Eliot Weinberger

Works on Paper (1986) clt 19 Ways of Look~ng Waizg Wei (with Octavio Paz. 1987) Outside Stories ( 1992) Written Rcuctior~:Poetics Politics Polemics ( 1996)


Montemora (1975-1982) Una atztologia de la poesia norteamericana desde 19.FO (1992) American Poetry Since 19SO: 1tztzou~7tors Outsiders (1993) & Sltlfz<r33: lnto the Pust (1993)


Octavio Paz, Eagle or Sun? (1970; new version, 1976) Octavio Paz, A Draft of Shadows ( 1 980) Homero Aridjis, Exaltation of Light (1981) Octavio Paz, Selected Poems (1984) Jorge Luis Borges, Seven Nights (1984) Octavio Paz, Collecteri Poems 1957-1987 (1987) Vicente Huidohro, Altazor (1988) Octavio Paz, A Tree Within (198 8 ) Octavio Paz, Strnstonc, ( 1 991) Cecilia Vicuna, Unravelling Words and the Weaving of Water (1992) Xavier Villaurrutia, Nostalgia for Death ( 1992)

. M A K S I L I O



Most of these essays, In varying for~ns, originally z~ppearedin the following periodicals and hooks: Artion I'odi~1rte (France), Agni, I-'/ ~ i ~ g (Mexico), el Artes dc M~;xico(Mexico), (;lobill (;ity Rcvlr~c~, Iorrrado Ser,zniti~l(Mexico), 1.0 Tlic L.A. Weekly. Mor~tcnzorii,Thc Not~oit, I1or>tryFlash, SiOiliz (Spain), Sulfur, Vueltil (Mexico); Eliot Weinbcrger. Iitt~c~~ciones dc pa/)el [Edic~ones Vuelta. Mexico); Elc~~crl Hugh Macniarrnid, Sclcrtctl Poems (Ne\v Directions); Tbr Brc*izdof D L I ~ S : Mexiran Ports Tralzslatc~d .Yanzriel Heikett (Yolla Boll!); Brorl?c Ages: Briart Nisby sctt's Sculpture (Clarion); (:orztrmpi~rilvy Pocjts (St. .Martin's); ()itLlvlO P~17:1.0s priuileg ~ ) de lu uistil (Centro Cultural/ Arte (:ontempor,ineo, h l e x ~ c o )P. loris, ed., lay! s ; Praise! leromr Rothettl~er~ 60 (Ta'wil); E.M. Santi. ed., ~ r r h i t ' o ot Bloitc~ (F.diciones del Equilibrista, Mexico). The essay "Paz in India" is a revised and expanded \-crsion o f a text originally published in my book Outside Stories (New Directions). I n d i v ~ d ~ selection5 copyr~ght 1979, 1980, 1981, 1982, 1981, 1984, 1985, 1986, ~al O 1987, 1988, 1989, 1990, 1991, 1992, 1991, 1994, 1995 h~ Ellor Weinberger.

I used t o live a l w a y s in t h e beautiful L a n d of Poetry.
T h e n o n e d a y I f o u n d myself in N o n s e n s e Land, a n d since t h e n

I c a n n o t find m y w a y back h o m e .

The B o o k of Betty B a r h e r (1900)

Marsilio Publ~shers Corp. 853 Broadway New York, NY 10003 Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Weinberger. Eliot Wr~rten reaction-poetics, politics, polemics/Eliot Weinberger. P. cm. Includes index. ISBN 1-56886-027-7 (hardcover : alk. paper) I. Title PS3.573.E.3928W75 1996 96-755 814' .S4-dc20 CIP Book de\~gn,Drentell l>oyle Partners Author p h o r ~ John Madere by Distributed in the United States by (;onsorrtium Rook Sales and Distribution 1045 Westgate Drive Saint Paul, MN 551 14

for N.S., A.D. & S.

Ashbery A Brief Note on Montemc~ra.America 8i the World The "Language" Letters Is God Down? Panama: A Palindrome Notes for Sulfur 1 1 1: The NEA T. Juan de la Cruz to St. John of the Cross A Case of AIDS Hysteria Mircea Eliade (1907-1986) Genuine Fakes An Aviary of Tarns Black Mountain Lost Wax I Found Objects Notes for Sulfur 11: Birkerts vs. Eliot Mary Oppen Barbaric Lyricism Olson & Rexroth Biographies Future PMLA Article Persuasive New Defense of Traditional Prosody .S.[Note] This Book Will Be Here for a Thousand Seconds Pegasus at the Glue Factory Griffin: Ruin's Verge Notes for Sulfur I: Seidel's Sunrise From S.

Mark's Church My Pet Rabbit Naked Mole-Rats Index WRITTEN REACTION .Reading Poetry Rothenberg: IVew York / 1968 Talking on Drugs In the Zocalo MacDiarmid Mislaid in Translation Notes for Sulftir IV: East Berlin Poets Kamau Brathwaite Chinese "Obscure" Poets Lorca Collected Zukofsky Collected Poet Laureates Muriel Rukeyser Mvung Mi Kim Blaise Cendrars Will Alexander An Anthology of Anthologies Paz in India Paz & Beckett Yugoslavia The Revolution at St.

introductions. celebration. particularly Sulfur. Here. written in response to topics that were suggested by editors or merely happened to surface. The earliest pieces now remind me of Stendhal's injunction that one should enter society with a duel. bits of autobiography. travel. informal talks. . were written with a certain audience in mind. I've not attempted to alter those contexts. The essays intended for specific magazines. answers to questions. are reviews.Nearly all the essays in this book are reactive: indignation. investigation. notes. Some of these were written for publication in Mexico and have never appeared in English. some are previously unpublished or obscurely published. literary history and natural history. in loose chronological order. political commentary. catalog texts. reprinting them here. --E.W.

a sentimentalist. keeper of the myths. This Tree Will Be Hcre for a Thousand Years (Harper & R o w ) . the rise of the novel and the newspaper (thanks in part to increased leisure time among the bourgeoisie. In every pre-industrial society. the poet has played a n essential role as prophet. however.where poetry is a useless pleasantry. a slob in the language. by the end of the 18th century. wrltteiz for The N a r ~ o n . later the guru of the "melt's C O I ~ S C I O ~ S I I C S S 'ttiouemettt. largely ignored by the reading public. and of them. Yet he is one of the half-dozen living American poets who are widely read." His success. singer. most of these functions had disappeared: the old myths had died in the mills and collieries. 1979.perhaps the first in human history. In the West.T H I S R O O K W I L L BE H E R E FOR A THOUSAND SECONDS IA rCzjreul of RoI~ertElY. the one whose work is most frequently imitated by fledgling poets and students of "creative writing. refiner of the language. Bly. is less disheartening when considered as a n emblem of a n age. wit.] obert Bly is a windbag. ' tuns izt the trttzc ~trgageditt an opposrtr pursult: a protnotrolz of the so-called "femrtzrtze" aspects of the American psyche. chronicler. cheap methods of R . social and political commentator.

meaning destructive. et all and has publicly knelt and kissed the hand of Pablo Neruda. The poets' response to this new irrelevancy was a turning inward toward secular exaltation: Romanticism. high-flotun (language). yet failed. precise observation of the material world. naturally. romantic-. (At his many public readings. and a new image. Even oneself has felt it. colloquial rather than "poetic" language. down-to-earth.. Following Neruda. is a snail darter.it becomes a nuisance. the poet became the "unacknowledged legislator. The revolution in American poetry at the beginning of the 20th century attempted to topple late Romanticisnl and return poetry to a n active. history. "prosaic": fuctual. For the last fifty years poetry has drifted even further from the mainstream. self-consciously "masculine" position. the poetry would incorporate politics.energy. At its worst.producing printed matter. Today poetry in the U. a slight hitch in the business at hand. This Tree Will Be Here for a Thousand Years (48 poems which had previously appeared in 30 magazines) opens with a short essay on "The Two Presences. It is sweet and escapist. Eliot. and not Bangladesh. The adjective "poetic" became synonymous with ztnzuorldly." The achievements of the few great poets of the time led t o imitation and excess. according t o Bly. dream. persistent. would receive its just desert. and imitating Neruda's imitation of Whitman. chronicle. The opposite of "poetic" became. Romanticism represented an exploration of what they imagined to be the passive. massive.as during the Vietnam War. and far from the world of the daily paper. cunning. which is "insecure. especially among the young." They are. "if they teach men and women/ t o turn their hollow places up. the poet's own consciousness. in creatures and plants.) H e has dismissed most of the North American masters (Pound. Bly sees his mission as the restoration of the "feminine" to American poetry. rhapsodies of the natural world.is rarely so felicitous. a neo-Romantic poetry of noble sentiment continues to remain popular. to reinsert the poet into society: the old model held. he has adopted the persona of the poet as the embracer of all beings: Bly's poems are a forest of exclamation marks. "the life of the mind" (as Wordsworth called his anti-epic)." Robert Bly claims in his new collection. or comment on the world at large. anxious. like a so-called Gothic novel.as is evident in every issue of The Nation." which is. head-on the female chaos . Meanwhile. a frobush lousewort: a frail. mercifully. urban topics." and "the consciousness out there. unimportant creature which is only visible when.was petrified in the public mind. driving any new idea into the great passive vulva of London. which. especially in America. like this from Ezra Pound in 1921: "Man really the phallus or spermatozoid charging. he still stomps around the stage in a rubber LBJ mask.. at worst tedious as daily existence. dreamy. his muse and role-model. a shadow government. shadow. social comment. to symbolize "masculine". though important work still flourishes in the backwaters. it meant ideology. "Poetic justice" meant that evil. sentiment.sensitivein a word. absolute concision of speech.S. he has ignored musical s t r ~ ~ c t u r e precision of language to exalt the image. It was the creation of a counter-kingdom. "Disasters are all right." At its best." It is the language of Esalen. global communication) replaced the necessity for the poem to narrate. . The movement changed literature. a wishful contrast to political justice. for example. "feminine" aspect of human nature (whichneed one say it?-is neither the exclusive nor general domain of women): moon. through which the phrase "I love" runs like an asylum escapee.that of the moony poet. hopeful. Williams. in the end. earthbound.

