Survey!

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Wrestling with (my God!) my God

One of my favorite poems in any language by one of my favorite poets (here is Lowell’s take).

Gerard Manley Hopkins: (Carrion Comfort)

Not, I’ll not, carrion comfort, Despair, not feast on thee;
Not untwist — slack they may be — these last strands of man
In me ór, most weary, cry I can no more. I can;
Can something, hope, wish day come, not choose not to be.

But ah, but O thou terrible, why wouldst thou rude on me
Thy wring-world right foot rock? lay a lionlimb against me? scan
With darksome devouring eyes my bruisèd bones? and fan,
O in turns of tempest, me heaped there; me frantic to avoid thee and flee?

Why? That my chaff might fly; my grain lie, sheer and clear.
Nay in all that toil, that coil, since (seems) I kissed the rod,
Hand rather, my heart lo! lapped strength, stole joy, would laugh, chéer.

Cheer whóm though? The héro whose héaven-handling flúng me, fóot tród
Me? or mé that fóught him? O whích one? is it eách one? That níght, that year
Of now done darkness I wretch lay wrestling with (my God!) my God.

(quoted after The Major Works, edited by Catherine Phillips (Oxford World’s Classics))

“Null Punkte aus Israel”

Bei Jörg Marx eine schöne Darstellung von selbstbewußten Deutschen, die gestern im Freudentaumel (so etwa)über die “nationale Leistung” sauer auf die unbotmäßige Benotung aus Israel waren. Unter anderem postet er diesen Auszug aus dem #esc twitterfeed (click on image to enlarge or go directly to Marx’ blog).

A caricature, a swollen shadow

Delmore Schwartz: The Heavy Bear Who Goes With Me

“the withness of the body” –Whitehead

The heavy bear who goes with me,
A manifold honey to smear his face,
Clumsy and lumbering here and there,
The central ton of every place,
The hungry beating brutish one
In love with candy, anger, and sleep,
Crazy factotum, dishevelling all,
Climbs the building, kicks the football,
Boxes his brother in the hate-ridden city.

Breathing at my side, that heavy animal,
That heavy bear who sleeps with me,
Howls in his sleep for a world of sugar,
A sweetness intimate as the water’s clasp,
Howls in his sleep because the tight-rope
Trembles and shows the darkness beneath.
–The strutting show-off is terrified,
Dressed in his dress-suit, bulging his pants,
Trembles to think that his quivering meat
Must finally wince to nothing at all.

That inescapable animal walks with me,
Has followed me since the black womb held,
Moves where I move, distorting my gesture,
A caricature, a swollen shadow,
A stupid clown of the spirit’s motive,
Perplexes and affronts with his own darkness,
The secret life of belly and bone,
Opaque, too near, my private, yet unknown,
Stretches to embrace the very dear
With whom I would walk without him near,
Touches her grossly, although a word
Would bare my heart and make me clear,
Stumbles, flounders, and strives to be fed
Dragging me with him in his mouthing care,
Amid the hundred million of his kind,
the scrimmage of appetite everywhere.

David Shields’ pale echoes

Robert Archambeau over at Samizdat has written an excellent assessment of David Shields‘ over-hyped Reality Hunger:

It’s not just that Shields sees novelty where, in fact, there’s a long historical tradition. It’s that his version of an aesthetic of incoherence in “Long Live the Anti-Novel, Built from Scraps” is attenuated in the ethical dimension that was so thoroughly elaborated by earlier thinkers. Shields’ version of the aesthetic of incoherence isn’t a triumphant break with an impoverished past: it’s a pale echo of an old idea. It’s weak tea that thinks it is nitroglycerine.