|These decibels @ Are a kind of flagellation, an entity of sound @ Into which being enters, and is apart.|
|Their colors on a warm February day @ Make for masses of inertia, and hips @ Prod out of the violet-seeming into a new kind @ Of demand that stumps the absolute because not new @ In the sense of the next one in an infinite series @ But, as it were, pre-existing or pre-seeming in @ Such a way as to contrast funnily with the unexpectedness @ And somehow push us all into perdition.|
|Here a scarf flies, there an excited call is heard.|
|The answer is that it is novelty @ That guides these swift blades oer the ice, @ Projects into a finer expression (but at the expense @ Of energy) the profile I cannot remember.|
|Colors slip away from and chide us.
The human mind @ Cannot retain anything except perhaps the dismal two-note theme @ Of some sodden dump or lament.|
|But the water surface ripples, the whole light changes.|
|We children are ashamed of our bodies @ But we laugh and, demanded, talk of sex again @ And all is well.
The waves of morning harshness @ Float away like coal-gas into the sky.|
|But how much survives?
How much of any one of us survives?|
|The articles wed collectstamps of the colonies @ With greasy cancellation marks, mauve, magenta and chocolate, @ Or funny-looking dogs wed see in the street, or bright remarks.|
|One collects bullets.
An Indianapolis, Indiana man collects slingshots of all epochs, and so on.|
|Subtracted from our collections, though, these go on a little while, collecting aimlessly.
We still support them.|
|But so little energy they have!
And up the swollen sands @ Staggers the darkness fiend, with the storm fiend close behind him!|
|True, melodious tolling does go on in that awful pandemonium, @ Certain resonances are not utterly displeasing to the terrified eardrum.|
|Some paroxysms are dinning of tambourine, others suggest piano room or organ loft @ For the most dissonant night charms us, even after death.
This, after all, may be happiness: tuba notes awash on the great flood, ruptures of xylophone, violins, limpets, grace-notes, the musical instrument called serpent, viola da gambas, aeolian harps, clavicles, pinball machines, electric drills, que sais- je encore!|
|The performance has rapidly reached your ear; silent and tear-stained, in the post-mortem shock, you stand listening, awash @ With memories of hair in particular, part of the welling that is you, @ The gurgling of harp, cymbal, glockenspiel, triangle, temple block, English horn and metronome!
And still no presentiment, no feeling of pain before or after.|
|The passage sustains, does not give.
And you have come far indeed.|
|Yet to go from not interesting to old and uninteresting, @ To be surrounded by friends, though late in life, @ To hear the wings of the spirit, though far. . . .|
|Why do I hurriedly undrown myself to cut you down?|
|I am yesterday, and my fault is eternal.|
|I do not expect constant attendance, knowing myself insufficient for your present demands @ And I have a dim intuition that I am that other I with which we began.|
|My cheeks as blank walls to your tears and eagerness @ Fondling that other, as though you had let him get away forever.|
|The evidence of the visual henceforth replaced @ By the great shadow of trees falling over life.|
|A childs devotion @ To this normal, shapeless entity. . . .|
|Forgotten as the words fly briskly across, each time @ Bringing down meaning as snow from a low sky, or rabbits flushed from a wood.|
|How strange that the narrow perspective lines @ Always seem to meet, although parallel, and that an insane ghost could do this, @ Could make the house seem so much farther in the distance, as @ It seemed to the horse, dragging the sledge of a perspective line.|
|Dim banners in the distance, to die. . . .
And nothing put to rights.
The pigs in their cages @ And so much snow, but it is to be littered with waste and ashes @ So that cathedrals may grow.
Out of this spring builds a tolerable @ Affair of brushwood, the sea is felt behind oak wands, noiselessly pouring.|
|Spring with its promise of winter, and the black ivy once again @ On the porch, its yellow perspective bands in place @ And the horse nears them and weeps.|
|So much has passed through my mind this morning @ That I can give you but a dim account of it: @ It is already after lunch, the men are returning to their positions around the cement mixer @ And I try to sort out what has happened to me.
The bundle of Gerards letters, @ And that awful bit of news buried on the back page of yesterdays paper.|
|Then the news of you this morning, in the snow.
Sometimes the interval @ Of bad news is so brisk that . . .
And the human brain, with its tray of images @ Seems a sorcerers magic lantern, projecting black and orange cellophane shadows @ On the distance of my hand . . .
The very reactions puny, @ And when we seek to move around, wondering what our position is now, what the arm of that chair.|
|A great wind lifted these cardboard panels @ Horizontal in the air.
At once the perspective with the horse @ Disappeared in a bigarrure of squiggly lines.
The image with the crocodile in it became no longer apparent.|
|Thus a great wind cleanses, as a new ruler @ Edits new laws, sweeping the very breath of the streets @ Into posterior trash.
The films have changed @ The great titles on the scalloped awning have turned dry and blight-colored.|
|No wind that does not penetrate a mans house, into the very bowels of the furnace, @ Scratching in dust a name on the mirrorsay, and what about letters, @ The dried grasses, fruits of the wintergosh!
