A p.s. to previous note on "Green Constellation":

the "ecstatic Russian bells" should be seen in context of the many Russian topoi informing the entire Forth of July, which began (in the 1st chapter of Stubborn - "Shakespeare's Head" [a building in Providence]) with brief sketches echoing-mimicking Mandelstam's Voronezh poems. The "path P of the Pushkin-the-cat thread. . . the coccoon/butterfly metamorphoses, central in Nabokov & important in Brodsky. . . the "Letters to Elena". . . not to mention the whole number/dating system, so pervasive. . . (the numbers 28 & 29, dates 5/28 & 5/29. . .

the central book, Grassblade Light, is the most numerically orchestrated. . . each chapter of 28 poems (each containing 7 quatrains or 28 lines : 4/7, or 4th of July), with a central 29th. . . July (1st part) is made of of chapters containing 5 sections of 28 stanzas each. . .

5/28 : burial of Wm. Blackstone, 1st RI settler, the "man who went to live with Indians". . . 5/29 RI Statehood Day, HG/JFK b-day, date of fall of Constantinople, traditional seat of Orthodox Christendom (1453), date (in 1913) of debut performance of Stravinsky's "Rite of Spring". Final chapter of Grassblade is titled "Rite of Spring" (in which "Henry" finally addresses "Juliet" plainly, directly).

(Please pardon semi-repetitions here, for those who've read archive from around January.)

Here's a bit from the coda volume, Blackstone's Day-Book : one among many which emphasizes the Rus-Mandelstam threads of the poem (one etymology for "Rus", Russia, is "rowers" - refering to the Vikings who governed the 1st Rus capital, Kiev). The poem refers to Mandelstam's short stark Voronezh poem which begins "Washing up in the winter courtyard" ("mandel" means "almond"):


We are coming to the end of Henry
Navigator's long voyage, Elena –
circling around an elephant ear (Abul
Abaz, or Barnum's Jumbo) – see

how everything grows simpler,
more harsh, more true. Still
the well is always there (and will
be) – like the man standing here

beside it in the dark courtyard
(strange blooming out-of-season
almond branch). A stone,
a star, a well. A cup of water

from a rainbarrel (or Tartar
wine). A circling dragon-boat
or scrap of origami writ
folded to float so lightly. . . there.

You fold Andromeda into a W,
a mountain range back into M.
You cup them in your palm
to make a diamond, or double-

diamond – cat's eyes, Pushkinian.
Delicate Blue Morpho wings
woven with microscopic strings
of quipu thread (gentian-

gentle, violet, and red). A knit
crossroad, then – red, white –
streams into Cassiopeia's
mother-night (at last).


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