who else would compare the sound of a cricket to a sailboat?-that his facility for English seems t o have been warped by reading (and writing) too many bad translations. outraged. cerity. then." It's a carnival of pathetic fallacy.") Most college students who write poetry imitate Bly. wild. beginning with a wistful "sometimes. and they d o so by presenting a n "I" whom we may assume is the poet himself. birds. and the rest of my life") or sad ("In a few years we will die") and his images have all been certified as "poetic": snow. moon. but. that I want him/ to forgive me. this time to a bit of fancy that might be charming if written by a third-grader. most of all. 1 W .] ." [Postsc-ript. What is disturbing. That a bad poet is widely read is hardly news. That his enthusiasm is expressed through pointless and rarely believable metaphor. with numbing sin." a butterfly "joyful. The second sets up a metaphor that is entirely without meaning. Consider the first five lines of a poem in this collection called "Women We Never See Again": I There are women we love whom we never see again. night. lions. because a Bly poem is so easy t o write. The poet is identifiably cheery ("I loved that afternoon. and a largely personified natural world. rain. at least. Lawrence's Studies in Classical Americarz Literature ("Oh God! Better a bellyache. any word could easily be replaced without altering the poem: they are Brazil nuts shining in the sun./ I want to tell him/ that I forgive him. "snow water glances up at the new moon. What could be simpler for a n adolescent.H. are an attempt to bridge this gap between inner and outer. is the fact that so many young writers. a man w h o has written. bark "calls to the rain"." One longs for a new chapter to D. alfalfa is "brave." jump again.w h o should be experimental. "It is good to be poor. Bly's all-embracing I. verges on the parodic: "I know n o one on this train." but which has "a melancholy tone. Lines four and five. and one that is probably inaccurate: the moths I know. runs on. a star is "a stubborn man".to copy? Bly is a popular poet because his poems. C : Bly's relaxed surrealism has now heen largely replaced. they are Pontiacs idling in the moonlight. sound like poems. wind. by "realist" description and auto-therapy. cozily irrelevant poet." The poems. are subtleties that are largely lost to the college crowds. T i ~ e y chestnuts shining in the rain. horses. idealistic. in the writing schools. A bellyache is at least specific./ A man comes walking down the aisle. are Moths hatched in winter disappear behind books. N o t since Disney put gloves on a mouse has nature been so human: objects have "an inner gief". shadows."none of' these things. The first line flatly posits a familiar and "poetic" theme: lost love. The third line jumps to another unrelated image. and then abruptly ends. trees. The poem. that he has never conceived of the line as a unit of musical measure. preter the products of knit & purl to those of Harper & Row. Sometimes when you put your hand into a hollow tree you touch the dark places between the stars. and t o listen to the wind. lakes.are modeling themselves after this utterly safe. At times. not only because the poet's lack of emotional subtlety matches their own. more childish than childlike. graves and so on. as all Bly poems. offering a new self-contained image every line or two." dusk "half-drunk". however. to the general audience. etc.whose feelings cannot be restrained by technique.

More significant. when Rago assumed the editorship.5) dropped them.inspired. As all institutions in the final stage of decay. Inside was equally grim: Hine's 5 7 varieties of studied irony.he quickly brought Poetry into the period of its greatest prosperity.even specifying the brand of office paper clips. after nine drooping years. a license to practice. In 1978.1977. now in a tasteful sketch. and eleven days later Rago's heart gave out.. It existed not to promote a specific group or genre.." Within a year and a half. indicating a drop in individual subscriptions and sales (libraries generally renew automatically). he heeded Eliot's advice that Poetry was an institution.J aryl Hine took America's most successful and prestigious poetry magazine and drove it t o ruin. from all fronts. Yet far more reprehensible is the continuing campaign of vilification he has directed against his predecessor. By 1955. Mt. not a little magazine. Poetry drifted for nineteen years in a vapid succession of short-term editors and editorial committees. A debut in Poetry was admission to the Guild. This was the real thing. The magazine changed immediately. the late Henry Rago. Rago's restoration of the Monroe D Pegasus.1'1 < . and entry became a rite of initiation for the young." A judicious anthologist . Mag. now from the smaller libraries. circulation had fallen nearly 20%. high above the warring factions. a lugubrious murmur of "Sewanee. was represented. only a nod from the creative writing school teacher. : \ $ t i $ :\I 1 tlt <. resulting in a further loss of subscriptions. Hine finally stepped down. Olympus. edrted h) wrrtteit for M o n t e m o r a . The history of Poetry and its editors is encapsuled in the evolution of the magazine's cover. perhaps. (Today. there is nothing remotely similar. Poetry had become the Pawpaw College Lit. the magazine was in a state of financial collapse. The magazine began to lose money seriously. Poetry had become a parody of itself. After the death of Harriet Monroe in 1936. by Tutmania. The tell-tale cover eliminated Pegasus and the poets. Poetry was. Daryl Hine was announced as Rago's successor. how I love you .I [It l4C l'Ol<Y PEGASUS A T T H E G L U E F A C T O R Y ( A reuretu o/ Thr Poctr) Anthology 19 12. His chosen replacement.) O n May 18. John Frederick Nims. the man who once compared the Cantos t o cancer cells. Almost every poet of interest. and gave its entire space to doleful pen-and-inks: On the outside. but rather t o display monthly the range of the serious writing that occurred in the country. A strict organizer. 197v. The Poetry Anthology purports t o represent "sixty-five years of America's most distinguished magazine. but with one significant change: the grave and graceful Rago Pegasus was now a cute winged horsey drawn by James Thurber. the Republic of Letters. Neither fief nor commune.was a member of the editorial committee of the 19403. and even the Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature (which had been indexing Poetry since 1 9 1. His first act was to restore the Rago cover. the grand procession of monthly colors. 1969. and the sober list of contributors all reflected his editorial intent. ideally.

Tamalpais". "Homage to the Caracci.). Bly. Tim Reynolds. Sorrentino. Karl Shapiro. Turnbull. have simply vanished. a dutiful reviewer should provide a brief synopsis of this last decade. Spacks. and a squishy Amy Lowell. (( ) I < \ II would have attempted to mirror each succeeding editor's taste. Howard. Tomlinson. Rukeyser. and Turner Cassity are given multiple entries. \ \ [ I \ .A( I I O N 1'1 ( . Tomlinson (twice).. four typical Rago years: April 1965 t o March 1969 (all of Volumes 106 through 113). Levertov. Enslin. A few titles and the first lines of poems tell it all: Like a particularly damp provincial museum. 19. Rexroth. but no exotic climes: "Hotel in Paris". 18. Eigner. Stuart Montgonlery (the complete Circe).. Hine & Parisi give sixteen anthology pages to those four years. are represented by a few early poems. Olson (from Maximus).\I I tlt ( 9 1 LII.. "Stones: Avesbury". Hine notes that Ezra Pound's "influence on Poetry. Althoughmany frorn the first list were Poetry regulars. "Circumambulation of Mt. Loewinsohn.) The poets chosen from that period are Carruth. Blackburn. S i l l i ~ ~ ~Snyder. "Historical Museum. but n o Rago and no Pound. "Winter Drive". Worse. Some are grudgingly allotted one poem each. Examine. however. the pages were crowded with plaster-casts: "Baucis and Philomen". Creeley. John Ciardi." (Earlier.S. Margaret Randall. Duncan (including some particularly fine "Passages"). Bowering. "Credo". Whalen. from the space he gave certain fashionable poets both in the magazine and on its movie-marquee-like cover. while immortals like David Wagoner.there were few surprises in these years. Oppen. Ronald Johnson. Hollo. "Death & Empedocles" and "Empedocles on Etna" (by different authors). "Under the Arc de Triomphe October 17'' (which begins "The French clocks struck two-thirty"). a marcelled Randall Jarrell. Dull. for example. Hollander (a little poem in the shape of a swan. Van Duyn. Zukofsky (including special issues and the complete "Ax-14. a search elsewhere in the anthology is equally depressing. Sexton. Samperi. Dorn.\Yl<l I I t X [<I-. Manitoulin Island". and as only collecting completists would consider buying this book. Davenport.15. . Snyder. Aram Saroyan. like Bunting and Zukofsky. "Dido: Swarming". They stare from the shelf. "Pervigilium Veneris". t o have picked favorites. 2 1 ) . "Bird and the Muse". even an. often in long selections and often repeatedly.. Stafford. Others. As Poetry (Hine) had few readers.first published in Poetry. M a r k Van Doren and Vernon Watkins. like Olson and Rexroth. "Wandsworth Common. despite long associations with the magazine.or "A ". W. Merwin.which the magazine practically serialized over forty years. Benedikt." There were "Waiting Rooms" ("What great genius invented the waiting . Rakosi.have mysteriously vanished.") Revisionism has even oozed on to the book's dust jacket: 3 3 snapshots of poets and editors." There was some tourism. Merton. Bromige. Nor is Hine's distaste for Rago and his policies limited to editorial subversion. but nothing from Briggfilatts or The Spoils. Graham. The following were among the avant-gardist poets published. the fourteen Rago years are discussed and dismissed in one paragraph: "He seems. as on modern poetry in general. shamelessly offer their ow11 claustrophobic reading of literary history. the fat spine is adorned with a goony freshman Tho111Gunn. Eshleman.. Niedecker. Bunting (the complete Briggflatts). has been exaggerated out of proportion. Some. "Muse". Hine & Parisi. Winfield Townley Scott. In a 13-page introduction. "Satyr". (110 of the book's 520 pages are devoted to eight of Hine's years as editor.. "Leaving Buffalo". I .in the style of the Soviet Encyclopedia. alongside the traditionalist practitioners: Antin. Scores of regular contributors. Irby. Raworth. "Narcissus to Himself".

