Friday, 6 July 2012

Poetry and Images

And what of this world?
What will it become when you leave it?
    Nothing, nothing at all like its present appearance.

- Arthur Rimbaud, from-‘Youth’, trans. Paul Schmidt

Joseph Cornell, Soap Bubble Set, 1936.

In my exile here, I have a stage where I can play
The sweeping tragedies of all literatures.
I will show you unheard of riches. I watch the history
Of the treasures you have found. I can see what will follow!
But my wisdom is as much ignored as chaos.
What is my nonbeing, compared with the stupor which awaits you?

-Arthur Rimbaud, from - ‘Lives’, trans. Paul Schmidt

and to think, after I’m gone,
there will be more days for others, other days,
other nights.
dogs walking, trees shaking in
the wind.

I won’t be leaving much.
Something to read, maybe.

A wild onion in the gutted

Paris in the dark.

-       Charles Bukowski,  ‘A New War’

Duanne Michals - photograph of Joseph Cornell , 1970.


The eager note on my door said “Call me,   
call when you get in!” so I quickly threw   
a few tangerines into my overnight bag,   
straightened my eyelids and shoulders, and

headed straight for the door. It was autumn   
by the time I got around the corner, oh all
unwilling to be either pertinent or bemused, but   
the leaves were brighter than grass on the sidewalk!

Funny, I thought, that the lights are on this late   
and the hall door open; still up at this hour, a   
champion jai-alai player like himself? Oh fie!   
for shame! What a host, so zealous! And he was

there in the hall, flat on a sheet of blood that
ran down the stairs. I did appreciate it. There are few   
hosts who so thoroughly prepare to greet a guest   
only casually invited, and that several months ago.

- Frank O’Hara

Francis Bacon, three studies for a self portrait (1967)

Francis Bacon, Three Studies for a Crucifixion

What is the poet for, if not to scream

himself into a hernia of admiration for all
paradoxical integuments: the kiss, the
bomb, cathedrals and the zeppelin anchored

to the hill of dreams? Oh be not silent
on this distressing holiday whose week
has been a chute of sand down which no
factories or castles tumbled: only my

petulant two-fisted heart. You, dear poet,
who addressed yourself to flowers, Electra,
and photographs on less painful occasions,
must save me from the void's eternal noise.

-       Frank O’Hara, from - ‘Ashes On Saturday Afternoon’

Jan Svankmajer, a still from the film 'The Flat' (1968)

Thing Language

This ocean, humiliating in its disguises
Tougher than anything.
No one listens to poetry. The ocean
Does not mean to be listened to. A drop
Or crash of water. It means
Is bread and butter
Pepper and salt. The death
That young men hope for. Aimlessly
It pounds the shore. White and aimless signals. No
One listens to poetry.

- Jack Spicer


For what as easy
For what though small
For what is well
Because between
To you simply
From me I mean.

Who goes with who
The bedclothes say
And I and you
Go kissed away
The data gives
The senses even.

Fate is not late
Nor the ghost houseless
Nor the speech re-written
Nor the tongue listless
Nor the word forgotten
Said at the start
About heart
By heart, for heart.

- W. H. Auden, dated October 1931.

Max Ernst, La Femme de 100 Tetes (collage)


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