curated by Adam Fitzgerald

Saturday, March 31, 2007

Give me the Splendid, Silent Sun


Give me the splendid silent sun, with all his beams full-dazzling;
Give me juicy autumnal fruit, ripe and red from the orchard;
Give me a field where the unmow’d grass grows;
Give me an arbor, give me the trellis’d grape;
Give me fresh corn and wheat—give me serene-moving animals, teaching content;
Give me nights perfectly quiet, as on high plateaus west of the Mississippi, and I looking up at the stars;
Give me odorous at sunrise a garden of beautiful flowers, where I can walk undisturb’d;
Give me for marriage a sweet-breath’d woman, of whom I should never tire;
Give me a perfect child—give me, away, aside from the noise of the world, a rural, domestic life;
Give me to warble spontaneous songs, reliev’d, recluse by myself, for my own ears only;
Give me solitude—give me Nature—give me again, O Nature, your primal sanities!
—These, demanding to have them, (tired with ceaseless excitement, and rack’d by the war-strife;)
These to procure, incessantly asking, rising in cries from my heart,
While yet incessantly asking, still I adhere to my city;
Day upon day, and year upon year, O city, walking your streets,
Where you hold me enchain’d a certain time, refusing to give me up;
Yet giving to make me glutted, enrich’d of soul—you give me forever faces;
(O I see what I sought to escape, confronting, reversing my cries;
I see my own soul trampling down what it ask’d for.)


Keep your splendid, silent sun;
Keep your woods, O Nature, and the quiet places by the woods;
Keep your fields of clover and timothy, and your corn-fields and orchards;
Keep the blossoming buckwheat fields, where the Ninth-month bees hum;
Give me faces and streets! give me these phantoms incessant and endless along the trottoirs!
Give me interminable eyes! give me women! give me comrades and lovers by the thousand!
Let me see new ones every day! let me hold new ones by the hand every day!
Give me such shows! give me the streets of Manhattan!
Give me Broadway, with the soldiers marching—give me the sound of the trumpets and drums!
(The soldiers in companies or regiments—some, starting away, flush’d and reckless;
Some, their time up, returning, with thinn’d ranks—young, yet very old, worn, marching, noticing nothing;)
—Give me the shores and the wharves heavy-fringed with the black ships!
O such for me! O an intense life! O full to repletion, and varied!
The life of the theatre, bar-room, huge hotel, for me!
The saloon of the steamer! the crowded excursion for me! the torch-light procession!
The dense brigade, bound for the war, with high piled military wagons following;
People, endless, streaming, with strong voices, passions, pageants;
Manhattan streets, with their powerful throbs, with the beating drums, as now;
The endless and noisy chorus, the rustle and clank of muskets, (even the sight of the wounded;)
Manhattan crowds, with their turbulent musical chorus—with varied chorus, and light of the sparkling eyes;
Manhattan faces and eyes forever for me.

by Walt Whitman (1819 - 1892)

Friday, March 30, 2007

The Enkindled Spring

This spring as it comes bursts up in bonfires green,
Wild puffing of emerald trees, and flame-filled bushes,
Thorn-blossom lifting in wreaths of smoke between
Where the wood fumes up and the watery, flickering rushes.

I am amazed at this spring, this conflagration
Of green fires lit on the soil of the earth, this blaze
Of growing, and sparks that puff in wild gyration,
Faces of people streaming across my gaze.

And I, what fountain of fire am I among
This leaping combustion of spring? My spirit is tossed
About like a shadow buffeted in the throng
Of flames, a shadow that’s gone astray, and is lost.

by D.H. Lawrence (1885 - 1930)

Thursday, March 29, 2007

The Great Western Plains

The little voices of prairie dogs
Are tireless . . .
They will give three hurrahs
Alike to stage, equestrian, and pullman,
And all unstingingly as to the moon.

And Fifi's bows and poodle ease
Whirl by them centred on the lap
Of Lottie Honeydew, movie queen,
Toward lawyers and Nevada.