To these we might add the "would-be" pianist who studied with Schnabel in Berlin in the early 1930's. t z for Contemporary Poets (St. reader: four more opening lines." he card catalogue of the New York Public Library assumes that there are three Jonathan Griffins: the English poet. the screenwriter in Rome. the director of BBC European Intelligence during World War 11. ruminations o n poetry ("The old forms are like birdhouses") and o n gastronomy ("The Joy of Cooking". no survey of contemporary writing has even mentioned his name. and his books were published by the smallest of small presses. "Twinings Orange Pekoe"). [author's ellipsis] " I shan't be yours forever. but there has been no critical attention paid him. five pages long. and the translator of a shelf-full of books from seven European languages. kicking the heads o f f yellow iris and eating cold lamb.. for only those in solitary confinement with only this book could get past most of the first lines. But amidst this flock of public Griffins. "The Poet's Farewell to His Teeth. "What of: these verses that I write". And no end to freshman wit: "Vowel Movements" (that one. the poet. Today one can find Griffin. even this can't last. but still we never envy the Bedouin.. other than a few short reviews. by Hine himself). 1 '7) I'. the playwright featured at the Edinburgh Fest~valin 1957. and then good night: Reading through your work tonight As though it were autobiography I find your resonance. Until quite recently the poems rarely appeared in magazines. One poem was anthologized once. And yet. if one looks hard enough. Murtrrz'sj. the opening of a poem called "The Pleasure of Ruins. and even at first glance a Griffin poem is unmistakable: titles which seem to come from nowhere ("You T .the one whose work will lasthas scarcely been visible. The voice is unique. There was introspection: "The world is several billion years of: age1 and I am thirty". the 1930's journalist and expert on military affairs." The Hine section is swiftly read. ( We cannot walk like Byron among Ayasoluk's ruined mosques. the diplomat in Paris. that hidden treasure." There was observation ("Night is a black swan"). He is.room?") and "The Waiting Room" ("I sit thinking of: a rowingboat I saw"). But hold. "I attended the burial of all my rosy feelings". I was always called in early for dinner. a poet's poet's poet." are worthy of citation for their spectacular kitsch: GRIFFIN: RUIN'S VERGE ( W r ~ t t e f~ 7 tsh e elltry ( ~ r Jontzth~zitG ' t l f f i ~ ~ t h e referer~cvbook. in short. three whole lines.

"Into the Straight". "moves of its own force. declaration o r perception. This may be the first poetry to contemplate seriously the new vision of earth given us by the lunar missions." One of his darkest lines simply states: "Entropy is God. "The syntax. the poems are entirely without literary reference). The intense lyrics in celebration of natural beauty are almost eclipsed by the bleak and apocalyptic meditations. music. His is a voice at world's end: "We need no prophets We know what is coming/ but can we live with it?" Although the poems continue the English spiritual tradition (and indeed Griffin seems closer to Vaughan. Let great work. the language as personal as that of David Jones (though unlike Jones. moves in the force of the world. small ttilze of Man the 1~7st zuaste reverberate. all that matters: Is it too late? Before it is too late remember the great mztsic. planet earth. brainstone). and yet.the priz~atesile~zces. chemical waste. but without the occultism and nostalgia for a Golden Age that has characterized more popular writing. the poetry becomes spiritual in the broadest sense: the spirit of incantation. Griffin never displays his erudition. God. the "fact of musicn.that it is there. strangely ecstatic. rhythms like shattering glass. a God that is the Goddess. holocaust. inseminate silence. termcide. breath-pauses presented on the page through a system of indentation he has apparently invented.May Come Out". and the work contains none of the indulgences of younger poets. in the poem." Griffin's music is both. when it appears. given the times. It is what the poetry of England has lacked for. a God that "is men making music. contitztte Man. It is a poetry of planetary consciousness. "Ear to House-". There is wit but never cleverness. in the end. For Jonathan Griffin. given his vision. "At the Crucifixion of One's Heirs". radiation. Accordingly. Wei Hung stated: "The music of an age o n the verge of ruin is mournful and thoughtful. Griffin is one of the few poets today w h o is confronting.how long?" H e was first published in his (and the century's) fifties. The "I" of the poem. preserve the world. gravechill." In the absence of a creator God. Herbert and Traherne.the way we live now." H e writes: "I believe in man but not much. in the first age to devastate the future." Two thousand years ago. Because small mammals dreamed it." George Oppen has commented. no fanciful speculation. There is always the sense that the poet has been impelled t o speech.the All Siletzce. the vision is double." Griffin's prayer is a grim one: "for/ Earth to be saved from Man. The music can be as dense as the later Bunting. poetry. overpopulation. I . prayer ("I believe in prayer not in God. this earth of pesticide. neologisn~s (breathprint.may be. no anecdote. the poet's response both ecstasy and rage. Griffin's nuclear words are man. rhymes that appear and disappear. Griffin's God is idiosyncratic and complex: a divine force which is either destructive or does not exist. no confession. it restores light and space to poetry. pride. that we are capable of making it.incantation meaning music. than to any poet of this century) the God of organized religion never enters these contemplations.with new music: to the still. "3 Angels in Supernova". deforestation.other than some recent meditations on death. Hopkins and Dixon. is linked only to verbs of thought.no autobiography. because it is at all. humility. by the few unlikely. few occasional pieces. and. "The World is Bugged").") In a world where "we voted with our feet a deadness t o live in.

but not radical. Robert Lowell wrote in 1965: "When I read him. yet rarely open any book of poetry published by a major house or as part of a university press poetry series (excepting selected/collected editions of the old or dead). it is likely that few. recognize the insignia of the opposing troops (do~lble initials always made an easy target). Review of Books.) Consequently. say. wits and literati. flank) can spot the ear of Alfred Corn. Twenty years ago. for one. moonstruck in the N. reoleuis. at the least. And so adritt with my nearly blank map of American poetry. Jerome Mazzaro in the Hudson Reuicw reveals that "Seidel has the power to be an important visionary. I am utterly mystified by the mechanics of current "establishment" taste. or distinguish between Howard and Stanley Mosses? Who among us doesn't think that a "line of Dubie's" refers to Frank Sinatra? I.which we never admit." Richard Poirier compares Seidel to Lawrence. (Nor.. if any. in the ardent days of the anthology battles. read contemporary American poetry every day. Sulfur subscribers have read the man. I have envious. Frederick Seidel is our latest most important American poet. is the 1979 Lamont Poetry Selection and the winner of the 1980 National Book Critics Circle Award (now second in prestige to the Pulitzer). or any literary periodical with the word "Review" in the title. who among Sulfur readers (which I take as the progressive. Today. This despite the fact. In other words. delighted. any poetry book that wins a major prize. smartly published by Penguin1 Viking. I hasten to add. One effect of the poetry pandemic has surely been the elimination of exogamous reading. c o m m e n t s arld responses wrlttelz for tile hack pages of Sulfur. d o I exclusively linger in that church bake-sale ozone where all the presses are named after exotic flora or common fauna.1 986.Y. I am not only ignorant of 80% of the poets discussed at the moment by scholars. receive a pile of poetry books and periodicals every week. is reminded of. for the inclusion or exclusion of any poem in or from any Review." And Denis Donaghue.needless to say- s Yeats and Lowell.NOTES FOR S U L F U R I ( N o t e s . I happened to read a review of Seidel's Sunrise by Vernon Young in . It has become so hectic in one's own longhouse that one rarely has the time or stamina for visits to the other clans.that on the whole the academic reviewers and critics are far better writers and far more informed than the average fellow traveler of those who make it new.1 Seidel's Sunrise o what's a guy like me doing with a book like that in a place like this? Well . Suizrise.. seventeen years in the making.the grounds. even diehard Beat or Black Mountain partisans could. calling Surzrise one of the best poetry books of the last decade or more. jolted feelings and suspect the possibilities of modern poetry have been changed. 1981 .

