THE INVOLUNTARY IS ALWAYS PREFERRED

The Traveler... l âme du voyage: If you have an impecable taste in ...

The involuntary is always preferred,

So that ignorance is not just bliss, but life.

In the involuntary we rest,

And sleep, and do not worry about our breathing,

Do everything without effort,

Live without our heart beat

Ever becoming a distraction.

Or, when our heart does grow loud,

We welcome it

And its sudden excitement.

Everything is as it should be,

(I’ve always wanted to say that in a poem)

Even this rhyme sweetly

Involuntary.

Even on those days of rough fortune,

We would yet be smooth,

Watching our poem write itself.

It might tell us to do something

And we would not do it.

Or, we would do it,

As I did once, when you

Came to me, I don’t know why,

Full of purpose and trepidation.

 

THIS IS WHY I DON’T CARE

The Grand Women Artists of the Hudson River School | Arts ...

The fantasy is always better than the reality

Except in those cases, extremely rare,

Where reality is a happy accident.

That’s why hardly anything happens and we don’t care.

The lazy stealing of money online is the trend these days.

Theives and comics who confront you in person

Are becoming a thing of the past.

Trust us. Mail in your vote.

The bureaucrats who live in blue-state ghost towns

Want you to know that red states,

Gathering without masks at beaches

And shooting guns? “You work for us now.”

Poetry is winning.

We all saw it coming. Robbery with a six shooter

Replaced by robbing with a fountain pen.

A mind, a password, and a few rules

Now rules you. Muscles are useless.

Trump Tower contains Obama spies.

This is real. Fantasy has won.

The lighter it is the faster it flies.

Why should I be with you, or even speak your name?

I feel hot and pleasant

Thinking of whatever I want.

 

THE ATTEMPT TO KNOW

Tips to Understanding Renaissance Paintings

Once my lover told me she wanted to know

The precise date she would die—

No. This is too much courage and foresight for me.

Too much planning would be involved.

Your whole life would become a poem,

And you, its calendar.

I could not do it,

Although there is nothing to do,

But too much to see—

Although how much would we see, really?

The days remaining,

Like phrases of this poem not yet written,

As future days, would still be abstract

Even as we gradually lived them,

The same as before.

I couldn’t do it for me, or for you.

Time moving would be everything,

But isn’t this everything already,

Whether or not we know precisely

When we are going to die?

And yet—the precision

Of knowing when—I need more flattery than that.

To see our death ahead of us

Would replace a general fact

With a specific one.

Why sharpen what is already a sharp knife?

If I knew, I couldn’t love her

So much as mourn for her.

But guess what. I’m doing that now anyway.

She is gone. Yeah, she left me.

I thought too much. And saw too much.

I thought I saw wrong in her.

My attempt at foresight—

Which I never, never wanted—

Betrayed me, anyway.

It removed me from her calendar.

I am gone from her poem.

It’s curious that foresight

Sends us weeping over mountains of the past,

Just as ghosts of whole poems haunt passages.

Don’t they?

 

DISINFORMATION

Can your pets get coronavirus, and can you catch it from them ...

Disinformation Experts played with their kitty cats last night
Before they snuggled into a good night’s sleep.
They woke up with sunny smiles, looking forward to another day
Twittering against disinformation.
A Disinformation Conference sponsored by the Wilson Center
And the Stanford Internet Observatory agreed some top-down protections
Against disinformation were becoming increasingly necessary
Since malign disinformation sources were using free speech laws
To peddle various forms of disinformation to their kitty cats.
We must protect our kitty cats, the Disinformation Experts said.
BuzzFeedNews was preparing more interviews for the sunny day.
Experts and scientists were expected to speak in the beautiful evening
As well, not only about Russian disinformation, but disinformation
Flowing down from White House officials, and disinformation
Continued to mount, according to the kitty cats
Owned and bred by these same officials.
Restrictions on misinformation, disinformation, and even propaganda
From all sources, were being considered, even as some thought about
Their kitty cats. People need to practice safe distancing
As they make up their minds, especially during the crisis.
We’re facing a glut of disinformation, and some controls are necessary,
Said the experts, as they left with their kitty cats.

 

THE WISE KNOW

The top 10 picnics in art | Art and design | The Guardian

The wise know

Emotions need to be kept low,

Or we will spoil

All the excellence and toil.

Let slow emotions be so small

We will not think jealous thoughts at all.

Let the fast emotions die

Which kill in the blink of an eye.

Let’s put all our emotions on the page

To make harmless every kind of rage.

Come, let me read this poem to you

About the wise, and what they knew.

 

 

SOLDIER, YOU DIDN’T WANT TO DIE

Alan Seeger - Wikipedia

Soldier, you didn’t want to die,

But you died. The country you saved

Hasn’t the luxury to perish as you did,

Young, the light blinding in your photo,

Handsome forever.

We are now dying a different way.

Yawning, not wanting to get up;

Some will linger by a ceremony,

Cancelled, because a country is dying,

Or turned into

A small celebration contained by a screen,

Libraries, containing the word “soldier,”

Paused for now.

Hollywood took over gradually.

Now we all exist that way.

Someone is producing this,

Someone who knows better

Why it must happen.

We can see now

Why you died,

Completely helpless, the green sky

Made that way from trees.

 

WHAT IS MORE MEANINGFUL THAN THIS?

Pin on The Resurrection

Your heart goes zing zing zing
With your arm in a sling.

Love is dancing right there
With you in a wheelchair.

She has a kind surprise to tell.
You’re not feeling very well.

Ecstatic, you start to get off
When you feel a cough.

She is climbing in your bed
As you hear voices in your head.

You’ve never seen anyone more beautiful
As you go under at the hospital.

You are feeling sweet, joyful, and vague
During instructions on how to fight the plague.

You see her naked in the rain
As they operate on your brain.

You love her, and persist
In the gas and the mist.

You say, darling I’ll see you later
Hooked up to a ventilator.

