whither shall I flee
[Cantata BWV 5: Wo soll ich fliehen hin; JS Bach (1724)]
Painting: Still Life with Skull, Mask, Globe, and Bubbles (Vanitas); Hendrick Andriessen
If we shadows have offended,
Think but this, and all is mended,
That you have but slumber'd here
While these visions did appear.
And this weak and idle theme,
No more yielding but a dream,
Gentles, do not reprehend:
if you pardon, we will mend:
And, as I am an honest Puck,
If we have unearned luck
Now to 'scape the serpent's tongue,
We will make amends ere long;
Else the Puck a liar call;
So, good night unto you all.
--from 'A Midsummer Night's Dream'
--Tomaž Šalamun (trans. Brian Henry)
One finger is the tundra,
one finger is the Bodhisattva,
one finger is mother Slovenia.
Two fingers still remain, beckoning
and with awful force feeding me
seventeen hands with this arrangement.
I’m alone on the roof of the world and drawing
so stars are created.
I’m spurting through the nose so the Milky Way is created
and I’m eating
so shit is created, and falling on you
and it is music.
I am God.
I am God and I’m dancing.
This table is a gift, this house is a gift,
this garden is a gift, these squirrels are a gift.
These human legs are murmuring mantras.
Glug glug glug I drink gulps of light
and I brush.
So I shower and put myself back, alone.
I alone am the center of the world’s light, the Lord’s lamb.
I alone am all animals: a tiger, an ant, a deer,
a rabbit, a porcupine (a hedgehog), a butterfly, an insect,
a piranha, a baby rabbit, a daddy rabbit,
the god of ferrets, the straw hat of a sketched
puppy and his paws.....
What counsel has the hooded moon
Put in thy heart, my shyly sweet,
Of Love in ancient plenilune,
Glory and stars beneath his feet--
A sage that is but kith and kin
With the comedian Capuchin?
Believe me rather that am wise
In disregard of the divine,
A glory kindles in those eyes,
Trembles to starlight. Mine, O Mine!
No more be tears in moon or mist
For thee, sweet sentimentalist.
--from 'Chamber Music'; James Joyce
The Cats Will Know
--Cesare Pavese (trans. Geoffrey Bock)
Rain will fall again
on your smooth pavement,
a light rain like
a breath or a step.
The breeze and the dawn
will flourish again
when you return,
as if beneath your step.
Between flowers and sills
the cats will know.
There will be other days,
there will be other voices.
You will smile alone.
The cats will know.
You will hear words
old and spent and useless
like costumes left over
from yesterday’s parties.
You too will make gestures.
You’ll answer with words—
face of springtime,
you too will make gestures.
The cats will know,
face of springtime;
and the light rain
and the hyacinth dawn....
What is more acutely disturbing than to see familiar scenes troubled into new life? . . . A true revelation, I am convinced, can only emerge from stubborn concentration on a single problem. I have nothing in common with experimentalists, adventurers, with those who travel in strange regions. The surest, and the quickest, way for us to arouse the sense of wonder is to stare, unafraid, at a single object. Suddenly—miraculously—it will look like something we have never seen before.
How Not to Need Resurrection
Children like to play at death—
they hold their breath,
and cross their arms and shut their eyes
until they forget to be dead; then rise
from their nest of pillows and play instead
at being lost or married,
as if their state was mutable, as if, like water
they could flow or freeze or climb without a ladder
into the heavens then drop back down—
they are the first resurrectionists, they alone
understand the trick is not to try,
that once you believe in death, you must surely die.
Ashes to ashes. Or bury at sea. Where is that Parsee tower of silence? Eaten by birds. Earth, fire, water. Drowning they say is the pleasantest. See your whole life in a flash. But being brought back to life no. Can't bury in the air however. Out of a flying machine. Wonder does the news go about whenever a fresh one is let down. Underground communication. We learned that from them. Wouldn't be surprised. Regular square feed for them. Flies come before he's well dead. Got wind of Dignam. They wouldn't care about the smell of it. Saltwhite crumbling mush of corpse: smell, taste like raw white turnips.....
There is another world after death named hell. I do not like that other world she wrote. No more do I. Plenty to see and hear and feel yet. Feel live warm beings near you. Let them sleep in their maggoty beds. They are not going to get me this innings. Warm beds: warm fullblooded life.
--from 'Ulysses: Ep. Six- Hades'; James Joyce
You And I Are Disappearing ~Bjorn Hakansson
The cry I bring down from the hills
belongs to a girl still burning
inside my head. At daybreak
she burns like a piece of paper.
She burns like foxfire
in a thigh-shaped valley.
A skirt of flames
dances around her
We stand with our hands
hanging at our sides,
while she burns
like a sack of dry ice.
