I've decided to bring HG Poetics to a close today. 4/7 is a good number for me.

Thanks to one & all, for visiting, reading, writing.

Adios & bon voyage.


The quartzite ridge you are now standing on
is about 23 miles long, 800 feet wide, and rises
some 100 to 300 feet above the nearby
agricultural fields.
The hard, red-to-pink Sioux
quartzite exposed here is one of the oldest
bedrock formations in Minnesota and was deposited
originally as red sand
all the glyphs at the Jeffers
site were produced by pecking with a pointed rock
held in the fist and used as a punch
struck with a hammerstone
carvings that resemble
bird tracks can be found
turtles, geometric designs,
bison figures, stylized thunderbirds,
and birds in flight
a long-legged animal glyph
which could represent a horse
Dragonfly and linked circles.
The dragonfly is a common Dakota motif,
and the linked circles were often
used... to depict the passage of time.


Today is the anniversary of Martin Luther King's assassination.

(Posted this before, I know. Here goes again. Riddle for bloggies - who, in part, does PG refer to? Clues in 2nd stanza. Anyone hazard a guess?)


Interesting. A black cub in a saltcellar
might have to do with a J2 rainbow
coalescence. Where you go, I will go,
Daddy-o – through the mirror –

but what's it all for? A warm
swarm of pinks huddle together
by a pile of boots and nails there.
A nation in a car. Some form

of cartoon coronation. Sloppy
jalopy of jello pie suspended up
for an anchor. PG his marked-
own pine tree. See what I see?

Chilled or gelled half of an ironing
jenny on the bottom of Big Muddy
– because fate dealt a delta hand
a dandy way-off Chinese rune for

dying. This number's upside down
and skewed sideways (pretty darn
rigorous, Mort) on a purple Lincoln
out of Mars, with 44 plates of blown

lizard-lady luck. Drove by today
while everybody died inside. Time
stop broke Sin chain stop cried.
Finish your 2 x 4 calf pie? Eh,

son? Walk it slow now, Abe.
Isaac in the sack, the lamb
lookin askance... Mick, Sam,
Clem, and that other one – Gabe –

in the wings... hold it right there.
Close your eyes now. Silver Bullet
(marvelous red racehorse) set
her seal on him, Dad. Let him go free.

Am reading Hermann Broch's novel Death of Virgil. Very absorbing, beautiful writing. Translator seems to be echoing Whitman (a lot of anaphora - repetition of words at beginning of sentence or phrase (along with vast cosmic-natural imagery). Wonder if it's that way in the original).

Started writing a novel myself on Saturday. When I was done (with a couple pages written) I learned that the Pope had died. It's been a strange Easter/Passover time this spring, the past week or so.

I went to church yesterday. It was my turn to read the Prayers. So I included John Paul II in them (I'm Episcopalian).

Odd time in the church year, when you're confronted intellectually with the mystery of the Resurrection. It affects the sermons. It's something that the intellect & common sense cannot accept, that is, on a rational plane.

A season when the gulf between faith & scepticism yawns widest.

Are we confronted here with a primitive remnant, something from a previous phase of the human mind? Or is there an aspect of willed or motivated contradiction at play? That is, with the mystery of the Resurrection, a line of estrangement is drawn between God and the world, between spirit & flesh. A veil, wrapped around a single person, a single individual (Christ). Which in turn "personalizes" the relationship between Spirit & humanity.

From another angle, the Resurrection "naturalizes" - even "historicizes" - a spiritual reality which is familiar & accessible through many religious traditions (orthodox & fringe) : the reality of "cosmic consciousness". The idea that the end of the physical body is not an absolute end : that, in some unknowable dimension, there is no death : that the soul is immortal. "What will be is only a promise." I think of certain Yeats poems.

(Riddle of the icon - the representative figure ("the Son of Man"). A unique person is commissioned to undertake a collective, historical role. Archetype. It's like an Escher drawing - a "figure/ground" problem in continual oscillation or reversal.)

Which reminds me of this spring poem, one of Mandelstam's last:

To Natasha Shtempel


Limping against her will over the deserted earth,
with uneven, sweet steps,
she walks just ahead
of her swift friend and her fiance.
The restraining freedom
of her inspiring disability pulls her along,
but it seems that her walking is held back
by the charity of a concept:
that this spring weather
is the ancestral mother of the grave's vault,
and that this is an eternal beginning.


There are women, who are so close to the moist earth,
their every step is a loud mourning,
their calling is to accompany the resurrected,
and to be first to greet the dead.
It is a crime to demand kisses from them,
and it is impossible to part from them.
Today angels, tomorrow worms in the graveyard,
and the day after, just an outline.
The steps you once took, you won't be able to take.
Flowers are immortal. Heaven is integral.
What will be is only a promise.

(Sorry, I don't know who translated this. This poem does strange things to me, like certain passages in Beethoven. It brings tears to my eyes.)


Allen. Is it a springtime feeling, for letting blog go? Time to get outside? Mayhap.

I said I would be bloggin' less, myself. I think I will, anyway. My excuse (for the past couple days) is that the library computer system crashed, I've had not much work to do. This is not such a good excuse, but what excuse ever is?

Not that I don't like blogs, mine & others. Just feeling pull from different direction.

Never been much of a diarist or journal-keeper. Just not that good at it. More of the half-thought unreadable-scribble note type.

OK, over & out for today, gang...
I agree with Jonathan about blind spots, anyway. But all I can say is, "give the guy a break." Do you really think literature & poetry fit into neat academic summations & the pat judgements suitable for MFA PROGRAMS? Brodsky's accomplishments & horizons are large, messy, complicated. His relationship with English & the battles over what is contemporary style were complicated. I wouldn't be surprised if he had a love-hate relation with English which he couldn't even acknowledge, which involved his dependence on that language from the day he stepped off the plane in London & under Auden's paternal umbrella. & that mixed feeling may have come out in these kinds of doggerel-songs. They may also be regarded as some kind of slap at what was considered contemporary American "high style" (Merwin, let's say). I don't know. Brodsky was a subtle and oblique poet - many of his poems in Russian depend on allegory & allusion & comic irony. His writing is steeped in estrangement, & feelings of frustration, spleen, loneliness, guilt.

The whole approach starting from "Brodsky doesn't deserve his fame - I'm going to show you why based on these poems..." - this ungenerous attitude guarantees there will be no encounter with Brodsky's strengths as a poet, essayist, human being. But this argument could go on forever, because there's no shared grounds for evaluation.

Here's an early poem, translated by George Kline, from the Penguin selected volume:


On Washerwoman Bridge, where you and I
stood like two hands of a midnight clock
embracing, soon to part, not for a day
but for all days - this morning on our bridge
a narcissistic fisherman,
forgetting his cork float, stares goggle-eyed
at his unsteady river image.

The ripples age him and then make him young;
a web of wrinkles flows across his brow
and melts into the features of his youth.
He holds our place. Why not? - It is his right.
In recent years whatever stands alone
stands as a symbol of another time.
His is a claim for space.
So let him gaze
into our waters, calmly, at himself,
and even come to know himself. The river
is his by right today. It's like a house
in which new tenants have set up a mirror
but have not yet moved in.


The poem exhibits an almost perfect balance between the thought of what poetry can and cannot be; between thought and (elegiac) feeling; between private emotion & a sense of a particular time (late Soviet Russia). The last image is perfectly subdued, an undertone. (Pushkin : "my sadness is luminous".) I can see why Auden was impressed with young Brodsky.