You smell a lovely, familiar perfume
In the tomb. In the tomb.

 

 

 

NO YOU DON’T UNDERSTAND

Have You Seen The most recent Street Art photography? | Turner ...

No you don’t understand;

The horror is not what I describe

In this poem; there’s nothing to fear

In what I describe. We are the horror. The horror is here.

The flames are not coming for us;

We are the flames. What you are reading is burning.

There is smoke. There isn’t any learning.

There is heat, which you cannot escape.

It is burning burning burning.

Pack your bags. They are on fire.

This poem and your eyes are the combined flame

Of everything. Nothing is the same.

This is your desire.

 

 

MORE TERRIBLE THAN GOOD

5 Surprising Facts about Robespierre - Discover Walks Blog

The summing up is never far behind.

The math of it all preys on us.

The fear of it lives one hair below the mind.

This implies more sadness, this less.

Because their suffering is not our suffering,

Our pride can tolerate them.

Similar suffering is unbearable.

There are truths of conscience which come too close;

Much of the world we simply can’t abide.

Some we love, others make us hide,

But not one can read our thoughts;

Not one knows who we are

Or why we love or don’t love them.

And we cannot explain it.

No philosophy can.

And for all the lamps and halls of learning here,

No matter how full of understanding we are, how polite,

All we do is obfuscate and fear.

Life is not an “is” but a “should.”

Some souls are glittering illusion,

Some souls are smoky, comforting confusion.

Some souls remain in the young, green wood

Never to face what we have to face, that life

Is more terrible than good.

This is the truth we run from every night

To the bored lover in the temporary day

Who tells us everything is going to be alright.

 

 

 

 

SCIENCE IS A SHADOW

Framed Print - Black & White Night Sky with Full Moon (Picture ...

Sometimes at night

When we flip on the light

We think a shadow is a thing.

In the daytime, it’s called hearsay—

Or certainty, when it’s lecturing.

Only trust your eyes,

The master, da Vinci, said,

And today I looked

At his masterpiece of shadows

Lately risen from its shadowy bed.

It tells the ancient story

Of a shadow, once a shadow, and reviled.

A scientist is a shadow,

Clarifying the shadows to the shadows.

But this shadow, I swear, it smiled.

IT’S FINALLY GREEN

The Wayside Inn Grist Mill in Sudbury Massachusetts on a spring ...

There’s so much industry and comfort

In places of winter and war.

Indian goddess, beautiful and sad,

Your tears are pathetic. They make me mad.

The best actresses are angry actresses.

Our tragedies last but a day.

In Massachusetts, tragedy is far, far away.

I took the train into town

To buy my red haired daughter a beautiful wedding gown.

Now, in Massachusetts, it’s finally green.

The winter which made us dream of heaven is over.

At every flower a flower-hungry bee is seen.

Starving bees are feeding in the clover,

Enslaved by their needy queen.

We called need, “necessity,” in the science lab.

In the winter mud, I called you a cab

On a whim—I didn’t know you then—

And when you fell in love with me,

I increasingly dreamed in poetry.

The bees, in the green, are making repairs.

Our heaven runs parallel to theirs,

Their working hum a background to our music.

It’s finally green, and every secularist is happy;

Every feminist and communist is happy,

Because green is the true heaven.

Ask any bee.

I only need your love. What’s mere heaven to me?

 

 

WHY DO I WRITE POEMS THAT ARE SAD?

Mother and Child by Mary Cassatt | Mother and Child, c. 1905… | Flickr

Why do I write poems that are sad?
When we celebrate, we drop the letter on the ground
Which says, “Congratulations! You have won…”
And we hug each other, and dance around.
Nor is the happy message profound.
Perhaps the mother makes it all about her son.
It doesn’t come up with a beautiful sound.
This letter, bringing good news,
Is true. It is not a ruse.
Whereas my poem cannot be good news.
And this is what a poem is: no good news.
No one would read a poem, if it weren’t a ruse.
Either you make a vow in the air
To show, on impulse, that you really care,
Or you draw up a contract, and if you break
It—here, read of it—my heart will ache.

 

 

MY SECOND MISTRESS CAME TO ME TODAY

The Mina Loy Mysteries – RhysTranter.com

My second mistress came to me today and told me I was wrong.

I had taken a quote from Mina Loy

Who said all women at puberty should become wise,

That feminine virtue is a vanity invented by men,

And compared it to satanism,

That worships the goddess,

And pleads women discover their natural selves,

For influence and pleasure.

She rebuked me gently. She said

I could no longer love her,

That of course we would remain friends,

—Stop fidgeting, make some tea—

Of course we would remain,

At last, and finally, the best of friends.

My philosophy intervened;

I rejected her offer of friendship and I wept,

And went to my other mistresses,

And even with them, cried.

NOTHING IS NICE FOR LONG

BBC - Culture - The timeless allure of ruins

We arrived somewhat late to the line.

She didn’t want what she wanted.

How should I read my song?

Nothing is nice for long.

Today in May is thirty degrees.

By middle age we are rotting fruit.

It’s cold. And something is wrong.

Nothing is nice for long.

The honey is gone. And the bees.

For a day they danced around our heads.

The aroma we announced was strong.

Nothing is nice for long.

She didn’t want what she wanted.

I believe she was forty three. That’s what it was.

I kept thinking I had done something wrong.

Nothing is nice for long.

 

LOVE’S ANSWER

Rome: Nature and the Ideal. Landscapes 1600-1650 - Exhibition ...

May I be honest with you?
No. since I love, honesty will never do.

May I say exactly what I think?
No. I will miss the ‘exact.’ I blink.

May I say what brought me here?
No. Not even the present is clear.

May I read you a story I wrote?
No. I worry what it might denote.

May I sing you a song I composed?
No. My musical ignorance will be exposed.

Can I tell you I love you, that everything will be okay?
No. I’m sad. And you said that yesterday.

Shall I kiss you? I can’t think of anything more.
Too late! Why didn’t you ask that before?

