Saturday, January 12, 2008

The iris is a flower that is past meridian, a ghost come bearing you a villanelle.

-- Kenneth Koch, "My Olivetti Speaks"

Friday, January 11, 2008

by Vernon Watkins (1906-67)

Who am I to load the year with continual misunderstanding?
I will not accuse winter of a protracted hardness,
Nor spring of callousness, nor summer of regret.

The oak-leaf changes; green gloss cups the acorn.
First hidden, then emerging from resistance to statement,
The fruit holds nothing in its fullness but the tree.

To have held through hail, stormwinds, and black frost in darkness
Through the long months, gives meaning to the bud when it opens.
Song loses nothing of moments that are past.

So my labour is still: it is still determination
To resolve itself slowly in the weathers of knowledge.
By virtue of the hidden the poem is revealed.

Remember Earth's triads: the faith of a dumb animal,
The mountain stream falling, music to the wheat-ears;
The salt wave echoing the grieving of the bones.

The lamb leaps: it is stubborn in its innocence.
The hawk drops, in the energy of instinct,
Dawn fires kindle perfection like a sword.

Fires: the hawk's talons, the tongue of the chameleon,
In a peacock's wings' lightning the contraction of glory,
In death the last miracle, the unconditional gift.

What do I need but patience before the unpredictable,
The endurance of the stepping-stone before the footprint,
Cadence that reconciles wisdom and the dance?

I need more, I need more. In the moment of perception
Fit me, prayer, to lose everything, that nothing may be lost.
The stone that accumulates history is falling.

History is a pageant, and all men belong to it.
We die into each other: remember how many
Confided their love, not in vain, to the same earth.
by Vernon Watkins (1906-67)

I find them in the wings of every age
While fools and rhetoricians hold the stage.

They know instinctively that speculation
Will never reach a single true equation.

There is no theory, however strict,
A work of genius cannot contradict.

Who pulls tradition down and sets up fashion?
Pretence is one thing, and another, passion.

In every smith whose work I come across
Tradition is the ore, fashion the dross.

They who skim ice cannot afford to stumble;
If pausing they went through, they might grow humble.

Pretenders mock the dead to make their mark,
As little children shout who fear the dark.

'His work is new. Why, then, his name encumber
With ancient poets?' He is of their number.

Complain against the dead, but do not sue.
They never read you, much less injured you.

Must it be anarchy to love that nation
Which counts among its assets inspiration?
George F. Will

turns a jaundiced eye toward Romney's chances:
If McCain, who in 2000 won Michigan after winning New Hampshire, takes it again on Tuesday, Romney will be, in E.E. Cummings's words, "a recent footprint in the sand of was."
And the Clintons remind him of Led Zeppelin's recent reunion concert which "exemplified a tiresome phenomenon -- geezer rock groups catering to baby boomer nostalgia."

The whole thing can be found here.

Addendum : I've never heard that Cummings line before. Does anyone know the poem?

He's loved of the distracted multitude,
Who like not in their judgement, but their eyes.

-- Claudius [Hamlet, IV, iii, 4-5]

Resting Places

Resting Places
by Vernon Watkins (1906-67)

The rose divines her night:
White, thrusting roots grasp earth, where light began.

The seashell grinds its mark,
Dark in the cold miles of the naked beach.

Soul in a sculptor's hand
Spanned more desire than schools will ever teach.

Adam lies fast in Rome:
The moment's magnitude brought near to man.

He drew that body's praise,
Gazing on God. What centuries have since

Turned from those eyes to wage
Ageless, destructive war, all worth made cheap.

Hushed in a single nave,
Grave Angelo and Galileo sleep.

From hands of one were born
Morning and Night, who rest beneath their Prince,

While the next hand explored
Orders of stars no naked eye could reach.

There Santa Croce climbs
Time's holy scaffolding where planets spin.

Time turns; and in death camps
Lamps light the way to lampshades made of skin,

Whose dread contracts the brow.
How can we bring the ransom they beseech

Where, as one prisoner falls,
Walls paint in sleep the murder of his kin?

Such blood on Lethe's stream
Dreams cannot purge. Yet ask : what tongue ruled sin?

What put to shame that strumpet?
The trumpet which accompanied brave speech.
Obama's church

Radical Catholic Mom at Vox Nova has concerns.
The Love of the Word

On the decline and fall of English prose, to which I doubtless contribute.

From Professor Anthony Esolen at Touchstone's Mere Comments.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Democratic party politics

Kerry to endorse Obama.
Kerry, a senator from Massachusetts, planned to announce his support Thursday at 11 a.m. EST at a rally at the College of Charleston, said a Democrat familiar with Kerry's decision. The 2004 nominee was to argue that Obama can best unite the country and has the potential to create transformational change, the person said.
Transformational change? Golly.
On the occasion

of his 50th birthday, E. Lane Core blogs an apposite poem by Edward Estlin Cummings, with commentary.
"I am full of spaghetti and sleepy"

first sentence of an email from a friend, received last night
Blogger's block

sun's comin' up, I've got cakes on the griddle ...

Sunday, January 06, 2008


Something that we should keep in mind about Obama.

Let that last sentence (with its tortured attempts at euphemism that do nothing to hide the reality) sink in.

From the left-leaning Huffington Post.