feelings near or far
you felt just when
the world was new
until the sorrows
ransacked you

Both poets are from the American South—which implies poems of heartbreak and pessimism, and a beauty of decay which is sadder and more beautiful than anything.  In the calm evening the poets circle each other. It’s a shame that someone has to lose.

~~~~~~~~~~~
Dan Sociu lives in Romania. This masterpiece was translated with help from Ana-Maria Tone.  The Romanian title by the 8th seeded Sociu is “Nimic Nu Mai E Posibil.”

Nothing is possible anymore between me

And a nineteen year old girl, just as nothing

was possible when I was nineteen

years old. I listened to them carefully, they ruffled my hair,

they’d gently reject my touches, no, Dan,

you are not like this, you are a poet. They came

to me for therapy, they’d come with their eyes in tears

to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love

around the poet and none with him.

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

It’s impossible to define “poet” without intellectual bragging in a high-toned manner which no one quite believes, on one hand, or sounding the alarm against falsity and the fake, on the other. If a poet is truly praised, the definition begins to leave the poet behind; despite Shelley’s “Defense,” for instance, no one looks at today’s poets and then believes what Shelley said.  In this poem, Sociu manages to capture better than anyone, what’s going on underneath what all of us talk about when we talk about the “poet.”  “Nimic Nu Mai E Posibil” manages to sympathize, laud, pity, and disdain what a poet is in a manner visionary, intimate, grounded, and sublime.

Ninth seeded Ben Mazer is one of our best living poets.  In “Cirque D’etoiles,” the sublime keeps gaining speed as we read:

And after all is made a frozen waste
of snow and ice, of boards and rags. . .
if I should see one spark of permanent,
… one chink of blue among the wind-blown slags
approaching thus, and mirroring my surmise,
one liquid frozen permanence, your eyes. . .
should meet you at the end of time
and never end. . .
for always, even past death, you are my friend. . . .
and when at last it comes, inevitable,
that you shall sit in furs at high table
(for what other fate can one expect?)
dispensing honours, correlating plans
for every cause, for education, science. . .
what will I miss? how can I not be there?
who see you sputtering wordless in despair. . .
as I do now “miss nothing, nothing”
and to know you are some other man’s
(the stupid jerk), who once had your compliance. . .
and do these things ever end? (and if so, where?)
I ask myself, and should I feel despair?
to know, to love, to know, and still not care?
in winter, spring, and summer, and in fall,
on land or sea, at any time at all,
to know that half the stars on each night shine,
the other half are in your eyes, and mine. . .
and what is there? And what, I ask, is there?
Only these hurt and wounded orbs I see
nestled against a frozen stark brick wall. . .
and there are you, and there is me,
and that is all, that is all. . .
How from this torment can I wrestle free?
I can’t. . . . for thus is my soliloquy.
And you shall sit there serving backers tea.
And running ladies circles. Think of me. . .
Think of me, when like a mountainous waste
the night’s long dreaming stretches to a farther coast
where nothing is familiar. . . two paths that may have crossed
discover what had long been past recall. . .
that nothing’s really changed at all,
that we are here!
Here among flowering lanterns of the sea,
finite, marking each vestige of the city
with trailing steps, with wonder, and with pity!
And laugh, and never say that you feel shitty,
are one whose heart is broken, like this ditty.
And think that there is nothing there to miss.
Think “I must not miss a thing. I must not miss
the wraps, the furs, the teaspoon, or the kiss.”
And end in wishes. And leave not this abyss.
For all is one, beginning as it’s done.
Never forgetting this, till I am no one.
There is no formula that can forget. . .
these eyes pierce though ten thousand suns have set,
and will keep setting. . . now tuck in your head,
the blankets folded, and lay down in your bed.
And stir the stars, long after we are dead.

The fans are on their feet for both Dan Sociu and Ben Mazer.

The first round of Sublime March Madness action is complete.

The poets gather in the rotunda for music and wine.

Some make their way down the wooded pathways towards the sighing shore alone.

 

 

 

DEREK WALCOTT, STEPHEN COLE, PHILIP NIKOLAYEV, CAMILLE RANKINE, AS MARCH MADNESS CONTINUES!

italian renaissance landscape painting | Norge, Mørk, Søk

Poems can be anything.  The crowd milling outside the March Madness arena tucked between mountains on the island know this.  From the Classical “I’m going to tell you a story, children, listen!” to the Romantic, “I am the story!” to the Modern “look at that story” to the Post-Modern “Story? We don’t need no story,” it’s finally a lullaby to all.

How do we sort out poems?  One way is by reticence; some poets are non-talkers and want to pour images. Some poets are talking in your ear all the time.

Some poets, if you say something to them, will look at you keenly, in silence.  Others, will respond, “Well, what I think…” and never stop talking.

These are the two types of persons, and the two types of poems.  The first kind you fall in love with, the other, you marry.  One is mysterious and doesn’t talk enough.  The other talks too much.

In these two Madness contests, we have three reticent types and one talker.

Fifth-seeded Derek Walcott, in his “This Page,” is not conversing with anyone; he is drawing back a curtain, and we don’t see any people. It reminds us of Wordsworth.

This page is a cloud between whose fraying edges
a headland with mountains appears brokenly
then is hidden again until what emerges
from the now cloudless blue is the grooved sea
and the whole self-naming island, its ochre verges,
its shadow-plunged valleys and a coiled road
threading the fishing villages, the white, silent surges
of combers along the coast, where a line of gulls has arrowed
into the widening harbour of a town with no noise,
its streets growing closer like print you can now read,
two cruise ships, schooners, a tug, ancestral canoes,
as a cloud slowly covers the page and it goes
white again and the book comes to a close.

Walcott’s opponent, Stephen Cole, (12th seed) is also showing something to us—and not revealing the common movements of people. (Cole calls his poem, “Unreal City Philosophy Breakdown):

Keep the knives in the decider box
Where you make your choices.
Rattle the caustic chambers pots
At eye level
In the high mystical arch
Where the pigeons blur.
Reality is the paragon of confusion.

The surface cave is painted
In primary colors
On a mountain wall
But the snow is real.

It bares repeating
The fake cementing
On fracas light goes on
Piecing itself together
Over the top of a barren dream scape.
How reliable after all
Are dreams in dreams?

It goes just that far
And no further.
At this point
the universe turns back on itself.
The content is thrown back into eye
For the regulated comfort.
If some nefarious spirit
Changes the channel:
You’re gone.

Both Cole and Walcott are addressing a “you” in their poems—but neither one is really having a chat with us. They give us a glimpse of an entire world; the Walcott is framed more simply, Cole’s is more intricate and bizarre, and takes a menacing turn at the end. We had to include the world-renowned Walcott in this Sublime tournament; he has been called Homeric.  Cole is merely a fantastic poet we found toiling away on Facebook.

The poems are lovely, but one is more interesting.

Stephen Cole advances.

~~~~~~~~

Philip Nikolayev, the sixth seed, talks non-stop in his “Litmus Test,” and we think it is one of the greatest poems in English; it is his future. It needs no comment, much less hype.  Here it is:

Didn’t want to go to the damn party in the first place,
needed to “catch a lecture” the next morning
on Renaissance Florence, one of those stupid 9-a.m.-on-Saturday
events, but my buddy insisted sangria, perfect chance to chat
up Jessica and Jake, so we went
at midnight. Sangria my ass. I mean it tasted extra nice,
bootilicious, but they’d run out of ice
and Jessica and Jake had already left. Half an hour later
three spluttering purple volcanoes
of indeterminate size, but perfectly harmless and hospitable,
spun winking out of the texture of the tabletop,
pouring forth an interminable wordlist full of words
into pulsating Buddha-faced saucers. My armchair
floated in the breeze over the seaweed-infested carpet
dead to rights. I was chary of wading through its Dead Sea
waters, though I needed to pee. My buddy goes man,
I think we just drank some acid, should’ve
poured the stuff that’s on the table but I wanted it cold
from the fridge cuz they’ve no ice
so anyway we can always and later too you know
all that, now best stay where you are, best to just to hang in look
I know you have to pee “like ouch” but listen
I’ve been thinking this week all week every day
for three years now, it’s driving me nuts I’ve always
wanted to talk you up about how you know sometimes
that feeling that we call sublime or subliminal whichever
you can also feel it right that wholesome feeling
a bird tipping from branch to branch to branch in luminous light
a bee crawling from bract to bract a strange kind of lyric feeling
the inexpressible what we felt in childhood
is really what we’re all about like they’re cluing you in on it now
gluing suing slewing you in on it. Spack,
a strange music turned itself on and wouldn’t quit,
that bizarre non-quitter music. Anyway when they sang
happy birthday dear Humphrey
at 2 a.m. I needed to pee especially badly
and trudged off through the interminable apartment
though my buddy hadn’t yet finalized his discourse.
I’d never been in a non-finite apartment before,
after 27 rooms I stopped counting
because I almost wet my pants before finding the bathroom
plus had to wait another ten minutes
while someone was getting sick in there.
And finally when I felt I was going back to normal
and washing my hands, I saw in the mirror,
which was in the key of E flat minor,
myself as a winged demon with golden horns on top
and colored rotating spirals for my pupils, my stare
expressive of the universal doom.
Then there was a descent down the three-mile jade
staircase and gigantic escalades of diamond snow.
My buddy and I sat to our heart’s content on steaming grilles
in the pavement by the Store 24 warming ourselves
(though in fact it was hot) with other nocturnal characters,
who thankfully seemed to know no English, and in the end
I realized that we are chemical through and through,
so determinate and so chemical, while sliding in crystal insects up
the conic mountain of spacetime, with its mass but no weight,
pure composition. Soon by the creaking of refreshed pedestrians
I opened up to the idea that there was one hour left until the lecture.
Is supermarket coffee inherently such a palette of taste,
or was it the radically contingent chemistry of my palate
that temporarily made it so? My buddy had left to sleep it off
(wish I had his worries), but I tried to recompose alone
the ordinary coherency of life. All I heard were the dubious
reverberations of a mid-90s train passing underground.
Savonarola’s sermon, to which I had eventually made it
across the Alps, focused on the ideals of asceticism, poverty
and visionary piety. His project of a bohemian republic
appealed to me deeply as I took faithful notes
diagonally across my notebook (which was unliftable).
Fellow aspirants peeked at me inquisitorially,
but I waved them off, staring at the preacher’s
skinny jowl, enormous nose, dark cowl in profile. Then
I had nothing left or planned for the rest of Saturday
except to get home to my two-bit moth-devoured
studio with its many topological holes
and zip up my brain. I stepped across some literature
to my solitary bed, dedicated exclusively to the twin purposes
of study and sleep, and elongated myself as best I could.
Sleep was out of the question, issues of the irreducible
multiplicity pressing harshly upon my overburdened lobes.
I yearned to be one, complete, so I arched and reached
for the telephone. Yes, dropped some acid last night
first time ever, haven’t slept. Please come save me,
I hate acid. You hadn’t slept much since New York either,
but you arrived instantly, as if wading through atrocious snow
came as naturally to you as levitation to a saint.
I laughed suddenly, for the first time in a month,
shocked to discover your red hair had its usual color.
You had American Spirit cigarettes (I was out),
and in minutes we stood at the foot of Lee Bo’s Cantonese Kitchen,
whose second floor seemed unreachable on foot.
I sighed with relief in the pentatonic elevator.
In the bathroom things went well this time,
no dragons in the mirror. You fed me with a spoon,
then with chopsticks. The hot and sour soup
was indeed hot and sour, it counteracted my internal chill,
and the salt jumbo shrimp were verily salty and jumbo.
The green tea you poured into me sip by tiny sip
made me realize for the first time
how perfect we were for each other. I wept like a whale.
You had changed my chemical composition forever.

The 11th seeded Camille Rankine, in her poem, “Emergency Management,” recently published in The New Yorker, the iconic “limousine liberal” magazine, has a bodily reflection theme similar to Nikolayev’s:
.
.
The sun eats away at the earth, or the earth eats away
at itself and burning up,
.
I sip at punch.
So well practiced at this
living. I have a way of seeing
.
things as they are: it’s history
that’s done this to me.
It’s the year I’m told
.
my body will turn rotten,
my money talks but not enough,
I feel my body turn
against me.
.
Some days I want to spit
me out, the whole mess of me,
but mostly I am good
.
and quiet.
How much silence buys me
.
mercy, how much
silence covers all the lives it takes to make me.
.
In the event of every day and its newness
of disaster, find me sunning on the rooftop, please
don’t ask anything of me.
.
If I could be anything
I would be the wind,
.
if I could be nothing
I would be.
.
.
We love this poem.
.
But Nikolayev’s poem has more experience.
.
Philip Nikolayev wins.
.
Gripping their rolled-up programs, or littering them, or seeking to have them signed, the drifting, poem-happy, March Madness crowd is talking, talking, talking, and going, going, gone…

 

MORE POST-MODERN BRACKET PLAY IN SUBLIME MARCH MADNESS!!!

Image result for blade runner

Celebs are everywhere for this first round match up! We feature a Hollywood film—as it takes on a mere poem!

Marla Muse: I influence the movies too, but not nearly as much as I would like.

Aww, Marla, you don’t know nuttin’ about da movies!

Marla Muse: That which merely jars the senses makes people dumb and dumber.

Dumb and Dumber!  One of my favorites!

Marla Muse: Anyway, whatever aspires to the sublime, I am there.

Another one of my favorites—Blade Runner.

Rutger Hauer:

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark
Near the Tannhauser Gate.
All those moments
Will be lost in time, like tears
In the rain. Time to die.

Taking on Hollywood is Brian Rihlmann, with this untitled poem:

we used to joke about it
on days when you could—
his possible ethnicity
his identity…
the “who?” of this man
she kept from you
for 45 years—
even in her final breaths

and the crackle of the crematory flames
told you nothing
nor the rising smoke
nor the box of her ashes
you carried up the flank of Mt. Rose
and scattered in sight of that pond

once, when I hiked up there
alone….after we had died, also
I spoke to her—
“you know you fucked her up….
don’t you?” who were you protecting?”

“mother—your shield was nothing
but a sword…
and she is still falling on it.”

Rihlmann’s poem is like a whole movie.

It’s an interesting thing. You can watch a two hour movie and think, “The essence of what I saw could fit on a small post-it note”—especially if it’s an intimate family drama where people fight and there’s a love/sex scene or two, and a family secret is revealed, and after the credits roll over sad music with a car driving down the road, you’re left with a feeling: this wasn’t bad, it calmed me down, because I was able to forget about my problems for two hours, but finally, it really doesn’t matter, other than X can really act, and why is that same English dude in almost every film I see?

And then you read a 22 line poem in about 25 seconds—and damn if it doesn’t kill you, and feel like an entire movie.  A two hour movie on a postage stamp.

So what wasted more of your time and money?

Brian Rihlmann advances!

Astonishment rises up from the crowd.  Hollywood starlets, in a cloud of perfume, ascend to congratulate the poet, Brian Rihlmann.

~~~~~~~

Speaking of movies, the Scarriet Madness Committee saw this poem on You Tube and decided it was extraordinary.  The poet is Jeff Callaway, and “The Greatest Poems Of All” video is linked in the comments below.

The greatest poems are never written down,
But lonely and forgotten before pen can be found,
The greatest poems never find the ink,
In the time it takes you to think;
Slowly with time they fade,
And face the guillotine of jilted poems
And unrequited lovers,
Or glued to my own vague memory
Of what could have been
If only I’d had a pen,
And the recollection
To keep repeating what it was
I was trying to say.

The greatest poems are girls
Who poured Dewars on the rocks
Down their breasts with a splash of water
As I drink it off.

The greatest poems lick the ink
From the tip of my idea.
The greatest poems of all get drunk
From the bottle, straight, no chaser,
No requiem for a dream,
No teen queen Chinese angels on a silver screen,
No Hollywood homecoming queens,
Leaping side to side in ecstasy,
Or just beautiful girls who once
Gave me their phone numbers,
Or girls back in high school
Who kissed me, and later became strippers,
Midnight sirens to madness, mad, drunkard,
Barroom brawls, bras, panties, imported beers.

The greatest poems of all, who put my drinks
On my tab, and heavenly broads
Who brought me elixers which I did drink
Down into my self the likes of abinsthe,
Sugar, laudunum, or I read
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Mad at midnight, typing poems furiously
Toward glory, or mayhem, or maybe for
Nothing at all, or maybe just
For the greatest poems of all.

So here, here! to the greatest poems of all!
To bikini contests, to Bikini Kill, to Bukowski,
To Rimbaud and other roughnecks,
To the wet T-shirts at Cedar Isle,
And to the Cedar Creek Lake rememberers
Who still remember all of the greatest poems of all.

To Siberian huskies named Molly who lived in Dallas Texas
With dirty filth, and to dirty filth,
To pain and pills and poems,
To words that slide into lyrical oblivion;
Sometimes these can be
The better rhymes of all times,
Dare I say the greater poems that can rhyme
From poets here today, like drunken
Ramblings, drunken one nighters,
Far beyond driven, drunk drivers,
In Dracula, no more drama before hot actress,
Sexy angel poetess,
Prostitutes, politics, and to the Texas outlaw press,
And to all of the greatest poems of all.

To Polly, to Pam, to the paranormal,
To the ghosts of the greatest poems of all,
To the ghouls, to the grim reaper,
To death, and its poetic casting call for us all;
I’d like to give a shout out to the gangsters,
Of the ghettos of Grand Prairie,
To the hypodermic hipsters of Plano
Who never made it, never got to hear
The greatest poems of all.

To poems that got kicked out of Magnolia
For drinking salt shakers, fat jokes, plastic chairs,
Who never swept the petty shit,
But always pet the sweaty shit,
From shinola to shangri-la,
From 26th and San Gabriel to the angel Gabriel,
From trumpets to cherubim,
To these crazy, insane, hot American chicks
Who love poets, poems, and Palm Pilots,
To an Austin poetry renaissance, or to purgatory.

How ’bout another round of drinks
To the greatest poets and poems of all.

Jeff Callaway’s opponent is a poem also plain-spoken, without pretense.

“How I Got That Name” by Marilyn Chin.

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin.
Oh, how I love the resoluteness
of that first person singular
followed by that stalwart indicative
of “be,” without the uncertain i-n-g
of “becoming.” Of course,
the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father the paper son
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blond
transliterated “Mei Ling” to “Marilyn.”
And nobody dared question
his initial impulse—for we all know
lust drove men to greatness,
not goodness, not decency.
And there I was, a wayward pink baby,
named after some tragic white woman
swollen with gin and Nembutal.
My mother couldn’t pronounce the “r.”
She dubbed me “Numba one female offshoot”
for brevity: henceforth, she will live and die
in sublime ignorance, flanked
by loving children and the “kitchen deity.”
While my father dithers,
a tomcat in Hong Kong trash—
a gambler, a petty thug,
who bought a chain of chopsuey joints
in Piss River, Oregon,
with bootlegged Gucci cash.
Nobody dared question his integrity given
his nice, devout daughters
and his bright, industrious sons
as if filial piety were the standard
by which all earthly men are measured.

*

Oh, how trustworthy our daughters,
how thrifty our sons!
How we’ve managed to fool the experts
in education, statistic and demography—
We’re not very creative but not adverse to rote-learning.
Indeed, they can use us.
But the “Model Minority” is a tease.
We know you are watching now,
so we refuse to give you any!
Oh, bamboo shoots, bamboo shoots!
The further west we go, we’ll hit east;
the deeper down we dig, we’ll find China.
History has turned its stomach
on a black polluted beach—
where life doesn’t hinge
on that red, red wheelbarrow,
but whether or not our new lover
in the final episode of “Santa Barbara”
will lean over a scented candle
and call us a “bitch.”
Oh God, where have we gone wrong?
We have no inner resources!

*

Then, one redolent spring morning
the Great Patriarch Chin
peered down from his kiosk in heaven
and saw that his descendants were ugly.
One had a squarish head and a nose without a bridge
Another’s profile—long and knobbed as a gourd.
A third, the sad, brutish one may never, never marry.
And I, his least favorite—
“not quite boiled, not quite cooked,”
a plump pomfret simmering in my juices—
too listless to fight for my people’s destiny.
“To kill without resistance is not slaughter”
says the proverb. So, I wait for imminent death.
The fact that this death is also metaphorical
is testament to my lethargy.

*

So here lies Marilyn Mei Ling Chin,
married once, twice to so-and-so, a Lee and a Wong,
granddaughter of Jack “the patriarch”
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million,
survived by everybody and forgotten by all.
She was neither black nor white,
neither cherished nor vanquished,
just another squatter in her own bamboo grove
minding her poetry—
when one day heaven was unmerciful,
and a chasm opened where she stood.
Like the jowls of a mighty white whale,
or the jaws of a metaphysical Godzilla,
it swallowed her whole.
She did not flinch nor writhe,
nor fret about the afterlife,
but stayed! Solid as wood, happily
a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized
by all that was lavished upon her
and all that was taken away!

Edgar Allan Poe, in his “Philosophy of Composition,” said the ideal length is about 100 lines for a poem aiming to be popular but also critically admired.  His “Raven” was 108 lines.

Since Poe’s time, popular poems with critical weight tend to be about 20 lines (Do Not Go Gentle, The Road Not Taken) and this may be the result of shorter modern attention spans.  Eliot’s Prufrock (and Eliot secretly studied Poe) is about 150 lines.  I’m not sure what Poe would have thought about haiku.  Perhaps Poe’s formula is a bit of a stuffy old joke—yet surely a poem’s length is not without some significance in the way it makes an impression on us.

Marilyn Chin’s poem is 95 lines.

Jeff Callaway’s poem is 82 lines, so they’re both in the neighborhood of what Poe was asking for.

At the ‘100 line’ length, you feel like you’re reading something.  You’re in something.  You’re an audience to something. The poet (how long was “The Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner?”) has you, so to speak.  The poem better be good, if it has any chance to be liked, if it’s more than 20 lines.

Songs we listen to should last, minimally, about 2 minutes, and Poe’s formula then, equates reading a poem, in terms of time, with listening to a song.

What is “The Raven,” if not a performance piece—thus a song recording?   And is it any accident, that Jeff Callaway’s rather lengthy poem now sits in You Tube as a ‘song performance?’  Marilyn Chin’s poem is about her, and the self-worth one needs to pursue a poem about oneself certainly needs to rise to the level of a performance.  Otherwise, you are too humble, and let’s face it, no good poet is humble.

These poems by Chin and Callaway, brought together briefly by March Madness 2020, have a similar raucous, yet resigned, spirit; in a way, they are both happy/sad drinking songs.

We like their lengths. We like them both exceedingly.

They insinuate themselves into the evening, resting on every leaf surrounding the arena, and upon every tongue in the arena, poems meant to be, in our contest, a moaning and a groaning, of the sublime.

 

 

THE POST-MODERN BRACKET BEGINS PLAY IN THE SUBLIME MARCH MADNESS

Image result for large arena at night

This is always exciting, Marla. We now have play between living poets, as we’ve reached the so-called post-modern age (for a lack of a better word for it).

Marla Muse: All poets are living to me.

The Classical, Romantic and Modern first round action is complete. The mobs from the Modern Bracket play have been cleared off (the Dylan Thomas fans went crazy, for some reason), and the island and the arena are somewhat calm again.

Here’s what we’ve got coming up:

The first Sublime offering in the Post-Modern Bracket is the Beatles, their psychedelic number from 1967, “A Day In The Life:”

I read the news today, oh boy.
About a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn’t noticed that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared.
They’d seen his face before.
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords.

I saw a film today, oh boy.
The English army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away.
But I just had to look
Having read the book.

I’d love to turn you on.

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat,
Made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream.

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

I read the news today, oh boy.
4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

I’d love to turn you on.

Paul McCartney said he would have taught literature if he hadn’t made it in rock music.  John Lennon, who had been an art school student, published Edward Lear-like writings in the early 60s.  If you are famous, and if you know everyone is going to listen to what you say, this alone will make you a better artist. It can destroy you, as well, especially when you begin to resent the public, but if you’re confident, and not misanthropic, having a large audience inspires you.  Paul and John, like other rock groups from time to time, had a window of time where they produced great work, which only got better as they experienced the ‘high’ of positive feedback. When the audience begins to drift away, you get depressed, and the magic is gone. You realize it wasn’t you. It was the moment. It was the muse.

The 16th seed opponent of “Day in the Life” is a short memoir found by the Scarriet March Madness committee on Facebook.  The author is Sean Harvey. If you’ve never heard of him, it’s okay.

Is “Day In the Life” more sublime?

Or this?

My Eleanor Rigby. It was 1974, and I was about 11 years old and a student at Charles Peck Elementary. Before the administration figured out that I really wasn’t all that bright, I was briefly in what was then referred to as “the gifted” program for smart kids. I hated it because the special sessions only occurred Tuesdays and Thursdays during physical education, which to me was the best part of the day. I’d be immersed in dodge ball, and I’d see some kid in the distance coming to fetch me to take me away to the creepy portable building; a windowless classroom-like trailer on wheels located at the far end of campus.

The Tuesday and Thursday buzzkill went on for a year, until one day I noticed that there was a new girl in the class. She was a Hollywood version of a shy child, with simple short brown hair and thick-framed glasses, and she sat all the way in the back of the room and she never said a single word. Three weeks passed and I paid absolutely no attention to her, EXCEPT that I noticed she wore the same brown and red dress every single day. One afternoon, our teacher happened to mention how much she herself liked The Beatles, and, in particular, the song “Eleanor Rigby.”

Up shot the hand of the quiet little girl.

I remember that even our teacher was surprised.

“I can sing it for you,” said the girl.

Baffled, the teacher asked: “Sing what?”

I wondered, what is wrong with this kid? I started to feel uncomfortable.

She repeated: “I can sing it. I can sing “Eleanor Rigby” for you.”

I don’t remember how she got permission, or if she just took it upon herself, but up she popped, standing aside her desk, porcelain skin and coke-bottle glasses, and she began to sing:

“Ah …look at all the lonely people …
Ah … look at all the lonely people …
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door…
Who is it for?”

Do you know how sudden, raw beauty has a way of transcending age or even previous exposure? I am in NO way gifted musically, but the ability to appreciate what’s miraculous is innate. I can remember maybe 10 minutes of fifth grade, and that scene comprises most of it. Listening to her, I immediately understood two things: that her voice was great, angelic, and that an important part of the reason it was great was because she was lonely and afraid. I was deeply and permanently smitten. This quiet little person had sung so bravely and so beautifully, we were all astounded and our teacher actually choked up and began to cry.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

After, the class sat silently for what seemed like a minute, and as I sat there, I actually felt that something had changed. I knew, perhaps for the very first time in my life, that I would remember a moment, maybe forever.

Leading up to the next class session, no one had to come and fetch me because as fast as I could I ran out to the portables and got there early so I could sit in the seat right next to where the little girl had been. But when the bell rang, she wasn’t there. She had, apparently, moved away from our school just as suddenly as she had arrived. And I never saw her again.

To this day, thinking of that moment makes me sad. But more than that, it makes me yearn for answers to things that no one can answer. Things like where did that little Eleanor Rigby come from? And, in all the years since, did she ever find the place that she belonged?

!!!!!!!!!

Marla Muse: Beautiful.

So many famous people have turned out for this contest. Sean Harvey seems a bit dazzled by it all.

Marla Muse: Who wouldn’t be a bit dazzled?

Sean Harvey wins in a stunning upset!