Then what shall I do?
Never love me as I love you.

I cannot understand how you love.
Yes, you can. Because you love.

 

I SLEEP WHEN IT’S COLD

The Eurasia Art: Masterpiece "emperor Napoleon of the full dress ...

I sleep when it’s cold,

Wearing my blankets like an emperor.

Then walk into the blue day.

Noon begins to be warm

And I feel the occasional ray.

The sun is generous, and with so much generosity,

Clouds and night are easily overcome.

This is the entire meaning of poetry.

I sleep. Then walk into the blue day.

Will you come?

NOTHING TO DO WITH YOU

Black and White Picture/Photo: SoHo street. NYC, New York, USA

I looked around in Soho,
The upper West Side, too,
I crossed over to Harlem,
Nothing to do with you.

I think I’ll go to Egypt,
Or prepare a cordon bleu.
Or duck into the movies.
Nothing to do with you.

I thought I might be crazy,
Maybe a touch of the flu?
I felt a little dizzy,
Nothing to do with you.

I thought about my grandma,
My covid grandpa, too.
I thought about them, merely.
Nothing to do with you.

I have friends and I have work,
But I don’t know what to do.
I look out the window.
Nothing to do with you.

I keep thinking I know,
But I really don’t have a clue,
All afternoon I’ve been eating.
Nothing to do with you.

I thought this was a science—
I narrow it down to a few.
Still, I don’t know what I want.
Nothing to do with you.

I thought about my safety,
And this was nothing new.
In a hurry, more, perhaps?
Nothing to do with you.

 

 

 

 

WHEN THESE CREATURES SLEEP

Qué querían simbolizar Van Eyck con su cordero místico?

When our big puppy closes his alert, roving eyes
And curls up, it’s always something of a surprise.
When these creatures sleep
It dawns on us: the silent and the shallow is deep.
When the silent, and the every-step-is-over, dead
Come into our thoughts, and our thoughts of mortality have sped
Into more thoughts unfathomable, we think,
Perhaps immortality is possible. Then we long to drink
Contradiction’s shallow spring,
Where all that ends and wishes not to end is never ending.

 

BEFORE TODAY COMES TRUE

A Still Life of Global Dimensions: Antonio de Pereda's Still Life ...

Before today comes true,

Look again at what yesterday never knew:

Yesterday’s yesterday was the thing more true.

Yesterday’s dishes disheveled and piled up

Hide today’s teacup.

I want a simple cup of tea

But last night’s dishes are looking at me.

A new poem wants to be written

Because yesterday I was bitten

By the inspiration which never came

Because yesterday’s yesterday was hiding its name.

This poem arrived in a hurry

In ratio to how yesterday is slow, and doesn’t worry.

I want to write this now, but poetry

Must wait. I need to pee.

Oh damn, I will forget

The words; is it yesterday yet?

The morning is full of things which must be done;

Today’s must wait for yesterday’s sun.

I’m impatient to know

How this poem is going to go.

My inspiration is coming fast.

The ending which came to me first will be the ending at last.

I’m thinking (right now) about how I loved you then,

How much I loved you, but didn’t know anything then,

How much I want to love you again.

There I was. Can you see me standing

In the middle of the kitchen, not understanding?

I look at my cup, thinking, “What did I miss?

Did I kiss you today because yesterday I didn’t kiss?”

 

 

 

 

 

 

THE POETRY OF WILLIAM LOGAN. FIVE MINUTES OR FIVE YEARS?

Honoré Daumier | Man on a Rope | The Met

One of William Logan’s former students sent me a link to a couple of recent poems by the famous American critic.

Logan is equally ambitious as a poet and a critic, but he’s much better known as a critic, or, more accurately, a “reviewer.”

William Logan is not a “theorist:” he hasn’t made popular any critical dicta.

And, who knows? this might even make him a better reviewer.  He keeps his eye on the ball (the subject of his review) and is never distracted by pet theories.

In fact, he’s largely ineffective when he wanders into theory; he’s like Camille Paglia, another wolf who turns lamb when speaking of poetry in the abstract, and this would include writing about poets safely dead. Paglia and Logan have fans because they pull no punches with their contemporaries.

You can argue with their opinions, but Letters needs honest criticism even more than trades need inspectors; a building may stand up without a building inspector; a poem without a critic doesn’t really exist. That critic “over there” who needs to tell you how to read a poem is you.  Criticism builds the building. Poetry only admires it.

Logan as a reviewer is rare, but he shouldn’t be.

As a critic, Logan doesn’t make friends—which is how it should be; the conscious decision not to be friendly as a critic is why he is good—for otherwise a critic cannot be good.  So when the New York Times calls Logan “Poetry’s Hanging Judge,” a “slasher, a burner, a brawler,” this is just silly, like a child’s fear of the dark.

Logan strolls into the poetry which he is reviewing with no agenda whatsoever; he’s not even asking that the poem be well-built. When it comes to criticism, “burner” or not, Logan is all Henry James, who said, when it comes to art and its criticism, one should just be intelligent—there are no rules.  This is not bad advice. Let the mind and eye be free.

These are the two principles of Logan’s reviewing:

1. no friends

2. no rules.

If this is a “hanging judge,” so be it.  It’s why Logan is the best critic around.

Actually, the best reviewer around.  Logan is not a critic at all.

Logan’s reviewing has two principles.  His criticism has none.

When those who are honest and controversial like what everybody else likes, the air goes out of the balloon.  Break, Blow, Burn: Camille Paglia Reads Forty Three of the World’s Best Poems is perhaps the most boring book ever written.  A close second is Logan’s Dickinson’s Nerves, Frost’s Woods: Poetry In the Shadow of the Past.

In Dickinson’s Nerves, Logan adds historical facts to a poem—whether they belong to the poem, or not.  Good poems (especially lyric poems) don’t need added historical facts, and that’s why they are good.  Successful poems are the history which Logan goes somewhere else to find.