one always makes the mistake of confusing it with literature. We were green i7s grapes. Tinzes Book Rerliezv. Whose own restnzrrant would be fi7irzous soon. Heads and necks delicate As a sea horse. W h o mtrch later tvozild translate Mandelstam. When I was two. He was last seen alizfe In 1938 at a transit camp near Vladivostok Eating from a garbage pile. "compelling".spring buds at thirty." a poem in its entirety from the collection: Caneton a la presse at the now extilzct Cafe Chauz~eron.it's all too easy t o sniff in dismissal or lower the heavy artillery. A clzrster of February birthdays.Y. in fairness. whose party it was. With which he is trying to find America. he produced two passages from the book. Chaztr~eron himself cooking. about Osip Mandelstam: (literally. simply because it happens t o deal with objects identical to those in which literature is traditionally stored. not described. arzd Robert Lowell was twenty-one. All "Elaine's" regulars. But we toere young. but so spectacularly bad that I wondered what aesthetic could prize . He wears desert boots and a viewfinder. And now has been dead two years himself. In support. ~ ~ r b a n e . Seidel's poems. Seidel in Sulfur should. Johizny Greco. frenetic". and so on. Seidel was unknown to me. Donald. So instead of sitting duck. born t~jithin few days and years a O f one another. thirty had been old. I offer "Pressed Duck. Elaine. be presented." Although. He does not perspire Because it is dry His twill trousers stay pressed. he wrote. m y former wife.Young's piece caught my eye. myself: With one exception. a lovely girl. fussed And approved Behind Elaine. like the eyesight of the deaf. Richardson. with one exccptiotz. "were the best about hell written in this country". Elegant and guileless Antonioni walks in the desert shooting Zabriskie Point.the N. "his visionary glimpses are balefully superb". sharp And meek. Elaine's then-partner. nt thirty-two. scathing. The first. the Rook Review is best avoided. And the second: Poised and hard. His then-wife. These two excerpts struck me as not merely dull. but I recognized Young as a "frequent critic.still slender. Not too long before. as it turned out) such work? What boat had I missed? I bought the book. to remain calm. He has a profile he could shave with. bzrt dreaming and innocentLike the last Romarzovs.

"Why do we need anybody else? We're the world. in frequency of local usage. Shy. skin-tight leather." When Seidel is trying to be funny. he sounds like this (the poem is about the author): He sucked his pipe. as Che is. a restaurant p t r o n i z e d by wealthy demi-intellectuals ("anti-Establishment" Hollywood directors. Mercedes limos. For "Pressed Duck" is surrounded by thirty other poems of similar ilk. It is not. in a book dedicated t o Bernardo Bertolucci: poems about partying with the Kennedys and Francis Bacon and Antonioni and apparently famous race car drivers. Courrkges boots. handmade suits..". authors of "serious" bestsellers. He dreamed of running away with his sister-in-law! Of doing a screenplay.. of course." [Readers who do not happen t o live on the island of Manhattan south of 96th Street will undoubtedly require some annotation. Elaine said.Y. it is inaccurate: no shopgirl could possibly afford a Cartier watch.. Times. Dorn Perignon and Polaroid and Valium and Mao. like this (on Robert Kennedy): Younger brother of a murdered president. H e means it. The only politician I have loved ." or "That is the poem.e.] Kindly souls might suspect that "Pressed Duck" is supposed to be funny. Chauveron ctit The tuine-red meat off the carcasses. and lines like "That is as sensitive as the future gets. is second only to the first person pronoun (possessive case). Him the guest on a talk showWhen he is serious. or ironic. A few years ago pressed duck became the rage. should be considered the Main Temple of the local consumer cult. And the people who pronounce chic chick. cuisine minceur. Elaine herself is well known both for her extreme snobbishness and her corpulence (i. Touching himself he murmured He was not fit to touch his wife2 hem. His duck press was the only one in New York." or "Between his name and neant are his eyes. following a full-page article in the N. He fucked his wife's friends. which ten years later shopgirls And Bloomingdale's fairies ujoltld wear. compassionate and fierce Like a figtire out of Yeats. poems that end with one-line stanzas like "Goodbye. One of the functions of the poem is to inform us that the poet was there first. It should also be noted that stanza 5 is not only snide.Above our English clothes And Cartier ruatches. Cartier is. Bloorningdale's. et al). one of the world's most elegant jewellers. images of opium by the pool. He skied he fished he published. Senator and candidate for president. And mainly like this: ." or "There and beyond one like heaven. there was a run on duck-pressers at $500 apiece. the "one exception"). He stirred brandy into the blood While we watched. and n o one on the island in recent memory has been heard t o mispronounce a word which. There is a poem called "Fucking". outwardly a department store. Elaine is the proprietor of Elaine's.

(Even the book itself is designed to look tony on a table in a hightech interior. bookish act of writing. Seidel's stylistic models are clearly Lowell and. with the objects of fashion which the poet accepts literally and absolutely. now in its sixth printing as a New Directions paperback. thinky offices of Partisan Review. all 1 can d o is nod as the sunrise sets. especially in the 14-page incomprehensible (Young: "enigmatic") title poem. Was sl~e to see my rival Lief. are forever indebted to Ben Belitt. ~71tnque de noche. But why is Academia bathed in the light of Sunrise? Why would a man like Donaghue mistake "Pressed Duck" for "Leda and the Swan"? First. In short. que hien se yo do tiene su manida. John Frederick Nims' recent third revision as a University of Chicago paperback. the poetry of a millisecond in an accelerating historical time.often occurs in a fit of anger. What Sunrise offers. and thus the worst translators have often turned out to be inadvertent forces of good. As such.It was U n i o n Square. Ashbery. coincidental references t o the text in manuscripts by Karin Lessing and Octavio Paz propelled me t o check the translations I had at hand: Willis Barnstone's version. Many translators have begun their careers out of rage at a perceived "betrayal" of a beloved text. Second. All of us who translate Spanish. whose words live less than a day. Appalled at the injustice of an existing translation. the poetry has appeal t o the bicoastal upper-middle brow. I remember. perfect Leisure Reading for the English Department. I tound: I I Aqttella eterna fonte estn ascondida. and Roy Campbell's translation. off Boyfriend of girls and men. long out of print.) Small wonder that book reviewers. a poetry obsessed with dates and the ages of individuals. love it. 111'111 d~ 1'1 C Y M Z St. o r down at the inky thinky Partisan Review. one rises in defense of the poem. it is deeply humorless. It may be the least numinous poetry ever written. ]ohn o f the Cross to t is a curiosity that translationthe most passive. the book is not only not campy (which might have saved it). es . is some easily recognized gossip and glitz couched in the current academic mode. for example. Turn a corner And in a light year She'd have arrived At the nearby inky. Back at the dinky but kinky Sulfur. Seidel's poetry is a quiche on quaaludes. therefore serious. Juan de la Cruz (1542-1591). 11983 1 Froni S. then.that is. In the case of this poem by S. Brancusi called Wagner's music a beefsteak in delirium. people in Los Angeles who read The New Yorker. who cruised 111 a Rolls ~oizz~crtihle? This is news that doesn't stay news with a vengeance: the invention of disposable poetry.

to the shadowy brink in dark of night. hark! That they should drink their fill though in the dark. even so Full well I guess from whence its sources flow Though it be night. y de esta agua se hartan azinque a escuras. although it is night. and then simply made up the rest. and never clouded? Never. Here t o all creatures it is crying. The wellspring of all splendor whatsoever.literal: That eternal fozlntailz is hidden. Waters that flow forever and a day through a lost country. Nims: A stream so clear. Here was more: S u claridad Fzunca es escurecida.and even in Tin Pan Alley they don't rhyme unseen and has been) and Campbell by inventing sources flow and the convoluted and (oxy)moronic Even so/ full well I guess. 1 know that all light cornes from her Its clarity unclouded still shall be: O u t of it comes the light by which we see Aqtli se esta llamando a las criaturas. H o w well I know where she has been in black of night. for black is night. althotlgh in darkness. and zuith this water they are sated. Come. it/ how well I know ~uhere she has its/ her abode/ lair/ mansion. I know and night. Here itlshe is calling t o the creatures. all you creatures. has been for has itslher lair. though in dark. literal: Nims had translated three words of the original. .oh 1 k n o w the way in dark of night. Barnstone and Campbell seemed willing t o d o almost anything to complete a rhyme: Barnstone by stretching meaning (unseen for hidden. Song o f the ulsters calling: come and drink. For it is night. literal: Itslher clarity is never darkened. Barnstone: Nims: Campbell: Barnstone: The eternal fountain is unseen. and I know that all light comes from her. Nims: Barnstone: She calls on all mankind t o start t o drink her wateu. porque es de noche. Her shining never has a blur. Campbell: Its deathless spring is hidden. for it is night. Campbell: y se que todn la luz de elln es venida.