Everything is trash!|
|The wind points to the advantages of decay @ At the same time as removing them far from the sight of men.|
|The regent of the winds, Aeolus, is a symbol for all earthly potentates @ Since holding this sickening, festering process by which we are cleansed @ Of afterthought.|
| A girl slowly descended the line of steps.|
|The wind and treason are partners, turning secrets over to the military police.|
The intensity of minor acts.
As skaters elaborate their distances, @ Taking a separate line to its end.
Returning to the mass, they join each other @ Blotted in an incredible mess of dark colors, and again reappearing to take the theme @ Some little distance, like fishing boats developing from the land different parabolas, @ Taking the exquisite theme far, into farness, to Lands End, to the ends of the earth!|
|But the livery of the year, the changing air @ Bring each to fulfillment.
Leaving phrases unfinished, @ Gestures half-sketched against woodsmoke.
The abundant sap @ Oozes in girls throats, the sticky words, half-uttered, unwished for, @ A blanket disbelief, quickly supplanted by idle questions that fade in turn.|
|Slowly the mood turns to look at itself as some urchin @ Forgotten by the roadside.
New schemes are got up, new taxes, @ Earthworks.
And the hours becomes light again.|
|Girls wake up in it.|
|It is best to remain indoors.
Because there is error @ In so much precision.
As flames are fanned, wishful thinking arises @ Bearing its own prophets, its pointed ignoring.
And just as a desire @ Settles down at the end of a long spring day, over heather and watered shoot and dried rush field, @ So error is plaited into desires not yet born.|
|Therefore the post must be resumed (is being falsified @ To be forever involved, tragically, with ones own image?).|
|The studio light suddenly invaded the long casementvalues were what @ She knows now.
But the floor is being slowly pulled apart @ Like straw under those limpid feet.|
|And Helga, in the minuscule apartment in Jersey City @ Is reacting violet to the same land of dress, is drawing death @ Again in blossoms against the reactionary fire . . . pulsing @ And knowing nothing to superb lambent distances that intercalate @ This city.
Is the death of the cube repeated.
Or in the musical album.|
|It is time now for a general understanding of @ The meaning of all this.
The meaning of Helga, importance of the setting, etc.|
|A description of the blues.
Labels on bottles @ And all kinds of discarded objects that ought to be described.|
|But can one ever be sure of which ones?|
|Isnt this a death-trap, wanting to put too much in @ So the floor sags, as under the weight of a piano, or a piano-legged girl @ And the whole house of cards comes dinning down around ones ears!|
|But this is an important aspect of the question @ Which I am not ready to discuss, am not at all ready to, @ This leaving-out business.
On it hinges the very importance of whats novel @ Or autocratic, or dense or silly.
It is as well to call attention @ To it by exaggeration, perhaps.
But calling attention @ Isnt the same thing as explaining, and as I said I am not ready @ To line phrases with the costly stuff of explanation, and shall not, @ Will not do so for the moment.
Except to say that the carnivorous @ Way of these lines is to devour their own nature, leaving @ Nothing but a bitter impression of absence, which as we know involves presence, but still.|
|Nevertheless these are fundamental absences, struggling to get up and be off themselves.|
|This, thus is a portion of the subject of this poem @ Which is in the form of falling snow: @ That is, the individual flakes are not essential to the importance of the wholes becoming so much of a truism @ That their importance is again called in question, to be denied further out, and again and again like this.|
|Hence, neither the importance of the individual flake, @ Nor the importance of the whole impression of the storm, if it has any, is what it is, @ But the rhythm of the series of repeated jumps, from abstract into positive and back to a slightly less diluted abstract.|
|Mild effects are the result.|
|I cannot think any more of going out into all that, will stay here @ With my quiet schmerzen.
Besides the storm is almost over @ Having frozen the face of the bust into a strange style with the lips @ And the teeth the most distinct part of the whole business.|
|It is this madness to explain. . . .|
|What is the matter with plain old-fashioned cause-and-effect?|
|Leaving one alone with romantic impressions of the trees, the sky?|
|Who, actually, is going to be fooled one instant by these phony explanations, @ Think them important?
So back we go to the old, imprecise feelings, the @ Common knowledge, the importance of duly suffering and the occasional glimpses @ Of some balmy felicity.
The world of Schuberts lieder.
I am fascinated @ Though by the urge to get out of it all, by going @ Further in and correcting the whole mismanaged mess.
But am afraid Ill @ Be of no help to you.
|As balloons are to the poet, so to the ground @ Its varied assortment of trees.
The more assorted they are, the @ Vaster his experience.
Sometimes @ You catch sight of them on a level with the top story of a house, @ Strung up there for publicity purposes.
Or like those bubbles @ Children make with a kind of ring, not a pipe, and probably using some detergent @ Rather than plain everyday soap and water.
Where was I?
The balloons @ Drift thoughtfully over the land, not exactly commenting on it; @ These are the range of the poets experience.
He can hide in trees @ Like a hamadryad, but wisely prefers not to, letting the balloons @ Idle him out of existence, as a car idles.
Traveling faster @ And more furiously across unknown horizons, belted into the night @ Wishing more and more to be unlike someone, getting the whole thing @ (So he believes) out of his system.
|We are a part of some system, thinks he, just as the sun is part of @ The solar system.
Trees brake his approach.
And he seems to be wearing but @ Half a coat, viewed from one side.