The New Critics, who err by being too narrow, at least are in the right part of town.  The critic William Logan is like a man looking for a party in the wrong city—not that he doesn’t find interesting things in that other city.  He has a wide-ranging mind.  That’s why he’s a good reviewer.

Logan, when reacting to poems as a reviewer, is a champ—:with the poems of a living author in front of him, he feels no obligation to find historical touchstones in a worshipful sort of way, and with no theoretical axes to grind, obeying the advice of Henry James—obeying no principle whatsoever—he simply allows his intelligence to tell us what it sees.

As far as Logan’s two poems in Blackbird: an online journal of literature and the arts, they are both sound, full of references, and rather dull.

Both describe painting, in one case, a painting, in the other, a landscape, which may be a painting. It is Logan’s habit as a poet to use poetry as a means to be scholarly towards a scholarly artifact.  He’s not being attentive so much as attentively bookish.  And the poems are certainly not how people talk.

My advice to Logan: Write from your memory and your heart.  Avoid “subjects.”

I really believe Logan tries too hard to sound high-brow and thoughtful. He’s too fastidious. We could look at the painting or the landscape he describes and enjoy in a moment, ourselves, what he patiently explains to us, standing in the way. Poetry is speech. It is not describing a painting or a meadow or a street. He should listen to G.E. Lessing. Poetry is not painting. Nor is poetry a series of learned references.

There needs to be more feeling. Logan should read Holderlin.

He attends to the important things—he finds a theme with a physical equivalent in the real world, and the parts of the poem contribute, in an ordered and thoughtful way, to that theme.  And it’s all done with a learned air.

But it’s finally the trivial things, so trivial as to escape scrutiny, which make a poem successful.

This is why no one can will a poem to be good, and why a poem written in five years will not be better than a poem written in five minutes.

Because reviews can’t wait, Logan, by necessity, writes his reviews relatively quickly. Which allows him to skip most of his learning and get right to the doing. The speed, and the irritation at having to be speedy, no doubt contributes to the wit we see in his reviews.

His poems, however, are vacations from the deadlines of reviewing; one senses he writes his poems in the midst of vacations; he spends an entire day in a museum, and almost a whole afternoon in front of a painting. Daumier’s Man on a Rope, perhaps.

And then, five years later, a poem.

Yet all the five years did was hide the true poem, which, after five minutes, was right there:

Above the nothing that is nothing,
Hanging between earth and heaven,
Arms taut with the sum of his own gravity,
One foot steadied against the building,
Braced against the fall,
Burglar or acrobat,
Hung between the idea
And execution, the nowhere
And the nowhere.

~~~

Daumier, Man on a Rope

Above the nothing that is nothing,
he dangles in forethought,
not afterthought, like Mohammed’s coffin
hanging between earth
and heaven, face darkened
by fear or apprehension,
or merely paint, arms taut with the sum
of his own gravity,
one foot steadied against the building,
braced against the fall
that never comes, though whether
burglar, or acrobat,
or just a man on a rope is never revealed.
Like Bede’s sparrow,
like Schrödinger’s cat, like the artist
hung between the idea
and execution, the man
is lost in the nowhere
that is life and the nowhere not.

—William Logan

 

 

 

THE VIRUS

Paul & John May 14,1968 Manhattan press conference announcing ...

Earth saves earth; you have been asked to go.

Something has attacked your lungs;

Children at their games are breathing slow.

Fame is no longer a consequence, the green

Is spreading, and through the trees a holy light is seen.

By 1968, the Beatles didn’t care

What the press thought; soon they were no longer there.

Bathe in the media; what you say

Is reality. Today

All that is famous and pleases us is dead.

The disease, out of love, first coils itself around your legs.

Vines fill holes. Electronic music hisses and begs.

Scotland surrenders. Put this cotton thing around your head.

 

WHAT IF MY POETRY WERE LIKE CLASSICAL MUSIC

The Summer Night that Paused Among her Stars" by John Collier ...

What if my poetry were like classical music

And didn’t say anything? How long

Could I hold your interest with music?

We know a poem is similar to a song,

But what if this poem were like classical music

And said nothing. Would that be wrong?

I knew you once. You lived in your eyes,

And never had that much to say.

Speech is physical, comedy a surprise;

My poetry perhaps could do things that way,

And please exactly as you once made me happy,

A smirk or a smile, not saying a word,

Moving involuntarily a little closer to me,

Or voluntarily—it was all the same:

The evening quick with the excitement of a bird,

Crescendo and coda the first and second syllables of your name.

Isn’t this, then, like classical music?

An evening in the summer, the perfume

Of the flowers affecting us like music,

The weight of our love almost like doom?

What am I saying? I’m only thinking

How I felt then. Silence. And the stars winking.

 

 

 

SHOULD I HAVE NO EMOTION ABOUT THIS, THEN?

The Interior Of A Renaissance Painting by MotionAge Designs

Should I have no emotion about this, then?

Would I look better in the eyes of my fellow men?

The wreck of my emotions, the destruction

Of everything I used to feel

Is still emotional; if I once felt something

About you, it will always be emotionally real.

I can’t help but feel a certain way

Every time I breathe deeply late at night

And I’m not afraid; and I realize, once again,

Everything is going to be all right.

And so I also feel a certain way

When your image comes into my mind,

Brought here by a certain feeling;

And, no matter what—let the parts of all the images dissolve,

Let dreams bump against dreams and be blind—

I still see you, with feelings that never become still,

In whatever it is that is my mind.

I have feelings about my feelings,

Even if the ones which first saw you are gone;

My feelings about feelings, not my vision,

Is the sun; these feelings shine; it is they

Which penetrate into what you are—

What you were is still relevant; the mechanical

Self is entirely made of feelings,

And that is why the universe is so quick

And sensitive; nothing really dies;

I cried once about that, and coldly, that,

Cannot escape now; she cries

That I once cried, she cries because

I will always be sensitive. And love.

 

 

 

LOVE ISN’T KNOWING

norton anthology of poetry - Seller-Supplied Images - AbeBooks

Love requires not knowing.

The super intelligent cannot love;

I think intelligence

Is another name for the inability to love.

Dogs and cats are welcome in our beds.

Being with you, simply, is what the person in me dreads.

I remember two days the most: the day

You liked my poems, and the day

You hated them—thinking they were good enough

To impress others; that day I lost your love.

I keep talking. But it’s too late.

I sound smart. This is what you hate.

I tell this poem to end: It can’t do anything more.

There it is, in the Norton Anthology, calling you a whore.

 

I NEVER HAD AN INTERESTING PERSONALITY

Look Your Best At Rap Concerts - Coup Detroit

I never had an interesting personality—

It all goes into my poetry;

Poetry which thrills and sings up there on a quiet stage;

Here, among you, I’m the father to impotence,

A polite, grinning, veneer hiding my rage:

I cannot believe how stupid and selfish

The lot of you are; your concerns

Momentary and trivial, your taste

Numbed by the flamboyant spectacle

Of a hopeless moment for that moment’s sake.

I don’t believe thinking exists anymore—

I feel its lack in one, long, dull, anxious, stomach ache.

The giddy folly of the craven crowd

Is the only thing down here that is really allowed.

When I hear you talk, I want to yell at you

For being so dense and impolite, but I hold my tongue;

That’s right; I’m dull, perplexed, and old.

In the heaven of my poetry I’m seductive and young;

Honest, witty and exciting, like the violinist

As simple and vulnerable as the lamb,

Who picks up the violin: Beethoven. Damn.

 

 

 

THE SEASON BEGINS! SCARRIET POETRY BASEBALL!

Index of /main/wp-content/uploads/2014/01

This is the first world baseball league in history!!!

25 teams, 500 poets, is a lot to take in, but that’s why we’re here to guide you.

Marla Muse: Is that snow outside?

Yes, Marla, snow is falling outside the commissioner’s office here in Salem, Massachusetts…

On April 16th!  But to continue…

There’s been a lot of recent signings as teams attempt to fill their rosters. And Boston took Franklin’s team from Philly.  Philly already has a team: The Crash.

We suggest you generally familiarize yourself with the teams, and pick a favorite team to win the championship–why not?  We assure you, these games will play out, for real; no hidden hand will determine the winners.

The Emperor Division

THE BROADCASTERS

Fellini’s Broadcasters is a team of flamboyance and show.  They know how to live and die.  A sexy team.  Motto: Pleased to meet you, hope you guess my name. Home park: Rimini, Italy on the Adriatic coast.

Starting Pitchers Giacomo Leopardi 5, Ben Jonson 5, Nabokov 5, Coleridge 5, Relief Pitchers Valery 5, Hitchcock (new) 5, Walter Benjamin (new) 4
Robert Burns CF, Rilke 2B, Mick Jagger SS, Charles Bukowski 1B, Jim Morrison LF, Anne Sexton RF, Gregory Corso C, Sappho 3B,
Anacreon, Ingrid Jonker, Edmund Waller, Omar Khayyam, Swinburne

THE CODES

How would the emperor Napoleon pick his team—not knowing who might obey him or laugh at him behind his back? Napoleon was a law-giver, a conqueror, and larger than life, and poets either mocked and disparaged him (Byron, Oscar Wilde, Shelley,) or wrote him knee-bending odes (Victor Hugo, John Clare). The character of this team is difficult to define. Napoleon has brought together the best he can find, if they don’t actively hate him. Motto: Let the More Loving One Be Me.  Home park: Corsica, on the Mediterranean sea.

Napoleon’s The Codes Starting Pitchers Homer 6, Cicero 6, Hesiod 5, Logan 4, Relief Pitchers Kant (new) 6, Balzac (new) 6, Edmund Wilson 5
Racine CF, Victor Hugo 2B, W.H. Auden SS, Callimachus 1B, Soyinka LF, Villon RF, Tati-Loutard C, Derek Walcott 3B
John Peale Bishop, Jules Laforgue, Mina Loy, John Clare, Marcus Aurelius (new), Oliver Wendell Holmes (new)

THE CRUSADERS

This is the Christian team—owned by Philip II of Spain. There had to be one! Motto: If in my thought I have magnified the Father above the Son, let Him have no mercy on me. Home park: Madrid, Spain, near the Prado.

Spain’s Philip II’s The Crusaders SP Aquinas 5, GK Chesterton 5, St John of the Cross 4, Tolkien 4, RP Handel (new) 6, Plotinus (new) 5, Lisieux 4,
Aeschulus CF, Hopkins 2B, Saint Ephrem SS, Countee Cullen 1B, Phillis Wheatley LF, Joyce Kilmer RF, Hilaire Beloc C, Anne Bradstreet 3B
John Paul II, Mary Angela Douglas

THE GOTHS

Charles X of France escaped to England and enjoyed a lavishly supported stay during the French Revolution; he became King after Napoleon, tried to return France to normal, whatever that was, but radicals forced him to abdicate; his team is the Goths—apolitical cool people. Motto: Every great enterprise takes its first step in faith. Home park: Paris, France.

Charles X’s The Goths SP Goethe 6, Chateubriand 6 Wilde 5, Baudelaire 5, RP AW Schlegel 5, T Gautier 5
Sophocles CF, Herbert 2B, Herrick SS, Ronsard 1B, Novalis (new) LF, Catulus RF, de Stael C, Heinrich Heine 3B
Pater (to Printers), Gray, Saint-Beauve, Marot, Irving Layton, Thomas Lovell Beddoes

THE CEILINGS

Pope Julius was a learned pope; he’s got Milton, Michelangelo, (a fine poet, by the way) Petrarch, Euripides, and William Blake. The Ceilings. Not a bad team! Motto: They also serve who only stand and wait. Home park: Rome, Italy.

Pope Julius II’s The Ceilings SP Milton 6, Dryden 6, Ludovico Ariosto 6, Swift 6, RP Bach (new) 6, GE Lessing 6, Augustine (new) 6
Spenser CF, Petrarch 2B, Wiliam Blake SS, Michelangelo 1B, Camoens LF, Tulsidas RF, Euripides C, Ferdosi 3B
James Russell Lowell, Kwesi Brew, Klopstock, Pindar, RH Horne

