October 23, 2004

Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz [Filed under: Stevens, Wallace]

Sad Strains of a Gay Waltz

The truth is that there comes a time
When we can mourn no more over music
That is so much motionless sound.

There comes a time when the waltz
Is no longer a mode of desire, a mode
Of revealing desire and is empty of shadows.

Too many waltzes have ended. And then
There’s that mountain-minded Hoon,
For whom desire was never that of the waltz,

Who found all form and order in solitude,
For whom the shapes were never the figures of men.
Now, for him, his forms have vanished.

There is order in neither sea nor sun.
The shapes have lost their glistening.
There are these sudden mobs of men,

These sudden clouds of faces and arms,
An immense suppression, freed,
These voices crying without knowing for what,

Except to be happy, without knowing how,
Imposing forms they cannot describe,
Requiring order beyond their speech.

Too many waltzes have ended. Yet the shapes
For which the voices cry, these, too, may be
Modes of desire, modes of revealing desire.

Too many waltzes–The epic of disbelief
Blares oftener and soon, will soon be constant.
Some harmonious skeptic soon in a skeptical music

Will unite these figures of men and their shapes
Will glisten again with motion, the music
Will be motion and full of shadows.

July 11, 2004

Secrets [Filed under: Auden, W.H.]

Twelve Songs [Song VIII, April 1936]

At last the secret is out, as it always must come in the end,
The delicious story is ripe to tell to the intimate friend;
Over the tea-cups and in the square the tongue has its desire;
Still waters run deep, my dear, there’s never smoke without fire.

Behind the corpse in the reservoir, behind the ghost on the links,
Behind the lady who dances and the man who madly drinks,
Under the look of fatigue, the attack of migraine and the sigh
There is always another story, there is more than meets the eye.

For the clear voice suddenly singing, high up in the convent wall,
The scent of the elder bushes, the sporting prints in the hall,
The croquet matches in summer, the handshake, the cough, the kiss,
There is always a wicked secret, a private reason for this.

June 24, 2004

Plums [Filed under: Williams, William Carlos]

On a particularly slow and boring evening, I happened to breeze through this site on my way to nowhere (side note: the post from June 18th is about the linotype; all of my graduate work was done in a building named after its inventor, Mergenthaler), and was reminded of a poem that has been a favorite since I read it in high school. I’m not usually a fan of William Carlos Williams—his “poem” about the red wheelbarrow has annoyed me for a long, long time—but his poem about the chilled plums is exquisite:

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

Lawless said something today about how the poem itself resembled a plum, so I tried to eat it when I got home but was underwhelmed with the comparison. It seemed to make sense when he said it, though. You’ll have to ask him for clarification.

I also found an homage of sorts.

May 27, 2004

Selections [Filed under: Swinburne, Algernon Charles]

from Félise

Two gifts perforce he has given us yet,
  Though sad things stay and glad things fly ;
Two gifts he has given us, to forget
  All glad and sad things that go by,
  And then to die.

from Ilicet

A little sorrow, a little pleasure,
Fate metes us from the dusty measure
  That holds the date of all of us ;
We are born with travail and strong crying,
And from the birth-day to the dying
  The likeness of our life is thus.

from Satia te Sanguine

Where, when the gods would be cruel,
  Do they go for a torture ? where
Plant thorns, set pain like a jewel ?
  Ah, not in the flesh, not there !

The racks of earth and the rods
  Are weak as foam on the sands ;
In the heart is the prey for gods,
  Who crucify hearts, not hands.

March 16, 2004

Winter of Minds [Filed under: Group Meetings]

My sister will be in town this weekend, so it looks like another week delay. I’m hoping we can meet more regularly when the spring kicks in, but I can’t say why I think that would happen. Nice weather? Oh well.

The plan, as far as I can tell, is to do Wordsworth still. The poem is a little long to post here, so I’ll just link it. If anyone finds this poem boring and tedious, I’m open to changing it.

One other thing, I’ve just got a new computer, so I’m able to post/email/etc. when not at work. My home email adress (for now) is jmlawless@mac.com and my AOL IM is jonlawless77.