~~~~~~~

Carolyn Forche is the second seed and she brings this:

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

Meera Nair, the 15th seed, has this to offer:

What wouldn’t one do
To appease a Goddess?

The city is a bitch in heat
A lighted furnace
Waiting to go up in smoke

Bricks have lined up on pavements
Boundaries drawn
And territories captured
The women arrive in hordes
Laying claim to this fragile city

Goddess, I have no offering to make
No pot of grain
No boiling water
No lit fire
But here is a prayer
From within the walls of my agnostic house

Goddess, make it rain
Torrents and torrents of water
Wash out this hysteria on the streets
Cleanse this litter

Goddess, restore sanity to my city
She burns

This poem by Nair, “Yet Another Pongala,” was written a short time before the virus struck, and refers to riots taking place in India stemming from recent Hindu/Muslim strife. Crisis follows crisis, and the mass of modernizing humanity looks on, bewildered. What’s happening on their street? What’s happening somewhere else in the world?  The virus, the latest crisis, is uniting everyone, like almost nothing before, and it has so many layers, some controversial and divisive—the poets are just starting to react.

But here, in March Madness, everything is fine. The riots are pretend riots.  Only the poetry is real.

Carolyn Forche advances.

~~~~~~~~

 

 

FIRST ROUND ACTION CONCLUDES IN THE MODERN BRACKET

Image result for alan seeger

Alan Seeger—yes, he is related to the folk singer Pete Seeger—certainly has a sublime entry:

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

World War One was such a horrible meat grinder, it’s a miracle any beautiful poetry on that war was possible, but poets will find a way.  The theme is similar to ‘all quiet on the western front.’  I will die when it’s “quiet.”  I will die when it’s “Spring.”

The Moderns often point to the Great War as the end of “pretty, Victorian poetry;” it’s not that poems like Seeger’s on WW I were not beautiful, were not popular, were not moving—it’s just that the horror of war “outside” the text began to condemn it (pretty poetry) as naive.  The air-tight jar of art-for-art’s sake was broken by an event too vast and grisly for that jar to survive.

The problem is, however, that when you try and ‘fit’ poetry to the gruesome stupidity of life, it’s no longer poetry.  So now, you’ve not only done a stupid thing by having World War One, you’ve gone and ruined poetry, too.

And this is not to say that all poetry should be flowery and Victorian and how dare you introduce more realistic views—no.  The point is, poetry should never be defined by “what are we going to do about World War One?”  In any way, ever. Because—the dyer’s hand. If you write poetry about iconic stupidity, it will be stupid. After you go to the ironic well of ‘I will die when it’s quiet/spring’ one too many times, you may have to start writing ‘his face was blown off’ while trying to be poetic, and that will take too much effort, or make one indulge too much in brutality for its own sake.  And if you wish to address the stupidity of World War One in a truly serious or scientific way, you probably won’t be using poems.

Seeger’s opponent is Richard Eberhart and his poem, “The Groundhog:”

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.
Inspecting close his maggots’ might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.
The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.
My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge
Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.
And so I left; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained.
But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.
Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,
And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.
It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,
And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.

It is the scene-shifting of this poem which is so moving. Poems exist in time, if we let them.  There are poems which exist in a picture.  But some poems exist only as they unfold.  Poets often miss this principle: a poem is a continual arriving and leaving, and the rare, poignant ones ride the temporal itself. One could state the theme of decay in a much shorter poem, but a short poem would not get the decay in life and memory as Eberhart here so beautifully unwinds it.

Alan Seeger, brave man!  Fare thee well!

Eberhart advances.

~~~~~~~~

The arena can hardly contain the crowd for this one: T.S. Eliot versus Dylan Thomas!

The sly, slim, astute Eliot, unruffled as a cat on a stuffed chair. The bubbling, passionate, beer-soaked Thomas.

Already a few brawls outside the stadium.

The languorous sounds of “Prufrock” as it reaches its mesmerizing end:

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
.
Shall I part my hair behind? Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.

The crowd is lulled into an ecstatic trance, but Dylan Thomas is about to change all that…

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

One of the great drawbacks of homosexuality is that so many great poems are now ruined, because the word “gay” is used in the old sense.

Some scholars believe T.S. Eliot was gay.

Still other scholars think we’re all gay. Let’s just defer to them right now, shall we?

Marla Muse: Tom!  What are you babbling about?

Nothing, Marla, just having fun.  But I think I’ve come down with a cold.

Marla Muse: You might want to take care of that cold. I hear people who are 99 years old and have diabetes and asthma are dying in Italy.

Good God, Marla, now what are you babbling about?

“Parody! Parody!” In the vestibules the Dylan Thomas fans are making a fuss that “Prufrock” is nothing but a school boy parody.

Maybe we should leave, Marla.  It seems to be getting out of control down there.

Marla: Rage, indeed. Perhaps we should leave. Was that a beer bottle which just flew by?

Marla, follow me.

~~~~~~~~

The final First Round Scarriet March Madness Sublime contest in the Modern Bracket is two 20th century poets: W.H. Auden and Edna St. Vincent Millay. 

Marla Muse: Both great poets. And both used rhyme. You know, as time rides farther and farther away from the 20th century, and we look back, it will begin to appear, as we read the poems most memorable, that free verse was no factor in modern poetry at all!

History is funny, isn’t it?

Marla Muse: Not only history, but time!

Is time itself the funny part?  Perhaps it is…

Marla Muse: After many a summer dies the swan.

Tennyson.

Marla Muse: No, that’s mine.  The muses own all of it.

Of course.

Here is the first half of Auden’s energetic march, “As I Walked Out One Evening:”

As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
.
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
.
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
.
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’
.
But all the clocks in the city
Begin to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
.
‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.
.
‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
Tomorrow or today.
.
‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.
.
‘O plunge your hands in water
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.
.
‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A land to the land of the dead.

“And the seven songs go squawking/like geese about the sky.”  I could recite that line forever!

Look at the Auden fans! Doing a “plunge them in up to the wrist” dance!  What a cavorting mob!

Marla Muse: There’s quite a gathering of Edna fans, too. Millay is heavenly.

Here she comes now with one of her best known sonnets.

Her fans are strewing petals everywhere about her!

What lips my lips have kissed, and where, and why,
I have forgotten, and what arms have lain
Under my head till morning; but the rain
Is full of ghosts tonight, that tap and sigh
Upon the glass and listen for reply,
And in my heart there stirs a quiet pain
For unremembered lads that not again
Will turn to me at midnight with a cry.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
.
.
The Milly fans are singing, over various strumming chords, “no more,” over and over again, hypnotically, in a simple major key, as they wind about, in a great procession, out of the arena towards the river.
.
The Auden followers are bellowing Auden’s ballad in E minor. A few things are being broken.
.
And so ends the First Round play in the Modern Bracket.
.
Lights, lights, everywhere, as night falls, and music echoes behind the trees.

 

 

 

 

MORE ACTION IN THE MARCH MADNESS MODERN BRACKET (AND MARY ANGELA DOUGLAS IS BACK!)

Image result for virginia woolf

Good news, Marla!

Marla Muse: I’ve heard. Mary is back. Her fans are making a ruckus in the tents by the lake leading up to the arena.

The Post-Modern Bracket is next, but we need to get back to the Modern Bracket.

~~~~~~~

Conrad, Remarque, and Thurber have advanced, but we have five more first round contests in this amazing Modern Bracket.

Marla Muse: Virginia Woolf. When I see pictures of her, I think she may have been the most beautiful woman in the world—but what does this mean?  It means nothing.  Depending on who loves it, and from what angle you gaze upon it, and all the changes that happen to a face over the years, there is no most beautiful; there is only most loved.

Marla, I’ve never heard you speak quite like this. What’s gotten into you?

Marla Muse: Shut up.

OK. Well. If we look at this passage from Virginia Woolf, from “A Room Of One’s Own,” I think we’ll find not only a sublime speech, but a strangely anti-feminist one.

Marla Muse (as if in a trance): It’s remarkable.

It is fatal for any one who writes to think of their sex.

It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilized. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the act of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.

If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman also must have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous.

No age can ever have been as stridently sex-conscious as our own. The Suffrage campaign was no doubt to blame. It must have roused in men an extraordinary desire for self-assertion; it must have made them lay an emphasis upon their own sex and its characteristics which they would not have troubled to think about had they not been challenged.

The blame for all this rests no more upon one sex than upon the other. All seducers and reformers are responsible. All who have brought about a state of sex-consciousness are to blame, and it is they who drive me, when I want to stretch my faculties on a book, to seek it in that happy age, when the writer used both sides of his mind equally. One must turn back to Shakespeare, then, for Shakespeare was androgynous; and so was Keats and Coleridge. Shelley was perhaps sexless. Milton and Ben Johnson had a dash too much of the male in them. So had Wordsworth and Tolstoy.

The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans float calmly down the river. And I saw again the current which took the boat and the undergraduate and the dead leaves; and the taxi took the man and the woman who came together across the street, and the current swept them away, as I heard far off the roar of London’s traffic, into that tremendous stream.

Stunning.

Edmund Wilson has the unlucky task of going up against Woolf.

A literary critic, Wilson knew F. Scott Fitzgerald at Princeton, proposed marriage to Anais Nin by saying he had much to teach her, which she took as an insult, did not pay federal taxes for years, called Lovecraft and Tolkien hacks, had many marriages, and supposedly many affairs, and quickly turned down LBJ’s invitation to the White House in 1965.

Wilson, to defeat Woolf, will attempt to do so with this:

“Come outside a minute,” I said, when everybody was clapping and cheering. “I want to tell you something.” She went with me in silence—I was satisfied and proud, and I also felt really excited. There would be people in the courtyard, I knew, so I took her to the terrace at the side of the house. I kissed her, holding her tight against me, one arm about her naked shoulders, the other under her soft bare armpit just where the breast begins; and she seemed to me voracious and hot as I had never known her before. I said nothing, for the kiss said all. But we couldn’t go on, so at last i stopped and looked away to distract myself. There above us in the sky where it was always summer hung the dust of the richly-sprinkled stars that gave the illusion out here of being both closer-to and more tinselly than they ever did in the East—the stars of the blissful Pacific that had the look of festive decorations for people to be gay or to make love by, yet with which I had never been able to feel myself in any vital relation as I did with the remote ones at home. I spoke of this and when I looked back at her face, I saw that she was smiling and gazing up with her lips parted in such a way as to show great long bare-gummed teeth that stuck out and yet curved back like tushes and that seemed almost too large to be contained in her mouth. She looked like a dog panting when you take it out for a drive, and for a moment I was sharply repelled; but then, saying, ‘Yes, I see what you mean,’ she closed her lips, and the teeth disappeared. I saw only her wide wet mouth, and I pounded kisses against it with summoned determined passion, tasting her perfume and her flesh. It was precisely those long teeth, I thought, that gave her large mouth its peculiar attractiveness: it might have been unpleasant, but wasn’t.

My head is swimming, Marla. I’ve never been witness to a contest like this. Wilson’s memoir invokes sublimity in a strange, but forceful way. The unapologetic realism.

Yet Woolf’s passage may be the most remarkable thing in Letters a woman has written, ever.

Marla Muse:  Then Virginia wins?

She does.

~~~~~~

F. Scott Fitzgerald—the fifth seed, is famous, died when still young (44) and has a famous entry. The fan turnout is enormous!  The crowd is speaking along to every word. Tattered copies of Gatsby are everywhere.  White silk and cotton. What a scene.

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an æsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

The American sublime.  Does his opponent have a chance?

We doubt it.  It is the tall and gangly Englishman, Stephen Spender, a friend of Auden’s, publisher of an art magazine secretly funded by the CIA, who brings to this match up a poem which sounds like it was self-consciously written to be ‘great’ poem; but then some say he pulled it off!  What do you think, Marla?

I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
.
What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.
.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they traveled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.

Marla is not sure.

She’s smoothing her hair.

She’s running off somewhere, now…

There are parts of the first stanza where one says to oneself, “oh come on, this is silly,” but then something happens when we get to “essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth,” and there is something so wonderfully fresh, sweet, and lyrical (even though it is still naive) about the last stanza, and by the time we read, “they traveled a short while toward the sun,” the poet has us.

But F. Scott Fitzgerald wins.

 

THE MODERN BRACKET—FIRST ROUND ACTION!!

Image result for joseph conrad

Welcome to more March Madness and the Sublime—our 2020 theme.

This is the Modern Bracket (Classical and Romantic have concluded first round play).

Marla Muse, we have a poet represented in our Post-Modern Bracket, who was so disgusted at the inclusion of Karl Marx (Das Kapital, 1867) in our Romantic Bracket, that she quit Scarriet.

Marla Muse: Is this poetry eating politics, or politics eating poetry?

The committee is talking to her, so perhaps we can bring her back. Her fans, of course, are heartbroken. (Coleridge defeated Marx in first round play)

~~~~~~~

We have much to cover today, so let’s get right to it.  The Modern Bracket has a lot of prose excerpts.

Marla Muse: That means more reading!

Yes, but I think people can skim prose more easily.

Marla Muse: Not if it’s literary prose. I can read verse faster.

Good point, Marla. And we don’t want to encourage people to “skim,” anyway!

The first seed is Joseph Conrad, who turned his sailing experience into fiction. How sublime is this?

The sunshine of heaven fell like a gift of grace on the mud of the earth, on the remembering and mute stones, on greed, selfishness; on the anxious faces of forgetful men. And to the right of the dark group the stained front of the Mint, cleansed by the flood of light, stood out for a moment dazzling and white like a marble palace in a fairy tale. The crew of the Narcissus drifted out of sight.***

I never saw them again.***

Then on the waters of the forlorn stream drifts a ship—a shadowy ship manned by a crew of Shades. They pass and make a sign, in a shadowy hail. Haven’t we, together and upon the immortal sea, wrung out a meaning from our sinful lives? Good-bye, brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas of a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale.

This is the boyish fiction, the adventurous fiction, the manly fiction, the fiction fiction, most of us grew up with. You want fiction, lad? Translated Homer? No. Take a look at this! Joseph Conrad!

Sublime as hell.

And his opponent?  None other than the 16th seed in the Modern Bracket, Philip Roth, from Goodbye, Columbus:

We had to take about two too many steps to keep the approach from being awkward, but we pursued the impulse and kissed. I felt her hand on the back of my neck and so I tugged her towards me, too violently perhaps, and slid my own hands across the side of her body and around to her back. I felt the wet spots on her shoulder blades, and beneath them, I’m sure of it, a faint fluttering, as though something stirred so deep in her breasts, so far back, it could make itself felt through her shirt. It was like the fluttering of wings, tiny wings no bigger than her breasts. The smallness of the wings did not bother me—it would not take an eagle to carry me up those lousy 180 feet that make summer nights so much cooler in Short Hills than they are in Newark.

The essence of the “modern sublime:” the pitiable small wings, the self-conscious awareness that “sublime” by the author could never be more sublime than “Newark,” the half-sad feeling that love could never be more than a semi-lyrical getting laid.