~~~
The Glorious League

THE PISTOLS

A lot of these teams are owned by mysterious conglomerates.  For the sake of controversy, we’re calling this Eva Braun’s team, but no one knows who really owns this team.  The murky rich. Pound signed with the Pistols, and brought along some friends. Motto: A life subdued to its instrument. Home park: Berlin, Germany

Eva Braun’s The Pistols  SP T.S. Eliot 6, George Santayana 5, Wagner 5, Pound 4, RP Wyndham Lewis 4, Kenner 4, Ernest Hemingway 4, Heidegger (new) 4
DH Lawrence CF, Stein 2B, Yeats SS, Ford 1B, A. Crowley LF, Hughes RF, Jung C, Joyce 3B
Balla, Martinetti, Dorothy Shakespeare, A.R. Orage, John Quinn, Olga Rudge

THE CARRIAGES

This is Queen Victoria’s team—Tennyson, Paul McCartney, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Henry James. You get the idea. Motto: Theirs but to do and die.  Home park: London, England

Queen Victoria’s The Carriages SP Marvell 6, V. Woolf 6, Hazlitt 5, H James 4, RP Jeremy Bentham (new) 4
CF Longfellow, 2B Tennyson, SS Paul McCartney, Geoffrey Hill 1B, Sylvia Plath LF, Philip Larkin RF, Browning C, Elizabeth Barrett Browning 3B
Theocritus, Suckling, Bronte sisters (new)

THE BANNERS

If you want glorious, haunting, human-centered, aestheticism, look no further than Medici’s the Banners. Motto: The One remains, the many change and pass. Home park: Florence, Italy

Lorenzo de Medici’s The Banners SP Dante 6, Shelley 6, Virgil 6, da Vinci 5, RP Boccaccio 6, Joshua Reynolds (new) 5, William Rossetti 5
CF Swinburne (new), 2B Keats, SS Thomas Moore, Friedrich Schiller 1B, C. Rossetti LF, D.G. Rossetti RF, George C, Cavalcanti 3B
Glyn Maxwell, Ben Mazer, Philodemus

THE SUN

Lord Russell, Bertie’s grandfather, was prime minister of Great Britain when France was on their side (under Napoleon III) and America was being ripped apart by the Civil War. French-Anglo Colonialism was wrapping up the globe; Emerson and Thoreau were part of the conspiracy—Poe was dead; the USA would return to England as a bucolic colony. A no-borders paradise run by smart people. Motto: A good indignation brings out all one’s powers. Home park: Devon, England

PM Lord Russell’s The Sun SP Emerson 5, JS Mill (new) 4, Aldous Huxley 4, Thomas Carlyle 4, RP Bertrand Russell (new) 5, Thoreau 4, Christopher Ricks (new) 4,
CF Southey, Kipling 2B, Wordsworth SS, Walpole 1B, Margaret Fuller LF, Basil Bunting RF, Sir John Davies C, M Arnold 3B
Joy Harjo, Marilyn Chin, Macgoye,

THE LAUREATES

Nahum Tate, a 1692 British Poet Laureate, rewrote King Lear with a happy ending. Many own the Laureates, but we think Tate’s story is an interesting one. Motto: Luck is bestowed even on those who don’t have hands. Home park: Dublin, Ireland

Nahum Tate’s Laureates SP Edmund Burke 5, Thomas Peacock 4, Samuel Johnson 4, Leigh Hunt 4, RP Livy (new) 6, Dana Gioia 4
CF Goldsmith, Sara Teasdale 2B, Rod McKuen SS, Charles Dickens 1B, Dumas LF, Aphra Behn RF, Pasternak C, Ghalib 3B
JK Rowling, Verdi

~~~
The Secret Society League

THE ACTORS

Weinstein produced smart, progressive films, and this team, the Actors, reflects that, to a certain degree.  The jailed owner belongs to the league’s timeless ghosts; justice prevails, even as things are and are not. Motto: I am no hackney for your rod. Home park: Westport, Connecticut, USA

Harvey Weinstein’s The Actors SP Byron 6, Chaucer 6, Henry Beecher 5, Petronius 5, RP Sade (new) 6, Gide 4
CF Baraka, Hafiz 2B, Skelton SS, Knight 1B, Langston Hughes LF, Gwendolyn Brooks, RF Marilyn Hacker, Audre Lorde C, Thomas Nashe 3B
Clifton, Page, Jim Carroll

THE STRANGERS

The Strangers definitely have filmmaker David Lynch’s stamp. Motto: So still is day, it seems like night profound. Home park: Alexandria, Virginia, USA

David Lynch’s The Strangers SP Pope 6, Nietzsche 5, Beckett 4, Paglia 4, RP Lovecraft 4, Bloch (new) 4, Philip K Dick (new) 4
CF Rabelais, R. Graves 2B, Riding SS, Roethke 1B, Verlaine LF Kees RF, Rimbaud C, Mary Shelley 3B
Labid, Satie, Burroughs, Fernando Pessoa

THE ANIMALS

It’s a little difficult to define P.T. Barnum’s team, the Animals.   Is it spectacle?  Animal-friendly?  We’re not really sure. Majesty and love are incompatible. Fairfield, Connecticut, USA

P.T. Barnum’s The Animals SP Ovid 6, Melville 5, Verne (new) 5, Robert Bly 4, RP Darwin (new) 5, Nerval 5
CF Jack Spicer, Stevens 2B, Edward Lear SS, Heaney 1B, Mary Oliver LF, Marianne Moore RF, Jeffers C, Ferlinghetti 3B
Scalapino, Kay Ryan, Saint Saens

THE WAR

J.P. Morgan did fund World War One.  This is his team, The War. Motto: The fire-eyed maid of smoky war all hot and bleeding will we offer them. Home park: Madison Avenue, New York, New York

J.P. Morgan’s The War SP Shakespeare 6, Sir Walter Scott 5, Erich Remarque 4, David Hume 4, RP Aldington 4, Gibbon (new) 5,
CF Stephen Crane, Keith Douglas 2B, Sidney SS, Apollinaire 1B, Harry Crosby LF, James Dickey RF, Howard Nemerov C, Brooke 3B
Alan Seeger, T.E. Hulme, Untermeyer

THE SECRETS

America’s team! Motto: We come in the age’s most uncertain hour and sing an American tune. Home park: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Ben Franklin’s The Secrets SP Poe 6, Plato 6, Pushkin 6, Moliere 5, RP F. Scott Key 5, Jefferson (new) 5, Monroe (new) 5, Madison (new) 5
CF Hawthorne, Woody Guthrie 2B, Frost SS, Cole Porter 1B, Kanye West LF, Paul Simon RF, Emily Dickinson C, Carl Sandburg 3B
William Cullen Bryant, Amy Lowell, Bob Tonucci, Stephen Cole, John Prine, Dolly Parton (new), Willie Nelson (new)