the earti) drink from her t Though it is night Altl~o~igh is night it Her depth cannot be sounded Well I know no one may round i~er And her clarity never darkens And all light I know comes from her Though it is nigbt . But the point is that translation. where an attention to literal detail evolves a musical complex unlike that of the original. My own version. Nims was simply out to lunch. especially translation of the classics. American readers some small sense of what S. This may distress those wardens who would prefer to keep the translation in a prosodic equivalent of'the prison where the poem was originally written. rhyme: Campbell. start/ to drink). (James Dickey. showing great tufts of stuffing (still shall be. by which we see. was written. a quick draft. limpid speech. hark!). no walls at all: The Fountain Although it is n i g h So well I know her Fountain mounting spilling out That eternal fountain bidden So well I knoirl where She keeps her lair Though it is night Although it is night I will never know her origin She has no origin And I know all origin comes from her And I know there can be nothing more beautiful T l ~ aheavens. had hit the nailon the head: "You tend to forget that the poems were ever written in Spanish.I found it harmful either to keep the meter running or to retain the three-line stanzas of Juan's unorthodox villancico. It follows along the wide road cleared by Paul Blackburn's Proensa. on the back cover.not at all difficult. In attempting an exactitude of meaning. given the poet's extraordinarily simple.Barnstone falling into a kind of baby-talk which he had mistaken for colloquial speech (never has a blur. merely to give N.W'KI'I T F N K E A ( : T I O N The patterns had remained the same throughout each version. like an old couch. should have linlitless possibility.") Barnstone and Campbell had collapsed from strenuous ministrations to that exacting god. Juan was talking about. then.

and thus harmless. Elizabeth Bishop.S." The recipients of this honor are Dennis Cooper ("for writing the most ~ ~ ~ I s . Clayton Eshleman (for "attacking a dead.poet. but cute"')." The page features a large illustration of a test-tube of reddish liquid.written. and simplistically rendered. presumably infected blood: the "prize." devotes a full page.Although it is night 1 know her streanzs so abundant Watering hells and heavens and ?nun The stream born from this fountain Well 1 know so able all-powerful Though it is night Although it is night The stre~~tn these two flows of Neither before the other goes I know Tbis eternal fountain bidden In this living bread to give us life Thozrgb it is night Here she calls to t l ~ e creatures And with this water they are slaked Although in darkness for it is night This the living fountain 1 desire In this bread of life I see her Though night A Case of AIDS Hystcvia I Wrrtten rtl 1')R 3 . "numero 5. in collaboration with Tom Clark. thr R o l l ~ n g Stock "uwnrd" m a y well h a ~ ~hcetz the c. Czrrrozrsly." in a review in the L.\ 111 tile poetry prc'ss.] oIIing stock is a cultural newspaper edited by Ed and Jennifer Dorn and published from the University of Colorado. first nielltiotz of AII). Steve Abbott ("for accusing everybody who doesn't like him or his poetry of 'rabid homophobia"').l i k e of the year: 'Mark's anus is wrinkled. attd this the secottd. Robert Creeley (for writing extravagant blurbs for books by Stephen Rodefer and Joanne Kyger).[i to be u drsea~e affectrtlg otily g. The caption reads: "To date 1300 cases of AIDS POETRY have been reported in the U.7) mrtz. I gather. Allen Ginsberg (for claiming that he wrote some lyrics for the rock group The Clash R . whet1 Arm was consrcicrt." At the bottom of the page is a photograph of two Asian men in suits wearing Mickey Mouse caps. Tzmes). line pink.to the " 1983 AIDS AWARDS FOR POETRYIn recognition of the current EPIDEMIC OF IIIIOCY on the poetry scene.A. Its latest issue.

gay men. then AIDS. both verbal and active. It's not at all funny. or promiscuous. Ginsberg and Abbott. And Rolling Stock's choice of AIDS as the vehicle of death is positively sinister. and of Clark. feel that Bishop. Luckily the sophomoric wits of poetry usually find other things to do. This mythologizing of disease not only erects enormous barriers t o treatment and potential cure.even by some of its victims. w h o are some. For Cooper. our "American" values. I'm more alarmed that Dorn and Clark. but t o destroy our family structure. If cancer. The current AIDS hysteria is merely a n exaggerated and particularly shameless form of the continuing national dementias of racism and anticommunism. when it reaches them. AIDS-victims. is the result of unnatural passion: homosexuality itself. therefore they should drop dead from faggot disease. (And as for Asians in Mickey Mouse caps. needs protection from the barbarians trampling on her grave. It has only one reading: if AIDS is "idiocy. as various liberationists have proclaimed.these strike me as rather obscure misdemeanors. however.even poetry "idiocyn. it means: Those faggots should drop dead. it has become the right-wing's counter to the left's categorization of cancer as the moral disease of the age. of all people. and finally. But admirers of Dorn. according t o the right.the Ginsberg is strictly a "so what" item. to family squabbles. Rolling Stock is merely picking up where Robert Bly's FiftieslSixtieslSeventies left off. Here. [Postscript: Steve Abbott died of . There is n o doubt that AIDS is widely seen. "depersonalized" homosexuality. they not only wish the poets dead. but dead after a long and particularly gruesome disease.when supposedly he hadn't). w h o are publicly known as homosexual. Meanwhile people are dropping dead from AIDS. it means: They're idiots. I once would have thought Dorn and Clark to be unlikely mouthpieces for Reagan America. but it also promotes a climate of fear that extends far beyond ~111s itself. Rolling Stock demonstrates how easily the objects of fear and hatred become iumbled: homosexuals. Creeley's liking for Rodefer and Kyger and Eshleman's dislike of Bishop are scarcely cause for alarm. For Creeley and Eshleman. " \ Y ' K I T ~ . now face the task of recovering the poetry from the macho slobber. like writing grants proposals.I N (:AN~~I~>I-\TE" ("Fill in the name of your favorite IYIETRY I D I U T here") As "idiocy" goes. Cooper's line is hardly worth singling out (but in what way is it "~111s-like? because it is homoerotic?). Asians. its utter irrelevancy makes the matter barely worth mentioning. Hell becomes other people: the "idiots" among us. can only reduce the news.1 .as the wrath of God. publicly known as heterosexual. of all people. .) The presenting of awards to "idiots" has always been a favored pastime for sophomoric wits. authors of book-jacket blurbs-"idiots" all.they can drop dead too. like a village on the fringe of the Empire. is the body's response t o passion unnaturally repressed by society or personality. Worse. therefore faggots. Most depressing is that these poets. who are many." or whatever it was: For these supposed infractions of good taste.presumably more "idiotic" than whites in similar attire.and its discovery has unleashed a wave of homophobia. and the Abbott clearly the product of a personal grudge. out not only to physically destroy us.that is. (In fact." then clearly the "idiots" are AIDS-victims.) - Sickening and pointless. But Dorn a n d Clark have considerably raised the stakes from Bly's "Blue Toad.+\IDS in 1994.

By 30 he had written seventeen books in Rumanian: best-selling novels.the stuff of the sacred. Persian. Bengali. [I had tried to read it." Eliade wrote "I arrived at cosmic sacralities by reflecting on the daily experiences of Rumanian or Bengali peasants. Rites and Symbols o f Initiation. The Quest. having wandered away from his mother... from the beginning. needed his help. sensuality. "any intelligent reader would be captivated. his first book written in English.. began: "I met God at the end of a path. "1 His friends were Bachelard.. Dumezil. essays on entomology. after a hundred pages?" If only they would realize that those pages are deliberately "confused. collections of stories and essays. wordy. Babylonian cosmography.. he was attracted to Fascism by its glorification of an indigenous folk. reading his journals. As a teenager he published two novels and hundreds of shorter pieces: stories.. Latin.scholarship.. Ionesco.. At 21 he went to India for three years. The Myth of the Eternal Return. H e studied Sanskrit twelve hours a day.) H e trained himself to sleep only four hours a night. alchemy. was the long novel The Forbidden Forest. Jung. His masterpiece. Why do so many readers stop. "We are 'condemned... He had translated two volumes of T.. Breton. The Sacred and the Profane.) Because of the great books on Yoga and shamanism. by any chance?' he asked me. Portuguese. French. he was (and is) the preeminent guide and encyclopedia to the manifestations of the ancient mysteriesfor the second half of the century. had a doomed love affair (recounted in his novel Bengali Nights). Like many others who would form the Bollingen group. He was a . discouraged. Lawrence. The Forge and the Crucible. and ended up as a yogi in a cave above Rishikesh. Myths. our Frazer. 'You wouldn't have a penknife. Sanskrit.. literary criticism. Mircea Eliade (1 907-1 986) oceanography. obsessed.E." And yet he considered his work as a n historian of religion as ancillary to his fiction. and written his first book on Yoga in French.. Orientalism. Past those pages. the three-volume A History of Religious Ideas. That conjunction.. alchemy. Bataille. Hebrew. The T2uo and the One. Years later. written as a child. H e had pulled a branch off a hazel tree and was trying to make a switch of it."' he wrote. His earliest story. accounts of his extensive walking trips through the countryside. Ortega y Gasset. and awkwardn. H e learned Italian. H terns in Comparative Religion. the anthology From Primitives to Zen. Dreams and Mysteries. English. and Pat- is earliest memory was crawling in the forest. His death elicited only a few paragraphs in our "newspaper of record. and gave up after a hundred pages. "to learn and to reawaken t o the life of the spirit through books. sacralitydescribes his life. his subject was the "concrete spiritual life as it takes place in culturew. religion. Russian. Cioran.. I came across this passage: "F6ret Interdit.." (The gods. he thought.. and suddenly coming face to face with a resplendent blue lizard.a "camouflage" for what is to come. Greek. books on India. (A year later." Never much of a theoretician.. Images and Symbols.