A half-man look inspiring the disgust of honest folk @ Returning from chores, the milk frozen, the pump heaped high with a chapeau of snow, @ The No Skating sign as well.
But it is here that he is best, @ Face to face with the unsmiling alternatives of his nerve-wracking existence.|
|Placed squarely in front of his dilemma, on all fours before the lamentable spectacle of the unknown.|
|Yet knowing where men are coming from.
It is this, to hold the candle up to the album.|
|Under the window marked General Delivery . . .|
|This should be a letter @ Throwing you a minute to one side, @ Of how this tossing looks harmonious from a distance, @ Like sea or the tops of trees, and how @ Only when one gets closer is its sadness small and appreciable.|
|It can be held in the hand.|
|All this must go into a letter.|
|Also the feeling of being lived, looking for people, @ And gradual peace and relaxation.|
|But theres no personal involvement: @ These sudden bursts of hot and cold @ Are wreathed in shadowless intensity @ Whose moment saps them of all characteristics.|
|Thus beginning to rest you at once know.|
|Once there was a point in these islands, @ Coming to see where the rock had rotted away, @ And turning into a tiny speck in the distance.|
|But wars savagery. . . .
Even the most patient scholar, now @ Could hardly reconstruct the old fort exactly as it was.|
|That trees continue to wave over it.
That there is also a small museum somewhere inside.|
|That the history of costume is no less fascinating than the history of great migrations.|
|Id like to bugger you all up, @ Deliberately falsify all your old suck-ass notions @ Of how chivalry is being lived.
What goes on in beehives.|
|But the whole filthy mess, misunderstandings included, @ Problems about the tunic button etc.
How much of any one person is there.|
|Still, after bananas and spoonbread in the shadow of the old walls @ It is cooling to return under the eaves in the shower @ That probably fell while we were inside, examining bowknots, @ Old light-bulb sockets, places where the whitewash had begun to flake @ With here and there an old map or illustration.
Heres one for instance @ Looks like a weather map . . . or a coiled bit of wallpaper with a design @ Of faded hollyhocks, or abstract fruit and gumdrops in chains.|
|But how is it that you are always indoors, peering at too heavily canceled stamps through a greasy magnifying glass?|
|And slowly the incoherencies of day melt in @ A general wishful thinking of night @ To peruse certain stars over the bay.|
|Cataracts of peace pour from the poised heavens @ And only fear of snakes prevents us from passing the night in the open air.|
|The day is definitely at an end.|
|Old heavens, you used to tweak above us, @ Standing like rain whenever a salvo . . .
Old heavens, @ You lying there above the old, but not ruined, fort, @ Can you hear, there, what I am saying?|
|For it is you I am parodying, @ Your invisible denials.
And the almost correct impressions @ Corroborated by newsprint, which is so fine.|
|I call to you there, but I do not think that you will answer me.|
|For I am condemned to drum my fingers @ On the closed lid of this piano, this tedious planet, earth @ As it winks to you through the aspiring, growing distances, @ A last spark before the night.|
|There was much to be said in favor of storms @ But you seem to have abandoned them in favor of endless light.|
|I cannot say that I think the change much of an improvement.|
|There is something fearful in these summer nights that go on forever. . . .|
|We are nearing the Moorish coast, I think, in a bateau.|
|I wonder if I will have any friends there @ Whether the future will be kinder to me than the past, for example, @ And am all set to be put out, finding it to be not.|
|Still, I am prepared for this voyage, and for anything else you may care to mention.|
|Not that I am not afraid, but there is very little time left.|
|You have probably made travel arrangements, and know the feeling.|
|Suddenly, one morning, the little train arrives in the station, but oh, so big @ It is!
Much bigger and faster than anyone told you.|
|A bewhiskered student in an old baggy overcoat is waiting to take it.|
|Why do you want to go there, they all say.
It is better in the other direction.|
|And so it is.
There people are free, at any rate.
But where you are going no one is.|
|Still there are parks and libraries to be visited, la Bibliothèque Municipale, @ Hotel reservations and all that rot.
Old American films dubbed into the foreign language, @ Coffee and whiskey and cigar stubs.
And rain on the bristly wool of your topcoat.|
|I realize that I never knew why I wanted to come.|
|Yet I shall never return to the past, that attic, @ Its sailboats are perhaps more beautiful than these, these I am leaning against, @ Spangled with diamonds and orange and purple stains, @ Bearing me once again in quest of the unknown.
These sails are life itself to me.|
|I heard a girl say this once, and cried, and brought her fresh fruit and fishes, @ Olives and golden baked loaves.
She dried her tears and thanked me.|
|Now we are both setting sail into the purplish evening.|
|I love it!
This cruise can never last long enough for me.|
|But once more, office desks, radiatorsNo!
That is behind me.|
|No more dullness, only movies and love and laughter, sex and fun.|
|The ticket seller is blowing his little hornhurry before the window slams down.|
|The train we are getting onto is a boat train, and the boats are really boats this time.|
|But I heard the heavens sayIs it right?
This continual changing back and forth?|
|Laughter and tears and so on?
Mightnt just plain sadness be sufficient for him?|
Ill not accept that any more, you bewhiskered old caverns of blue!|
|This is just right for me.