~~~
The People’s Division

THE COBRAS

The great literary tradition of India: the Calcutta (Kolkata) Cobras! Motto: Is it true that your love traveled alone through ages and worlds in search of me? Home park: Kolkata, Bengal, India

Sajyajit Ray’s Cobras SP Tagore 5, Rumi 5, Kabir Das 4 (new), Herman Hesse 4, RP Ghandi 6, Nissim Ezekiel (new) 4, Krishnamurti (new) 4, Faiz Ahmad Faiz 4
Allen Ginsberg CF, Sen 2B, Anand Thakore SS, Nair 1B, Thayil LF, Muktibodh RF, Vikram Seth C, George Harrison 3B
Sushmita Gupta, Rupi Kaur, Meenakshi, Dhoomil, Jussawala, Ramanujan, Persius, Doshi, Meghaduta Kalidasa, Nabina Das, Sophie Naz, Linda Ash, Medha Singh

THE MIST

Yoko Ono and her husband are the double play combination for the Tokyo Mist. Motto: In Kyoto, hearing the cuckoo, I long for Kyoto. Home park: Tokyo, Japan

Kurosawa’s The Mist SP Basho 6, Issa 6, Heraclitus 5, Noguchi 4, RP Kobo Abe (new) 5, Suzuki 4
CF Gary Snyder, Ono 2B, John Lennon SS, Robert Duncan 1B, Doolittle LF, Richard Brautigan RF, Sadakichi Hartmann C, Corman 3B
Shikabu, Philip Whalen, Yukio Mishima (new), Haruki Murakami (new)

THE WAVES

Red China, with some ancient aesthetics, Chairman Mao’s The Waves. Motto: Death gives separation repose. Without death, grief only sharpens. Home park: Beijing, China

Chairman Mao’s The Waves SP Voltaire 5, Lucretius 5, Rousseau 5, Lao Tzu 5, RP Khomeini 4, Lenin (new) 4, Engels (new)  4
CF Marx, Li He 2B, Tu Fu SS, Ho Chi-Fang 1B, LF Li Po, RF Billie Holiday, Brecht C, Neruda 3B
Wang Wei, Gary B. Fitzgerald, Wendell Berry, Lu Xun, Bai Juyi, Guo Morou, Baraka, Guy Burgess, Louis Althusser (new)

THE LAWS

The Law and Order producer calls the shots on this team—which is, frankly, hard to characterize. Motto: In poetry everything is clear and definite. Home park: Santa Barbara, California, USA

Dick (Law and Order) Wolf’s The Laws SP Aristotle 5, Lord Bacon 5, Horace 5, Yvor Winters 4, RP Van Doren 4, M L Rosenthal 4, David Lehman 4
CF John Donne, Jane Kenyon 2B, Donald Hall SS, Gottfried Burger 1B, LF Thomas Hardy, RF Machado, Martial C, Akhmatova 3B
Justice, Campion, Seidel, Ajip Rosidi

THE GAMERS

The league needed a Light Verse team, and this is it, and it’s more than that—Merv Griffin’s The Gamers! Motto: He thought he saw an elephant that practiced on a fife. Home park: Los Angeles, California, USA