Joseph Conrad, the seaman, wins!

~~~~~~

.

The second seed in the Modern Bracket is Erich Remarque:

“He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.”

Eerie calm inside horrible death, officially, and personally. Perhaps the greatest war passage of them all. The cry of the sublime in the modern vision.

Remarque does battle with an excerpt from “The Bridge” by Hart Crane:

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;
.
And Thee, across the harbor, silver paced
As though the sun took step of thee yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!
.
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.
.
Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud flown derricks turn …
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.
.
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.
.
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,
.
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.
.
.
Hart Crane is engulfing modernism, the sublime by addition and addition and addition: “I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights with multitudes bent toward some flashing scene…out of some subway scuttle…obscure as that heaven…O harp and altar, of the fury fused…threshold of the prophet’s pledge…the lover’s cry…the traffic lights that skim…night lifted in thine arms…”
.
Here is madness in many blinking lights, the sublime of heaving ephemera, desperately recorded.
.
But we can’t shake that scene of Remarque’s.
.
The German wins.
.
~~~~~~~~
.
D.H. Lawrence is the third seed.  The Englishman eloped with Frieda, a German aristocrat. When Lawrence died of T.B. in France, Frieda brought his remains (after exhuming and cremating him) to their ranch in New Mexico, where she died a quarter century later, in 1956.  She bequeathed the ranch to the University of New Mexico, where it is partially overseen by the English Department. Lawrence is better known as a fiction writer, but we prefer his poetry:
.
I
Now it is autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards oblivion.
.
The apples falling like great drops of dew
to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.
.
And it is time to go, to bid farewell
to one’s own self, and find an exit
from the fallen self.
.
II
.
Have you built your ship of death, O have you?
O build your ship of death, for you will need it.
.
The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.
.
And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can’t you smell it?
.
And in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.
.
.
James Thurber who goes against Lawrence, was a cartoonist and wit.  His mother was a practical joker, who once pretended to be lame in order to surprise a revival meeting. Thurber lost his eye when he was seven; he and his brother were playing William Tell, with real arrows.  His entry is from his memoir:

Like the great Gammeyer of Tarkington’s Gentle Julia, the poodle I knew seemed sometimes about to bridge the mysterious and conceivably narrow gap that separates instinct from reason. She could take part in your gaiety and your sorrow; she trembled to your uncertainties and lifted her head at your assurances. There were times when she seemed to come close to a pitying comprehension of the whole troubled scene and what lies ticking behind it. If poodles, who walk so easily upon their hind legs, ever do learn the little tricks of speech and reason, I should not be surprised if they made a better job of it than Man, who would seem to be slowly slipping back to all fours, in spite of Van Wyck Brooks and Lewis Mumford and Robert Frost.

The poodle kept her sight, her hearing, and her figure up to her quiet and dignified end. She knew that the Hand was upon her and she accepted it with a grave and unapprehensive resignation. This, her dark intelligent eyes seemed to be trying to tell me, is simply the closing of full circle, this is the flower that grows out of Beginning; this—not to make it too hard for you, friend—is as natural as eating the raspberries and raising the puppies and riding into the rain.

That “riding into the rain” is heart-breaking.

Marla Muse has fainted, again.

Thurber, the wit from Ohio, wins.

~~~~~~

Image result for James Thurber

 

ROMANTIC BRACKET PLAY IN THE SUBLIME MADNESS TOURNEY!

Image result for Tennyson

The fan turnout has been unbelievable for this year’s Madness tournament. Everyone is flying to Madness Island for these games.  And Marla Muse has been quite the hostess.

Marla Muse: I love the Romantic poets!

In Round One play, first seed artist/poet William Blake (the Tyger), who died in the first quarter of the 19th century, takes on 16th seeded author and wit Oscar Wilde, who died at the 19th century’s close.

Blake’s Tyger should terrify any opponent; Blake’s music is like a hammer, like Beethoven, or like heavy metal—what simplicity, what power: “Tyger, Tyger, burning bright in the forest of the night.” One has no problem imagining Black Sabbath or Led Zeppelin singing this.

Wilde’s essay “The Critic As Artist” is like the music of Ravel:

We are sometimes apt to think that the voices that sounded at the dawn of poetry were simpler, fresher, and more natural than ours, and that the world which the early poets looked at, and through which they walked, had a kind of poetical quality of its own, and almost without changing could pass into song. The snow lies thick now upon Olympus, and its steep, scraped sides are bleak and barren, but once, we fancy, the white feet of the Muses brushed the dew from the anemones in the morning, and at evening came Apollo to sing to the shepherds in the vale. But in this we are merely lending to other ages what we desire, or think we desire, for our own. Our historical sense is at fault. Every century that produces poetry is, so far, an artificial century, and the work that seems to us to be the most natural and simple product of its time is always the result of the most self-conscious effort. There is no fine art without self-consciousness, and self-consciousness and the critical spirit are one.

Interesting contest, because Wilde insists on the “self-consciousness” of the “critic/artist” in the face of Blake, perhaps the most impetuous, and least self-conscious, artist who ever lived.

Blake romps, to the blood-curdling yells of his fans, and advances to Round Two.  So long, Oscar!  You are right.  The artist needs the self-consciousness of the critic. The bullied child is full of knowledge.

~~~~~~~~

Goethe’s poetic drama, Faust v. Emily Dickinson’s “Because I Could Not Stop for Death,” a poem as iconic as Blake’s Tyger.

We kept the devil away for two millennia, thanks to the Christian religion—whether the “devil” really exists, or not.  Life is merely the play of our imagination—so say the non-religious; so why then, do they object to Christianity so much?  If Christianity is real, or it’s poetry, it’s still pretty good poetry.  In this passage from Goethe, Faust, the professor, woos a Christian peasant:

Gretchen: You don’t believe in God?

Faust: Do not misunderstand me, my love, my queen!
Who can name him?
Admit on the spot:
I believe in him?
And who can dare
To perceive and declare:
I believe in him not?
The All-Embracing One,
The All-Upholding One,
Does he not embrace, uphold,
You, me, Himself?
Does not the Heaven vault itself above us?
Is not the earth established fast below?
And with their friendly glances do not
Eternal stars rise over us?
Do not my eyes look into yours,
And all things thrust
Into your head, into your heart,
And weave in everlasting mystery
Invisibly, visibly, around you?
Fill your heart with this, great as it is,
And when this feeling grants you perfect bliss,
Then call it what you will—
Happiness! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for it!
Feeling is all;
Name is mere sound and reek
Clouding Heaven’s light.

Gretchen: That sounds quite good and right;
And much as the priest might speak,
Only not word for word.

Faust: It is what all hearts have heard
In all the places heavenly day can reach,
Each in his own speech;
Why not I in mine?

Gretchen: I could almost accept it, you make it sound so fine,
Still there is something in it that shouldn’t be;
For you have no Christianity.

Faust: Dear child!

Gretchen: It has long been a grief to me
To see you in such company.

Faust: You mean?

Gretchen: The man who goes about with you.
I hate him in my soul, through and through.
And nothing has given my heart
In my whole life so keen a smart
As that man’s face, so dire, so grim.

Faust: Beloved child, don’t be afraid of him!

“Feeling is all,” says professor Faust, wooing by expanding Christian love to include sex. A great speech, Gretchen acknowledges, though not quite true to the words of my religion. This “not quite” is finally the only “not quite” there is.  Faust says religion is whatever good thing our hearts hear, but Gretchen’s Christian heart won’t be melted by that, and then she mentions Mephistopheles, and again, without learning, she instinctively understands, in the most innocent simplicity, that something is not right. First she rejects the idea of “what Faust’s individual heart thinks” and then she rejects “how the devil’s individual face looks.” For Gretchen, a standard judges the individual. Faust comes from the opposite direction—the individual is supreme. Gretchen eventually is seduced—because she is an individual.

Everyone knows Emily Dickinson’s great poem. But here it is no match for the mesmerizing Faust!

Goethe advances!

~~~~~~~

Coleridge’s Kubla Khan versus Karl Marx’s Das Kapital.  Third seed, fourteenth seed.

Why do we include Marx in a sublime contest with poets?

Because this idea shook the world:

“There is a physical relation between physical things. But it is different with commodities.”

There. It is that simple.  With one blow, Marx broke everything in two. A  ghost inhabited every object.

Trade, or capitalism, existed long before Marx—the word “commodity” came into use in English in the 15th century.

A country has excess grain and trades it for coffee, and now it has grain and coffee, two things instead of one.

Commodity meant “convenience” or “advantage,” and it was a good thing as long as trade produced a greater variety for everyone.

But as trade became more sophisticated, commodity pricing—trade for the sake of trade—replaced things themselves.

Commodities were still things, up until Marx.  As trade became weaponized, a commodity was now more valuable and sacred than a thing.

And this happened just when mass wealth began to upset the old hierarchical order.  A new hierarchy of hoarded wealth emerged, and Marx was the bitter result.

We say “bitter result,” because with bad faith trading, things were no longer what they were; everything was ephemeral and relative, and nothing was stable.

The sublime slid into the fast and the commonplace in a manner that was nearly sublime.  Marx is nearly sublime, but not finally sublime. He fell into what he criticized.

Kubla Khan by Coleridge is sublime.

In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
Down to a sunless sea.

Coleridge advances.

~~~~~

Shelley (the Cloud) v. Hawthorne (the Scarlet Letter)

The passage from Nathaniel Hawthorne is lovely and sublime:

She inherited her mother’s gift for devising drapery and costume. As the last touch to her mermaid’s garb, Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother’s. A letter,—the letter A,—but freshly green, instead of scarlet! The child bent her chin upon her breast, and contemplated this device with strange interest; even as if the one only thing for which she had been sent into the world was to make out its hidden import.

Now here is the excerpt from Shelley’s “The Cloud:”

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.

And since in Shelley’s divine poetry, he captures the roving and playful essence of Hawthorne’s Pearl, Shelley advances.

~~~~~~~

John Keats v. R.H. Horne

The Englishman Richard Henry Horne (1802-1884) fought for Mexican independence in the 1820s, was a literary friend of Elizabeth Barrett (before she became Browning) and Charles Dickens in the 1840s, called himself the “father of the Australian wine industry,” as he spent most of the 1850s in Australia, and spent the last 25 years of his life in London. He published plays, and an epic poem, “Orion,” which Edgar Poe praised in 1844. From “Orion:”

There, underneath the boughs, mark where the gleam
Of sunrise through the roofing’s chasm is thrown
Upon a grassy plot below, whereon
The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream,
Swift rolling toward the cataract, and drinks,
While ever and anon the nightingale,
Not waiting for the evening, swells his hymn—
His one sustained and heaven aspiring tone—
And when the sun hath vanished utterly,
Arm over arm the cedars spread their shade,
With arching wrist and long extended hands,
And grave-ward fingers lengthening in the moon,
Above that shadowy stag whose antlers still
Hung o’er the stream.

The painting here is quite admirable, and there is a certain Miltonic force to Horne’s long poem—all but forgotten today.

Keats, who lived less than a third of Horne’s long life, rose to remarkable fame, and Horne was one of the few, early on, to praise Keats.

From Hyperion:

Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.

How interesting it would be, if Horne would win…

Holy God!  He does!  R.H. Horne advances!

~~~~~~~

Marla Muse: Blake, Goethe, Coleridge, and Shelley—not much surprise that these advance. And R.H. Horne in an upset!

How many outside this tournament even know who Horne is, Marla?

Marla Muse: I see quite a few fans studying their programs with puzzled looks!

Is it not strange that Richard Horne wrote thousands of letters to Elizabeth Barrett, before Robert ran away with her? And Poe, who loved “Orion,” also corresponded with Elizabeth, when she was still Barrett, and that Poe dedicated his 1845 Poems to her?

Marla Muse: O that is sweet! And speaking of which, look who is coming this way!

Elizabeth Barrett versus Pushkin!!

Both of these entries are stunning!

First Elizabeth Barrett, from her epic poem, The Drama of Exile:

On a mountain peak
Half sheathed in primal woods and glittering
In spasms of awful sunshine, at that hour
A lion crouched,—part raised upon his paws,
With his calm massive face turned full on thine,
And his mane listening. When the ended curse
Left silence in the world, right suddenly
He sprang up rampant, and stood straight and stiff,
As if the new reality of death
Were dashed against his eyes,—and roared so fierce,
(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)—
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales
To distant silence,—that the forest beasts,
One after one, did mutter a response
In savage and in sorrowful complaint
Which trailed along the gorges.

I don’t think many of our March Madness fans are acquainted with this side of Elizabeth Barrett!

“Which trailed along the gorges.” What a vast, dramatic scene she paints!

This is masterful.

And a lyric poem from Pushkin, who is so adept at breaking one’s heart:

If I walk the noisy streets,
or enter a many thronged church,
or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts.

I say to myself: the years are fleeting,
and however many there seem to be,
we must all go under the eternal vault,
and someone’s hour is already at hand.

When I look at a solitary oak
I think: the patriarch of the woods.
It will outlive my forgotten age
as it outlived that of my grandfathers’.

If I caress a young child,
immediately I think: Farewell!
I will yield my place to you,
for I must fade while your flower blooms.

Each day, every hour
I habitually follow in my thoughts,
trying to guess from their number
the year which brings my death.

And where will fate send death to me?
In battle, in my travels, or on the seas?
Or will the neighbouring valley
receive my chilled ashes?

And although to the senseless body
it is indifferent wherever it rots,
yet close to my beloved countryside
I still would prefer to rest.

And let it be, beside the grave’s vault
Young life forever will be playing,
and impartial, indifferent nature
Spreads, forever staying.

Which is more sublime?

Pushkin, who puts his whole, melancholy life into one beautiful lyric poem?

Or Barrett, who displays artistic unity in one sublime passage?

Elizabeth Barrett wins!

~~~~~~

And look who we have now!

Marla Muse: I don’t think I can contain my excitement!

Byron versus Poe!!

This is one of the biggest crowds we’ve ever had for March Madness. Poe against Byron.  The fans are merry, not melancholy, as the excitement lifts up even the most melancholy and literary of spirits.

Sometimes we swear the sublime is simply that which is terribly sad.

Is there anything sadder than this excerpt from Byron’s poem, “Darkness?”

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

This is so beautiful: “as they dropp’d they slept on the abyss without a surge.”  Listen to this, children!  This is poetry.  No mere fop, Byron.

Poe counters with an ‘end of the world’ tale of his own; not everything Poe wrote became famous. The entry is a passage from Poe’s neglected “Conversation of Eiros and Charmion” (two spirits named after Cleopatra’s attendants) which imagines a comet approaching earth; people are terrified, then realize the comet is merely made of gas, and can do no harm.  Halley’s comet (1835) would have been seen by Poe a few years prior to writing this tale, and, in 1832, there actually was a “comet panic” in which scientists miscalculated, and said a comet was going to hit the earth.  Poe’s stories tend to be based on facts, or at least actual scary events.

The prevalence of oxygen in the comet has a pleasurable and life-giving effect at first, as it moves into our atmosphere.  Then Poe brings the hammer down:

It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen, and seventy-nine of nitrogen, in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion, and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result, it had been ascertained, in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea, which had engendered awe. What would be the result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion irresistible, all-devouring, omni-prevalent, immediate; — the entire fulfillment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.

Why need I paint, Charmion, the now disenchained frenzy of mankind? That tenuity in the comet which had previously inspired us with hope, was now the source of the bitterness of despair. In its impalpable gaseous character we clearly perceived the consummation of Fate. Meantime a day again passed — bearing away with it the last shadow of Hope. We gasped in the rapid modification of the air. The red blood bounded tumultuously through its strict channels. A furious delirium possessed all men; and, with arms rigidly outstretched towards the threatening heavens, they trembled and shrieked aloud. But the nucleus of the destroyer was now upon us; — even here in Aidenn, I shudder while I speak. Let me be brief — brief as the ruin that overwhelmed. For a moment there was a wild lurid light alone, visiting and penetrating all things. Then — let us bow down, Charmion, before the excessive majesty of the great God! — then, there came a shouting and pervading sound, as if from the mouth itself of Him; while the whole incumbent mass of ether in which we existed, burst at once into a species of intense flame, for whose surpassing brilliancy and all-fervid heat even the angels in the high Heaven of pure knowledge have no name. Thus ended all.

Which deserves to win?  The sublime poetry of Byron? Or the hypnotizing prose of Poe?

The March Madness committee fears a riot—whoever wins, both sides loyal and passionate, as one might expect of those souls who gather beneath the banner, Byron, or the banner, Poe.

But the crowd is calmer than expected. Deadly quiet, even.

And with a whisper comes the result: “The winner is the poet, Lord Byron!”

~~~~~~~

And the final First Round contest in the Romantic Bracket—Cornelius Matthews versus Lord Tennyson!!

Everyone knows this by Tennyson. His sublime poem, The Splendor Falls, quoted in its entirety:

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowng!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.

This may be the most iconic poem ever.

Marla Muse: It makes me want to faint!

Oh, Marla, people love to catch you when you fall!

Marla Muse: I know! (laughter)

Cornelius Matthews wrote a 34 stanza poem called “Wakondah,” from which has been selected one beautiful line, selected once, for praise, by Poe, in a review in which he otherwise mocked the work.

And then we find in a letter from Poe to Matthews—where Poe asks Matthews for R.H. Horne’s address—that Poe, in his review of “Wakondah,” was only kidding, and has since become terribly ashamed, and sorry.

Ah, Letters!

The line is:

Green dells that into silence stretch away

Magnificent!

It will be amazing to see if a single line of sublimity can beat Tennyson.

But first we must attend to Marla Muse.

She has fainted.

I HAVE TO THINK

Image result for dante

I have to think what division, in this case, means,

As I am both divided in my mind, and divided from you.

That will be the first part of my poem,

But shall I divide up my poem as Dante taught me to do?

Does division mean I add you hopelessly,

Beginning with one, but never reaching two?

In my mind, I see pictures and pictures of you;

My desire makes images! But they do not equal you;

Infinite reproductions, every picture dividing you

Into more and more parts,

As desire, which sees, makes you crowded—and less.

We should be two. But we are two divided hearts,

Never touching. Division subtracts the more it adds,

And adds only by subtracting. I could bless

You a million times, but if you cannot hear,

Being divided from me,

What good is my poetry?

All these words are nothing, dear.

 

 

 

FURTHER FIRST ROUND ACTION IN THE CLASSICAL BRACKET

Image result for lighted arena on the dark island in painting

In the great shadowy island which holds the Scarriet March Madness arena—its architecture, intricate in old building trades and devices, with a weirdly imaginative cunning mostly lost and forgotten—the sublime hot dog smells wafting from everywhere; the rabid audience roars to see all literature in history melt!  The throngs push closer to watch great poets die, and live, and die.

As you know, Homer has defeated Edmund Burke, and Thomas Gray has upset Plato.

Let us look at the winning effort, again, of Homer:

Friend! You will die—but why moan about it so?
Remember Patroclus? He was better than you.
Look! I’m handsome and stronger—
A marvelous father, my mother a deathless goddess—
But thanks to fate, I, too, will be brought low.
At midnight, maybe at noon, a mortal will kill me, too—
From a spear, by chance thrown, or a singing arrow.

And Thomas Gray:

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.

~~~~~~~~~

We have six more first round contests to report!  Are you with us, Marla?

Marla Muse: Yes! Yes!

~~~~~

Aristotle, with solemn steps, approaches G.E. Lessing, the third seed against the 14th.

Aristotle: Plot is tragedy’s most important feature, and a tragedy must have a beginning, and a middle, and an end, and be of a certain magnitude.  Do not forget this! It is true! But the audience sneers and laughs, “That’s obvious!”  Aristotle frowns, and with that frown, his fans take heart. “Look at him! Great Aristotle!”

Lessing, the great German 18th century Critic speaks: “Actions hide bodies in poetry. Bodies hide actions in painting. The great poem has one body. The great painting, one action.”

The crowd is stunned.

A victory for Gottlieb Lessing!  The German has upset the Greek!

~~~~~~~

Fourth seed Sophocles:

Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man! Thou the accursed polluter of this land!

Milton, the 13th seed:

Some natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

The sonorous beauty of Milton loses to the force of Sophocles’ Thou Art The Man!

Sophocles advances.

~~~~~~~

Ovid, the 5th seed:  It is art to conceal art.

Donne, 12th seeded:

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

Death gives “pleasure,” says Donne; but then why does Donne abuse him?  Ovid’s words are wiser!

Ovid wins!

~~~~~~~

Sixth seed Horace, the great lyric Roman poet, reminds us that poetry and music can get away with minor mistakes,  “even Homer nods,” Horace says, but we still love him. As long as an error is not repeated, we will not mind a bit of error in a piece that trips fantastically forward. Oh wisdom!

His opponent is Shakespeare, 11th seed in the Classical Bracket, and Shakespeare wears the mask of Caliban!

Be not afraid; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometimes voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

The sublime poetry of Shakespeare prevails!  Shakespeare advances!

~~~~~~~

Virgil, the seventh seed, sings of abandonment and searching in the underworld—from his Aeneid, the speaker Aeneas, who loved Dido, but was fated to travel on.  Dido had her servant prepare a fire to burn all that Aeneas had left behind, so she could forget him, and then threw herself into the fire.  Aeneas sees her ghost in the underworld, and she turns away from him.

Leonardo da Vinci, the 10th seed, counters with a speech on chiaroscuro, and how the mixture of light and shade which fashions bodies out of a flat surface in painting is the greatest art there is. How can sad poetry compete with wise and happy instruction which feeds the poetry of painting itself?  This is how the fans feel, anyhow, as chiaroscuro falls upon the crowd.

