Chaplinesque

You can’t go wrong with Hart Crane. I love especially his early-ish poetry, like this poem I already posted, or the one below. Generally speaking, however, Crane is one of the most consistently amazing American poets I know. Buy his Collected Poems which is a slim and affordable little book. Or buy it as a present.

Hart Crane: Chaplinesque

We will make our meek adjustments,
Contented with such random consolations
As the wind deposits
In slithered and too ample pockets.

For we can still love the world, who find
A famished kitten on the step, and know
Recesses for it from the fury of the street,
Or warm torn elbow coverts.

We will sidestep, and to the final smirk
Dally the doom of that inevitable thumb
That slowly chafes its puckered index toward us,
Facing the dull squint with what innocence
And what surprise!

And yet these fine collapses are not lies
More than the pirouettes of any pliant cane;
Our obsequies are, in a way, no enterprise.
We can evade you, and all else but the heart:
What blame to us if the heart live on.

The game enforces smirks; but we have seen
The moon in lonely alleys make
A grail of laughter of an empty ash can,
And through all sound of gaiety and quest
Have heard a kitten in the wilderness.

William Gass

William Gass, in a 1987 interview

For a long time I abandoned an elaborate style because it simply wasn’t working—I wasn’t able to manage it at all. I went into a phase in philosophy and writing in general that was extremely disciplined and formal. I have a hunch that I am moving now from a baroque stage into a more clear, lyrical stage. That was always there, though. It just depends what kind of story I’m working on, I guess. I feel that I’m more likely to move in the direction of Henry James and get more mannered. I don’t mind that at all. I like late James better than anything. I like late things: Finnegans Wake, late quartets by Beethoven, late Bartok, late Verdi, late Yeats. They’re breaking through their manner to something absolutely different. And if you’re very, very lucky, that’s what happens. What Borges has decided to do is to simply be Borges, which I would be happy to be, of course. But to do something like Fuentes is doing is to constantly push, to try new things. That is more exciting to me, that breaking through. Late Beethoven breaks through and finds for himself a new scheme. Of course, that’s just a dream. He had to be a great artist to do that.

For Time is / nothing if not amenable.

Elizabeth Bishop: The Shampoo

The still explosions on the rocks,
the lichens, grow
by spreading, gray, concentric shocks.
They have arranged
to meet the rings around the moon, although
within our memories they have not changed.

And since the heavens will attend
as long on us,
you’ve been, dear friend,
precipitate and pragmatical;
and look what happens. For Time is
nothing if not amenable.

The shooting stars in your black hair
in bright formation
are flocking where,
so straight, so soon?
— Come, let me wash it in this big tin basin,
battered and shiny like the moon.

The chronic inattention / Of our lives

I love browsing the internet and finding songs or poems one knows but has almost forgotten, like this 1979 poem by John Ashbery.

John Ashbery: Late Echo

Alone with our madness and favorite flower
We see that there really is nothing left to write about.
Or rather, it is necessary to write about the same old things
In the same way, repeating the same things over and over
For love to continue and be gradually different.

Beehives and ants have to be re-examined eternally
And the color of the day put in
Hundreds of times and varied from summer to winter
For it to get slowed down to the pace of an authentic
Saraband and huddle there, alive and resting.

Only then can the chronic inattention
Of our lives drape itself around us, conciliatory
And with one eye on those long tan plush shadows
That speak so deeply into our unprepared knowledge
Of ourselves, the talking engines of our day.