gave the manuscript a new title. and all of them rejected it. but the story does not end there. 1983. He was. o r he outlined the story t o a n assistant who actually "wrote" the book. c ~ / ~ f o r Press) for T h c L. A r t ( U r ~ ~ u e r s of ) ~ .A. a n investigative journalist wrote an article claiming that the Polish author could not possibly have written The Painted Bird in English: at the time.in his histories of religion perhaps more than in his fiction. None of them. lt C rt~L~ Rewr~ttrrtfor il11 ljstre of Arres J e ML-xicu iievot[~d o forgeries.i. at heart. there were rumors that the novel was based on. For Eliade. And he was. and a telling comment on how books get published. t o find God one could begin anywhere.or A . It was suggested that he either wrote the novel in Polish and had it translated. The Painted Bird. [I9861 GENUINE FAKES T h e Forger'.a poet: one of the century's great celebrants of the ideas in things. \Yreeklv. Furthermore. he was a recent immigrant to the United States.and often could barely disguise his impatience with the exclusionary policies of the three monotheisms. 1 9Y. including Kosinski's own publisher. an energetic young man retyped Jerzy Kosinski's 1965 prize-winning novel. and his command of: the language was poor. the book's acclaimed verbal pyrotechnics would not be the work of Kosinski. Either way. It was a good joke. Some years before Kosinski's death. recognized the book.man w h o read everything and remembered everything: any thing reminded him of everything else. and submitted it to a dozen American publishers. a Hindu. 1 t bout ten years after it was published.

and when that act is. only the text. A forgery is always worse than it looks. that there is n o author. Even when the author is Anonymous (as the old joke goes. But it is authenticity. As Salvador Dali said. Its location in time.that is. and both of them are jokes. Mark Twain said that Wagner's music was better than it sounds. the first person to compare a woman's cheeks to a rose was undoubtedly a genius. with the postmodernists. But if authenticity leaves a taste of bitter regret. revealed. but we knout. that is the cruelest joke of all. But the actual reading o r looking o r listening to a work of art always occurs in the tension between our perception of the work itself and our knowledge of its origin. but we see it with modern eyes. that in art all ages are contemporaneous. with the eyes of a modernity that is always chang~ng. H e then gave a . until it is revealed as a fake. the second person to d o so could easily have been a n idiot. The Metropolitan Museum buys a Greek vase for a million dollars that is hailed as the masterpiece of its kind.\< I I O N possibly plagiarized from.the writings of an unpublished Polish writer who had died in a concentration camp. the pianist Alexis Weissenberg was tired of reading reviews that claimed he was a "cold. according to the identity of its author: Kosinski as original writer.keeps the work in constant flux. The memoir of a small boy in war-torn Poland.moreover in a time that is receding. Forgery is based on authenticity. emotionally if not rationally. and whose manuscript had somehow fallen into Kosinski's possession.. the assistant. The Painted Bird is a classic case of how authorship determines reception.that a lyric by Sappho has the immediacy of a poem written yesterday. Forgery is at its most comic when it is a n act of simple revenge. For example. the greatest writer w h o ever lived) the work is inextricably placed in its historic moment. Kosinski as plagiarist. a context we must enter into. Forgery is the little pin that pricks the hot-air balloon of theories of art. So he invented. Intellectually. (The liveliest debate in physics today is the question that every age and culture has had to answer: what happened in the first four seconds of the universe?) There is n o reason why an exact copy (assuming it were possible) of a painting should be inferior t o the original. unemotional" performer. the young re-typist.\\)<I I I h I I l l . But the perversity of the humor is that it can never be shared: the forger must laugh alone. and human nature cannot bear anything without a narrative of its origin. As it is. that it is so. it would have been enveloped in unbearable pathos if it had been presented as the work of the murdered Pole.o r believe. although the text remains the same. When it is done for monetary gain it is as humorless as a counterfeit bill: all skill and no wit." Nothing is more certain than the foolishness of old certainties.. Its timelessness is its unchanging core. We see the work as part of an archaic context. its importance diminishes. in the following order. but by another man of the same name. We venerate da Vinci's "Last Supper. forgery a t its best is a sugared hilarity. the translator. When it is a work of megalomania it is a t its most perverse. which keeps the work alive over the centuries. in the end. Yesterday's attribution t o the hand of the Master becomes today's relegation t o an anonymous "From the studio of . A forgery is an object without a creator. the combination of skill a n d obsession that leads to the pleasure of seeing one's efforts hanging in a museum o r sold a t Sotheby's. not forgery. We ponder the quite serious critical proposal that the plays of Shakespeare were not written by William Shakespeare. we may believe. with the modernists." even though it has been restored so many times it n o longer has any of its original paint.what else?-a soundless piano.

Ter Borch. As it happened. the art critics w h o were indulged in speculating on Vermeer's missing paintings were the very same w h o had consigned van Meegeren to the Siberia of modern taste. a large chronological gap in Vermeer's thirty-odd known works: his early years when.unlike his later landscapes.4 million dollars. after years of perfecting the preparation of materials that would delude scientific examination. it was thought. and painted works with religious themes. and it hung. As an authentic Vermeer. The hoax was not discovered. But as an original van Meegeren it is a brilliant parody which. that all the newly-found Vermeers were van Meegerens. was the case of the century's greatest (known) forger. the master plan: Vermeer had recently been rediscovered. however. both delivers the last laugh and anticipates postmodern ironic1 iconic pastiche: van Meegeren clearly copled the face o f Jesus from a photograph of Greta Garbo. he had some success as a very young artist. But the utterly dreadful Symbolist canvasses he began painting in his late twenties were receiving the kind of reviews usually reserved for misunderstood genius or well-understood mediocrity. H e was not believed. and portraits.) Finally.to this day some of his techniques cannot be explained. They successfully pleaded with the Dutch government not t o destroy the painting. he had travelled to Italy.concert where he played a tape recording of himself. it seems incredible that this unspeakably clumsy canvas was ever mistaken for the real thing. against capital punishment. There was.he proceeded to produce the missing Vermeers.a particular enemy of van Meegeren. in one startling gesture.) Looking at "The Supper of Emmaus" today. . fallen under the influence of Caravaggio. and the critics hailed the evening as one of Weissenberg's most moving performances. he made his first forays into the forging business by producing fakes of Frans Hals.and moreover. curiously. H e was arrested for stealing a Dutch National Treasure and selling it to the enemy." The painting was sold in 1937 for the equivalent of 1. Hans van Meegeren. and was rightly being celebrated as a rival to Rembrandt as the avatar of Dutch genius. They sold moderately well. "The Supper at Emmaus. Born in Holland in 1889. and accompanied the music with precisely coordinated histrionic gestures and passionate grimaces. Needing money. To escape a conviction of treason. twist of fate. Yet despite his confession and conviction for forgery. van Meegeren was forced to confess that the painting was a fake." was declared by one cr~tic. in the Boysman Museum for seven years.he died in prison soon after. to great adulation. which still appears on Dutch Christmas cards.to be not only authentic. which he did. most notably for a drawing of Queen Juliana's pet deer.(The argument.there were some critics who stubbornly maintained that "The Supper of Emmaus" was indeed a genuine Vermeer that the forger was claiming as his own. His greatest work. but "the masterpiece of Vermeer. and one with more serious consequences. An elaborate combination of revenge and megalomania. It was perfect. it was discovered that van Meegeren had sold a Vermeer to Hermann Goring. After the Second World War. Van Meegeren went into seclusion in France and. H e then discovered his true mission in life. and the police insisted he produce a Vermeer in prison. and de Hoogh. in case a mistake had been made. in an odd reversal. (We now know that van Meegeren was a Nazi sympathizer w h o had no choice when Goring asked for the painting. it is pathetic. still be there were it not for the inevitable It would. interiors. the pop novelist Irving Wallace published an article In 1 9 4 7 celebrating van Meegeren as a hero who had swindled Goring.