Leonardo, as critic, defeats the great poet!

~~~~~~~

Marla Muse:  This is too much action!  I grow dizzy, I grow faint!

The splendor of the Madness tests everyone’s endurance, Marla.   There’s only one more Round One match to go:

8th seed Dante: those in hell, who envy, and run under a banner, are many, but will perish without notice.

“These have no longer any hope of death;
This blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envy all—even others’ final breath.

The world does not permit them any fame;
Mercy does not care for this moaning mass;
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.”

And I, who looked again, beheld a banner
Whirling, moving in a frenzied manner,
Bobbing up and down, leading the creatures,

Who thronged, piteous, in great numbers,
Filling the circle. I could not believe
Death had undone so many.

Ninth seeded Petrarch: a plea for the good not to lose energy, to not lose hope!

Greed and sleep and slothful beds
Have banished every virtue from the world,
So that, overcome by habit,
Our nature has almost lost its way.

And all the benign lights of heaven,
That inform human life, are so spent,
That he who wishes to bring down the light
From Helicon is pointed out as a wonder.

Such desire for laurel, and for myrtle?
‘Poor and naked goes philosophy,’
Say the crowd intent on base profit.

You’ll have poor company on that other road:
So much more I beg you, gentle spirit,
Don’t turn away from your great undertaking.

O glorious Italians!  This battle between the two masters, Dante and Petrarch, is impossible to decide.

Marla, are you there?  Are you still with us?

 

DIVINITY

Image result for shakespeare's portia in painting

O define the divine? It’s easy to do.

First, it has nothing to do with you;

You and I are friends, and we agree.

Disagreement is the secret to all divinity.

The one, who, I believe, is divine,

Owns everything which is wholly and entirely mine—

Because only confusion’s mine;

Doubt defines me and myself, in time.

I stroll to the end, I pretend to know.

I laugh and then laugh, but I don’t know.

I understand my misunderstanding in the past:

Because it and it went by too fast.

But this, which I do not know—

Is directly in front of me and goes so very slow.

I can look at it, and look at it, and still not understand.

She merely walks, and transforms the land.

She resembles, and does, what I hate—

But when I see her I never hate.

Always the unique, which escapes definition

Creates in us the uneasy, sickening premonition.

We turn our head; to escape, we casually flee,

And pray, “please don’t let this odd person speak to me!”

Whatever she is, I cannot define—

And this is why she is divine.

What I thought to do was never this.

To hate all kissing—and yet to kiss.

She’s the day before you love, the day

You don’t change your mind, the day

That is gone, and the final day

You agree because it would, but it won’t go away.

When she spoke it was speaking that was

Somehow dull and yet speaking because

It had to speak to me. I cannot define

This. It is what I like—and love.

MORE ACTION IN THE CLASSICAL BRACKET: GRAY VERSUS PLATO!

 

Image result for churchyard elegy in painting

Sixty-four contestants (the large number in any March Madness single elimination tournament) can be quite overwhelming.

As quickly as we can, let’s play the tournament and decrease the store.

We’ve looked at all the Sublime March Madness teams—their names and what they bring to the table.

So we are all judged, whether we are a person with no special abilities, or a sports team with dozens of athletes and assistant coaches and billion dollar owners and equipment managers.

In the first game of the tournament, in the Classical bracket, Homer prevailed against Edmund Burke, and the template was established: emotional poetry v. criticism skeptical of the emotions.  Emotion, or excitement, won. Homer has advanced to the second round.

In the second contest in the Classical bracket, we have Plato himself, representing the “criticism skeptical of emotions” side of the template, with his famous advice to climb from particular beauty to beauty itself, facing off against the humble and melancholy poet, born in the early 18th century, an early Romantic poet, transitioning from the Augustan, Thomas Gray.

Gray is one more example that Romanticism began much earlier than Wordsworth, Keats, Coleridge, and Shelley—for Romanticism, if the secret be told, is an expression of Plato, if we are not mistaken. Shakespeare’s plays are each like Platonic dialogues, a lesson for sobering us up, for fighting vanity and illusion. Shakespeare does not favor poetry and the emotions, though his plays are full of songs and feelings—Keats loved Shakespeare, the early Romantic.

Romanticism, the melancholy dream, was influenced by Plato through Milton’s “Il Penseroso.” —“Hence vain deluding joys.”

But Milton’s melancholy poem had a mirthful companion piece, “L’Allegro.”

Plato asked that we first fix on earthly beauty before we ascend towards the beauty of thought and morality, and then beauty itself.

The poets who are devotees of Plato—whether they know it, or not—can be said to be all the sweet and melancholy Romantic poets—and here’s why.

To move from an appreciation of someone who is beautiful to an appreciation of all beauty involves the following:

1. The kind of mind which can entertain different types of beauty as a way of becoming adept and flexible in moving upwards on the Platonic Ladder to True Beauty—demonstrated by the poet who can succeed in writing similar poems which partake of melancholy, on one hand, and mirth, on the other.  To appreciate equal opposites helps one to transcend.

2. Melancholy, because it is sad to say goodbye to the one we love as we venture upwards towards Love itself.

This is why the Romantic poets, who serve Plato, tend to be melancholic.  Byron was both mirthful and sad—which is fine, too.

This excerpt from Gray’s meditative “Elegy,” sounds like Keats (50 years before Keats was born):

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.

This is poetry that wishes to remain amid the beauty of the earth just a little longer, before it begins the bright journey Plato requires.

Gray’ sample is so beautiful it is almost as if the journey were done.

Gray wins!

A stunning upset!

Plato, the Greek philosopher, like a ghost, vanishes.

 

WHEN A BEAUTIFUL WOMAN IS LOVED

Image result for woman on the beach in photo and modern painting

When a beautiful woman is loved,

She feels the whole world loving her,

Because the lucky man will love her that way.

She likes the world with less people in it.

No one wants to be loved by the whole world. Crowded,

She stays at home to get away from him.

She walks to the rocky beach where none are.

In vain, he calls her. From a cell phone. From a star.

HOMER VERSUS BURKE IN CLASSICAL BRACKET!

Welcome to the first game in the 2020 March Madness—the Sublime!

First seed Homer versus 16th seed Edmund Burke in the Classical Bracket!

Marla Muse, thanks for joining us!

“Glad to be here, Tom! Another March Madness!”

What a crowd!

“Such noise! I love it!”

Why, Marla?

“I’m a Homeric muse. You know that!”

Because you often appear naked, I know.

“I love excitement!”

You do. Well let’s get right to the commentary.

Homer is the poet of war and forced migration.

He is not a known author. We don’t know who he was, or whether there was more than one Homer.  Western literature only goes back so far in time and Homer is pretty much the limit, which is really not that long ago.

Homer is a mixture of third person narrative and dialogue. A good story teller tells us what people say, and also paints and describes the scene.

Plato, the great philosophical objection to the poetry of Homer, sums up all literature, and perhaps the whole of the human mind. After Homer/Plato, there’s nothing new. It just repeats, endlessly.

Plato uses dialogue alone; what Socrates says within the dialogue in response to others is the philosophy.

If dialogue is “drama,” then for pure drama, Plato, the philosopher, not Homer, the poet, is your man.

In philosophy, it matters what you say; in poetry, it really doesn’t.

Plato (anti-tears) versus Homer (tears). !!!!

All great poetry is a response to crisis. If war and plague and dislocation are stupid, than unfortunately poetry, which reacts to war and plague and dislocation, is stupid. To skillfully depict war as a story, or as poetry, the story/poetry becomes embroiled in the stupidity itself. This is the curse of the dyer’s hand.

The philosophy of Plato emerges in all its stunning wisdom and magnificence as a reaction, not to war itself, but to the stupidity of war, and also to the stupidity of poetry, because the stupidity of war and poetry are the same: the emotional, which is untrustworthy, excites men to war and makes for a great story. Neither one, according to Socrates, is to be trusted.

In the Homer passage, in which one warrior (a half god) speaks to another (a mortal,) a subject dear to Socrates is expressed: bravery and indifference in the face of danger and death. (Socrates is not anti-war; he wants a brave soldier class to protect the Republic; he’s against poetry bringing fear and weakness to the soldier. Socrates doesn’t want the Republic to be a stupid, emotional, aggressive, war-like state; he wants peace through strength.)

Homer’s poetry works against Socrates, even though the Homeric speaker is “brave;” the poetry must be condemned—because for the poetry to be vivid, cowardice must be depicted, too. The “brave speech” is directed at the cowardly (“why are you afraid?”) and since good poetry paints all aspects of a situation, the poison (cowardice) enters the listener; in poetry, vices and virtues both have a voice, and so the very thoroughess of the poetry condemns it, as strange as that may seem. Once you let the emotions in the door, it’s too late. And foolish wars come about from emotions—and poetry is mixed up with emotions, the “better” it is. As much as Plato appreciates drama (his own philosohy is drama!) he must forbid the excitable depictions of the pyrotechnic, entrancing Homer.

Homer’s opponent in this first round Sublime Madness match-up is not Plato, but Burke, a conservative thinker who famously cautioned against the excesses of the (very excitable) French revolution.

Burke merely elaborates Plato’s injunction against Homer. Without the dialogue. And therefore it’s more difficult to understand Burke, though he brilliantly puts his finger on why belief is preferred to incredulity; why people are naive rather than wise: Resemblances entrance us, while differences leave us cold. The absence of agreement is taxing and wearying, and finally nothing, or even estranging, to the non-analytical, childish mind. “In making distinctions we offer no food to the imagination,” says Burke. Poetry itself feeds credulity. Poetry makes us stupid. Burke agrees with Plato.

Here is Burke’s profound—even sublime—insight:

“The mind of man has naturally a far greater alacrity and satisfaction in tracing resemblances than in searching for differences; because by making resemblance we produce new images, we unite, we create, we enlarge our stock; but in making distinctions we offer no food at all to the imagination; the task itself is more severe and irksome, and what pleasure we derive from it is something of a negative and indirect nature. A piece of news is told me in the morning; this, merely as a piece of news, as a fact added to my stock, gives me some pleasure. In the evening I find there was nothing in it. What do I gain by this, but the dissatisfaction to find that I had been imposed upon? Hence it is, that men are much more naturally inclined to belief than to incredulity. And it is upon this principle, that the most ignorant and barbarous nations have frequently excelled in similitudes, comparisons, metaphors, and allegories, who have been weak and backward in distinguishing and sorting their ideas. And it is for a reason of this kind that Homer and the oriental writers, though very fond of similitudes, and though they often strike out such as are truly admirable, they seldom take care to have them exact; that is, they are taken with the general resemblance, they paint it strongly, and they take no notice of the difference which may be found between the things compared.”

—Edmund Burke

To some, the Burke may be boring compared to the Homer:

“Friend! You will die—but why moan about it so?
Remember Patroclus? He was better than you.
Look! I’m handsome and stronger—
A marvelous father, my mother a deathless goddess—
But thanks to fate, I, too, will be brought low.
At midnight, maybe at noon, a mortal will kill me, too—
From a spear, by chance thrown, or a singing arrow.”

—Homer

Marla, the noise in the stadium is deafening! It really sounds like war!

I expected Burke to cooly prevail, but now I’m not so sure…

“The Homeric fans are beating loud drums. I can hardly hear myself think!”

Oh my God!

Homer wins!

THE POST-MODERN BRACKET IN THE SUBLIME MARCH MADNESS!!

Image result for eleanor rigby in painting

Here is the Post-Modern Bracket, 16 heart-breaks which belong to nowour era, beginning with a boomer anthem, “Day in the Life,” and ending with a memory very recently seen on Facebook. This completes the 4 brackets and the 64 “teams” competing in the Scarriet 2020 Sublime March Madness.

How will future readers read us?  With silence and tears?  With pity?  With gratitude, in digital anthologies tucked inside the heart?  With long essays? With ridicule? With puzzlement?  With sighs?

Anyway, here they are:

1) John Lennon & Paul McCartney (day in the life)

I read the news today, oh boy.
About a lucky man who made the grade.
And though the news was rather sad,
I just had to laugh.
I saw the photograph.
He blew his mind out in a car.
He didn’t noticed that the lights had changed.
A crowd of people stood and stared.
They’d seen his face before.
Nobody was really sure if he was from the House of Lords.

I saw a film today, oh boy.
The English army had just won the war.
A crowd of people turned away.
But I just had to look
Having read the book.

I’d love to turn you on.

Woke up, fell out of bed,
Dragged a comb across my head.
Found my way downstairs and drank a cup
And looking up, I noticed I was late.
Found my coat and grabbed my hat,
Made the bus in seconds flat.
Found my way upstairs and had a smoke
And somebody spoke and I went into a dream:
I read the news today, oh boy.
4,000 holes in Blackburn, Lancashire,
And though the holes were rather small
They had to count them all.
Now they know how many holes it takes to fill the Albert Hall.

I’d love to turn you on.

 

2) Carolyn Forche (the colonel)

WHAT YOU HAVE HEARD is true. I was in his house. His wife carried
a tray of coffee and sugar. His daughter filed her nails, his son went
out for the night. There were daily papers, pet dogs, a pistol on the
cushion beside him. The moon swung bare on its black cord over
the house. On the television was a cop show. It was in English.
Broken bottles were embedded in the walls around the house to
scoop the kneecaps from a man’s legs or cut his hands to lace. On
the windows there were gratings like those in liquor stores. We had
dinner, rack of lamb, good wine, a gold bell was on the table for
calling the maid. The maid brought green mangoes, salt, a type of
bread. I was asked how I enjoyed the country. There was a brief
commercial in Spanish. His wife took everything away. There was
some talk then of how difficult it had become to govern. The parrot
said hello on the terrace. The colonel told it to shut up, and pushed
himself from the table. My friend said to me with his eyes: say
nothing. The colonel returned with a sack used to bring groceries
home. He spilled many human ears on the table. They were like
dried peach halves. There is no other way to say this. He took one
of them in his hands, shook it in our faces, dropped it into a water
glass. It came alive there. I am tired of fooling around he said. As
for the rights of anyone, tell your people they can go fuck them-
selves. He swept the ears to the floor with his arm and held the last
of his wine in the air. Something for your poetry, no? he said. Some
of the ears on the floor caught this scrap of his voice. Some of the
ears on the floor were pressed to the ground.

3) Rutger Hauer (blade runner dying speech)

I’ve seen things you people wouldn’t believe.
Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion.
I watched C-beams glitter in the dark
Near the Tannhauser Gate.
All those moments
Will be lost in time, like tears
In the rain. Time to die.

4) Marilyn Chin (how i got that name)

I am Marilyn Mei Ling Chin.
Oh, how I love the resoluteness
of that first person singular
followed by that stalwart indicative
of “be,” without the uncertain i-n-g
of “becoming.”  Of course,
the name had been changed
somewhere between Angel Island and the sea,
when my father the paper son
in the late 1950s
obsessed with a bombshell blond
transliterated “Mei Ling” to “Marilyn.”
And nobody dared question
his initial impulse—for we all know
lust drove men to greatness,
not goodness, not decency.
And there I was, a wayward pink baby,
named after some tragic white woman
swollen with gin and Nembutal.
My mother couldn’t pronounce the “r.”
She dubbed me “Numba one female offshoot”
for brevity: henceforth, she will live and die
in sublime ignorance, flanked
by loving children and the “kitchen deity.”
While my father dithers,
a tomcat in Hong Kong trash—
a gambler, a petty thug,
who bought a chain of chopsuey joints
in Piss River, Oregon,
with bootlegged Gucci cash.
Nobody dared question his integrity given
his nice, devout daughters
and his bright, industrious sons
as if filial piety were the standard
by which all earthly men are measured.

*

Oh, how trustworthy our daughters,
how thrifty our sons!
How we’ve managed to fool the experts
in education, statistic and demography—
We’re not very creative but not adverse to rote-learning.
Indeed, they can use us.
But the “Model Minority” is a tease.
We know you are watching now,
so we refuse to give you any!
Oh, bamboo shoots, bamboo shoots!
The further west we go, we’ll hit east;
the deeper down we dig, we’ll find China.
History has turned its stomach
on a black polluted beach—
where life doesn’t hinge
on that red, red wheelbarrow,
but whether or not our new lover
in the final episode of “Santa Barbara”
will lean over a scented candle
and call us a “bitch.”
Oh God, where have we gone wrong?
We have no inner resources!

*

Then, one redolent spring morning
the Great Patriarch Chin
peered down from his kiosk in heaven
and saw that his descendants were ugly.
One had a squarish head and a nose without a bridge
Another’s profile—long and knobbed as a gourd.
A third, the sad, brutish one may never, never marry.
And I, his least favorite—
“not quite boiled, not quite cooked,”
a plump pomfret simmering in my juices—
too listless to fight for my people’s destiny.
“To kill without resistance is not slaughter”
says the proverb.  So, I wait for imminent death.
The fact that this death is also metaphorical
is testament to my lethargy.

*

So here lies Marilyn Mei Ling Chin,
married once, twice to so-and-so, a Lee and a Wong,
granddaughter of Jack “the patriarch”
and the brooding Suilin Fong,
daughter of the virtuous Yuet Kuen Wong
and G.G. Chin the infamous,
sister of a dozen, cousin of a million,
survived by everbody and forgotten by all.
She was neither black nor white,
neither cherished nor vanquished,
just another squatter in her own bamboo grove
minding her poetry—
when one day heaven was unmerciful,
and a chasm opened where she stood.
Like the jowls of a mighty white whale,
or the jaws of a metaphysical Godzilla,
it swallowed her whole.
She did not flinch nor writhe,
nor fret about the afterlife,
but stayed!  Solid as wood, happily
a little gnawed, tattered, mesmerized
by all that was lavished upon her
and all that was taken away!

 

5) Derek Walcott (this page)

This page is a cloud between whose fraying edges
a headland with mountains appears brokenly
then is hidden again until what emerges
from the now cloudless blue is the grooved sea
and the whole self-naming island, its ochre verges,
its shadow-plunged valleys and a coiled road
threading the fishing villages, the white, silent surges
of combers along the coast, where a line of gulls has arrowed
into the widening harbour of a town with no noise,
its streets growing closer like print you can now read,
two cruise ships, schooners, a tug, ancestral canoes,
as a cloud slowly covers the page and it goes
white again and the book comes to a close.

6) Philip Nikolayev (litmus test)

Didn’t want to go to the damn party in the first place,
needed to “catch a lecture” the next morning
on Renaissance Florence, one of those stupid 9-a.m.-on-Saturday
events, but my buddy insisted sangria, perfect chance to chat
up Jessica and Jake, so we went
at midnight. Sangria my ass. I mean it tasted extra nice,
bootilicious, but they’d run out of ice
and Jessica and Jake had already left. Half an hour later
three spluttering purple volcanoes
of indeterminate size, but perfectly harmless and hospitable,
spun winking out of the texture of the tabletop,
pouring forth an interminable wordlist full of words
into pulsating Buddha-faced saucers. My armchair
floated in the breeze over the seaweed-infested carpet
dead to rights. I was chary of wading through its Dead Sea
waters, though I needed to pee. My buddy goes man,
I think we just drank some acid, should’ve
poured the stuff that’s on the table but I wanted it cold
from the fridge cuz they’ve no ice
so anyway we can always and later too you know
all that, now best stay where you are, best to just to hang in look
I know you have to pee “like ouch” but listen
I’ve been thinking this week all week every day
for three years now, it’s driving me nuts I’ve always
wanted to talk you up about how you know sometimes
that feeling that we call sublime or subliminal whichever
you can also feel it right that wholesome feeling
a bird tipping from branch to branch to branch in luminous light
a bee crawling from bract to bract a strange kind of lyric feeling
the inexpressible what we felt in childhood
is really what we’re all about like they’re cluing you in on it now
gluing suing slewing you in on it. Spack,
a strange music turned itself on and wouldn’t quit,
that bizarre non-quitter music. Anyway when they sang
happy birthday dear Humphrey
at 2 a.m. I needed to pee especially badly
and trudged off through the interminable apartment
though my buddy hadn’t yet finalized his discourse.
I’d never been in a non-finite apartment before,
after 27 rooms I stopped counting
because I almost wet my pants before finding the bathroom
plus had to wait another ten minutes
while someone was getting sick in there.
And finally when I felt I was going back to normal
and washing my hands, I saw in the mirror,
which was in the key of E flat minor,
myself as a winged demon with golden horns on top
and colored rotating spirals for my pupils, my stare
expressive of the universal doom.
Then there was a descent down the three-mile jade
staircase and gigantic escalades of diamond snow.
My buddy and I sat to our heart’s content on steaming grilles
in the pavement by the Store 24 warming ourselves
(though in fact it was hot) with other nocturnal characters,
who thankfully seemed to know no English, and in the end
I realized that we are chemical through and through,
so determinate and so chemical, while sliding in crystal insects up
the conic mountain of spacetime, with its mass but no weight,
pure composition. Soon by the creaking of refreshed pedestrians
I opened up to the idea that there was one hour left until the lecture.
Is supermarket coffee inherently such a palette of taste,
or was it the radically contingent chemistry of my palate
that temporarily made it so? My buddy had left to sleep it off
(wish I had his worries), but I tried to recompose alone
the ordinary coherency of life. All I heard were the dubious
reverberations of a mid-90s train passing underground.
Savonarola’s sermon, to which I had eventually made it
across the Alps, focused on the ideals of asceticism, poverty
and visionary piety. His project of a bohemian republic
appealed to me deeply as I took faithful notes
diagonally across my notebook (which was unliftable).
Fellow aspirants peeked at me inquisitorially,
but I waved them off, staring at the preacher’s
skinny jowl, enormous nose, dark cowl in profile. Then
I had nothing left or planned for the rest of Saturday
except to get home to my two-bit moth-devoured
studio with its many topological holes
and zip up my brain. I stepped across some literature
to my solitary bed, dedicated exclusively to the twin purposes
of study and sleep, and elongated myself as best I could.
Sleep was out of the question, issues of the irreducible
multiplicity pressing harshly upon my overburdened lobes.
I yearned to be one, complete, so I arched and reached
for the telephone. Yes, dropped some acid last night
first time ever, haven’t slept. Please come save me,
I hate acid. You hadn’t slept much since New York either,
but you arrived instantly, as if wading through atrocious snow
came as naturally to you as levitation to a saint.
I laughed suddenly, for the first time in a month,
shocked to discover your red hair had its usual color.
You had American Spirit cigarettes (I was out),
and in minutes we stood at the foot of Lee Bo’s Cantonese Kitchen,
whose second floor seemed unreachable on foot.
I sighed with relief in the pentatonic elevator.
In the bathroom things went well this time,
no dragons in the mirror. You fed me with a spoon,
then with chopsticks. The hot and sour soup
was indeed hot and sour, it counteracted my internal chill,
and the salt jumbo shrimp were verily salty and jumbo.
The green tea you poured into me sip by tiny sip
made me realize for the first time
how perfect we were for each other. I wept like a whale.
You had changed my chemical composition forever.

 

7) Carolyn Creedon (litany)

Tom, will you let me love you in your restaurant?
I will let you make me a sandwich of your invention and I will eat it and call
it a carolyn sandwich. Then you will kiss my lips and taste the mayon­naise and