And how much more they cannot see!
Alas, there is so little time,
The world moves by so fast these days!
Burrowing in silk is not their way -
And yet they know the tomahawk.

Indeed, old memories come back to life;
Pathetic yelps have sometimes greeted
Noses pressed against the glass.

by Hart Crane (1899 - 1932)

Wednesday, March 28, 2007


Milk used to come in tall glass, heavy and uncrystalline as frozen melted snow. It rose direct and thick as horse-chestnut tree trunks that do not spread out upon the ground even a little: a shaft of white drink narrowing at the cream and rounded off in a thick-lipped grin. Empty and unrinsed, a diluted milk ghost entrapped and dulled light and vision.

Then things got a little worse: squared, high-shouldered and rounded off in the wrong places, a milk replica of a handmade Danish wooden milk bat. But that was only the beginning. Things got worse than that.

Milk came in waxed paper that swelled and spilled and oozed flat pieces of milk. It had a little lid that didn't close properly or resisted when pulled so that when it did give way milk jumped out.

Things are getting better now. Milk is bigger - half-a-gallon, at least - in thin milky plastic with a handle, a jug founded on an oblong. Pick it up and the milk moves, rising enthusiastically in the neck as it shifts its center of weight. Heavy as a breast, but lighter, shaping itself without much changing shape: like bringing home the milk in a bandana, a neckerchief or a scarf, strong as canvas water wings whose strength was only felt dragged under water.

On the highway, this morning at the go-round, about where you leave New Hampshire, there had been an accident. Milk was sloshed on the gray-blue-black so much like a sheet of early winter ice you drove over it slowly, no matter what the temperature of the weather that eddied in through the shatterproof glass gills. There were milk-skins all around, the way dessert plates look after everyone has left the table in the Concord grape season. Only bigger, unpigmented though pretty opaque, not squashed but no less empty.

Trembling, milk is coming into its own.

by James Schuyler (1923 - 1991)

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

September 1961

This is the year the old ones,
the old great ones
leave us alone on the road.

The road leads to the sea.
We have the words in our pockets,
obscure directions. The old ones

have taken away the light of their presence,
we see it moving away over a hill
off to one side.

They are not dying,
they are withdrawn
into a painful privacy

learning to live without words.
E. P. "It looks like dying" - Williams: "I can't
describe to you what has been

happening to me" -
H. D. "unable to speak."
The darkness

twists itself in the wind, the stars
are small, the horizon
ringed with confused urban light-haze.

They have told us
the road leads to the sea,
and given

the language into our hands.
We hear
our footsteps each time a truck

has dazzled past us and gone
leaving us new silence.
One can't reach

the sea on this endless
road to the sea unless
one turns aside at the end, it seems,

the owl that silently glides above it
aslant, back and forth,

and away into deep woods.

But for us the road
unfurls itself, we count the
words in our pockets, we wonder

how it will be without them, we don't
stop walking, we know
there is far to go, sometimes

we think the night wind carries
a smell of the sea...

by Denise Levertov (1923 - 1997)

Monday, March 26, 2007

Home-Thoughts, from Abroad

Oh, to be in England
Now that April's there,
And whoever walks in England
Sees, some morning, unaware,
That the lowest boughs and the brushwood sheaf
Round the elm-tree bole are in tiny leaf,
While the chaffinch sings on the orchard bough
In England - now!