I am cozily ensconced in the balcony of my face @ Looking out over the whole darn countryside, a beacon of satisfaction @ I am.
Ill not trade places with a king.
Here I am then, continuing but ever beginning @ My perennial voyage, into new memories, new hope and flowers @ The way the coasts glide past you.
I shall never forget this moment @ Because it consists of purest ecstasy.
I am happier now than I ever dared believe @ Anyone could be.
And we finger down the dog-eared coasts. . . .|
|It is all passing!
It is past!
No, I am here, @ Bellow the coasts, and even the heavens roar their assent @ As we pick up a lemon-colored light horizontally @ Projected into the night, the night that heaven @ Was kind enough to send, and I launch into the happiest dreams, @ Happier once again, because tomorrow is already here.|
|Yet certain kernels remain.
Clouds that drift past sheds @ Read it in the official bulletin.
We shant be putting out today.|
|The old stove smoked worse than ever because rain was coming down its chimney.|
|Only the bleary eye of fog accosted one through the mended pane.|
|Outside, the swamp water lapped the broken wood step.|
|A rowboat was moored in the alligator-infested swamp.|
|Somewhere, from deep in the interior of the jungle, a groan was heard.|
|Could it be . . .? Anyway, a rainy daywet weather. @ The whole voyage will have to be canceled. @ It would be impossible to make different connections.|
|Anyway the hotels are all full at this season.
The junks packed with refugees @ Returning from the islands.
Sea-bream and flounder abound in the muddied waters. . . .|
|They in fact represent the backbone of the island economy.|
|That, and cigar rolling.
Please leave your papers at the desk as you pass out, @ You know.
The Wedding March.
Ah yes, thats the way.
The couple descend @ The steps of the little old church.
Ribbons are flung, ribbons of cloud @ And the sun seems to be coming out.
But there have been so many false alarms. . . .|
|No, its happened!
The storm is over.
Again the weather is fine and clear.|
|And the voyage?
Listen everybody, the ship is starting, @ I can hear its whistles roar!
We have just time enough to make it to the dock!|
|And away they pour, in the sulfurous sunlight, @ To the aqua and silver waters where stands the glistening white ship @ And into the great vessel they flood, a motley and happy crowd @ Chanting and pouring down hymns on the surface of the ocean. . . .|
|Pulling, tugging us along with them, by means of streamers, @ Golden and silver confetti.
Smiling, we laugh and sing with the revelers @ But are not quite certain that we want to gothe dock is so sunny and warm.|
|That majestic ship will pull up anchor who knows where?|
|And full of laughter and tears, we sidle once again with the other passengers.|
|The ground is heaving under foot.
Is it the ship?
It could be the dock. . . .|
|And with a great whoosh all the sails go up. . . .
Hideous black smoke belches forth from the funnels @ Smudging the gold carnival costumes with the gaiety of its jet-black soot @ And, as into a tunnel the voyage starts @ Only, as I said, to be continued.
The eyes of those left standing on the dock are wet @ But ours are dry.
Into the secretive, vaporous night with all of us!|
|Into the unknown, the unknown that loves us, the great unknown!|
|So man nightly @ Sparingly descends @ The birches and the hay all of him @ Pruned, erect for vital contact.
As the separate mists of day slip @ Uncomplainingly into the atmosphere.
The question sinks into @ That mazy business @ About writing or to have read it in some book @ To silently move away.
At Gannosfonadiga the pumps @ Working, argent in the thickening sunset, like boys shoulders @ And you return to the question as to a calendar of November @ Again and again consulting the surface of that enormous affair @ I think not to have loved you but the music @ Petting the enameled slow-imagined stars @ A concert of dissatisfaction whereby gutter and dust seep @ To engross the mirrored image and its landscape: @ As when @ through darkness and mist @ the pole-bringer @ demandingly watches @ I am convinced these things are of some importance.|
|Firstly, it is a preparing to go outward @ Of no planet limiting the enjoyment @ Of motionhips free of embarrassment etc.|
|The figure 8 is a perfect symbol @ Of the freedom to be gained in this kind of activity.|
|The perspective lines of the barn are another and different kind of example @ (Viz.Riggs Farm, near Aysgarth, Wensleydale, or the Sketch at Norton) @ In which we escape ourselvesputrefying mass of prevarications etc. @ In remaining close to the limitations imposed.|
|Another example is this separate dying @ Still keeping in mind the coachmen, servant girls, duchesses, etc. (cf.Jeremy Taylor) @ Falling away, rhythm of too-wet snow, but parallel @ With the kind of rhythm substituting for meaning.|
|Looked at from this angle the problem of death and survival @ Ages slightly.
For the solutions are millionfold, like waves of wild geese returning in spring.|
|Scarcely we know where to turn to avoid suffering, I mean @ There are so many places.|
|So, coachman-servile, or scullion-slatternly, but each place is taken.|
|The lines that draw nearer together are said to vanish. @ The point where they meet is their vanishing point.|
|Spaces, as they recede, become smaller.|
|But another, more urgent question imposes itselfthat of poverty.|
|How to excuse it to oneself?
The wetness and coldness?
