National Poetry Month Part iv

The changes between Djuna Barnes’s text of Nightwood and the book actually published are striking and make for an interesting study in political bibliographic outrages.I’ll post a paper on that soon, here or on a new Twentieth- and Twenty-First-century blog some brilliant minds are working on.

Here, from Barnes’s later poetry, a different voice that still echoes the darkness of her amazing novel. The change noted in the text was handwritten on a post-publication copy in Barnes’s files:

To One Who Feels Differently
–Djuna Barnes

To-night I cannot know you and I weep
For sorrow that’s upon you like soft sleep
Of which alone you are the one possessed—
And as one in long stuff of mourning dressed—
Drenched deep in garments that take shape of grief
Fold on heavy fold, as leaf on leaf.
You stand, all tremulous with stifled cries
And with chill tears like glass upon your eyes.
Thin shadows, darker than the darkness boil
With foamy somnolence and monstrous toil
The solemn lisping of untimely things
Approaches; and on high lamenting wings
Cold time screams past us, shedding sparks of pain {fire}
Of which you are the core and the refrain.

National Poetry Month Part iii

Poetry is a tough assignment for me…I’m a maximalist. I love long, convoluted sentences that explode with words and phrases and reiterate their own machinations endlessly. I slurp David Foster Wallace and William Faulkner and streams of erudite consciousnesses. So poetry is my least favorite literary pursuit.

That said, I’m taking this month to learn to place a single drop of linguistic effort on the tip of my tongue so it can dissolve there. The way we’re supposed to eat chocolate so that we enjoy it and really taste and savor and notice it.  Zen reading, these poems are. But try this one…

What would you fight for?

–D.H. Lawrence

I am not sure I would always fight for my life.

Life might not be worth fighting for.

I am not sure I would always fight for my wife.
A wife isn’t always worth fighting for.

Nor my children, nor my country, nor my fellow-men.
It all deprnds whether I found them worth fighting for.

The only thing men invariably fight for
Is their money. But I doubt if I’d fight for mine, anyhow
not to shed a lot of blood over it.

Yet one thing I do fight for, tooth and nail, all the time.
And that is my bit of inward peace, where I am at one
with myself.
And I must say, I am often worsted.

National Poetry Month part i

A little Modernist cubism to start your month of poetry…

this is painted on our bathroom wall.

To Alice B. Toklas
— Gertrude Stein

Do you really think I would yes I would and
I do love all you with all me.
Do you really think I could, yes I could
yes I would love all you with all me.
Do you really think I should yes I should
love all you with all me yes I should
yes I could yes I would.
Do you really think I do love all you
with all me yes I do love all you with all
me And bless my baby.