that is how you shall love me in my restaurant
.
Tom, will you come to my empty beige apartment and help me set up my daybed?
Yes, and I will put the screws in loosely so that when we move on it, later,
it will rock like a cradle and then you will know you are my baby
.
Tom, I am sitting on my dirt bike on the deck. Will you come out from the kitchen
and watch the people with me?
Yes, and then we will race to your bedroom. I will win and we will tangle up
on your comforter while the sweat rains from our stomachs and fore­heads
.
Tom, the stars are sitting in tonight like gumball gems in a little girl’s
jewelry box. Later can we walk to the duck pond?
Yes, and we can even go the long way past the jungle gym. I will push you on
the swing, but promise me you’ll hold tight. If you fall I might disappear
.
Tom, can we make a baby together? I want to be a big pregnant woman with a
loved face and give you a squalling red daughter.
No, but I will come inside you and you will be my daughter
.
Tom, will you stay the night with me and sleep so close that we are one person?
No, but I will lie down on your sheets and taste you. There will be feathers
of you on my tongue and then I will never forget you
.
Tom, when we are in line at the convenience store can I put my hands in your
back pockets and my lips and nose in your baseball shirt and feel the crook
of your shoulder blade?
No, but later you can lie against me and almost touch me and when I go I will
leave my shirt for you to sleep in so that always at night you will be pressed
up against the thought of me
.
Tom, if I weep and want to wait until you need me will you promise that someday
you will need me?
No, but I will sit in silence while you rage, you can knock the chairs down
any mountain. I will always be the same and you will always wait
.
Tom, will you climb on top of the dumpster and steal the sun for me? It’s just
hanging there and I want it.
No, it will burn my fingers. No one can have the sun: it’s on loan from God.
But I will draw a picture of it and send it to you from Richmond and then you
can smooth out the paper and you will have a piece of me as well as the sun
.
Tom, it’s so hot here, and I think I’m being born. Will you come back from
Richmond and baptize me with sex and cool water?
I will come back from Richmond. I will smooth the damp spiky hairs from the
back of your neck and then I will lick the salt off it. Then I will leave
.
Tom, Richmond is so far away. How will I know how you love me?
I have left you. That is how you will know
.

8) Dan Sociu (nimic nu mai e posibil)

Nothing is possible anymore between me

And a nineteen year old girl, just as nothing

was possible when I was nineteen

years old. I listened to them carefully, they ruffled my hair,

they’d gently reject my touches, no, Dan,

you are not like this, you are a poet. They came

to me for therapy, they’d come with their eyes in tears

to the poet. I was a poet and everyone was in love

around the poet and none with him.

The poet would go out every evening

quaking like a tectonic wave and

in the morning he’d come back humiliated

in his heart—the quakes moving

for nothing, under uninhabited regions.

9) Ben Mazer (cirque d’etoiles)

And after all is made a frozen waste
of snow and ice, of boards and rags. . .
if I should see one spark of permanent,
… one chink of blue among the wind-blown slags
approaching thus, and mirroring my surmise,
one liquid frozen permanence, your eyes. . .
should meet you at the end of time
and never end. . .
for always, even past death, you are my friend. . . .
and when at last it comes, inevitable,
that you shall sit in furs at high table
(for what other fate can one expect?)
dispensing honours, correlating plans
for every cause, for education, science. . .
what will I miss? how can I not be there?
who see you sputtering wordless in despair. . .
as I do now “miss nothing, nothing”
and to know you are some other man’s
(the stupid jerk), who once had your compliance. . .
and do these things ever end? (and if so, where?)
I ask myself, and should I feel despair?
to know, to love, to know, and still not care?
in winter, spring, and summer, and in fall,
on land or sea, at any time at all,
to know that half the stars on each night shine,
the other half are in your eyes, and mine. . .
and what is there? And what, I ask, is there?
Only these hurt and wounded orbs I see
nestled against a frozen stark brick wall. . .
and there are you, and there is me,
and that is all, that is all. . .
How from this torment can I wrestle free?
I can’t. . . . for thus is my soliloquy.
And you shall sit there serving backers tea.
And running ladies circles. Think of me. . .
Think of me, when like a mountainous waste
the night’s long dreaming stretches to a farther coast
where nothing is familiar. . . two paths that may have crossed
discover what had long been past recall. . .
that nothing’s really changed at all,
that we are here!
Here among flowering lanterns of the sea,
finite, marking each vestige of the city
with trailing steps, with wonder, and with pity!
And laugh, and never say that you feel shitty,
are one whose heart is broken, like this ditty.
And think that there is nothing there to miss.
Think “I must not miss a thing. I must not miss
the wraps, the furs, the teaspoon, or the kiss.”
And end in wishes. And leave not this abyss.
For all is one, beginning as it’s done.
Never forgetting this, till I am no one.
There is no formula that can forget. . .
these eyes pierce though ten thousand suns have set,
and will keep setting. . . now tuck in your head,
the blankets folded, and lay down in your bed.
And stir the stars, long after we are dead.

10) Mary Angela Douglas

the voice you hear
from long ago
could be the voice
of all the snows
could be the light of all the stars
of all the feelings near or far
you felt just when
the world was new
until the sorrows
ransacked you

11) Camille Rankine (emergency management)
The sun eats away at the earth, or the earth eats away
at itself and burning up,
.
I sip at punch.
So well practiced at this
living. I have a way of seeing
.
things as they are: it’s history
that’s done this to me.
It’s the year I’m told
.
my body will turn rotten,
my money talks but not enough,
I feel my body turn
against me.
.
Some days I want to spit
me out, the whole mess of me,
but mostly I am good
.
and quiet.
How much silence buys me
.
mercy, how much
silence covers all the lives it takes to make me.
.
In the event of every day and its newness
of disaster, find me sunning on the rooftop, please
don’t ask anything of me.
.
If I could be anything
I would be the wind,
.
if I could be nothing
I would be.
.

 

12) Stephen Cole (unreal city philosophy breakdown)

Keep the knives in the decider box
Where you make your choices.
Rattle the caustic chambers pots
At eye level
In the high mystical arch
Where the pigeons blur.
Reality is the paragon of confusion.

The surface cave is painted
In primary colors
On a mountain wall
But the snow is real.

It bares repeating
The fake cementing
On fracas light goes on
Piecing itself together
Over the top of a barren dream scape.
How reliable after all
Are dreams in dreams?

It goes just that far
And no further.
At this point
the universe turns back on itself.
The content is thrown back into eye
For the regulated comfort.
If some nefarious spirit
Changes the channel:
You’re gone.

 

13) Jeff Callaway (the greatest poems of all)

The greatest poems are never written down,
But lonely and forgotten before pen can be found,
The greatest poems never find the ink,
In the time it takes you to think;
Slowly with time they fade,
And face the guilliotine of jilted poems
And unrequited lovers,
Or glued to my own vague memory
Of what could have been
If only I’d had a pen,
And the recollection
To keep repeating what it was
I was trying to say.

The greatest poems are girls
Who poured Dewars on the rocks
Down their breasts with a splash of water
As I drink it off.

The greatest poems lick the ink
From the tip of my idea.
The greatest poems of all get drunk
From the bottle, straight, no chaser,
No requiem for a dream,
No teen queen Chinese angels on a silver screen,
No Hollywood homecoming queens,
Leaping side to side in ecstasy,
Or just beautiful girls who once
Gave me their phone numbers,
Or girls back in high school
Who kissed me, and later became strippers,
Midnight sirens to madness, mad, drunkard,
Barroom brawls, bras, panties, imported beers.

The greatest poems of all, who put my drinks
On my tab, and heavenly broads
Who brought me elixers which I did drink
Down into my self the likes of abinsthe,
Sugar, laudunum, or I read
The Rime of the Ancient Mariner,
Mad at midnight, typing poems furiously
Toward glory, or mayhem, or maybe for
Nothing at all, or maybe just
For the greatest poems of all.

So here, here! to the greatest poems of all!
To bikini contests, to Bikini Kill, to Bukowski,
To Rimbaud and other roughnecks,
To the wet T-shirts at Cedar Isle,
And to the Cedar Creek Lake rememberers
Who still remember all of the greatest poems of all.

To Siberian huskies named Molly who lived in Dallas Texas
With dirty filth, and to dirty filth,
To pain and pills and poems,
To words that slide into lyrical oblivion;
Sometimes these can be
The better rhymes of all times,
Dare I say the greater poems that can rhyme
From poets here today, like drunken
Ramblings, drunken one nighters,
Far beyond driven, drunk drivers,
In Dracula, no more drama before hot actress,
Sexy angel poetess,
Prostitutes, politics, and to the Texas outlaw press,
And to all of the greatest poems of all.

To Polly, to Pam, to the paranormal,
To the ghosts of the greatest poems of all,
To the ghouls, to the grim reaper,
To death, and its poetic casting call for us all;
I’d like to give a shout out to the gangsters,
Of the ghettos of Grand Prairie,
To the hypodermic hipsters of Plano
Who never made it, never got to hear
The greatest poems of all.

To poems that got kicked out of Magnolia
For drinking salt shakers, fat jokes, plastic chairs,
Who never swept the petty shit,
But always pet the sweaty shit,
From shinola to shangri-la,
From 26th and San Gabriel to the angel Gabriel,
From trumpets to cherubim,
To these crazy, insane, hot American chicks
Who love poets, poems, and Palm Pilots,
To an Austin poetry renaissance, or to purgatory.

How ’bout another round of drinks
To the greatest poets and poems of all.

14) Brian Rihlmann (untitled)

we used to joke about it
on days when you could—
his possible ethnicity
his identity…
the “who?” of this man
she kept from you
for 45 years—
even in her final breaths

and the crackle of the crematory flames
told you nothing
nor the rising smoke
nor the box of her ashes
you carried up the flank of Mt. Rose
and scattered in sight of that pond

once, when I hiked up there
alone….after we had died, also
I spoke to her—
“you know you fucked her up….
don’t you?” who were you protecting?”

“mother—your shield was nothing
but a sword…
and she is still falling on it.”

15) Meera Nair (yet another pongala)

What wouldn’t one do
To appease a Goddess?

The city is a bitch in heat
A lighted furnace
Waiting to go up in smoke

Bricks have lined up on pavements
Boundaries drawn
And territories captured
The women arrive in hordes
Laying claim to this fragile city

Goddess, I have no offering to make
No pot of grain
No boiling water
No lit fire
But here is a prayer
From within the walls of my agnostic house

Goddess, make it rain
Torrents and torrents of water
Wash out this hysteria on the streets
Cleanse this litter

Goddess, restore sanity to my city
She burns

 

16) Sean Harvey (reminiscence on facebook)

My Eleanor Rigby. It was 1974, and I was about 11 years old and a student at Charles Peck Elementary. Before the administration figured out that I really wasn’t all that bright, I was briefly in what was then referred to as “the gifted” program for smart kids. I hated it because the special sessions only occurred Tuesdays and Thursdays during physical education, which to me was the best part of the day. I’d be immersed in dodge ball, and I’d see some kid in the distance coming to fetch me to take me away to the creepy portable building; a windowless classroom-like trailer on wheels located at the far end of campus.

The Tuesday and Thursday buzzkill went on for a year, until one day I noticed that there was a new girl in the class. She was a Hollywood version of a shy child, with simple short brown hair and thick-framed glasses, and she sat all the way in the back of the room and she never said a single word. Three weeks passed and I paid absolutely no attention to her, EXCEPT that I noticed she wore the same brown and red dress every single day. One afternoon, our teacher happened to mention how much she herself liked The Beatles, and, in particular, the song “Eleanor Rigby.”

Up shot the hand of the quiet little girl.

I remember that even our teacher was surprised.

“I can sing it for you,” said the girl.

Baffled, the teacher asked: “Sing what?”

I wondered, what is wrong with this kid? I started to feel uncomfortable.

She repeated: “I can sing it. I can sing “Eleanor Rigby” for you.”

I don’t remember how she got permission, or if she just took it upon herself, but up she popped, standing aside her desk, porcelain skin and coke-bottle glasses, and she began to sing:

“Ah …look at all the lonely people …
Ah … look at all the lonely people …
Eleanor Rigby, picks up the rice
in the church where a wedding has been
Lives in a dream
Waits at the window, wearing the face
That she keeps in a jar by the door…
Who is it for?”

Do you know how sudden, raw beauty has a way of transcending age or even previous exposure? I am in NO way gifted musically, but the ability to appreciate what’s miraculous is innate. I can remember maybe 10 minutes of fifth grade, and that scene comprises most of it. Listening to her, I immediately understood two things: that her voice was great, angelic, and that an important part of the reason it was great was because she was lonely and afraid. I was deeply and permanently smitten. This quiet little person had sung so bravely and so beautifully, we were all astounded and our teacher actually choked up and began to cry.

All the lonely people
Where do they all come from?
All the lonely people
Where do they all belong?

After, the class sat silently for what seemed like a minute, and as I sat there, I actually felt that something had changed. I knew, perhaps for the very first time in my life, that I would remember a moment, maybe forever.

Leading up to the next class session, no one had to come and fetch me because as fast as I could I ran out to the portables and got there early so I could sit in the seat right next to where the little girl had been. But when the bell rang, she wasn’t there. She had, apparently, moved away from our school just as suddenly as she had arrived. And I never saw her again.

To this day, thinking of that moment makes me sad. But more than that, it makes me yearn for answers to things that no one can answer. Things like where did that little Eleanor Rigby come from? And, in all the years since, did she ever find the place that she belonged?

 

 

 

“SUBLIME” MADNESS CONTINUES—THE MODERN BRACKET

Image result for turner painting

HERE’S THE MODERN LINEUP

We’ve already seen the magnificent Classical and the Romantic Brackets, but some say this is the most profound sixteen they’ve ever seen!

Despite the corona virus emergency, Scarriet Sublime March Madness will continue as planned, with full audiences in the stands!

Check these out!

Can writing get more sublime than this?

But let’s say a few words before these masterpieces (excerpts, mostly) are perused, and bets are placed.

It seems we need to recognize two types of literary “sublime.”

The first is when profound ideas enforce themselves into our intellect, so that we began to think of the world in a new way.

The second is purely beautiful, when our brains fall asleep, and we experience the sublime with either our emotions, or with the silent, inarticulate parts of our souls.

We might assume only when the sublime is both types of the sublime at once, then, and only then, can we be absolutely blown away.  But if the intellect is ambushed, or the emotions are vanquished, either type of the sublime conquers us absolutely nonetheless.

The modern bracket is less intellectual than the classical and the romantic brackets.  By the year 1900, all the thinking was done, and philosophy gave way to pure awe, and pure feeling.  This is what the fans are buzzing about, as they gather now, in the twilight, outside the temples and the stadiums, as a sea breeze hits the land, blowing in from the underside of the dying sun, throwing its light into the waves.

1) Joseph Conrad (children of the sea)

The sunshine of heaven fell like a gift of grace on the mud of the earth, on the remembering and mute stones, on greed, selfishness; on the anxious faces of forgetful men. And to the right of the dark group the stained front of the Mint, cleansed by the flood of light, stood out for a moment dazzling and white like a marble palace in a fairy tale. The crew of the Narcissus drifted out of sight.

I never saw them again. The sea took some, the steamers took others, the graveyards of the earth will account for the rest. Singleton has no doubt taken with him the long record of his faithful work into the peaceful depths of an hospitable sea. And Donkin, who never did a decent day’s work in his life, no doubt earns his living by discoursing with filthy eloquence upon the right of labour to live. So be it! Let the earth and the sea each have its own.

A gone shipmate, like any other man, is gone for ever; and I never met one of them again. But at times the spring-flood of memory sets with force up the dark River of the Nine Bends. Then on the waters of the forlorn stream drifts a ship—a shadowy ship manned by a crew of Shades. They pass and make a sign, in a shadowy hail. Haven’t we, together and upon the immortal sea, wrung out a meaning from our sinful lives? Good-bye, brothers! You were a good crowd. As good a crowd as ever fisted with wild cries the beating canvas of a heavy foresail; or tossing aloft, invisible in the night, gave back yell for yell to a westerly gale.

2) Erich Remarque (all quiet on the western front)

He fell in October 1918, on a day that was so quiet and still on the whole front, that the army report confined itself to the single sentence: All quiet on the Western Front. He had fallen forward and lay on the earth as though sleeping. Turning him over one saw that he could not have suffered long; his face had an expression of calm, as though almost glad the end had come.

3) D.H. Lawrence (ship of death)

I
Now it is autumn and the falling fruit
and the long journey towards oblivion.
.
The apples falling like great drops of dew
to bruise themselves an exit from themselves.
.
And it is time to go, to bid farewell
to one’s own self, and find an exit
from the fallen self.
.
II
.
Have you built your ship of death, O have you?
O build your ship of death, for you will need it.
.
The grim frost is at hand, when the apples will fall
thick, almost thundrous, on the hardened earth.
.
And death is on the air like a smell of ashes!
Ah! can’t you smell it?
.
And in the bruised body, the frightened soul
finds itself shrinking, wincing from the cold
that blows upon it through the orifices.
.
IX
.
And yet out of eternity a thread
separates itself on the blackness,
a horizontal thread
that fumes a little with pallor upon the dark.
.
Is it illusion? or does the pallor fume
A little higher?
Ah wait, wait, for there’s the dawn,
the cruel dawn of coming back to life
out of oblivion.
.
Wait, wait, the little ship
drifting, beneath the deathly ashy grey
of a flood-dawn.
.
Wait, wait! even so, a flush of yellow
and strangely, O chilled wan soul, a flush of rose.
.
A flush of rose, and the whole thing starts again.
.
X
.
The flood subsides, and the body, like a worn sea-shell
emerges strange and lovely.
And the little ship wings home, faltering and lapsing
on the pink flood,
and the frail soul steps out, into the house again
filling the heart with peace.
.
Swings the heart renewed with peace
even of oblivion.
.
Oh build your ship of death, oh build it!
for you will need it.
For the voyage of oblivion awaits you.
.
4) Virginia Woolf (a room of one’s own)

It is fatal for any one who writes to think of their sex.

It is fatal to be a man or woman pure and simple; one must be woman-manly or man-womanly. It is fatal for a woman to lay the least stress on any grievance; to plead even with justice any cause; in any way to speak consciously as a woman. And fatal is no figure of speech; for anything written with that conscious bias is doomed to death. It ceases to be fertilized. Brilliant and effective, powerful and masterly, as it may appear for a day or two, it must wither at nightfall; it cannot grow in the minds of others. Some collaboration has to take place in the mind between the woman and the man before the act of creation can be accomplished. Some marriage of opposites has to be consummated.

If one is a man, still the woman part of the brain must have effect; and a woman also must have intercourse with the man in her. Coleridge perhaps meant this when he said that a great mind is androgynous.

No age can ever have been as stridently sex-conscious as our own. The Suffrage campaign was no doubt to blame. It must have roused in men an extraordinary desire for self-assertion; it must have made them lay an emphasis upon their own sex and its characteristics which they would not have troubled to think about had they not been challenged.

The blame for all this rests no more upon one sex than upon the other. All seducers and reformers are responsible. All who have brought about a state of sex-consciousness are to blame, and it is they who drive me, when I want to stretch my faculties on a book, to seek it in that happy age, when the writer used both sides of his mind equally. One must turn back to Shakespeare, then, for Shakespeare was androgynous; and so was Keats and Coleridge. Shelley was perhaps sexless. Milton and Ben Johnson had a dash too much of the male in them. So had Wordsworth and Tolstoy.

The whole of the mind must lie wide open if we are to get the sense that the writer is communicating his experience with perfect fullness. There must be freedom and there must be peace. Not a wheel must grate, not a light glimmer. The curtains must be close drawn. The writer, once his experience is over, must lie back and let his mind celebrate its nuptials in darkness. He must not look or question what is being done. Rather, he must pluck the petals from a rose or watch the swans float calmly down the river. And I saw again the current which took the boat and the undergraduate and the dead leaves; and the taxi took the man and the woman who came together across the street, and the current swept them away, as I heard far off the roar of London’s traffic, into that tremendous stream.

5) F. Scott Fitzgerald (great gatsby)

Most of the big shore places were closed now and there were hardly any lights except the shadowy, moving glow of a ferryboat across the Sound. And as the moon rose higher the inessential houses began to melt away until gradually I became aware of the old island here that flowered once for Dutch sailors’ eyes—a fresh, green breast of the new world. Its vanished trees, the trees that had made way for Gatsby’s house, had once pandered in whispers to the last and greatest of all human dreams; for a transitory enchanted moment man must have held his breath in the presence of this continent, compelled into an æsthetic contemplation he neither understood nor desired, face to face for the last time in history with something commensurate to his capacity for wonder.

And as I sat there, brooding on the old unknown world, I thought of Gatsby’s wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy’s dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter—tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther. . . . And one fine morning——

So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.

 

6) Alan Seeger (i have a rendezvous with death)

I have a rendezvous with Death
At some disputed barricade,
When Spring comes back with rustling shade
And apple-blossoms fill the air—
I have a rendezvous with Death
When Spring brings back blue days and fair.

 

7) T.S. Eliot (love song of j. alfred prufrock)

No! I am not Prince Hamlet, nor was meant to be;
Am an attendant lord, one that will do
To swell a progress, start a scene or two,
Advise the prince; no doubt, an easy tool,
Deferential, glad to be of use,
Politic, cautious, and meticulous;
Full of high sentence, but a bit obtuse;
At times, indeed, almost ridiculous—
Almost, at times, the Fool.
.
I grow old … I grow old …
I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled.
.
Shall I part my hair behind?   Do I dare to eat a peach?
I shall wear white flannel trousers, and walk upon the beach.
I have heard the mermaids singing, each to each.
.
I do not think that they will sing to me.
.
I have seen them riding seaward on the waves
Combing the white hair of the waves blown back
When the wind blows the water white and black.
We have lingered in the chambers of the sea
By sea-girls wreathed with seaweed red and brown
Till human voices wake us, and we drown.
.
8) W.H. Auden (as i walked out one evening)
.
As I walked out one evening,
Walking down Bristol Street,
The crowds upon the pavement
Were fields of harvest wheat.
.
And down by the brimming river
I heard a lover sing
Under an arch of the railway:
‘Love has no ending.
.
‘I’ll love you, dear, I’ll love you
Till China and Africa meet,
And the river jumps over the mountain
And the salmon sing in the street,
.
‘I’ll love you till the ocean
Is folded and hung up to dry
And the seven stars go squawking
Like geese about the sky.
.
‘The years shall run like rabbits,
For in my arms I hold
The Flower of the Ages,
And the first love of the world.’
.
But all the clocks in the city
Begin to whirr and chime:
‘O let not Time deceive you,
You cannot conquer Time.
.
‘In the burrows of the Nightmare
Where Justice naked is,
Time watches from the shadow
And coughs when you would kiss.
.
‘In headaches and in worry
Vaguely life leaks away,
And Time will have his fancy