Dirt and grime?|
|Uncomfortable, unsuitable lodgings, with a depressing view?|
|The peeled geranium flowering in a rusted tomato can, @ Framed in a sickly ray of sunlight, a tragic chromo?|
|A broken mirror nailed up over a chipped enamel basin, whose turgid waters @ Reflect the fly-specked calendarwith ecstatic Dutch girl clasping tulips @ On the far wall.
Hanging from one nail, an old velvet hat with a tattered bit of veilinglast remnant of former finery.|
|The bed well made.
The whole place scrupulously clean, but cold and damp.|
|All this, wedged into a pyramidal ray of light, is my own invention.|
|But to return to our tomato canthose spared by the goats @ Can be made into a practical telephone, the two halves being connected by a length of wire.|
|You can talk to your friend in the next room, or around corners.|
|An American inventor made a fortune with just such a contraption.|
|The branches tear at the sky @ Things too tiny to be remembered in recorded historythe backfiring of a bus @ In a Paris street in 1932, and all the clumsy seductions and amateur paintings done, @ Clamber to join in the awakening @ To take a further role in my determination.
These clown-shapes @ Filling up the available space for miles, like acres of red and mustard pom-poms @ Dusted with a pollen we call an air of truth.
Massed mounds @ Of Hades it is true.
I propose a general housecleaning @ Of these true and valueless shapes which pester us with their raisons dêtre @ Whom no one (that is their weakness) can ever get to like.|
|There are moving parts to be got out of order, @ However, in the flame fountain.
Add gradually one ounce, by measure, of sulphuric acid @ To five or six ounces of water in an earthenware basin.
Add to it, also gradually, about three-quarters of an ounce of granulated zinc.|
|A rapid production of hydrogen gas will instantly take place.
Then add, @ From time to time, a few pieces of phosphorus the size of a pea.|
|A multitude of gas bubbles will be produced, which will fire on the surface of the effervescing liquid.|
|The whole surface of the liquid will become luminous, and fire balls, with jets of fire, @ Will dart from the bottom, through the fluid with great rapidity and a hissing noise.|
|Sure, but a simple shelter from this or other phenomena is easily contrived.|
|But how luminous the fountain!
Its sparks seem to aspire to reach the sky!|
|And so much energy in those bubbles.
A wise man could contemplate his face in them @ With impunity, but fools would surely do better not to approach too close @ Because any intense physical activity like that implies danger for the unwary and the uneducated.
Great balls of fire!|
|In my day we used to make fire designs, using a saturated solution of nitrate of potash.|
|Then we used to take a smooth stick, and using the solution as ink, draw with it on sheets of white tissue paper.|
|Once it was thoroughly dry, the writing would be invisible.|
|By means of a spark from a smoldering match ignite the potassium nitrate at any part of the drawing, @ First laying the paper on a plate or tray in a darkened room.|
|The fire will smolder along the line of the invisible drawing until the design is complete.|
|Meanwhile the fire fountain is still smoldering and welling, @ Casting off a hellish stink and wild fumes of pitch @ Acrid as jealousy.
And it might be @ That flame writing might be visible right there, in the gaps in the smoke @ Without going through the bother of the solution-writing.|
|A word here and therepromise or bewareyou have to go the long way round @ Before you find the entrance to that side is closed.|
|The phosphorescent liquid is still heaving and boiling, however.|
|And what if this insane activity were itself a kind of drawing @ Of April sidewalks, and young trees bursting into timid leaf @ And dogs sniffing hydrants, the fury of spring beginning to back up along their veins?|
|Yonder stand a young boy and girl leaning against a bicycle.|
|The iron lamppost next to them disappears into the feathery, unborn leaves that suffocate its top.|
|A postman is coming up the walk, a letter held in his outstretched hand.|
|This is his first day on the new job, and he looks warily around @ Alas not seeing the hideous bulldog bearing down on him like sixty, its hellish eyes fixed on the seat of his pants, jowls a-slaver.|
|Nearby a young woman is fixing her stocking.
Watching her, a chap with a hat @ Is about to walk into the path of a speeding hackney cabriolet.
The line of lampposts @ Marches up the street in strict array, but the lamp-parts @ Are lost in feathery bloom, in which hidden faces can be spotted, for this is a puzzle scene.|
|The sky is white, yet full of outlined starsit must be night, @ Or an early springtime evening, with just a hint of dampness and chill in the air @ Memory of winter, hint of the autumn to come @ Yet the lovers congregate anyway, the lights twinkle slowly on.|
|Cars move steadily along the street.|
|It is a scene worthy of the poets pen, yet it is the fire demon @ Who has created it, throwing it up on the dubious surface of a phosphorescent fountain @ For all the world like a poet.
But love can appreciate it, @ Use or misuse it for its own ends.
Love is stronger than fire.|
|The proof of this is that already the heaving, sucking fountain is paling away @ Yet the fire-lines of the lovers remain fixed, as if permanently, on the air of the lab.|
|Not for long though.
And now they too collapse, @ Giving, as they pass away, the impression of a bluff, @ Its craggy headlands outlined in sparks, its top crowned with a zigzag @ Of grass and shrubs, pebbled beach at the bottom, with flat sea @ Holding a few horizontal lines.
Then this vision, too, fades slowly away.|
|Now you must shield with your body if necessary (you @ Remind me of some lummox I used to know) the secret your body is.|
|Yes, you are a secret and you must NEVER tell itthe vapor @ Of the stars would quickly freeze you to death, like a tear-stiffened handkerchief @ Held in liquid air.
