Stories and poems

"The metaphoric image of 'orphan lines' is a contrivance of the detached onlooker to whom the verbal art of continuous correspondences remains aesthetically alien. Orphan lines in poetry of pervasive parallels are a contradiction in terms, since whatever the status of a line, all its structure and functions are indissolubly interlaced with the near and distant verbal environment, and the task of linguistic analysis is to disclose the levels of this coaction. When seen from the inside of the parallelistic system, the supposed orphanhood, like any other componential status, turns into a network of multifarious compelling affinities.'
Roman JAKOBSON, "Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet", Language, 42/2, 1966, pp. 399-429, p. 428-429

Monday, August 8, 2011

Carpe Diem

As an obvious rejoinder to my reflections on death, I wanted to post a poem about seizing the day; I couldn't find one of my own. Then I realized, all my poems are the result moments that I seized, a kind of verbal carpe diem, so perhaps they never need to address the issue. Maybe that is poetry, seizing the day, in words. 

I read a poem by Andrew Marvell, To his Coy Mistress 

Had we but world enough, and time,
This coyness, lady, were no crime.
We would sit down and think which way
To walk, and pass our long love's day;
Thou by the Indian Ganges' side
Shouldst rubies find; I by the tide
Of Humber would complain. I would
Love you ten years before the Flood;
And you should, if you please, refuse
Till the conversion of the Jews.
My vegetable love should grow
Vaster than empires, and more slow.
An hundred years should go to praise
Thine eyes, and on thy forehead gaze;
Two hundred to adore each breast,
But thirty thousand to the rest;
An age at least to every part,
And the last age should show your heart.
For, lady, you deserve this state,
Nor would I love at lower rate.

        But at my back I always hear
Time's winged chariot hurrying near;
And yonder all before us lie
Deserts of vast eternity.
Thy beauty shall no more be found,
Nor, in thy marble vault, shall sound
My echoing song; then worms shall try
That long preserv'd virginity,
And your quaint honour turn to dust,
And into ashes all my lust.
The grave's a fine and private place,
But none I think do there embrace.

        Now therefore, while the youthful hue
Sits on thy skin like morning dew,
And while thy willing soul transpires
At every pore with instant fires,
Now let us sport us while we may;
And now, like am'rous birds of prey,
Rather at once our time devour,
Than languish in his slow-chapp'd power.
Let us roll all our strength, and all
Our sweetness, up into one ball;
And tear our pleasures with rough strife
Thorough the iron gates of life.
Thus, though we cannot make our sun
Stand still, yet we will make him run. 

Well, his is a seduction. Making love is seizing the moment and the body of the beloved. I wonder if he convinced the said lady to seize the day, and him, or not. Perhaps she continued to be coy and put him off as the wisdom of her age and her elders would have dictated. But perhaps she gave in.  

I must say, a lot my poems are about giving in. Perhaps there isn't a lot of poetry in rigidity, or in watching your life slip dryly by. I think I write when I seize, or try.

On Trembling

The heart beats,
blood streams
and a strange energy appears
at the tips of my fingers.
An intermittent overflow
of sensitivity
intensity and fear,
to speak, to hear,
the rush behind my ears,
behind the blood.
The thick ticking of sentiment
gathering like sediment,
asking to feel,
where bodies end,

Shaping the space within,
the closeness of my body’s limits

in which my blood can flow.

And that, I suppose, is being alive. 

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