AN AVIARY OF T A R N S ( Wrrtteii ~ 7 s the entry 011 Nathaniel Lzrn for the refere. it is the forger who has taken the Romantic ideals of the isolation of the artist to its greatest extreme. is.ri-c hook. whose work is acclaimed while he remains in total anonymity. a source of great power w h o is kept apart from the rest of the community through a web of taboos. Anglo-French by birth.1 1 remember on the shores of the most beautiful lake in the world whose name in its own language means abundance of waters as if the volcanoes surrounding it had broken open the earth there in the village of Saint lames of Compostela one cold night not the cereus-scented summer nights in which a voice I nerler traced sang those heartbreaking serenades to no one known a zfisiting couple gave birth in the market place the father gnawing the cord like a rat to free the child and before leaving in the morning they were giz~enthe freedom of the place 1 mean the child was given child of nowhere. 1984. The forger.Forge: the same word for falsifying artworks and shaping metal by heating and hammering. a freedom of place that is rare among contemporary poets. w h o believes only in the work itself and the age to which it is attributed. and has given himself. Martin's). Nathaniel Tarn has been given. in the end. may be the model artist. In traditional societies. the blacksmith. In our society. Contemporary Poets (St. like the shaman. a A . H e is a maker of art w h o can never be acknowledged as such. H e is an outcast from the outcasts of society. he is also the purest artist: the one w h o rejects the cult of personality. And yet. the maker of the weapons. w h o has n o identity and n o personal style.

in the poet's words. which tie Tarn t o Williams and contemporary practitioners like Snyder and Kelly. (Indeed. almost like spirit-cult possessions. mingled with the voice of "Tarn"). and a deeply personal poetry which the poet allows to be spoken by others (A Nowhere for Vallejo. he is. writing monographs on the Atitlan region of Guatemala. be as indignant as Pound at the destroyers of culture and of the wilderness. but a nomad. and a Mayanist. Much of his writing. And he was a Buddhist scholar. in his four major book-length poems. along with that of few others these days. and it rolls out in long lines of sacred hymns that oscillate between the demotic and the hieratic (heir t o Smart and Blake. His poems have more birds than Clare's. both American and Jewish. to Whitman and the Neruda of The Heights of Macchu Picchu. and as a Buddhist scholar he is involved with the Tibetan diaspora. sets course for a mythical unity: the hierosgamos. he was an anthropologist. a book on the monastic politics of Burma. small linked bursts of sharp image and speech.he is a n American poet and citizen. much of Tarn's American work may be read as an epic elaboration of Donne's erotic geography of the "new found land.) His poetry. His combination of ingenious metaphor and sexual exuberance has been rare in the language since the 17th century." where the poet speaks in other voices. his poetry encompasses Eastern philosophy. N o t an exile. he is the author of travel narratives that restore the adjective "readable" to poetry. particularly the prose. and he was educated on both sides of the Channel. longing for the idea of home: it is the American condition. a professor of comparative literature. and Alashka. at times. Furthermore. among other writings.") Like Rexroth. and a more successful run as an up-and-coming young English poet: an associate of the literary group called "The Group. has appeared under other names. perhaps the century's only collaborative poem which does not identify the individual contributions. written with Janet Rodney. a love poetry where the object of desire undergoes countless transformations (Lyrics for the Bride of God). which he translated) and sequences of short poems. I What holds it together is Tarn's ecstatic vision. a student of Levi-Strauss and Griaule in Paris and Redfield in Chicago." and editor of the extraordinary Cape Editions. and precise descriptions of the natural world. sudden irruptions into the body of the work. his continuing enthusiasm for the stuff of the world. And. at the moment. world myth. frequent "unconscious thrusts. revolutionary politics. with Michael McClure. It is a poetry whose native tongue is myth. author of.always subject t o sudden metamorphosis. and sometimes other languages. in Spanish and English translation. his childhood was bilingual. longing for the abandoned home." (And he can. Tarn. This range of Tarns is mirrored. marriage of earth and sky. has declared that sparagmos ("the falling to pieces1 the tearing t o pieces1 of the world as body") is "the inescapable theme of our time. which is a collage of lines and invented lines by the Peruvian poet. In the 1950's and 1960's he had a short career as a (self-described) "25th-rate" French Surrealist poet. In 1970 Tarn followed his literary affinities and moved t o the United States where. and the Jewish condition. like Rexroth and MacDiarmid. Moreover the poetry has. in a poetry of place where the place is always changing (The Beautiful Contradictions). the major celebrant of heterosexual love in the language.dual citizen. when history will . As an anthropologist he continues to write on Guatemala. Since the death of Kenneth Rexroth.

somewhere will be everywhere. and where the evening's entertainment might be a play with music by John Cage and dances by Merce Cunningham. Press) for The Nation. I . it was a community where students and teachers lived together. T . 1987. built their own dorms and classrooms. and only green be seen above ground that he might go home i I BLACK MOUNTAIN [Originnll>j writteii as il rPl'lCtL' o f M a r y E m i n a HClrris.be forever in the present tense." Its 0 . costumes by Richard Lippold. raised their own food. and Buckminster Fuller as the leading man. 1989. It was the kind of place where Josef Albers determined the way the cans should be stacked in the kitchen. and it attracted an extraordinary collection of European refugees from fascism and American refugees from capitalism. yet that is precisely how Black Mountain College (1933-1956) lingers in the memory. and Cage first played his silent music and staged the first "happening. two hot wars and the cold war. and jointly determined both their courses of study and the courses of their lives. sets by Elaine and Willem de Kooning. and the author everyone: that the branch may break that the long voyage may end for the planet and the furthest point of death be returned from the separation into dead and live summer and winter. Set in a magnificent corner of the Blue Ridge Mountains. direction by Arthur Penn. The Arts ar Black Mountain College ( M . It was an outpost of aestheticism through the Depression. Fuller built his first geodesic dome at Black Mountain. I nly in America could an art school be imagined as a form of Utopia. Kezc~rittcilf o r p u h l i c n t i v n i n M c x i c o .

Black Mountain existed in such a state of perpetual schism and flux that it defies any generalization of intents or purposes. ("All I knew was Buster Keaton and Henry Ford. each in turn composed of idiosyncratic members who rarely agreed on very much. Bolotowsky. Chamberlain. not variable paint). who had left Germany s: after the forced closing o f the Batihaus and had arrived in Buncombe County. At Black Mountain.not.When he and his fellow exiles from Rollins Col- lege took over some Baptist Assembly buildings on Black Mountain in 1933. North Carolina not speakiirg a word of English." he zurote. Humphrey and Litz taught dance. Richards. There were. ") In a coziittry without cultlire. Greene.resident artists (students and teachers) were Albers. and taught by question~ng everything. in its last years. This meant that no art history was taught at Black Mountain during the Albers years. Into this hotbed o f Americ~zn progressivism came the coolest of the European m o d ~ r n ~ s tJosef Albers. Most important.1200 students in its 2 4 years. with some interruptions. Its composers were H a r r ~ s o n . Zadkine. Tworkov. And. Kline. that more or less camped in the ruins of the college from 1952 t o 1956." he saw himself as a kind o f cultural-spiritual adzriser." Grades and requirements were to be abolished.C. from band 1944 to 1953. The first was the college founded in 1933 by John Andrew Rice and a group of renegade faculty and students from a Congregat ~ o n a lChurch college in Florida. Feininger. Edward Dahlberg. according to the Quaker "sense of the meeting. until 1949. such as trustees. Lippold. Clement Greenberg. And the third was the small. was Josef Albers. The second was the remarkable series of summer sessions that were held. Rudofsky the history of costume.Wolpe. Eric Kahler. Noland. Krenek. the split between the"physica1" and "psychical" effects of matter. its photographers Callahan. particularly cherished beliefs. Siskind. deCreeft. M. decisions were to be made by the community as a whole. Vicente. Charles Olson. but "hu?zgryfor a culture. the "excessive feminization") of the American college. athletics would be replaced by useful work on the farm and in maintenance. Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan were the centrifugal forces of a poetlcs movement that came to be classified.in the student's general education. art was to be the central force. for Rice. a n extra-curricular activity. three Black Mountains. Eric Bentley. Radin taught anthropology. Newhall and Morgan. Shahn. Thus the students labored to make the hard look soft. Art was a series of problems t o be solved: the interactions of shapes and colors (only colored paper was used. Gropius taught architecture. leading students in a disciplined program o f self-discovery through controlled experiments in the elements o f form. " The rest was distraction. Wood was made . they came with few specific plans and one general ideal: to break down the institutionalization (and. Rice was an iconoclastic classicist who delighted in the enfant terr~blerole. the de Koonings. "is the essential function of the Human Spirit. "Abstracting. Cunningham. and Alfred Kazin. von Franz mythology. however erroneously. and whose guiding light. Rauschenberg. as the Black Mountain school. essentially. faculty and students were to be held jointly and equally responsible for every aspect of their lives and education. most of them in attendance only for a summer. Twombly. the warm cold. the wet dry. Although it was a short-lived and tiny institution. deMille. mainly l~terary of outsiders. Sessions. Paul Goodman was there. There was to be no "admi~listration" and no outside governing body. as elsewhere. and no one sketched or painted the exquisite landscape. Clark Foreman. led by Charles Olson.

