Because reason is inadequate.

9/16/14





Always a bridesmaid ...

A new poem, "The Night Relies"was chosen as a finalist for this year's Rattle Poetry Prize:
 
Rattle Announcement

9/11/14

September 1, 1939

I sit in one of the dives
On Fifty-second Street
Uncertain and afraid
As the clever hopes expire
Of a low dishonest decade: 
Waves of anger and fear 
Circulate over the bright
And darkened lands of the earth, 
Obsessing our private lives;
The unmentionable odour of death 
Offends the September night.

Accurate scholarship can
Unearth the whole offence
From Luther until now
That has driven a culture mad,
Find what occurred at Linz,
What huge imago made
A psychopathic god:
I and the public know
What all schoolchildren learn,
Those to whom evil is done
Do evil in return.

Exiled Thucydides knew
All that a speech can say
About Democracy,
And what dictators do,
The elderly rubbish they talk
To an apathetic grave;
Analysed all in his book,
The enlightenment driven away,
The habit-forming pain,
Mismanagement and grief:
We must suffer them all again.

Into this neutral air
Where blind skyscrapers use 
Their full height to proclaim 
The strength of Collective Man, 
Each language pours its vain 
Competitive excuse:
But who can live for long
In an euphoric dream;
Out of the mirror they stare, 
Imperialism's face
And the international wrong.

Faces along the bar
Cling to their average day:
The lights must never go out,
The music must always play,
All the conventions conspire
To make this fort assume
The furniture of home;
Lest we should see where we are, 
Lost in a haunted wood,
Children afraid of the night
Who have never been happy or good.

The windiest militant trash 
Important Persons shout
Is not so crude as our wish: 
What mad Nijinsky wrote 
About Diaghilev
Is true of the normal heart; 
For the error bred in the bone 
Of each woman and each man 
Craves what it cannot have, 
Not universal love
But to be loved alone.

From the conservative dark
Into the ethical life
The dense commuters come,
Repeating their morning vow;
'I will be true to the wife,
I'll concentrate more on my work,'
And helpless governors wake
To resume their compulsory game: 
Who can release them now,
Who can reach the dead,
Who can speak for the dumb?

All I have is a voice
To undo the folded lie,
The romantic lie in the brain
Of the sensual man-in-the-street 
And the lie of Authority
Whose buildings grope the sky: 
There is no such thing as the State 
And no one exists alone;
Hunger allows no choice
To the citizen or the police;
We must love one another or die.

Defenseless under the night
Our world in stupor lies;
Yet, dotted everywhere,
Ironic points of light
Flash out wherever the Just
Exchange their messages:
May I, composed like them
Of Eros and of dust,
Beleaguered by the same
Negation and despair,
Show an affirming flame.

-Auden

9/3/14

8/25/14

A visual dictionary:

Here

8/23/14

Penelope Lively

"Beliefs are relative.  Our connection with reality is always tenuous.  I do not know by what magic a picture appears on my television screen, or how a crystal chip has apparently infinite capacities.  I accept, simply.  And yet I am by nature sceptical -- a questioner, a doubter, an instinctive agnostic.  In the frozen stone of the cathedrals of Europe there co-exist the Apostles, Christ and Mary, lambs, fish, gryphons, dragons, sea-serpents and the faces of men with leaves for hair.  I approve of that liberality of mind."  -- Penelope Lively


8/17/14

When Poets Gather


When poets gather in the wood, (no stage, no schmooze, no selling of books), beautiful things happen.






















photos Laurie James and Alan Wartes

7/28/14

What a different result one gets by changing the metaphor!
 George Eliot













The summer's coming to a close





















7/23/14

7/21/14

Lucille Clifton



the times
it is hard to remain human on a day
when birds perch weeping
in the trees and the squirrel eyes
do not look away but the dog ones do
in pity.
another child has killed a child
and i catch myself relieved that they are
white and i might understand except
that i am tired of understanding.
if these
alphabets could speak their own tongue
it would be all symbol surely;
the cat would hunch across the long table
and that would mean time is catching up,
and the spindle fish would run to ground
and that would mean the end is coming
and the grains of dust would gather themselves
along the streets and spell out
these too are your children   this too is your child.  

7/15/14


Matthew Buckley Smith


"By ‘voice’ I don’t mean the sound breath makes when passing through the organ of the larynx. I mean the sound language makes when passing through the organ of the memory."

An extraordinary essay exploring the subtleties of voice:


Smartish Pace






7/11/14


The difficulty is not to write, but to write what you mean.   -  RLS


6/23/14

Ode to the Elders



On definitions




define, from the French, de finis', to set limitations

6/3/14


A new poem of mine appears in this month's New Criterion:


New Criterion



4/30/14

4/13/14

We must have reasons for speech, but we need none for silence.