No, but this secret is in some way the fuel of @ Your living apart.
A hearth fire picked up in the glow of polished @ Wooden furniture and picture frames, something to turn away from and move back to @ Understand?
This is all a part of you and the only part of you.|
|Here comes the answer: is it because apples grow @ On the tree, or because it is green?
One average day you may never know @ How much is pushed back into the night, nor what may return @ To sulk contentedly, half asleep and half awake @ By the arm of a chair pointed into @ The painting of the hearth fire, or reach, in a coma,|
|Out of the garden for foreign students. @ Be sure the giant would know falling asleep, but the frozen droplets reveal @ A mixed situation in which the penis @ Scored the offer by fixed marches into what is.|
|One black spot remained.|
|If I should . . .
If I said you were there @ The . . . towering peace around us might @ Hold up the way it breaksthe monsoon @ Move a pebble, to the plumbing contract, cataract.|
|There has got to be onlythere is going to be @ An accent on the portable bunch of grapes @ The time the mildewed sea cast the @ Hygrometer too far away.
You read into it @ The meaning of tears, survey of our civilization.|
|Only one thing exists: the fear of death.
As widows are a prey to loan sharks|
|And Cape Hatteras to hurricanoes, so man to the fear of dying, to the @ Certainty of falling.
And just so it permits him to escape from time to time @ Amid fields of boarded-up posters: Objects, as they recede, appear to become smaller @ And all horizontal receding lines have their vanishing point upon the line of sight, @ Which is some comfort after all, for our volition to see must needs condition these phenomena to a certain degree.|
|But it would be rash to derive too much confidence from a situation which, in the last analysis, scarcely warrants it.|
|What I said first goes: sleep, death and hollyhocks @ And a new twilight stained, perhaps, a slightly unearthlier periwinkle blue, @ But no dramatic arguments for survival, and please no magic justification of results.|
|Uh . . . stupid song . . . that weather bonnet @ Is all gone now.
But the apothecary biscuits dwindled.|
|Where a little spectral @ Cliffs, teeming over into ironys @ Gotten silently inflicted on the passages @ Morning undermines, the daughter is.|
|Its oval armor @ Protects it then, and the poisonous filaments hanging down @ Are armor as well, or are they the creature itself, screaming @ To protect itself?
An aggressive weapon, as well as a plan of defense?|
|Nature is still liable to pull a few fast ones, which is why I cant emphasize enough @ The importance of adhering to my original program.
|No hope is to be authorized except in exceptional cases @ To be decided on by me.
In the meantime, back to dreaming, @ Your most important activity.|
|The most difficult of all is an arrangement of hawthorn leaves.|
|But the sawing motion of desire, throwing you a moment to one side . . . @ And then the other, will, I think, permit you to forget your dreams for a little while.|
|In reality you place too much importance on them.
Frei aber Einsam (Free but Alone) @ Ought to be your motto.
If you dream at all, place a cloth over your face: @ Its expression of satisfied desire might be too much for some spectators.|
|The west wind grazes my cheek, the droplets come pattering down; @ What matter now whether I wake or sleep?|
|The west wind grazes my cheek, the droplets come pattering down; @ A vast design shows in the meadows parched and trampled grasses.|
|Actually a game of fox and geese has been played there, but the real reality, @ Beyond truer imaginings, is that it is a mystical design full of a certain significance, @ Burning, sealing its way into my consciousness.|
|Smooth out the sad flowers, pick up where you left off @ But leave me immersed in dreams of sexual imagery: @ Now that the homecoming geese unfurl in waves on the west wind @ And cock covers hen, the farmhouse dog slavers over his bitch, and horse and mare go screwing through the meadow!|
|A pure scream of things arises from these various sights and smells @ As steam from a wet shingle, and I am happy once again @ Walking among these phenomena that seem familiar to me from my earliest childhood.|
|The gray wastes of water surround @ My puny little shoal.
Sometimes storms roll @ Tremendous billows far up on the gray sand beach, and the morning @ After, odd tusked monsters lie stinking in the sun.|
|They are inedible.
For food there is only @ Breadfruit, and berries garnered in the jungles inner reaches, @ Wrested from scorpion and poisonous snake.
Fresh water is a problem.|
|After a rain you may find some nestling in the hollow trunk of a tree, or in hollow stones.|
|Ones only form of distraction is really @ To climb to the top of the one tall cliff to scan the distances.|
|Not for a ship, of coursethis island is far from all the trade routes @ But in hopes of an unusual sight, such as a school of dolphins at play, @ A whale spouting, or a cormorant bearing down on its prey.|
|So high this cliff is that the pebble beach far below seems made of gravel.|
|Halfway down, the crows and choughs look like bees.|
|Near by are the nests of vultures.
They cluck sympathetically in my direction, @ Which will not prevent them from rending me limb from limb once I have keeled over definitively.|
|Further down, and way over to one side, are eagles; @ Always fussing, fouling their big nests, they always seem to manage to turn their backs to you.|
|The glass is low; no doubt we are in for a storm.|
|Sure enough: in the pale gray and orange distances to the left, a @ Waterspout is becoming distinctly visible.|
|Beautiful, but terrifying; @ Delicate, transparent, like a watercolor by that nineteenth-century Englishman whose name I forget.|
|(I am beginning to forget everything on this island.