Merv Griffin’s The Gamers SP Lewis Carroll 5, James Tate 4, E.E. Cummings 4, Morgenstern 4, RP Menander 4, Charles Bernstein 4
CF Betjeman, Thomas Hood 2B, Noel Coward SS, Tzara 1B, Ogden Nash, LF Billy Collins, RF Wendy Cope, Eugene Ionesco C, Joe Green 3B
Riley, McHugh, XJ Kennedy, WS Gilbert, Tony Hoagland

~~~
The Modern Division

THE DREAMERS

Pamela Harriman married Winston Churchill’s son, the producer of The Sound of Music, and New York Governor Averil Harriman, before she ran the DNC.  Her team is the Dreamers. Motto: Not the earth, the sea, none of it was enough for her, without me. Home park: Arden, New York, USA

Pamela Harriman’s  The Dreamers SP Simone de Beauvoir 4, Floyd Dell 4, Anais Nin 4, Marge Piercy 4, RP Germaine Greer (new) 4, Louise Gluck 4
CF Sharon Olds, Edna Millay 2B, Jack Gilbert SS, MacNeice 1B, LF Rukeyser, RF Louise Bogan, Carolyn Forche C, Richard Lovelace 3B
Propertius, Swenson, Jean Valentine, Stevie Smith, Stanley Burnshaw, George Dillon

THE PRINTERS

Andy Warhol is the ruling spirit of The Printers. Motto: The eye, seeking to sink, is rebuffed by a much-worked dullness, the patina of a rag, that oily Vulcan uses, wiping up. Home park: East 47th St, New York, New York

Andy Warhol’s The Printers SP Duchamp 6, Marjorie Perloff 4, Stephanie Burt 4, Mark Rothko 4, RP John Cage 4, RP Blackmur (new) 4, Guy Davenport (new) 4
CF Aristophanes, James Merrill 2B, Hart Crane SS, Kenneth Koch 1B, LF John Updike, RF Lorca, Andre Breton C, John Ashbery 3B
Schuyler, Thom Gunn, Isherwood, Lou Reed

THE BUYERS

Rockefeller didn’t want to spend too much on his team—will Whitman, Freud, Twain, and Paul Engle be a championship rotation of starters?  Robert Lowell and Elizabeth Bishop are the double play combination. Motto: Have you no thought, O dreamer, that it may be all maya, illusion? Home park: Chicago, Illinois, USA

John D. Rockefeller’s The Buyers SP Walt Whitman 5, Freud 5, Twain 5, Paul Engle 4, RP Vendler 4, Wimsat (new) 4, Beardsley (new) 4
CF Penn Warren, Elizabeth Bishop 2B, Robert Lowell SS, Duke Ellington 1B, LF Jack Kerouac, Edgar Lee Masters RF, Rexroth C, Dylan Thomas 3B
Jorie Graham, Harriet Monroe, Carl Philips, Richard Hugo, Alexander Percy, Alcaeus, Franz Wright

THE CRASH

AC Barnes, the wealthy modern art collector, sold his stock right before the Crash of ’29—John Dewey was his aesthetic philosopher. Motto: But for some futile things unsaid I should say all is done for us. Home park: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA

A.C. Barnes’ The Crash SP John Crowe Ransom 5, John Dewey 4, Wittgenstein 4, Walter Pater 4, RP Jackson Pollock 4, I A Richards (new) 4, K Burke (new) 4,
CF Allen Tate, Richard Howard 2B, WC Williams SS, Donald Davidson 1B, LF John Gould Fletcher, RF Stanley Kunitz, Stephen Spender C, Archilochus 3B
Merrill Moore, Andrew Nelson Lytle, Luigi Russolo, Anne Waldman, Cleanth Brooks, Harold Rosenberg

THE UNIVERSE

Steven Spielberg’s The Universe is very Hollywood: progressive and American. Motto: I know why the caged bird sings. Home park: Phoenix, Arizona, USA

Steven Spielberg’s The Universe SP Harriet Beecher Stowe 5, Harold Bloom 4, Randall Jarrell 4, Margaret Atwood 4, RP Foucault (new) 4, Milosz 5,
CF Delmore Schwartz, Bob Dylan 2B, Paul Celan SS, Anthony Hecht 1B, LF Philip Levine, RF Galway Kinnell, Maya Angelou C, Chuck Berry 3B
James Wright, Stephen King, Larry Levis, Juvenal, Alice Walker,

~~~

Opening Day Games

Rimini Broadcasters v. Corsica Codes SP Giacomo Leopardi, Homer

Madrid Crusaders v. Paris Goths SP Aquinas, Goethe

Berlin Pistols v London Carriages SP TS Eliot, Andrew Marvell

Florence Banners v Devon Sun SP Dante, Emerson

Westport Actors v Virginia Strangers SP Byron, Pope

Connecticut Animals v New York War SP Ovid, Shakespeare

Kolkata Cobras v Tokyo Mist SP Tagore, Basho

Beijing Waves v California Laws SP Voltaire, Aristotle

Arden Dreamers v Manhattan Printers SP de Beauvoir, Duchamp

Chicago Buyers v Philadelphia Crash SP Whitman, John Crowe Ransom

The Opening Ceremony Poem, read by Commissioner Thomas Brady

We hope you enjoy the game.
It’s not about fame.
It’s about the game.

 

PLAY BALL!

THE GREATER GENIUS

Image result for rabelais

The greater genius in a smaller boat
Has a difficult time staying afloat.
He falls in love with poetry—
But not this century’s, hopefully.
Into the fire the flagging patriarch
Throws log after log;
But the favorite male is the family dog;
Blonde and muscled, he naps by the fire,
Dreaming of infinitely domestic desire.
Every male is torn by these two things:
Pleasures of the marriage bed,
The fear of being cuckolded.
Gay, his poetry minces and sings
On beauties—how they are really hags.
Are they? His wife is beautiful. But nags.

 

 

MY LOVE GETS NERVOUS

 

Anime vs Cartoon - Difference and Comparison | Diffen

My love gets nervous when I compare.

I love her here. But what of that one over there?

Does comparison have anything to do with love?

I hid during the Red Scare.

In my heart I hoped: what if she cares?

And then, with dread: what if she compares?

It always happens, that five women you adore,

Contact you at once, because you remembered four

And the fifth, the one who made you write,

Was also one who loved you in her sight,

Even if it was on the Internet

Where love compares politics and affections yet.

I list each attribute, as I see each attribute,

Each silver thought plays on a golden flute

The song that wants to be the best,

As I kiss in the shadows this one, and forget the rest.

When the plague closes the restaurant

I realize, finally, what I really want.

I miss the waiter’s slavery.

I am not nice when I think of you and I.

I want to adore you in a place

Where the ones I want can see your face.

Whose fault that love is sick, and love compares?

The third one loved; but I think the fourth one really cares.

 

 

 

 

NOW THAT WE KNOW

Washington Smoke Information: Smoke in NE Washington and along ...

Now that we know the opposite can be true:
Your spouse can be a stranger—
You know someone you never talk to—
What are we to say? And what are we to do?
We laugh, but we meant to cry.
We see what we love off to the side of our eye.
But reasonably we focus on what we need to do—
And think: it really is the mundane that’s true.
The movies and the love affairs,
The paintings, the arias and airs,
The smoke of the purple evenings,
The parties tinkling with smiling meaning—
It was all just a bunch of crap.
Plato was right. Give me the guidebook, please. The chord. The map.

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

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 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.

 

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