Tomorrow or today.
.
‘Into many a green valley
Drifts the appalling snow;
Time breaks the threaded dances
And the diver’s brilliant bow.
.
‘O plunge your hands in water
Plunge them in up to the wrist;
Stare, stare in the basin
And wonder what you’ve missed.
.
‘The glacier knocks in the cupboard,
The desert sighs in the bed,
And the crack in the tea-cup opens
A land to the land of the dead.
.
9) Edna St Vincent Millay (what lips my lips have kissed)
.
Thus in the winter stands the lonely tree,
Nor knows what birds have vanished one by one,
Yet knows its boughs more silent than before:
I cannot say what loves have come and gone,
I only know that summer sang in me
A little while, that in me sings no more.
.
10) Dylan Thomas (do not go gentle)

Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Good men, the last wave by, crying how bright
Their frail deeds might have danced in a green bay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

Wild men who caught and sang the sun in flight,
And learn, too late, they grieve it on its way,
Do not go gentle into that good night.

Grave men, near death, who see with blinding sight
Blind eyes could blaze like meteors and be gay,
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

And you, my father, there on the sad height,
Curse, bless, me now with your fierce tears, I pray.
Do not go gentle into that good night.
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.

11) Richard Eberhart (the groundhog)

In June, amid the golden fields,
I saw a groundhog lying dead.
Dead lay he; my senses shook,
And mind outshot our naked frailty.
There lowly in the vigorous summer
His form began its senseless change,
And made my senses waver dim
Seeing nature ferocious in him.
Inspecting close his maggots’ might
And seething cauldron of his being,
Half with loathing, half with a strange love,
I poked him with an angry stick.
The fever arose, became a flame
And Vigour circumscribed the skies,
Immense energy in the sun,
And through my frame a sunless trembling.
My stick had done nor good nor harm.
Then stood I silent in the day
Watching the object, as before;
And kept my reverence for knowledge
Trying for control, to be still,
To quell the passion of the blood;
Until I had bent down on my knees
Praying for joy in the sight of decay.
And so I left; and I returned
In Autumn strict of eye, to see
The sap gone out of the groundhog,
But the bony sodden hulk remained.
But the year had lost its meaning,
And in intellectual chains
I lost both love and loathing,
Mured up in the wall of wisdom.
Another summer took the fields again
Massive and burning, full of life,
But when I chanced upon the spot
There was only a little hair left,
And bones bleaching in the sunlight
Beautiful as architecture;
I watched them like a geometer,
And cut a walking stick from a birch.
It has been three years, now.
There is no sign of the groundhog.
I stood there in the whirling summer,
My hand capped a withered heart,
And thought of China and of Greece,
Of Alexander in his tent;
Of Montaigne in his tower,
Of Saint Theresa in her wild lament.
.
12) Stephen Spender (the truly great)
.
I think continually of those who were truly great.
Who, from the womb, remembered the soul’s history
Through corridors of light, where the hours are suns,
Endless and singing. Whose lovely ambition
Was that their lips, still touched with fire,
Should tell of the Spirit, clothed from head to foot in song.
And who hoarded from the Spring branches
The desires falling across their bodies like blossoms.
.
What is precious, is never to forget
The essential delight of the blood drawn from ageless springs
Breaking through rocks in worlds before our earth.
Never to deny its pleasure in the morning simple light
Nor its grave evening demand for love.
Never to allow gradually the traffic to smother
With noise and fog, the flowering of the spirit.
.
Near the snow, near the sun, in the highest fields,
See how these names are fêted by the waving grass
And by the streamers of white cloud
And whispers of wind in the listening sky.
The names of those who in their lives fought for life,
Who wore at their hearts the fire’s centre.
Born of the sun, they travelled a short while toward the sun
And left the vivid air signed with their honour.
.
13) Edmund Wilson (memoirs of hecate country)
.
“Come outside a minute,” I said, when everybody was clapping and cheering. “I want to tell you something.” She went with me in silence—I was satisfied and proud, and I also felt really excited. There would be people in the courtyard, I knew, so I took her to the terrace at the side of the house. I kissed her, holding her tight against me, one arm about her naked shoulders, the other under her soft bare armpit just where the breast begins; and she seemed to me voracious and hot as I had never known her before. I said nothing, for the kiss said all.  But we couldn’t go on, so at last i stopped and looked away to distract myself. There above us in the sky where it was always summer hung the dust of the richly-sprinkled stars that gave the illusion out here of being both closer-to and more tinselly than they ever did in the East—the stars of the blissful Pacific that had the look of festive decorations for people to be gay or to make love by, yet with which I had never been able to feel myself in any vital relation as I did with the remote ones at home. I spoke of this and when I looked back at her face, I saw that she was smiling and gazing up with her lips parted in such a way as to show great long bare-gummed teeth that stuck out and yet curved back like tushes and that seemed almost too large to be contained in her mouth. She looked like a dog panting when you take it out for a drive, and for a moment I was sharply repelled; but then, saying, ‘Yes, I see what you mean,’ she closed her lips, and the teeth disappeared. I saw only her wide wet mouth, and I pounded kisses against it with summoned determined passion, tasting her perfume and her flesh. It was precisely those long teeth, I thought, that gave her large mouth its peculiar attractiveness: it might have been unpleasant, but wasn’t.
.
14) James Thurber (memorial)

Like the great Gammeyer of Tarkington’s Gentle Julia, the poodle I knew seemed sometimes about to bridge the mysterious and conceivably narrow gap that separates instinct from reason. She could take part in your gaiety and your sorrow; she trembled to your uncertainties and lifted her head at your assurances. There were times when she seemed to come close to a pitying comprehension of the whole troubled scene and what lies ticking behind it. If poodles, who walk so easily upon their hind legs, ever do learn the little tricks of speech and reason, I should not be surprised if they made a better job of it than Man, who would seem to be slowly slipping back to all fours, in spite of Van Wyck Brooks and Lewis Mumford and Robert Frost.

The poodle kept her sight, her hearing, and her figure up to her quiet and dignified end. She knew that the Hand was upon her and she accepted it with a grave and unapprehensive resignation. This, her dark intelligent eyes seemed to be trying to tell me, is simply the closing of full circle, this is the flower that grows out of Beginning; this—not to make it too hard for you, friend—is as natural as eating the raspberries and raising the puppies and riding into the rain.

15) Hart Crane (the bridge)

I think of cinemas, panoramic sleights
With multitudes bent toward some flashing scene
Never disclosed, but hastened to again,
Foretold to other eyes on the same screen;
.
And Thee, across the harbor, silver paced
As though the sun took step of thee yet left
Some motion ever unspent in thy stride,—
Implicitly thy freedom staying thee!
.
Out of some subway scuttle, cell or loft
A bedlamite speeds to thy parapets,
Tilting there momently, shrill shirt ballooning,
A jest falls from the speechless caravan.
.
Down Wall, from girder into street noon leaks,
A rip-tooth of the sky’s acetylene;
All afternoon the cloud flown derricks turn …
Thy cables breathe the North Atlantic still.
.
And obscure as that heaven of the Jews,
Thy guerdon … Accolade thou dost bestow
Of anonymity time cannot raise:
Vibrant reprieve and pardon thou dost show.
.
O harp and altar, of the fury fused,
(How could mere toil align thy choiring strings!)
Terrific threshold of the prophet’s pledge,
Prayer of pariah, and the lover’s cry,
.
Again the traffic lights that skim thy swift
Unfractioned idiom, immaculate sigh of stars,
Beading thy path—condense eternity:
And we have seen night lifted in thine arms.

16) Philip Roth (goodbye, columbus)

We had to take about two too many steps to keep the approach from being awkward, but we pursued the impulse and kissed. I felt her hand on the back of my neck and so I tugged her towards me, too violently perhaps, and slid my own hands across the side of her body and around to her back. I felt the wet spots on her shoulder blades, and beneath them, I’m sure of it, a faint fluttering, as though something stirred so deep in her breasts, so far back, it could make itself felt through her shirt. It was like the fluttering of wings, tiny wings no bigger than her breasts. The smallness of the wings did not bother me—it would not take an eagle to carry me up those lousy 180 feet that make summer nights so much cooler in Short Hills than they are in Newark.

 

 

 

THE 2020 SCARRIET MARCH MADNESS CONTINUES

Image result for Romantic Painting of War

In case you missed it, here’s the Classical lineup:

Homer
Plato
Aristotle
Sophocles
Ovid
Horace
Virgil
Dante
Petrarch
da Vinci
Shakespeare
Donne
Milton

G.E. Lessing
Thomas Gray
Edmund Burke

Imagine the colossal stadium for this event! The ringing of metal, the roaring of engines, the strenuous efforts of athletes down through the ages—how does it compare to this? The sublime utterances of the most sublime writers in recorded history?  Striving to be the most sublime? Is this not sublime in itself—to contemplate this battle of the sublime?

These figures of world history do not ask for mere responses.  This is not the attention-getting trash of the merely avant-garde.   These ideas and feelings tower over you and demand you contemplate them, or die.  The sublime obliterates the self, and leaves in its wake a new self, made of nobler things.  This is not what you may know, but what you must know.

Welcome to the March Madness Sublime Tournament!

The banners are golden and the gods are here to watch.

There has never been a red carpet like this.

Homer, ravishment. Plato, ultimate beauty. Aristotle, art. Sophocles, fate. Ovid, wit. Horace, criticism. Virgil, drama. Dante, morals. Petrarch, faith. da Vinci, seeing, Shakespeare, enchantment. Donne, verse. Milton, poetry. Lessing, aesthetics, Gray, elegy. Burke, political psychology.

To predict who wins the Classical bracket, the experts suggest we ask “Considering what these titans represent, what does the world need most—what can we least do without?”  da Vinci would say, ” We need to see!  We need to know how to look!”  Burke would caution, “if citizens are not taught how to think, and get along with each other, we are doomed.”  And so forth.

 

And now, here is the second bracket the March Madness Committee has selected for the Sublime 2020 March Madness:

 

ROMANTIC

1) Blake (the tyger)

Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
.
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
.
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
.
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water’d heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
.
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?

2) Goethe (faust)

Gretchen: You don’t believe in God?

Faust: Do not misunderstand me, my love, my queen!
Who can name him?
Admit on the spot:
I believe in him?
And who can dare
To perceive and declare:
I believe in him not?
The All-Embracing One,
The All-Upholding One,
Does he not embrace, uphold,
You, me, Himself?
Does not the Heaven vault itself above us?
Is not the earth established fast below?
And with their friendly glances do not
Eternal stars rise over us?
Do not my eyes look into yours,
And all things thrust
Into your head, into your heart,
And weave in everlasting mystery
Invisibly, visibly, around you?
Fill your heart with this, great as it is,
And when this feeling grants you perfect bliss,
Then call it what you will—
Happiness! Heart! Love! God!
I have no name for it!
Feeling is all;
Name is mere sound and reek
Clouding Heaven’s light.

Gretchen: That sounds quite good and right;
And much as the priest might speak,
Only not word for word.

Faust: It is what all hearts have heard
In all the places heavenly day can reach,
Each in his own speech;
Why not I in mine?

Gretchen: I could almost accept it, you make it sound so fine,
Still there is something in it that shouldn’t be;
For you have no Christianity.

Faust: Dear child!

Gretchen: It has long been a grief to me
To see you in such company.

Faust: You mean?

Gretchen: The man who goes about with you.
I hate him in my soul, through and through.
And nothing has given my heart
In my whole life so keen a smart
As that man’s face, so dire, so grim.

Faust: Beloved child, don’t be afraid of him!

3) Coleridge (kubla khan)
.
In Xanadu did Kubla Khan
A stately pleasure-dome decree:
Where Alph, the sacred river, ran
Through caverns measureless to man
   Down to a sunless sea.
So twice five miles of fertile ground
With walls and towers were girdled round;
And there were gardens bright with sinuous rills,
Where blossomed many an incense-bearing tree;
And here were forests ancient as the hills,
Enfolding sunny spots of greenery.
.
But oh! that deep romantic chasm which slanted
Down the green hill athwart a cedarn cover!
A savage place! as holy and enchanted
As e’er beneath a waning moon was haunted
By woman wailing for her demon-lover!
And from this chasm, with ceaseless turmoil seething,
As if this earth in fast thick pants were breathing,
A mighty fountain momently was forced:
Amid whose swift half-intermitted burst
Huge fragments vaulted like rebounding hail,
Or chaffy grain beneath the thresher’s flail:
And mid these dancing rocks at once and ever
It flung up momently the sacred river.
Five miles meandering with a mazy motion
Through wood and dale the sacred river ran,
Then reached the caverns measureless to man,
And sank in tumult to a lifeless ocean;
And ’mid this tumult Kubla heard from far
Ancestral voices prophesying war!
   The shadow of the dome of pleasure
   Floated midway on the waves;
   Where was heard the mingled measure
   From the fountain and the caves.
It was a miracle of rare device,
A sunny pleasure-dome with caves of ice!
.
   A damsel with a dulcimer
   In a vision once I saw:
   It was an Abyssinian maid
   And on her dulcimer she played,
   Singing of Mount Abora.
   Could I revive within me
   Her symphony and song,
   To such a deep delight ’twould win me,
That with music loud and long,
I would build that dome in air,
That sunny dome! those caves of ice!
And all who heard should see them there,
And all should cry, Beware! Beware!
His flashing eyes, his floating hair!
Weave a circle round him thrice,
And close your eyes with holy dread
For he on honey-dew hath fed,
And drunk the milk of Paradise.

4) Shelley (the cloud)

I bring fresh showers for the thirsting flowers,
From the seas and the streams;
I bear light shade for the leaves when laid
In their noonday dreams.
From my wings are shaken the dews that waken
The sweet buds every one,
When rocked to rest on their mother’s breast,
As she dances about the sun.
I wield the flail of the lashing hail,
And whiten the green plains under,
And then again I dissolve it in rain,
And laugh as I pass in thunder.
.
.
5) Cornelius Matthews (Wakondah)
.
Green dells that into silence stretch away
.
.
6) Keats (hyperion)
.
Deep in the shady sadness of a vale
Far sunken from the healthy breath of morn,
Far from the fiery noon, and eve’s one star,
Sat gray-hair’d Saturn, quiet as a stone,
Still as the silence round about his lair;
Forest on forest hung about his head
Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there,
Not so much life as on a summer’s day
Robs not one light seed from the feather’d grass,
But where the dead leaf fell, there did it rest.
.
.
7) Pushkin (thoughts)

If I walk the noisy streets,
or enter a many thronged church,
or sit among the wild young generation,
I give way to my thoughts.

I say to myself: the years are fleeting,
and however many there seem to be,
we must all go under the eternal vault,
and someone’s hour is already at hand.

When I look at a solitary oak
I think: the patriarch of the woods.
It will outlive my forgotten age
as it outlived that of my grandfathers’.

If I caress a young child,
immediately I think: Farewell!
I will yield my place to you,
for I must fade while your flower blooms.

Each day, every hour
I habitually follow in my thoughts,
trying to guess from their number
the year which brings my death.

And where will fate send death to me?
In battle, in my travels, or on the seas?
Or will the neighbouring valley
receive my chilled ashes?

And although to the senseless body
it is indifferent wherever it rots,
yet close to my beloved countryside
I still would prefer to rest.

And let it be, beside the grave’s vault
Young life forever will be playing,
and impartial, indifferent nature
Spreads, forever staying.

8) Byron (darkness)

The rivers, lakes and ocean all stood still,
And nothing stirr’d within their silent depths;
Ships sailorless lay rotting on the sea,
And their masts fell down piecemeal: as they dropp’d
They slept on the abyss without a surge—
The waves were dead; the tides were in their grave,
The moon, their mistress, had expir’d before;
The winds were wither’d in the stagnant air,
And the clouds perish’d; Darkness had no need
Of aid from them—She was the Universe.

9) Tennyson (the splendor falls)

The splendor falls on castle walls
And snowy summits old in story:
The long light shakes across the lakes,
And the wild cataract leaps in glory.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O hark, O hear! how thin and clear,
And thinner, clearer, farther going
O sweet and far from cliff and scar
The horns of Elfland faintly blowng!
Blow, let us hear the purple glens replying:
Blow, bugle; answer, echoes, dying, dying, dying.
.
O love, they die in yon rich sky,
They faint on hill or field or river:
Our echoes roll from soul to soul,
And grow for ever and for ever.
Blow, bugle, blow, set the wild echoes flying,
And answer, echoes, answer, dying, dying, dying.
.
.
10) Poe (conversation of eiros and charmion)

It had been long known that the air which encircled us was a compound of oxygen and nitrogen gases, in the proportion of twenty-one measures of oxygen, and seventy-nine of nitrogen, in every one hundred of the atmosphere. Oxygen, which was the principle of combustion, and the vehicle of heat, was absolutely necessary to the support of animal life, and was the most powerful and energetic agent in nature. Nitrogen, on the contrary, was incapable of supporting either animal life or flame. An unnatural excess of oxygen would result, it had been ascertained, in just such an elevation of the animal spirits as we had latterly experienced. It was the pursuit, the extension of the idea, which had engendered awe. What would be the result of a total extraction of the nitrogen? A combustion irresistible, all-devouring, omni-prevalent, immediate; — the entire fulfilment, in all their minute and terrible details, of the fiery and horror-inspiring denunciations of the prophecies of the Holy Book.

Why need I paint, Charmion, the now disenchained frenzy of mankind? That tenuity in the comet which had previously inspired us with hope, was now the source of the bitterness of despair. In its impalpable gaseous character we clearly perceived the consummation of Fate. Meantime a day again passed — bearing away with it the last shadow of Hope. We gasped in the rapid modification of the air. The red blood bounded tumultuously through its strict channels. A furious delirium possessed all men; and, with arms rigidly outstretched towards the threatening heavens, they trembled and shrieked aloud. But the nucleus of the destroyer was now upon us; — even here in Aidenn, I shudder while I speak. Let me be brief — brief as the ruin that overwhelmed. For a moment there was a wild lurid light alone, visiting and penetrating all things. Then — let us bow down, Charmion, before the excessive majesty of the great God! — then, there came a shouting and pervading sound, as if from the mouth itself of HIM; while the whole incumbent mass of ether in which we existed, burst at once into a species of intense flame, for whose surpassing brilliancy and all-fervid heat even the angels in the high Heaven of pure knowledge have no name. Thus ended all.

11) Elizabeth Barrett (the drama of exile)

On a mountain peak
Half sheathed in primal woods and glittering
In spasms of awful sunshine, at that hour
A lion crouched,—part raised upon his paws,
With his calm massive face turned full on thine,
And his mane listening. When the ended curse
Left silence in the world, right suddenly
He sprang up rampant, and stood straight and stiff,
As if the new reality of death
Were dashed against his eyes,—and roared so fierce,
(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)—
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales
To distant silence,—that the forest beasts,
One after one, did mutter a response
In savage and in sorrowful complaint
Which trailed along the gorges.

12) R. H. Horne (orion)

There, underneath the boughs, mark where the gleam
Of sunrise through the roofing’s chasm is thrown
Upon a grassy plot below, whereon
The shadow of a stag stoops to the stream,
Swift rolling toward the cataract, and drinks,
While ever and anon the nightingale,
Not waiting for the evening, swells his hymn—
His one sustained and heaven aspiring tone—
And when the sun hath vanished utterly,
Arm over arm the cedars spread their shade,
With arching wrist and long extended hands,
And grave-ward fingers lengthening in the moon,
Above that shadowy stag whose antlers still
Hung o’er the stream.

13) Hawthorne (the scarlet letter)

She inherited her mother’s gift for devising drapery and costume. As the last touch to her mermaid’s garb, Pearl took some eel-grass, and imitated, as best she could, on her own bosom, the decoration with which she was so familiar on her mother’s. A letter,—the letter A,—but freshly green, instead of scarlet! The child bent her chin upon her breast, and contemplated this device with strange interest; even as if the one only thing for which she had been sent into the world was to make out its hidden import.

14) Marx

There is a physical relation between physical things. But it is different with commodities. There, the existence of the things qua commodities, and the value-relation between the products of labor which stamps them as commodities, have absolutely no connection with their physical properties and with the material relations arising therefrom. There it is a definite social relation between men, that assumes, in their eyes, the fantastic form of a relation between things. In order, therefore, to find an analogy, we must have recourse to the mist-enveloped regions of the religious world. In that world the productions of the human brain appear as independent beings endowed with life, and entering into relation both with one another and the human race. So it is in the world of commodities with the products of men’s hands. This I call the Fetishism which attaches itself to products of labor, so soon as they are produced as commodities.

15) Emily Dickinson (because i could not stop for death)
.
Because I could not stop for Death –
He kindly stopped for me –
The Carriage held but just Ourselves –
And Immortality.
.
We slowly drove – He knew no haste
And I had put away
My labor and my leisure too,
For His Civility –
.
We passed the School, where Children strove
At Recess – in the Ring –
We passed the Fields of Gazing Grain –
We passed the Setting Sun –
.
Or rather – He passed Us –
The Dews drew quivering and Chill –
For only Gossamer, my Gown –
My Tippet – only Tulle –
.
We paused before a House that seemed
A Swelling of the Ground –
The Roof was scarcely visible –
The Cornice – in the Ground –
.
Since then – ’tis Centuries – and yet
Feels shorter than the Day
I first surmised the Horses’ Heads
Were toward Eternity –
.
.
16) Wilde (the critic as artist)

I should have said that great artists worked unconsciously, that they were “wiser than they knew,” as, I think, Emerson remarks somewhere, but it is really not so.

All fine imaginative work is self-conscious and deliberate. No poet sings because he must sing. At least, no great poet does.  A great poet sings because he chooses to sing. It is so now, and it has always been so. We are sometimes apt to think that the voices that sounded at the dawn of poetry were simpler, fresher, and more natural than ours, and that the world which the early poets looked at, and through which they walked, had a kind of poetical quality of its own, and almost without changing could pass into song. The snow lies thick now upon Olympus, and its steep, scraped sides are bleak and barren, but once, we fancy, the white feet of the Muses brushed the dew from the anemones in the morning, and at evening came Apollo to sing to the shepherds in the vale. But in this we are merely lending to other ages what we desire, or think we desire, for our own. Our historical sense is at fault. Every century that produces poetry is, so far, an artificial century, and the work that seems to us to be the most natural and simple product of its time is always the result of the most self-conscious effort. There is no fine art without self-consciousness, and self-consciousness and the critical spirit are one.

The longer one studies life and literature, the more strongly one feels that behind everything that is wonderful stands the individual, and that it is not the moment that makes the man, but the man who creates the age. Indeed, I am inclined to think that each myth and legend that seems to us to spring out of the wonder, or terror, or fancy of tribe and nation, was in its origin the invention of one single mind.

