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Saturday, February 21, 2015

No Misery, No Poetry: The Story of Us

Looking back, finding the beginning was the most difficult. The endings came twice a month. Like clockwork,

a precise machine. Predictable. Its inner workings somehow beyond control.

Maybe if we'd been horologists or cardiologists
we could have some clarity

Something.

Convinced it was a miracle. Like an ecstatic, a raving fanatic, so newly reborn, I pleaded against a closed door

for the miraculous

to enter my dark heart

just once more.

The Mire and Blood, always the mire and blood.

Byzantium

By William Butler Yeats
 
The unpurged images of day recede;
The Emperor's drunken soldiery are abed;
Night resonance recedes, night-walkers' song
After great cathedral gong;
A starlit or a moonlit dome disdains
All that man is,
All mere complexities,
The fury and the mire of human veins.

Before me floats an image, man or shade,
Shade more than man, more image than a shade;
For Hades' bobbin bound in mummy-cloth
May unwind the winding path;
A mouth that has no moisture and no breath
Breathless mouths may summon;
I hail the superhuman;
I call it death-in-life and life-in-death.

Miracle, bird or golden handiwork,
More miracle than bird or handiwork,
Planted on the starlit golden bough,
Can like the cocks of Hades crow,
Or, by the moon embittered, scorn aloud
In glory of changeless metal
Common bird or petal
And all complexities of mire or blood.

At midnight on the Emperor's pavement flit
Flames that no faggot feeds, nor steel has lit,
Nor storm disturbs, flames begotten of flame,
Where blood-begotten spirits come
And all complexities of fury leave,
Dying into a dance,
An agony of trance,
An agony of flame that cannot singe a sleeve.

Astraddle on the dolphin's mire and blood,
Spirit after spirit! The smithies break the flood,
The golden smithies of the Emperor!
Marbles of the dancing floor
Break bitter furies of complexity,
Those images that yet
Fresh images beget,
That dolphin-torn, that gong-tormented sea.
 
W. B. Yeats, “Byzantium” from The Poems of W. B. Yeats: A New Edition, edited by Richard J. Finneran. Copyright 1933 by Macmillan Publishing Company, renewed © 1961 by Georgie Yeats. Reprinted with the permission of A. P. Watt, Ltd. on behalf of Michael Yeats.

Source: The Collected Poems of W. B. Yeats (1989)

Yeats, my love.

Sailing to Byzantium

W. B. Yeats, 1865 - 1939
 
That is no country for old men. The young
In one another’s arms, birds in the trees
—Those dying generations—at their song,
The salmon-falls, the mackerel-crowded seas,
Fish, flesh, or fowl, commend all summer long
Whatever is begotten, born, and dies.
Caught in that sensual music all neglect
Monuments of unageing intellect.

An aged man is but a paltry thing,
A tattered coat upon a stick, unless
Soul clap its hands and sing, and louder sing
For every tatter in its mortal dress,
Nor is there singing school but studying
Monuments of its own magnificence;
And therefore I have sailed the seas and come
To the holy city of Byzantium.

O sages standing in God’s holy fire
As in the gold mosaic of a wall,
Come from the holy fire, perne in a gyre,
And be the singing-masters of my soul.
Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into the artifice of eternity.

Once out of nature I shall never take
My bodily form from any natural thing,
But such a form as Grecian goldsmiths make
Of hammered gold and gold enamelling
To keep a drowsy Emperor awake;
Or set upon a golden bough to sing
To lords and ladies of Byzantium
Of what is past, or passing, or to come.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Word of the Day

quixotic, adj. and n.

Pronunciation:  Brit. /kwɪkˈsɒtɪk/ , U.S. /kwɪkˈsɑdɪk/
Forms:  16– quixotic, 17 quixotik, 17–18 quixotick, 18 quixottic
Etymology:  < Quixote n. + -ic suffix. Compare earlier quixotical adj. and Quixote adj.
 A. adj.
 

 1. Of an action, attribute, idea, etc.: characteristic of or appropriate to Don Quixote; demonstrating or motivated by exaggerated notions of chivalry and romanticism; naively idealistic; unrealistic, impracticable; (also) unpredictable, capricious, whimsical.