If only I had been allowed to bring my ten favorite books with me @ But a weathered childs alphabet is my only reading material.
Luckily, @ Some of the birds and animals on the island are pictured in itthe albatross, for instancethats a name I never would have remembered.)|
|It looks as though the storm-fiend were planning to kick up quite a ruckus @ For this evening.
I had better be getting back to the tent @ To make sure everything is shipshape, weight down the canvas with extra stones, @ Bank the fire, and prepare myself a little hardtack and tea @ For the evenings repast.
Still, it is rather beautiful up here, @ Watching the oncoming storm.
Now the big cloud that was in front of the waterspout @ Seems to be lurching forward, so that the waterspout, behind it, looks more like a three-dimensional photograph.|
|Above me, the sky is a luminous silver-gray.
Yet rain, like silver porcupine quills, has begun to be thrown down.|
|All the lightning is still contained in the big black cloud however.
Now thunder claps belch forth from it, @ Causing the startled vultures to fry forth from their nests.|
|I really had better be getting back down, I suppose.|
|Still it is rather fun to linger on in the wet, @ Letting your clothes get soaked.
What difference does it make?
No one will scold me for it, @ Or look askance.
Supposing I catch cold?
It hardly matters, there are no nurses or infirmaries here @ To make an ass of one.
A really serious case of pneumonia would suit me fine.|
There, now Im being punished for saying so.
Aw, whats the use.|
|I really am starting down now.
|In reality of course the middle-class apartment I live in is nothing like a desert island.|
|Cozy and warm it is, with a good library and record collection.|
|Yet I feel cut off from the life in the streets.|
|Automobiles and trucks plow by, spattering me with filthy slush.|
|The man in the street turns his face away.
Another island-dweller, no doubt.|
|In a store or crowded café, you get a momentary impression of warmth: @ Steam pours out of the espresso machine, fogging the panes with their modern lettering @ Of a kind that has only been available for about a year.
The headlines offer you @ News that is so new you cant realize it yet.
A revolution in Argentina!
Think of it!
Bullets flying through the air, men on the move; @ Great passions inciting to massive expenditures of energy, changing the lives of many individuals.|
|Yet it is all offered as todays news, as if we somehow had a right to it, as though it were a part of our lives @ That wed be silly to refuse.
Here, have anothercrime or revolution?
Take your pick.|
|None of this makes any difference to professional exiles like me, and that includes everybody in the place.|
|We go on sipping our coffee, thinking dark or transparent thoughts . . .|
|Excuse me, may I have the sugar.
Why certainlypardon me for not having passed it to you.|
|A lot of bunk, none of them really care whether you get any sugar or not.|
|Just try asking for something more complicated and see how far it gets you.|
|Not that I care anyway, being an exile.
Nope, the motley spectacle offers no charms whatsoever for me @ And yetand yet I feel myself caught up in its coils @ Its defectuous movement is that of my reasoning powers @ The main point has already changed, but the masses continue to tread the water @ Of backward opinion, living out their mandate as though nothing had happened.|
|We step out into the street, not realizing that the street is different, @ And so it shall be all our lives; only, from this moment on, nothing will ever be the same again.
Fortunately our small pleasures and the monotony of daily existence @ Are safe.
You will wear the same clothes, and your friends will still want to see you for the same reasonsyou fill a definite place in their lives, and they would be sorry to see you go.|
|There has, however, been this change, so complete as to be invisible: @ You might call it . . . passion might be a good word.|
|I think we will call it that for easy reference.
This room, now, for instance, is all black and white instead of blue.|
|A few snowflakes are floating in the airshaft.
Across the way @ The sun was sinking, casting gray @ Shadows on the front of the buildings.|
|Lower your left shoulder.|
|Stand still and do not seesaw with your body.|
|Any more golfing hints, Charlie?|
|Plant your feet squarely.
Grasp your club lightly but firmly in the hollow of your fingers.|
|Slowly swing well back and complete your stroke well through, pushing to the very end.|
|All up and down de whole creation, like magic-lantern slides projected on the wall of a cavern: castles, enchanted gardens, etc.|
|The usual anagrams of moonlighta story @ That subsides quietly into plain historical fact.|
|You have chosen the customary images of youth, old age and death @ To keep harping on this traditional imagery.
The reader @ Will not have been taken in.|
|He will have managed to find out all about it, the way people do.|
|The moonlight congress backs out then.
And with a cry @ He throws the whole business into the flames: books, notes, pencil diagrams, everything.|
|No, the only thing that interests him is day @ And its problems. Freiheit! Freiheit! To be out of these dusty cells once and for all @ Has been the dream of mankind since the beginning of the universe. @ His day is breaking over the eastern mountains, at least thats the way he tells it.|
|Only the crater of becominga sealed consciousnessresists the profaning mass of the sun.|
|You who automatically sneer at everything that comes along, except your own work, of course, @ Now feel the curious force of the invasion; its soldiers, all and some, @ A part of you the minute they appear.
It is as though workmen in blue overalls @ Were constantly bringing on new props and taking others away: that is how you feel the drama going past you, powerless to act in it.|
|To have it all be over!