~~~~~~~~~

Some interesting choices here!  Karl Marx??  And who is R.H. Horne? And Cornelius Matthews?  Perhaps only the Scarriet March Madness Committee knows for sure.

 

 

 

 

MARCH MADNESS 2020—THE SUBLIME!!

Image result for goya the giant

The sublime requires size.

The small, or that which aims at the small, cannot be sublime.

It’s really that simple.  And when we can be simple, we should be.  And this very idea has in it something of the sublime itself.  The sublime is not complex.  It is large, first, or, perhaps, complex in a large manner.

A large space is required; the sublime requires a long view.

I point out the simple, even grotesquely simple, criterion of sublimity to check those runaway intellectual arguments which will naturally veer away from a properly sublime definition.  There will always be something small about any intellectual argumentation, no matter how good it is.

The sublime is a fact, and cannot be argued into, or out of, existence.

The sublime is not necessarily that which takes a lot of work on the part of the artist. It simply is—or it should at least seem that way.

Searching through many pages of literature for examples of the sublime is a depressing task, for as one skips over many passages and poems because they do not quite reach the level of the sublime, unfulfilled expectations begin to sadden one on many levels; we say to ourselves: “I seem to remember letters being better than this. The sublime, after all, is the ultimate measure.” As we pass on more and more work, deciding it’s not worthy, searching for the ultimate begins to demoralize us. We can’t argue away this gut feeling.

But we push on, and when we find the sublime, we are happy.

An argument can be thorough, or decisive, or convincing. It can never be sublime.

But if a description is an argument, and if any piece of rhetoric either describes or convinces us of anything not mundane, then haven’t we excluded poetry from the sublime, if we say an argument can never be sublime?

Can an argument have dimensions? Can words have magnitude?

Certainly words can describe, and therefore whatever is a description of the sublime falls under the category of sublime poetry.

We should remember that Edmund Burke, in his famous mid-18th century essay on the sublime, said poetry was the better vehicle for the sublime than painting. He was thinking mostly about Milton and the Bible.

Painters and architects need material resources, a vision embodied and fleshed out, constructed, built, displayed, functioning in the eye with the depths and shadows of every massive, material, fact. Terrible echoes must sound and sigh; they must be real. A true glittering must struggle with the shadow over the abyss. A heavy door to the unknown must open suddenly to the wind.

The poet needs no materials, no edifices, no walls, no howling distances, no rock, no river, no eyesight aching, no pitiless view, no shadow from stone, no darkness deepening over drafty ruins, no bleak night times of silent stars.

Poetry, then, can be small, as long as what it describes is large.

Poetry has two choices: be modest or sublime. Prose is acquainted with every subject, every nuance; this the poet knows; the poet knows the only way to move the heart is by being humble—or its opposite.

Is it true that modern poetry has no sublime tradition?

No spark, no faint shower of light falling from beyond, no echo of Homer, Dante, or Milton troubles the modern eye. What creates the sublime? What storms greet our poetry now?

But we shouldn’t be hasty.

There may be plenty of sublime poetry in our day. We just need to look for it. Perhaps it’s there, but we have forgotten how to see it.

***

Edgar Poe, who lived on the other side of the abyss from today’s colloquial, modern sensibility, loved the sublime perhaps more than anything.

Modesty and sublimity are not values we assign to poetry anymore.

It says something about our age, that when it looks at Poe, it doesn’t see the sublime, but registers “macabre.”

But Poe was sublime all the way.

Not only in his poetry and fiction—but in his non-fiction, which included criticism.

In this review of William Ellery Channing, Poe, the critic, ridicules the attempt to be sublime:

My empire is myself and I defy
The external; yes, I rule the whole or die!

It will be observed, here, that Mr. Channing’s empire is himself, (a small kingdom, however,) that he intends to defy “the external,” whatever that is — perhaps he means the infernals and that, in short, he is going to rule the whole or die; all which is very proper, indeed, and nothing more than we have to expect from Mr. C.

Again, at page 146, he is rather fierce than otherwise. He says;

We surely were not meant to ride the sea,
Skimming the wave in that so prisoned small,
Reposing our infinite faculties utterly.
Boom like a roaring sunlit waterfall.
Humming to infinite abysms: speak loud, speak free!

Here Mr. Channing not only intends to “speak loud and free” himself, but advises every body else to do likewise. For his own part, he says, he is going to “ boom” — “to hum and to boom” — to “hum like a roaring waterfall,” and “boom to an infinite abysm.” What, in the name of Belzebub, is to become of us all?

Poe didn’t think much of Channing, the child of the preacher; Channing the Younger was a poet mentored by Emerson; Poe reviled Emerson’s didactic, sermonizing circle of New England Transcendentalists. Their whole attitude can be summed up in the couplet of Channing’s quoted above: “My empire is myself and I defy/The external; yes, I rule the whole or die!”  According to Poe, there was a way to do literature and “I rule the whole or die!” just wouldn’t do.

We wouldn’t know it (because who carefully reads widely in Poe’s critical prose) but Poe, at least in his own mind, to an extreme degree, was very forward thinking.  In the first few paragraphs of his review of Drama of Exile and Other Poems by Elizabeth Barrett, Poe says quite a bit against antiquity, and in favor of plain, modern, common sense:

1) He writes that he will not treat Barrett as a woman, but as a writer, as he points out that women should no longer be treated in a patronizing way by male authors.

2) Of Elizabeth Barrett’s long poem, “Drama of Exile” is the story of Eve, inspired by Greek Tragedy, Poe writes:

The Greek tragedies had and even have high merits; but we act wisely in now substituting for the external and typified human sympathy of the antique Chorus, a direct, internal, living and moving sympathy itself; and although AEschylus might have done service as “a model,” to either Euripides or Sophocles, yet were Sophocles and Euripides in London to-day, they would, perhaps, while granting a certain formless and shadowy grandeur, indulge a quiet smile at the shallowness and uncouthness of that Art, which, in the old amphitheatres, had beguiled them into applause of the Œdipus at Colonos.”

“It would have been better for Miss Barrett if, throwing herself independently upon her own very extraordinary resources, and forgetting that a Greek had ever lived, she had involved her Eve in a series of adventures merely natural, or if not this, of adventures preternatural within the limits of at least a conceivable relation — a relation of matter to spirit and spirit to matter, that should have left room for something like palpable action and comprehensible emotion — that should not have utterly precluded the development of that womanly character which is admitted as the principal object of the poem. As the case actually stands, it is only in a few snatches of verbal intercommunication with Adam and Lucifer, that we behold her as a woman at all. For the rest, she is a mystical something or nothing, enwrapped in a fog of rhapsody about Transfiguration, and the Seed, and the Bruising of the Heel, and other talk of a nature that no man ever pretended to understand in plain prose, and which, when solar-microscoped into poetry “upon the model of the Greek drama,” is about as convincing as the Egyptian Lectures of Mr. Silk Buckingham — about as much to any purpose under the sun as the hi presto! conjurations of Signor Blitz.

3) Poe then scolds Milton—who has influenced Barrett—in the following manner:

She [Barrett in her introduction] has made allusion to Milton, and no doubt felt secure in her theme (as a theme merely) when she considered his “Paradise Lost.” But even in Milton’s own day, when men had the habit of believing all things, the more nonsensical the more readily, and of worshipping, in blind acquiescence, the most preposterous of impossibilities — even then. there were not wanting individuals who would have read the great epic with more: — , could it have been explained to their satisfaction, how ind why it was, not only that a snake quoted Aristotle’s ethics, and behaved otherwise pretty much as he pleased, but that bloody battles were continually being fought between bloodless “innumerable angels,” that found no inconvenience m losing a wing one minute and a head the next, and if pounded up into puff-paste late in the afternoon, were as good “innumerable angels” as new the next morning, in time to be at reveille roll-call: And now — at the present epoch — there are few people who do not occasionally think. This is emphatically the thinking age; — indeed it may very well be questioned whether mankind ever substantially thought before. The fact is, if the “Paradise Lost” were written to-day (assuming that it had never been written when it was), not even its eminent, although over-estimated merits, would counterbalance, either in the public view, or in the opinion of any critic at once intelligent and honest, the multitudinous incongruities which are part and parcel of its plot.

This is all by way of the sublime.  One can see that Poe has very definite opinions on how one should go about writing in the sublime manner—one still needs to have both feet on the ground, even as one takes a certain fantastic license.

Here is Poe once more, from the “Drama of Exile”review, taking Barrett to task for being sublimely annoying:

But in the plot of the drama of Miss Barrett it is something even worse than incongruity which affronts: — a continuous mystical strain of ill-fitting and exaggerated allegory — if, indeed, allegory is not much too respectable a term for it. We are called upon, for example, to sympathise in the whimsical woes of two Spirits, who, upspringing from the bowels of the earth, set immediately to bewailing their miseries in jargon such as this:

I am the spirit of the harmless earth;
God spake me softly out among the stars,
As softly as a blessing of much worth —
And then his smile did follow unawares,
That all things, fashioned, so, for use and duty,
Might shine anointed with his chrism of beauty —
Yet I wail!

I drave on with the worlds exultingly,
Obliquely down the Godlight’s gradual fall —
Individual aspect and complexity
Of gyratory orb and interval,
Lost in the fluent motion of delight
Toward the high ends of Being, beyond Sight —
Yet I wail!

Innumerable other spirits discourse successively after the same fashion, each ending every stanza of his lamentation with the “yet I wail!” When at length they have fairly made an end, Eve touches Adam upon the elbow, and hazards, also, the profound and pathetic observation — “Lo, Adam, they wail!” — which is nothing more than the simple truth — for they do — and God deliver us from any such wailing again!

But let’s look at Poe selecting a passage of Barrett for praise.

And he loves this because it’s sublime, though he doesn’t use the word:

It is not our purpose, however, to demonstrate what every reader of these volumes will have readily seen self-demonstrated — the utter indefensibility of “The Drama of Exile,” considered uniquely, as a work of art. We have none of us to be told that a medley of metaphysical recitatives sung out of tune, at Adam and Eve, by all manner of inconceivable abstractions, is not exactly the best material for a poem. Still it may very well happen that among this material there shall be individual passages of great beauty. But should any one doubt the possibility, let him be satisfied by a single extract such as follows:

On a mountain peak
Half sheathed in primal woods and glittering
In spasms of awful sunshine, at that hour
A lion couched, — part raised upon his paws,
With his calm massive face turned full on shine,
And his mane listening. When the ended curse
Left silence in the world, right suddenly
He sprang up rampant, and stood straight and stiff,
As if the new reality of death
Were dashed against his eyes, — and roared so fierce,
(Such thick carnivorous passion in his throat
Tearing a passage through the wrath and fear)
And roared so wild, and smote from all the hills
Such fast keen echoes crumbling down the vales
To distant silence, — that the forest beasts,
One after one, did mutter a response
In savage and in sorrowful complaint
Which trailed along the gorges.

There is an Homeric force here — a vivid picturesqueness in all men will appreciate and admire. It is, however, the longest quotable passage in the drama, not disfigured with blemishes of importance; — although there are many — very many passages of a far loftier order of excellence, so disfigured, and which, therefore, it would not suit our immediate e to extract. The truth is, — and it may be as well mentioned at this point as elsewhere — that we are not to look in Miss Barrett’s works for any examples of what has been occasionally termed “sustained effort;” for neither are there, in any of her poems, any long commendable paragraphs, nor are there any individual compositions which will bear the slightest examination as consistent Art-products. Her wild and magnificent genius seems to have contented itself with points — to have exhausted itself in flashes; — but it is the profusion — the unparalleled number and close propinquity of these points and flashes which render her book one flame, and justify us in calling her, unhesitatingly, the greatest — the most glorious of her sex.

 

***

The history of the sublime can be summed up this way—in the 18th century, the idea of the sublime caught fire and exploded; the sublime was the dominant aesthetic well into the 19th century; then it vanished into the human-centered realism of modernism. Longinus was translated into English in the early 18th century—Longinus defined sublimity as ecstasy for the learned; Burke, an advocate of emotion linked to thought, called it terror, at a safe distance; Kant called it more reasonable than the beautiful, since it participates in the unknown and great thoughts and ideas launch into, and participate, in the unknown. The Romantics were swept up into greatness as they contemplated and breathed the sublime. Wordsworth used the sublime to be more than a nature poet, Coleridge’s best poetry burned with it; Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein spoke to the fearful heart of it; Shelley, Byron, and Keats were what they were because of it; the glorious,18th century flame finally expired in the magnificence of Poe, who is called, by the small-minded, “macabre,” instead of what he really is—sublime.

***

THIS YEAR’S MARCH MADNESS HAS THE FOLLOWING FOUR BRACKETS: CLASSICAL, ROMANTIC, MODERN, AND POST-MODERN.

HERE ARE THE 16 MARCH MADNESS 2020 CONTENDERS—IN THE CLASSICAL BRACKET:

1) Homer (iliad)

Friend! You will die—but why moan about it so?
Remember Patroclus? He was better than you.
Look! I’m handsome and stronger—
A marvelous father, my mother a deathless goddess—
But thanks to fate, I, too, will be brought low.
At midnight, maybe at noon, a mortal will kill me, too—
From a spear, by chance thrown, or a singing arrow.

2) Plato (symposium)

The mysteries of love?  Begin with examples of beauty in the world, and using them as steps to ascend, with that absolute beauty as one’s aim, from one instance of physical beauty to two and from two to all, from physical beauty to moral beauty, and from moral beauty to the beauty of knowledge, until from knowledge of various kinds one arrives at the supreme knowledge—whose sole object is absolute beauty, to know at last what absolute beauty is.

3) Aristotle (poetics)

Having distinguished the parts, let us now consider the proper construction of the Fable or Plot—the most important thing in Tragedy. We have laid it down that a tragedy is an imitation of an action that is complete in itself, as a whole of some magnitude, for a whole may be of no magnitude to speak of. Now a whole is that which has beginning, middle, and end. A beginning is that which is not itself necessarily after anything else, and which has naturally something else after it; an end is that which is naturally after something itself, either as its necessary and consequent, and with nothing else after it; and a middle, that which is by nature after one thing and has also another after it. A well-constructed Plot, therefore, cannot either begin or end at any point one likes; beginning and end in it must be of the forms just described. Again: to be beautiful, a living creature, and every whole made up of parts, must not only present a certain order in its arrangement of parts, but also be of a certain definite magnitude. Beauty is a matter of size and order, and therefore impossible either in a very minute creature…or in a creature of vast size—one, say, 1,000 miles long.

4) Sophocles (oedipus rex)

Speak not to these or me. Thou art the man,
Thou the accursed polluter of this land.

5) Ovid (art of love)

It is art to conceal art.

6) Horace (ars poetica)

There are some mistakes we forgive. The string doesn’t always give the note that the hand and the mind intended: it often returns a high note when you ask for a low. The bow won’t always hit what it threatens to hit. But when most features of a poem are brilliant, I shan’t be offended by a few blemishes thrown around by carelessness or human negligence. But what then?  If a copyist goes on making the same mistake however much he is warned, he is not forgiven; if a lyre-player always gets the same note wrong, people laugh at him. I’m even angry when Homer nods, though a doze is OK in a long work.

7) Virgil (aeneid)

I abandoned you, and caused your grieving.
I abandoned you, and caused your death.
And now those same gods compel me to search in these shadows,
Where death reigns, and gruesome night is all.

8) Dante (inferno)

“These have no longer any hope of death;
This blind life of theirs is so debased,
They envy all—even others’ final breath.

The world does not permit them any fame;
Mercy does not care for this moaning mass;
Let us not speak of them, but look, and pass.”

And I, who looked again, beheld a banner
Whirling, moving in a frenzied manner,
Bobbing up and down, leading the creatures,

Who thronged, piteous, in great numbers,
Filling the circle. I could not believe
Death had undone so many.

9) Petrarch (la gola e ‘l sonno et l’otiose piume)

Greed and sleep and slothful beds
Have banished every virtue from the world,
So that, overcome by habit,
Our nature has almost lost its way.

And all the benign lights of heaven,
That inform human life, are so spent,
That he who wishes to bring down the light
From Helicon is pointed out as a wonder.

Such desire for laurel, and for myrtle?
‘Poor and naked goes philosophy,’
Say the crowd intent on base profit.

You’ll have poor company on that other road:
So much more I beg you, gentle spirit,
Don’t turn away from your great undertaking.

10) da  Vinci (notebooks)

The first intention of the painter is to make
A flat surface display a body
As if modeled and separated from this plane,
And he who most surpasses others in this skill
Deserves more praise.
This accomplishment,
With which the science of painting
Is crowned, arises from light and shade—
Chiaroscuro.
Therefore, whoever fights shy of shadow
Fights shy of the glory of art
As recognized by noble intellects,
But acquires glory according to the ignorant masses,
Who require nothing of painting other than beauty of color,
Totally forgetting the beauty and wonder
Of a flat surface
Displaying relief.
The art of painting embraces and contains within itself
All visible things. It is the poverty of sculpture
That it cannot show the colors of everything
And their diminution
With distance.

11) Shakespeare (the tempest)

Be not afraid; the isle is full of noises,
Sounds and sweet airs, that give delight and hurt not.
Sometimes a thousand twangling instruments
Will hum about mine ears, and sometime voices
That, if I then had waked after long sleep,
Will make me sleep again: and then, in dreaming,
The clouds methought would open and show riches
Ready to drop upon me that, when I waked,
I cried to dream again.