And after April, when May follows,
And the whitethroat builds, and all the swallows!
Hark, where my blossomed pear-tree in the hedge
Leans to the field and scatters on the clover
Blossoms and dewdrops - at the bent spray's edge -
That's the wise thrush; he sings each song twice over,
Lest you should think he never could recapture
The first fine careless rapture!
And though the fields look rough with hoary dew,
All will be gay when noontide wakes anew
The buttercups, the little children's dower
- Far brighter than this gaudy melon-flower!

by Robert Browning (1812 - 1889)

Sunday, March 25, 2007

The Base Steeler

Poised between going on and back, pulled
Both ways taut like a tightrope-walker,
Fingertips pointing the opposites,
Now bouncing tiptoe like a dropped ball
Or a kid skipping rope, come on, come on,
Running a scattering of steps sidewise,
How he teeters, skitters, tingles, teases,
Taunts them, hovers like an ecstatic bird,
He's only flirting, crowd him, crowd him,
Delicate, delicate, delicate, delicate - now!

by Robert Francis (1901 - 1987)

Saturday, March 24, 2007


Don’t speak to me of love.
I drove the sun’s car and totaled it.

Ruined, light dallied with weeds,
romped through the hairs of old women,
turned rivers to bronze.

I touched those waters with my hands.
It was like fondling a new language.

And where were the verbs? And what
nouns hid like bridge trolls to devour me?

Not understanding a word, I entered the music,
consonant and vowel, glottal and phoneme.

Rivers, forgive me.
There was a woman.
There was silence.
There was the same old pain
wearing its business suit.

I did not go too far -
splash and wavelet,
spew and spar,
I drove the sun’s car
and totaled it,
setting loose a thousand shadows,
one of which hid in the weeds
and frightened me into song.

by Joe Weil (b. 1958)

Friday, March 23, 2007

"E Pluribus Unum"

It is no longer necessary for sunlight
to reach here; this kitchen with its
linoleum floor; its scuffed roses

The light has been here all along
waiting for you to reach toward it
like a fish tinged by the ocean

by John Yau (b. 1950)

Thursday, March 22, 2007


Quite suddenly the evening clears at last
as now outside the soft small rain is falling.
Falling or fallen. Rain itself is something
undoubtedly which happens in the past.

Whoever hears it falling has remembered
a time in which a curious twist of fate
brought back to him a flower whose name was "rose"
and the perplexing redness of its red.

This rain which spreads its blind across the pane
must also brighten in forgotten suburbs
the black grapes on a vine across a shrouded

patio now no more. The evening's rain
brings me the voice, the dear voice of my father,
who comes back now, who never has been dead.

by Jorge Luis Borges (1899 - 1986)
translated by Alastair Reid

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

The Token

More beautiful than any gift you gave
You were, a child so beautiful as to seem
To promise ruin what no child can have
Or woman give. And so a Roman gem
I choose to be your token: here a laurel
Springs to its young height, hangs a broken limb.
And here a group of women wanly quarrel
At a sale of Cupids. A hawk looks at them.

by F.T. Prince (1912-2003)

Tuesday, March 20, 2007

On The Death Of Mr. Robert Levet, A Practiser In Physic

Condemn'd to Hope's delusive mine,
As on we toil from day to day,
By sudden blasts or slow decline
Our social comforts drop away.

Well tried through many a varying year,
See Levet to the grave descend,
Officious, innocent, sincere,
Of every friendless name the friend.

Yet still he fills affection's eye,
Obscurely wise and coarsely kind;
Nor, letter'd Arrogance, deny
Thy praise to merit unrefined.

When fainting nature call'd for aid,
And hov'ring death prepared the blow,
His vig'rous remedy display'd
The power of art without the show.

In Misery's darkest cavern known,
His useful care was ever nigh,
Where hopeless Anguish pour'd his groan,
And lonely Want retired to die.

No summons mock'd by chill delay,
No petty gain disdained by pride;
The modest wants of every day
The toil of every day supplied.

His virtues walk'd their narrow round,
Nor made a pause, nor left a void;
And sure th' Eternal Master found
The single talent well employ'd.

The busy day, the peaceful night,
Unfelt, uncounted, glided by;
His frame was firm - his powers were bright,
Though now his eightieth year was nigh.

Then with no fiery throbbing pain,
No cold gradations of decay,
Death broke at once the vital chain,
And freed his soul the nearest way.

by Samuel Johnson (1709-1784)