To wake suddenly on a hillside @ With a valley far belowthe clouds @ That is the penance you have already done: @ January, March, February.
You are living toward a definition @ Of the peaceful appetite, then you see @ Them standing around limp and hungry like adjacent clouds.|
|Soon there is to be exchange of ideas and @ Far more beautiful handshake, under the coat of @ Weather is undecided right now.|
|Postpone the explanation.|
|The election is to be held tomorrow, under the trees.|
|You felt the months keep coming up @ And it is December again, @ The snow outside.
Or is it June full of sun @ And the prudent benefits of sun, but still the postman comes.|
|The true meaning of some of his letters is slight @ Another time I thought I could see myself.|
|This too proved illusion, but I could deal with the way @ I keep returning on myself like a plank @ Like a small boat blown away from the wind.|
|It all ends in a smile somewhere, @ Notes to be taken on all this, @ And you can see in the dark, of which the night @ Is the continuation of your ecstasy and apprehension.|
|The wind thrashes the maple seed-pods, @ The whole brilliant mass comes spattering down.|
|This is my fourteenth year as governor of C province.|
|I was little more than a lad when I first came here.|
|Now I am old but scarcely any wiser.|
|So little are white hair and a wrinkled forehead a sign of wisdom!|
|To slowly raise oneself @ Hand over hand, lifting ones entire weight; @ To forget there was a possibility @ Of some more politic movement.
That freedom, courage @ And pleasant company could exist.|
|That has always been behind you.|
|An earlier litigation: wind hard in the tops @ Of the baggy eucalyptus branches.|
|Today I wrote, The spring is late this year.|
|In the early mornings there is hoarfrost on the water meadows.|
|And on the highway the frozen ruts are papered over with ice.|
|The day was gloves.|
|How far from the usual statement @ About time, icethe weather itself had gone.|
|I mean this.
Through the years @ You have approached an inventory @ And it is now that tomorrow @ Is going to be the climax of your casual @ Statement about yourself, begun @ So long ago in humility and false quietude.|
|The sands are frantic @ In the hourglass.
But there is time @ To change, to utterly destroy @ That too-familiar image @ Lurking in the glass @ Each morning, at the edge of the mirror.|
|The train is still sitting in the station.|
|You only dreamed it was in motion.|
|There are a few travelers on Z high road.|
|Behind a shutter, two black eyes are watching them.|
|They belong to the wife of P, the high-school principal.|
|The screen door bangs in the wind, one of the hinges is loose.|
|And together we look back at the house.|
|It could use a coat of paint @ Except that I am too poor to hire a workman.|
|I have all I can do to keep body and soul together @ And soon, even that relatively simple task may prove to be beyond my powers.|
|That was a good joke you played on the other guests.|
|A joke of silence.|
|One seizes these moments as they come along, afraid @ To believe too much in the happiness that might result @ Or confide too much of ones love and fear, even in @ Oneself.|
|The spring, though mild, is incredibly wet.|
|I have spent the afternoon blowing soap bubbles @ And it is with a feeling of delight I realize I am @ All alone in the skittish darkness.|
|The birch-pods come clattering down on the weed-grown marble pavement.|
|And a curl of smoke stands above the triangular wooden roof.|
|Seventeen years in the capital of Foo-Yung province!|
|Surely woman was born for something @ Besides continual fornication, retarded only by menstrual cramps.|
|I had thought of announcing my engagement to you @ On the day of the first full moon of X month.|
|The wind has stopped, but the magnolia blossoms still @ Fall with a plop onto the dry, spongy earth.|
|The evening air is pestiferous with midges.|
|There is only one way of completing the puzzle: @ By finding a hog-shaped piece that is light green shading to buff at one side.|
|It is the beginning of March, a few @ Russet and yellow wallflowers are blooming in the border @ Protected by moss-grown, fragmentary masonry.|
|One morning you appear at breakfast @ Dressed, as for a journey, in your worst suit of clothes.|
|And over a pot of coffee, or, more accurately, rusted water @ Announce your intention of leaving me alone in this cistern-like house.|
|In your own best interests I shall decide not to believe you.|
|I think there is a funny sand bar @ Beyond the old boardwalk @ Your intrigue makes you understand.|
|At thirty-two I came up to take my examination at the university.|
|The U wax factory, it seemed, wanted a new general manager.|
|I was the sole applicant for the job, but it was refused me.|
|So I have preferred to finish my life @ In the quietude of this floral retreat.|
|The tiresome old man is telling us his life story.|
|Trout are circling under water @ Masters of eloquence @ Glisten on the pages of your book @ Like mountains veiled by water or the sky.|
|The second position @ Comes in the seventeenth year @ Watching the meaningless gyrations of flies above a sill.|
|Heads in hands, waterfall of simplicity.|
|The delta of living into everything.|
|The pump is busted.
I shall have to get it fixed.|
|Your knotted hair @ Around your shoulders @ A shawl the color of the spectrum @ Like that marvelous thing you havent learned yet.|
|To refuse the square hive, @ postpone the highest . . .|
|The apples are all getting tinted @ In the cool light of autumn.|
|The constellations are rising @ In perfect order: Taurus, Leo, Gemini.|