Saturday, November 22, 2008

From the archives

"All the Earth, All the Air" by Theodore Roethke (1908-63).

The doubter and the saint

An article on Polish poet Czeslaw Miłosz and Polish saint Maximilian Kolbe, at ...

Saturday's Marianne Moore

I was to talk about words, and about how one can hold people's attention. I feel that the clue to contagion is to take a clinical view of our clumsiness, and that subject-matter that takes possession of us -- that interests us -- affords us the patience to work at the weak spots.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 433

November 22, 2008

Saint Cecilia's Day.

Addendum : A poem by W. H. Auden for St Cecilia, which inspired a musical composition by Benjamin Britten.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Friday's Marianne Moore

[...] when editors muddy the purity of criticism by the demure implication that we further art by presenting refuse to which cold-hearted publishers are inhospitable, the impurity under the guise of purity is doubly a reproach.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 343

November 21, 2008

Today's commemoration is the Presentation of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


A prepossessing poem by one Jennifer Chang.

(I have to look up "coreopsis.")

24 degrees (-5°C) in Boston

Those of you who complain of 40s and 50s might like to know that it's significantly below freezing here in Massachusetts!

Thursday's Marianne Moore

[...] it is possible for the artist to use suffering and not be effaced by it.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 346

November 20, 2008

Old calendar: St Felix of Valois, confessor.

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The Anchored Angel

For those 1½ or 2 of you who haven't gotten enough of José García Villa, here is a review of a 1999 selection of his writings. The review contains some biographical data, some charming (the poet's preference for gin martinis), some off-putting (the poet's habit of asking women if they were virgins).

Apparently, Villa was once asked why he never wrote political poems. His answer impresses one favorably:

Because I am an artist, and in the kind of art I believe in and to which I have given my whole allegiance, there is no place for anything that has to do with social, economic or political problems. The whole function of the poet is to arouse pleasure in the beautiful. Propaganda does something else.

Wednesday's Marianne Moore

One of New York's more painstaking magazines asked me, at the suggestion of a contributor, to analyze my sentence structure, and my instinctive reply might have seemed dictatorial: you don't devise a rhythm, the rhythm is the person, and the sentence but a radiograph of personality.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 396

November 19, 2008

Life on earth is like a drop of water as it falls down into the ocean waiting to embrace it. From the reflection for Wednesday of the 33rd Week in Ordinary Time.

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Perhaps of interest

Can you trust Thomas Merton? An article.

Hat tip: TSO, who found out about it at Against the Grain.

"Disintegrate me to thy ecstasy"

Three more poems by José García Villa. The poem labelled "Lyric 22" especially magnetizes.

Tuesday's Marianne Moore

Poetry is the Mogul's dream: to be intensively toiling at what is a pleasure; La Fontaine's indolence being, as the most innocent observer must realize, a mere metaphor. As for the hobgoblin obscurity, it need never entail compromise. It should mean that one may fail and start again, never mutilate an auspicious premise. The objective is architecture, not demolition; grudges flower less well than gratitudes.

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 506

November 18, 2008

Optional memorials : Dedication of the Basilicas of the Holy Apostles Peter and Paul; St Rose Philippine Duchesne.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Two poems

by José García Villa (1908-97). One detects obvious debts to William Blake, Gerard Manley Hopkins, and (especially in the second poem) E. E. Cummings.

A word-game, from six years ago

Playing with syllabics of seven and five.

Sonnet LVII

by Pablo Neruda (1904-73)

Mienten los que dijeron que yo perdí la luna,
los que profetizaron mi porvenir de arena,
aseveraron tantas cosas con lenguas frías:
quisieron prohibir la flor del universo.

"Ya no cantará más el ámbar insurgente
de la sirena, no tiene sino pueblo."
Y masticaban sus incesantes papeles
patrocinando para mi guitarra el olvido.

Yo les lancé a los ojos las lanzas deslumbrantes
de nuestro amor clavando tu corazón y el mío,
yo reclamé el jazmín que dejaban tus huellas,

yo me perdí de noche sin luz bajo tus párpados
y cuando me envolvió la claridad
nací de nuevo, dueño de mi propia tiniebla.


They’re liars, those who say I lost the moons,
who foretold a future like a public desert to me,
who gossiped so much with their cold tongues:
they tried to ban the flower of the universe.

"The quick spontaneous mermaids’ amber
is finished. Now he has only the people."
And they gnawed on their incessant papers,
they plotted an oblivion for my guitar.

But I tossed — ha! into their eyes! — the dazzling lances
of our love, piercing your heart and mine.
I gathered the jasmine your footsteps left behind.

I got lost in the night, without light
of your eyelids, and when the night surrounded me
I was born again: I was the owner of my own darkness.

(trans. S. Tapscott)


I want to be where
your bare foot walks,

because maybe before you step,
you'll look at the ground.
I want that blessing.

500th post of the year!

... and I don't have much to say!

Monday's Marianne Moore

one who attains equilibrium in spite of opposition to himself from within, is stronger than if there had been no opposition to overcome

from The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 335

November 17, 2008

Memorial of St Elizabeth of Hungary.

Sunday, November 16, 2008


It hit 70 degrees here last night at about nine, with fiercely animated southwest winds. It's still 62, but today is supposed to bring "the big drop." Lower forties by five this afternoon. Later this week we should see twenties in the morning.

Ah, New England in November!

Sunday's Marianne Moore

realism need not restrict itself to grossness

The Complete Prose of Marianne Moore, p. 330

Wickedness is less troubling to those who are immersed in it that it is to a man like Job whose one thought is to serve and obey.

ibid., p. 331

November 16, 2008

33rd Sunday of Ordinary Time, the 25th Sunday after Pentecost.