She burns like oil on water.
She burns like a cattail torch
dipped in gasoline.
She glows like the fat tip
of a banker's cigar,
silent as quicksilver.
A tiger under a rainbow
She burns like a shot glass of vodka.
She burns like a field of poppies
at the edge of a rain forest.
She rises like dragonsmoke
....to my nostrils.
She burns like a burning bush
driven by a godawful wind.
[ South Carolina Morning ; Edward Hopper (1955) ]....
South Carolina Morning
Her red dress & hat
...tease the sky’s level-
headed blue. Outside
a country depot,
...she could be a harlot
or saint on Sunday
morning. We know
...Hopper could slant
light till it falls
on our faces. She waits
...for a tall blues singer
whose twelve-string is
hours out of hock,
...for a pullman porter
with a pigskin wallet
bulging with greenbacks,
...who stepped out of Porgy
at intermission. This is
paradise made of pigment
...& tissue, where apples
ripen into rage & lust.
In a quick glance,
she’s his muse, his wife—
the same curves
...to her stance, the same
breasts beneath summer cloth.
--W. B. Yeats
What if I bade you leave
The cavern of the mind?
There's better exercise
In the sunlight and wind.
I never bade you go
To Moscow or to Rome.
Renounce that drudgery,
Call the Muses home.
Seek those images
That constitute the wild,
The lion and the virgin,
The harlot and the child.
Find in the middle air
An eagle on the wing,
Recognise the five
That make the Muses sing.
--W. B. Yeats
I would be ignorant as the dawn
That has looked down
On that old queen measuring a town
With the pin of a brooch,
Or on the withered men that saw
From their pedantic Babylon
The careless planets in their courses,
The stars fade out where the moon comes,
And took their tablets and did sums;
I would be ignorant as the dawn
That merely stood, rocking the glittering coach
Above the cloudy shoulders of the horses;
I would be—for no knowledge is worth a straw—
Ignorant and wanton as the dawn.
the trick of finding what you didn't lose
(existing's tricky:but to live's a gift)
the teachable imposture of always
arriving at the place you never left
(and i refer to thinking)rests upon
a dismal misconception;namely that
some neither ape nor angel called a man
is measured by his quote eye cue unquote.
Much better than which,every woman who's
(despite the ultramachinations of
some loveless infraworld)a woman knows;
and certain men quite possibly may have
shall we say guessed?"
............................."we shall" quoth gifted she:
and played the hostess to my morethanme
--e. e. cummings
If I didn’t need
to do anything,
Would I oscillate
or three dimensions?
Would I summon
and change chirality
A massless particle
passes through the void
with no resistance.
Ask what it means
to pass through the void.
Ask how it differs
from not passing.
To Have Done Nothing
--William Carlos Williams
No that is not it
nothing that I have done
I have done
is made up of
and the diphthong
the first person
of the auxiliary
I have done
is the same
if to do
energy in vacuo
has the power
which only to
have done nothing
It’s late and the furnace goes full blast
filling the room like a good joke.
I read aloud, pausing for rain.
If my pipe were alive
I could not hold it more lovingly.
Soon, I will make green tea
and pray that the flute song I barely hear
is not a signal for dawn
and is not a record, nor an answer
to any questions I might pose it.
--from 'Two Flute Songs', Jim Moore
Drinking Alone Beneath the Moon
--Li Po (trans. David Hinton)
Among the blossoms, a single jar of wine.
No one else here, I ladle it out myself.
Raising my cup, I toast the bright moon
and facing my shadow makes three,
though the moon has never understood wine,
and shadow only trails along behind me.
Kindred a moment with moon and shadow,
I've found a joy that must infuse spring:
I sing, and moon rocks back and forth;
I dance, and shadow tumbles into pieces.
Sober, we're together and happy. Drunk,
we scatter away into our own directions:
intimates forever, we'll wander carefree
and meet again in Star River distances.
Stuffing a crow call in one ear
and an unknown bird's in the other,
lying on the warm cellar door out of
the cool wind which I take small sparing
bites of with three toes still wet from the pond's
edge: April is so violent up here you hide
in corners or, when in the woods, in swales
and behind beech trees. Twenty years ago
this April I offered up my stupid heart to
this bloody voyage. It was near a marsh
on a long walk. You can't get rid of those
thousand pointless bottles of whiskey
that you brought along. Last night after
the poker game I read Obata's Li Po.
He was no less a fool but adding those
twenty thousand poems you come up
with a god. There are patents on all
the forms of cancer but still we praise
god from whom or which all blessings flow:
that an April exists, that a body lays itself
down on a warm cellar door and remembers, drinks
in birds and wind, whiskey, frog songs
from the marsh, the little dooms hiding
in the shadows of each fence post.