12) John Donne (death be no proud)

Death, be not proud, though some have called thee
Mighty and dreadful, for thou art not so;
For those whom thou think’st thou dost overthrow
Die not, poor Death, nor yet canst thou kill me.
From rest and sleep, which but thy pictures be,
Much pleasure; then from thee much more must flow,
And soonest our best men with thee do go,
Rest of their bones, and soul’s delivery.
Thou art slave to fate, chance, kings, and desperate men,
And dost with poison, war, and sickness dwell,
And poppy or charms can make us sleep as well
And better than thy stroke; why swell’st thou then?
One short sleep past, we wake eternally
And death shall be no more; Death, thou shalt die.

13) Milton (paradise lost)

Some natural tears they drop’d, but wip’d them soon;
The World was all before them, where to choose
Their place of rest, and Providence their guide;
They hand in hand with wandering steps and slow,
Through Eden took their solitary way.

14) G. E. Lessing (laocoon)

Objects which exist side by side, or whose parts so exist, are called bodies. Consequently bodies with their visible properties are the peculiar subjects of painting.

Objects which succeed each other, or whose parts succeed each other in time, are actions. Consequently actions are the peculiar subjects of poetry.

All bodies, however, exist not only in space, but also in time. They continue, and, at any moment of their continuance, may assume a different appearance and stand in different relations. Every one of these momentary appearances and groupings was the result of a preceding, may become the cause of a following, and is therefore the center of a present, action. Consequently painting can imitate actions, also, but only as they are suggested through forms.

Actions, on the other hand, cannot exist independently, but must also be joined to certain agents. In so far as those agents are bodies or are regarded as such, poetry describes also bodies, but only indirectly through actions.

Painting, in its coexistent compositions, can use but a single moment of an action, and must therefore choose the most pregnant one, the one most suggestive of what has gone before and what is to follow.

Poetry, in its progressive imitations, can use but a single attribute of bodies, and must choose that one which gives the most vivid picture of the body as exercised in this particular action.

Hence the rule for the employment of a single descriptive epithet, and the cause of the rare occurrence of descriptions of physical objects.

I should place less confidence in this dry chain of conclusions, did I not find them fully confirmed by Homer, or, rather, had they not been first suggested to me by Homer’s method. These principles alone furnish a key to the noble style of the Greek, and enable us to pass just judgment on the opposite method of many modern poets who insist upon emulating the artist in a point where they must of necessity remain inferior to him.

15) Thomas Gray (elegy in a country churchyard)

The curfew tolls the knell of parting day,
The lowing herd winds slowly o’er the lea,
The ploughman homeward plods his weary way,
And leaves the world to darkness and to me.
Now fades the glimmering landscape on the sight,
And all the air a solemn stillness holds,
Save where the beetle wheels his droning flight,
And drowsy tinklings lull the distant folds.

16) Edmund Burke (introduction. on taste)

The mind of man has naturally a far greater alacrity and satisfaction in tracing resemblances than in searching for differences; because by making resemblance we produce new images, we unite, we create, we enlarge our stock; but in making distinctions we offer no food at all to the imagination; the task itself is more severe and irksome, and what pleasure we derive from it is something of a negative and indirect nature. A piece of news is told me in the morning; this, merely as a piece of news, as a fact added to my stock, gives me some pleasure. In the evening I find there was nothing in it. What do I gain by this, but the dissatisfaction to find that I had been imposed upon? Hence it is, that men are much more naturally inclined to belief than to incredulity. And it is upon this principle, that the most ignorant and barbarous nations have frequently excelled in similitudes, comparisons, metaphors, and allegories, who have been weak and backward in distinguishing and sorting their ideas. And it is for a reason of this kind that Homer and the oriental writers, though very fond of similitudes, and though they often strike out such as are truly admirable, they seldom take care to have them exact; that is, they are taken with the general resemblance, they paint it strongly, and they take no notice of the difference which may be found between the things compared.

 

LET THE GAMES BEGIN!!

 

THE VANITY OF VISUAL ART

Image result for buildings in january light

The vanity of visual art

Is the soul of modern poetry.

When I cast my eye at buildings

In the March light I note the vanity

Of every photo stored on my phone.

I must save photos of family—

But there’s one I’ve saved I think is art;

“Family,” “Art,” the only categories.

There’s not enough memory for all I see,

And this sad selection, on my phone,

Or, this poem, by me,

Sounds the whole vanity of photography:

Life’s visual background, also known as reality,

Is a thousand times more intricate

And beautiful than what I can possibly select,

And then publish, desiring vain respect.

The best girlfriend I ever had

Was sarcastic, and her eyes were bad.

What I attempt to foreground cannot match

The moving background seen in March light.

I cannot hope to seize on that delight

In my vain photos. Why am I vain,

When I own no beginning or end?

The pictures are real. But they pretend.

A thousand vain wrongs don’t mean I’m right.

My daughter, with small bright feet?

Delete, delete, delete.

I freeze the great movement and think

Vainly my picture has meaning

Beyond this one, myopic choice.

Who is that floating there? Is that her voice?

I’ll tell you what is meaningful to me:

The eyes I loved. And all I didn’t see.

 

 

 

 

 

THERE IS SO MUCH TO LOVE

Image result for romeo and juliet

There is so much to love,

And you were so loving—

How did I think you would love only me?

To write a poem I thought of nothing but it,

And to love, my love loves narrowly.

So I write poems and love. And you?

There is so much to love. I have no idea what you do.

Love defeats love. With so much to love,

Love can’t keep up with love;

Love becomes diffuse;

Love becomes something merely for use.

But love must be scarce to be love,

Love to be love, must almost disappear.

The strangeness of love was that you, whom I loved,

Was the source of my fear.

 

 

WHAT IS CONSPIRACY AND LOVE?

Image result for romeo and juliet final scene

What are you getting out of this?

One night in bed? A used kiss?

A feeling of superiority? I saw that smile—

You haven’t enjoyed being with someone in a while.

You know, vaguely in the back of your mind, that I’ll do.

Isn’t it amusing what human advantage finally comes to?

I don’t know if I can do that with you.

You want me; but more:

You want agreement, you want me to agree

That you, in one hour and twenty five minutes, will be next to me

In a completely comfortable way

That’s not really comfortable. Your play

Has a number of acts, and when it ends—

Hero and heroine dead on the floor—

You want us to be friends.

 

I LIKE WHAT WOMEN DO

Image result for deer in renaissance painting

I like what women do.

When they run, I almost cry,

So overcome by the natural majesty of it,

And when they engage in sports

I worship that, too;

I never tire of their exertions

In any physical trial

Which makes them breathe harder.

I remember once, when you

Decided not to move

And began to speak.

It had something to do

With your opinion of me,

And how you viewed me as weak.

It had something to do

With another woman, and how

I let her push me around.

I looked at you. I just looked at you.

And then I fell to the ground.

 

NOR AM I LOVING YOU

Image result for chinese competition

Socrates said all poems should praise

The truly heroic. But the gods these days

Are less optimistic, and the muses

Display in their poems the poem that loses

Its way. Who fathers, in their own mind,

The poem of the father, is finally unkind.

The extravagant and bombastic,

The obscure, which they say is fantastic,

But which I have yet to read—

Because I’m so distracted by the simple need

To prove to myself what I want

Is fated, and meant to be,

Simply because at one time you loved me—

These bombastic obscurities make poetry wretched,

And so I keep returning to what I want:

The desire of desire to desire the desire of you;

To be genuinely loved intimately and kindly

By one person, for eternity,

And did you know that you are that person?

All the people in China will have to wait.

The article of clothing. The room inside the gate.

The hill. The grocery store. The bay.

Here’s the poem. You know the way.

POURING HOT WATER FOR TEA

Image result for tea in ancient painting

As I poured hot water for tea,

A moment before I started writing poetry,

I wondered if my dog wondered about the steam.

No, my dog lives for hunger in a hungry dream;

He’s not curious about scientific things—

Sadness which knowledge and discovery brings

Is only for us; the discovery and knowledge

Which forces us to take even more courses at college,

And learn new ways to navigate the newest tricks

To mitigate our new horizon’s conflicts;

The great sadness of knowledge escapes my pet

Who knows he hasn’t gone outside or been fed yet,

And looks at me when I sing into the steam

Without judgment. I always think I’m crazy.

He just is. I wonder. I feel guilty that I’m lazy;

Every corner of my thoughts holds an accuser;

Every second I think, “you’re a mean, ugly, stupid loser.”

That’s because I’m scientific, and need to see

The reason that I reason scientifically.

I blame science for this emotional mess.

I judge. I question. I cannot bless.

Every day science needs to resolve

The shining earth with the gloomy air,

How little pieces fit into the larger love;

I drink my tea and write my poem with care;

Then I leave. I just walk out the door.

And nobody knows if they’re going to see me anymore.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

WHAT ARE THEY SHOUTING ABOUT NOW?

Image result for coronavirus protest in sf

It’s amazing how much we love the mob

And everywhere there seems to be a conspiracy to rob

Us of intimacy and the joyful, private kiss;

The news we absolutely cannot miss

Informs us every kiss is poison;

News penetrates the person;

News attempts to defeat the person;

The news is crying, ‘Missing Person!”

The news is positioned far above:

A clamor of persons unable to love.

Your favorite team and your favorite leader

Are the latest to spike the applause meter;

Come outside! There’s proof

The news is correct. Look. People on the roof

Looking for more news: the proof

That we will fall off the roof.

Darling, come inside. Let’s obey

Love who sent the news away.

 

 

 

DEFENDING MYSELF

Image result for the child poet in renaissance painting

I became a poet to defend the child

That I felt in my heart I was.

I had so much to explain, but I knew

All explanations come up short. Even you

Shook your wise head and did not understand

When I tried to repeat what I had learned.

I wanted something which yearned

To understand, which explained

Every rude remark, every pained

Expression, every scornful smile, every doubt,

In a way which no one had quite written about.

Perhaps I learned this from you,

But even in my innocence, I knew

Every explanation begets further misunderstanding,

And so I yearned to explain

Both the shadows and the sunshine of pain.

I felt the most important thing

Was a profound and primal innocence,

And none of the explaining

Explained it, even if explaining didn’t end.

I decided, then, to never explain.

Do not explain, but joyfully defend

Myself, the poet, but most of all, the child,

Facing demons who are not like me,

But merely wild.

 

THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS

 

Image result for crowding in to look at the celebrity

If you want to rise,

See the world through others’ eyes.

Love can come from only you,

But love is better when you share the view.

Eager self-love and its enmity,

Strike out at kindness and sympathy,

Even though plain and bland, in vain.

Selfless love is sweet and sane.

Isn’t this all true?

So where did I go wrong with you?

I loved what the crowd loved. But now I see

By this sympathy, I am most unhappy.

Happiest are those

Who love what is entirely hidden by the clothes,

Who don’t need a wife to stand beneath the sun,

And be admired by everyone.

But I took you, admired by every crowd.

Sympathy proved to be too loud.

The public crowded in to see

What I loved. And took you away from me.

 

 

PEOPLE ARE CRAZY SO YOU CAN BE LOVED

Image result for melania trump

This poem is crazy. The best ones are.

They go out as a sun and come back as a star.

I’m trying to fit this poem into a dream.

Here is my poem’s theme:

People are crazy so you can be loved.

Those people you hate because

You hate them? That’s why you’re loved.

Crazy thinking is why you were loved.

Not just mildly crazy. Crazy.

Remember when somebody kissed you?

Remember the mad, mad, love?

When somebody was in love with you?

You were loved. But who the hell are you?

I remember it well.

So please don’t tell

Me about crazy. The best love is crazy.

The best poetry—ask Socrates—is crazy.

People don’t believe in what they don’t want to believe,

And why, for one second, should they believe you?

I remember when you slid into the blue.

I still don’t know what to make of you.

It might be depressing, but it’s really nothing new.

You didn’t figure it out on your own, admit it.

Stop. Don’t broadcast your virtue. Quit it.

I had so much fun with the Trump administration

Because it made you mad.

People will make a teenage dance of the nation.

You teased me because you were hot for Obama,

But 2016 put an end to that drama.

Melania Trump’s looks made you sad.

And because of your abortion, you couldn’t hear

The words, pro-life. That term fills you with fear.

You couldn’t stop talking about “children in cages,”

Because you thought everything you hated

Had to be hated. You twisted, distorted, inflated

Every beautiful act which protected children

From sex-traffickers at the border,

Or professional murderers of the not-yet-born.

You had to calculate every calculating story

To be simple. No matter how complicated the story.

You were completely crazy; it seemed you

Loved me again—remember? when I was crazy, too?

 

 

THE CONSERVATIVE

Image result for the lake district in 19th century painting

When I realized how sad I was—

And how it profited me to say

Exactly how I felt, to everyone around me every day,

Starting with my mother before I was one—

It was that moment when I read

A poem by someone who was dead,

And the poem was so full

Of sorrow, but managed to be beautiful.

Here, I knew sorrow was beautiful.

And it wasn’t that beauty covered up sorrow;

I realized beauty and sorrow were the same;

The beauty, that was the sorrow, protected me from sorrow;

My mother and my father and their arrangement were not to blame;

There was no progress possible;

There was no improving, or getting ahead—

I kissed my mother; I wrote a poem; I lingered in that beautiful sorrow instead.

SORROW IS THE VESSEL

Image result for green fields in modern painting

You’re not going to see happiness

Unless you see sorrow.

You won’t see what your criticism meant

Unless you criticize the president.

You won’t see how the world vainly exists

Unless you feel your own weak wrists.

Sorrow is the vessel we pour our happiness in.

The better our container of sorrow,

The more our nourishment overflows

Into the wet green fields tomorrow.

Every morning the big dog whines for his walk.

About the sickness. You and I really need to talk.

You cannot just receive happiness;

It must pour into your sorrow,

The pleasure must be caught in the jug;

The sad lovers will not lie down on the frayed rug

Unless they are sad.

Sorrow afflicts. Sorrow is always bad.

Do not scorn the tears

Which, to be caught, need the sorrow formed

By the clay of the long sad years.

The whole idea of containers is sad.

I would rather be free, and glad.

I don’t need this metal container, these train cars, these latches,

This heavy misery,

These buildings standing in my poetry,

These solemn village doors, these old, private pathways

Of routine and fatigue in dull nights and days

As we turn over to go back to sleep,

To wake, and travel to work, slowly, and back from work, slowly,

Sweating in the habit of ourselves which is gargantuan.

A little bit of sorrow? It will never win.

We must build a sorrow large

So the happiness knocking will know who is in charge.

Ah, misery. Ah, long shadows of vanity and art.

Always the work to be done. Everybody plays a part.

No one is finished. And when we die

We will think with our small eye

How we need, now, to eat and drink ravenously!

The need now that was banished, and now needs to stay.

But it’s too late.

We didn’t love our sorrow enough.

Our container melted in a medium of hate.

You know what I thought most sadly?

My lover would find happiness, and wouldn’t need me.

She would just stare. Or find a new song.

This would have been a good sorrow, if I had built it.

But I didn’t build it.

We didn’t make our poetry strong.

We were thirsty for so long.

We didn’t have enough sorrow to be happy.

We were not desperate enough

To cry out, and get love.

We didn’t consider our sorrow

Necessary.  You thought, “Tomorrow,

Great happiness will fall down.”

It did. But it wasn’t caught, by your memory, or your gown.

 

 

THE BLUE FAR AWAY

Image result for blue renaissance painting

Painting demands the blue light move from light blue to dark blue

Like the finishing of a day.

When do we call blue, dark blue or lighter blue?

It’s difficult to say.

Painting is what is true;

Painting is reality, too,

If reality lets the painting stay.

Reality took my dreams.

For me, reality is sunbeams,

Or, this is what I like to say.

The white light made my eyes go astray.

I looked too long at the sun,

Gleaming on top of a muted day.

What, then, was I? I couldn’t say.

Not in my wildest dreams did I know

What I was. You and I? The day

Which threw its light on us is gone.

Love is gone. The chase is over. The distant sands

Say nothing, which is all the painting demands.

 

 

 

 

IT’S ALL IN THE WAY IT’S PRESENTED

Image result for passing on a letter in renaissance painting

It’s too late for this poem to be

You, at last, for the first time, seeing me.

It’s all in the way it’s presented, isn’t it?

If I take what I love, and because I love it,

Thrust this poem towards you, then it

Will all have been in vain; it must

Be accidental. The seeing of the poem by you,

The very writing of it, too,

Must be an accident—

So it looks like even I—never knew what it meant.

I thought: if I first let your friend read it,

Then it won’t seem like I need it

Desperately to be read by you—

And through her, by accident, you can see it, too—

But I know you; you would understand

What I did; you would know it was all planned;

How it only mattered that you see

My poem—about you. The poem—by me.

But read this poem, anyway, and pretend

It had nothing to do with me, or you, in the end.

 

 

IF YOU WERE THEM YOU WOULD DO AS THEM.

Image result for sunset over hills in renaissance painting

If you were them you would do as them.

There’s no free will—but don’t obey

What moves them, and then they

Will see what they are—

Not individual, having no free will;

They are really not very far

From you, covered by clouds, pictures,

Misty doubts, random and wet,

Sinking into the earth. And yet,

Warmed and lighted by the sun,

Resembling God, or at least one

Who loves other gods, and fills

Apostates with love beyond these hills.

 

 

 

 

AND SO YOU TAKE REVENGE

Image result for police state army in 19th century painting

And so you take revenge—

And make yourself a better person—

By hating me,

Because I loved you inefficiently.

When you see me, you move away from me.

You wish you had bodyguards to hurt me,

But you must play the victim completely on your own,

Because no army exists to fight the kind of love I gave

To you, which everyone wished they had.

No police state exists where love poetry is.

Not even your intimate friends believe

You when you say my love

Caused you stress.

“I wished he had written poems to me a little less.”

Had you asked me for anything I would have said yes,

But I wasn’t waiting around for some ideal

Situation. I didn’t feel

The need to plan and maneuver.

My only plan was to love you forever.

To love imperfectly,

And write bad poetry,

Is the way the world makes us love,

Until love changes to intellectual disgust

As all passionate kissing must.

Physical love is like petting a dog.

Only poetry can see through the fog

Of love when it changes to one

Who hurries away. Show the world how good you are. Run.

 

 

 

 

THINGS ARE REALLY NOT THAT GOOD

Image result for bill and hillary go to church

Things are really not that good.

Control is everything, and the good

Is not the goal; control is.

The start and end of us all

Is not love or good, but control.

Everything truly good is merely food.

All that’s law is trampled by the rude.

There’s only two forces: Control

And “I won’t be controlled,”

And neither exists

Without the other, and that’s all there is.

That’s it. If you want to know why

Everyone is proudly crazy, that’s why.

If things aren’t good, this is why.

Control is everything, not the good,

And when you do experience the good,

Shortly after, you’re heartbroken.

You realize control has spoken.

The professional, large, sleek animal

Who purrs, and is beautiful?

They will control you and kill you.

No kindness, no law, will save you.

Despair will once again advise you:

The amateurish and the nice

Is all you’ve got. Or seedy vice.

The good is a mystery

To itself. Sunday, a little sublime poetry.

 

I BETTER WRITE THIS POEM FOR YOU

Image result for dam in painting

I better write this poem for you,

Or you’ll be angry, and then I won’t know what to do.

And then there’s all this water, because I built a dam,

So I better use it, or you won’t know who I am.

Other poets run free, their pebbly streams

Laugh; no, I want you to recognize my dreams;

The serenity and solemnity of my wide lake

Lets out the water languidly and slow,

And that’s how you discern that it’s me, that’s how you know

I am the poet who plays simple chords,

And lines up big thoughts behind small words.

Do you remember that sublime evening?

It was just you and I, lingering by water large and still,

I wanted you to know me;

I wrote you a certain kind of poetry;

Then it was night, and slowly, we walked over the hill.

 

 

THE EXCLUDED

Image result for hustlers in suits and ties

Life is too complex to trust each other. Only nice things last.

We must raise large amounts of money, very very, fast.

Everything that’s virtuous is leaning towards the past.

“All the pretty little horses…”

If you have money, we can help you. We need to raise large amounts of money, and fast.

Just give me the money.  I know what you’re thinking, but now

Is not the time for weeping or poetry, not now.

Just give me the money, before I fade

Into the idea that everything is going to fade.

You’ll understand what I’m talking about when this poem’s done,

When you’ve read it. When you’ve given a copy to everyone.

 

 

 

 

I GIVE

Image result for valentine's day party in painting

I give Valentines to everyone

To hide I am giving a Valentine to one—

Whom I especially approve of—

Though it only resembles, superficially, love.

I wish I could love with real passion;

I only live in the likes and dislikes of fashion,

Cutting out hearts from paper that happens to be bright red,

Making sure I am nicely dressed; my love is dead,

And so my love belongs to sorrow.

I smile today. The mystery is for tomorrow.

 

ETERNAL MOOD, VALENTINE’S DAY

Image result for the kiss in renaissance painting

You cannot think this will be an end to this.

Once something is said

It is never dead.

Protection was not necessary. The kiss

Is all. The rest, the anxiety of dogs.

Do you think this—can be an end, to this?

Things will end. But this will never end,

And to think this, will be an end, to this,

Is the end of all your happiness.

All that went before,

All that was already there for you to adore,

Do you think you can understand it better

With thoughts that follow? With a scrawled letter?

Do you think you can detach yourself and know

What is separate from the flow

That can never go?

This can never go.

Breathe the air circulating between, and inside, the words,

The “Edgar,” the “Allan,” the “Poe,”

The repetitions of musical birds,

Leading finally to speech, and words

Which make it hard to understand again.

Do not think an end to this

Is possible. In this kiss,

You and I supply

Towers for the unusual sky—

Rising mist, as adjective, or noun,

Before it lets itself, gently, back down.

 

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