1718   N. Amhurst Protestant Popery iv. 61   Pulpit and Press ficticious Ills engage, And combat Windmills with Quixotic Rage.
1779   J. Thaxter Let. 15 Dec. in L. H. Butterfield et al. Adams Family Corr. (1973) III. 251   We made a Quixotik Appearance [on mules in Spain]..For we had Don Quixots, Sancha Pancas and Squires in Abundance.
1826   Lancet 16 Dec. 356/2   It would be somewhat Quixotic to expect, that no protests would be made.
1851   ‘L. Mariotti’ Italy in 1848 131   A daring that would seem almost quixotic.
1874   J. R. Green Short Hist. Eng. People x. 719   A quixotic mission to the Indians of Georgia.
1929   Travel Jan. 7 (caption)    One of the most romantic adventures of modern times: the quixotic attempt to carve an empire out of the New World.
1956   Zanesville (Ohio) Signal 2 July i. 4/5   A man of quixotic whims who once ran for president of the U.S.
1990   Times Lit. Suppl. 26 Feb. 90/4   Shostakovich was not the only artist who survived because of Stalin's quixotic approachability.
2004   T. Rosenbaum Myth of Moral Justice Introd. 3   The law comes across as unjust and quixotic... Its results don't feel right emotionally to those who are neither its insiders nor cast members.

 2. Of a person: resembling Don Quixote; visionary; enthusiastically chivalrous or romantic; naively idealistic; impractical, capricious.

1777   Mutability Human Life II. 259   Count Dismallo..waited on good Mrs. White before your Quixotic Villars had taken his final leave of her.
1815   J. Adams Wks. (1856) X. 157,   I considered Miranda as a vagrant, a vagabond, a Quixotic adventurer.
1857   T. Hughes Tom Brown's School Days i. i. 4   This family training..makes them eminently quixotic.
1898   Sandusky (Ohio) Star 15 July 1/4   Cunningham-Graham has long been familiar to the public as a Quixotic champion of lost causes.
1939   Fortune Oct. 30/2,   I was sad, because I always used to think of the Belgians as wonderfully quixotic, which it seems that they are not.
1974   N.Y. Times 20 May 33/2   No quixotic lot, this pool of windmill advocates now includes members of some of the most serious research institutes.
1994   H. Bloom Western Canon ii. v. 129   Against that claim I set the most poignant and Quixotic of all critical agonists, the Basque man of letters Miguel de Unamuno.
 

  A quixotic person. Also (rare) in pl.: quixotic sentiments.

1896   Spectator 7 Mar. 337   If..our Quixotics seem foolish or extravagant.
1918   Times 16 Mar. 9/3   ‘Our’ opera..will have nothing to do with maudlin decadents or unbalanced quixotics.
1974   Amer. Jrnl. Agric. Econ. 56 888/1   The quixotics, of course, also tilt among themselves whenever windmills are scarce.
1998   Eng. Hist. Rev. 113 501   Iain McCalman's joyfully written essay compares the perceived lunacies of Lord George Gordon and Edmund Burke, quixotics and prophets both.

  quiˈxoticism n. = quixotism n.

1850   De Bow's Rev. Aug. 169   The landing at Cardenas could only have been considered a piece of American Quixoticism.
1939   Tablet 3 June 705/1   Hungarian public life, that curious mixture of eloquence and generous impulse, of Quixoticism and brutal reality.
2005   Vanity Fair (N.Y.) (Nexis) Oct. 194   You might argue that it's quixoticism, an effort to preserve what's already lost..an effort to embrace for dear life the remains of the day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

It really is all in Neruda...

Fable of the Mermaid and the Drunks

~ Pablo Neruda

All those men were there inside,
when she came in totally naked.
They had been drinking: they began to spit.
Newly come from the river, she knew nothing.
She was a mermaid who had lost her way.
The insults flowed down her gleaming flesh.
Obscenities drowned her golden breasts.
Not knowing tears, she did not weep tears.
Not knowing clothes, she did not have clothes.
They blackened her with burnt corks and cigarette stubs,
and rolled around laughing on the tavern floor.
She did not speak because she had no speech.
Her eyes were the colour of distant love,
her twin arms were made of white topaz.
Her lips moved, silent, in a coral light,
and suddenly she went out by that door.
Entering the river she was cleaned,
shining like a white stone in the rain,
and without looking back she swam again
swam towards emptiness, swam towards death.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

[love is more thicker than forget]

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is most mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky


E.E. Cummings, “[love is more thicker than forget]” from Complete Poems 1904-1962.

Saturday, January 3, 2015

13 Ways of Being Mauled by a Tiger

1. A tiger never changes its stripes. 
2. The stripes camouflage the danger. You can't see until it's too late.
3. The impenetrable eyes: You'll only find yourself staring back.
4. The growl begins as a playful purr. You think it's a game. You're a fool.
5. You don't mind the claws.
6. The chase! The game is fun; the rules keep changing.
7. Tigers love to loll in the sun. You love that too.
8. Water. You think you're safe. Tigers swim.
9. The trees. Tigers climb.
10. Those gleaming teeth, precise, deadly. Tantalizing.
11. The beguiling smile hides the darkest night of your soul.
12. Your desire: Eros. Way too much fucking éros.
13. Death drive: Thanatos. You chose this. You've been warned.