his presence. Albers was also largely successful in isolating the community from what was imagined as "the outside world. Certain crafts.) Albers had no patience for "this constant over-democratic nonsense.were permitted. a continual purging of elements that were seen as adversely affecting the image of the college. None of the histories of the college mention any interest in the Spanish Civil War. and opposed to the teaching of the social sciences and history. (Only a few other blacks attended over the next five years. Students would gather every Saturday to listen to the Texaco opera. but. Albers stormed out. a student brought a radio into the dining hall to hear the news. a n d whatever they pleased. in a long and particularly divisive battle. bookbinding. When the students performed a proletarian drama by Irwin Shaw. autocratic. Against a succession of idealistic and younger faculty members. Clark Foreman and Paul Radin. He had no interest in the farm. when one female black day student was allowed t o take classes. Albers was relentlessly apolitical. but ceramics.and the freedom to teach as much or as little as they pleased. Jewelry was made from paper clips and kitchen utensils. kernels of corn were meticulously arranged to give the appearance of a piece of woven cloth. Albers and his followers kept Black Mountain segregated.weaving (taught by Anni Albers). and most of the teaching took . but when. and gradually the students lost their equal role in the administration of the college. "a beautiful teacher and a n impossible person. Left-wingersmost notably Eric Bentley. an ideal community. social concerns.were forced out. each led by a charismatic faculty member. Homosexuals were tolerated only if they kept their activities secret. Albers. Nearly everything that happened there during the regular school year can be seen as a result of. there was a !general scandal." This meant not only the opposition of other faculty members' proposals for social work in the community. the tiny fiefdorns. and usually for a single summer." according to Robert Rauschenberg. waged war for the ideological control of the community and the college. instead of the usual folk plays and Ibsen. Meals were communal. that Black Mountain achieved the Utopian quality that sustains its reputation today. Most important.to look like water. crafts programs and the like. (That these were seen as contradictory impulses may have been the school's undoing. woodworking.) Year after year. They were given a few months of vacation in the country. despite overwhelming opposition by the students. six months into World War 11. for one. And.disciplined. aesthetic preoccupation vs. isolation vs. There was a quota for Jews until the late 40's. during the fall. winter and spring. and deplored the sloppiness of the students' Bohemian dress. interaction with the rest of the world. opinionated. It was not until 1944. voter registration drives. with the inauguration of special summer sessions that included many of the regular students and few of the faculty.room and board but no pay." He insisted that teachers know more about teaching than students. until 1944. egg shells to look like flower petals. or a reaction against. Many of them were young and penniless at the time. was verboten ("ashtray art").was to be the determinative force at Black Mountain for seventeen years. It should be remembered that nearly all of the luminaries associated with Black Mountain attended only the summer sessions. more devastating. wire screen and leaves to look like shadows. Perhaps the most shocking aspect of Black Mountain during the Albers years is its studies obliviousness to the dramatic contemporary events. he stood his ground on the side of educational ideals vs.

But he was n o administrator. and that vision of the Dark Ages became the shadow cast by the gigantic Charles Olson. was the exact opposite of Albers' meticulous arrangements of given forms. after one day. The dining room was closed.would have lasting effects on the art of each. Those in the performing arts had an extraordinary opportunity t o realize their work: an eager cast of student and faculty dancers. There was. most of them professional (or would-be) artists more interested in their own work than in any educational or communal ideals. because of his homosexuality and anarchist views). Cunningham danced through the audience chased by a barking dog. the provisional and improvisatory nature of the summer sessions rhymed perfectly with the techniques that were being explored at the time by Cage and the others: chance operations.K. the upbeat progressives of the 30's and 40's became the drunken nihilists of the SO'S. its barn uncleaned. agents than students. "no more of this community bullshit". In its last years. random juxtaposition. Fuller. "process" replaced "form" as the key word. Olson brought in Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan (who in 1938 had been expelled from the college.among Cage. there were too many stars for any one person to dominate. In the music library. in many ways. the introduction of the accidental into the "finished" work. musicians. the dismantling of the "art object. The school fell apart. politics became a matter of hot debate. Rauschenberg. for whom "the poet [was] the only pedagogue left. and the classrooms were piled with trash. and in McCarthy's America the college was attracting more F. The farm was abandoned. and the flow of temporary visitors effectively prevented institutional petrification. and none of them carried any vested interest in the community. The subject became the making of art. Alliances formed or strengthened at Black Mountain. the mixing of media. in Olson's words. Above all. became its opposite: writing was emphasized. rather than art. David Tudor hammered a prepared piano. Williams' Jargon Press. Kudzu vines overran the campus. for example. and slides and movies were screened at odd angles on the wall. and the students fended for themselves. For one Albersian at the Cage happening." To have Cage on a ladder reading Meister Eckhart while Rauschenberg simultaneously played scratchy Piaf records on a wind-up Victrola. and students such as Edward Dorn. exiles from the postwar materialist boom. its cows sick and freezing to death." Cage called it.place over a dining room table-"education as conversation." The school." Albers and the entire art faculty resigned in 1949. And yet this tiny band o f outsiders formed the only arts movement to which the name "Black Mountain" has been attached. Joel Oppenheimer and Jonathan Williams wandered in. Cunningham. it was "the Dark Ages. the phonograph records had been melted down t o look like Dali's painting. the largely female student body became predominantly male. the school had less than twenty students and teachers. as well as painters and sculptors to create the sets. in fact there was hardly a community.I. Moreover. and . not the defining of an art school. and outlined grand schemes of visiting lecturers and consecutive series of long symposia on nearly every aspect of human knowledge ("a curriculum of the soul"). Olson envisioned Black Mountain as a "twin" to the Princeton Institute of Advanced Studies. Together they resurrected the American small press poetry scene with a flurry of publishing: pamphlets and broadsides o n the school's own presses. Harrison and Lippold. actors.

form was "never more than a n extension of content". for Olson. If the poerns in the academic journals of the time were flotillas of small craft. tall and thin. drained of its religious and social context. Donald Allen's anthology T h r New American Poetry had formally christened the six poets (along with others who had never attended. As the North Carolina version of Black Mountain dwindled.though we assume the beneficence of ventures such as Black Mountain and its scores of spin-offs. Albers saw the pre-Columbian pyramids as expressions of a pure form which he could reduce t o a few lines on a page. By 1960. some believed. Olson never won a major prize (nor have Creeley or Duncan).they were hot for the world they lived in. but the poets alive and working out of Olson's image of what poetry ought to be remain as marginal as Pound o r Williams or Olson were in their own times. these Maya. Olson hoped to launch ships of state. for Duncan.perhaps it was a mistake to assume that the function of such a community should be education. And. In one of his most famous sentences he exclaimed. It is curious that both Albers and Olson spent a great of deal of time in Mexico in the late 1940's and early SO'S. Most shared a n allegiance t o William Carlos Williams and a poetry written in a natural American speech. there is a shelf-full of critical studies. that poetry was the best way to talk about everything. the poem was an organic entity. perfect embodiments of the things they represented.from the domestication of corn to the way the Indians walked. H e often compared himself and his handful of students with M a o in the caves of Yenan. There is a direct line of formalist preoccupation from Albers to the Abstract Expressionists to the Pop and O p painters t o the conceptualists t o the current breed of neoExpressionists. which under Creeley's direction became the hest "little" magazine of the 1950's. For Creeley. and remarked on countless examples. the poet's own breath was to determine the measure of the line. The cold has dominated the century. Albers would be at home in a hluseurn of Modern Art that exhibits a Polynesian spirit fetish. hot to get it down the way it was. with Ezra Pound. be impossible t o create a community of artists in a secular society. At Black Mountain.the way it is.") Olson saw the hieroglyphs as poetry. of course.The Black Mountain Review. that the subject of poetry was everything. my fellow citizens. next to a Giacometti because both are anthropomorphic. the hot remains the permanent heterodox. for Levertov. The inseparable identification of art and school is . neo-Geos and other quality merchants. in the end. in As a movement the poets were largely ~inited their rejection of the contemporary New Criticism and its well-crafted poemobjects poured into the lnolds of traditional prosody. the winds that emanated from Black Mountain have never dissipated. Today. such as Paul Blackburn. "0. but the event itself". Olson imagined a network of Black Mountain satellites and cells across the nation: a force. It may. four years after the college had closed." Cold and hot. he died with his work largely out of print. declared that Black Mountain was "consciously on the side" of the "Mayan Indians who demanded that the King be the most cultivated among them. in a weird bit of anthropological fantasy. the poem was an event: "not a record of an event. (And. both the Albers years and the Olson years were small triumphs amidst a larger disaster. Larry Eigner and Denise Levertov) as the Black Mountain school.of what he considered to be the Mexicans' seamless unification of intellect and physicality.

a recent development. In 1914, the proto-Dadaist poet and boxer Arthur Cravan, raging against art schools, ended his diatribe with this prophetic line: "I am astonished that some crook has not had the idea of opening a writing school."
[ Written 0s the text t o the catalog, Bronze Ages: Brian Nissen's Sculpture,

(Clarion Press), 1987.1

" O n e creates an organism when the elements are ready for life."
Tristan Tzara

ood sculpture," wrote Ezra Pound, thinking about Gaudier-Brzeska, "does not occur in a decadence. Literature may come out of a decadence, painting may come out of a decadence, but in a decadence men do not cut stone." Within that hyperbole- written, strangely, in spite of the evidence at hand: a master stonecutter killed in a pointless war- is a small seed of truth. Decadence implies a self-absorbed present: one that may yearn for certain lost moments of history, but in which history has attenuated, and the ancient knowledge, beliefs, customs, mores have lost their vitality. Religion becomes superstition, custom entwines with commerce, taboo turns to common practice. That


literature and painting are produced in ages of decadence may owe, in part, simply to their materials, which have so little history. To write (in the West) is to use the language, however stylized, of one's contemporaries- a language not much older than one's grandparents. One paints with materials that are only a few centuries or a few decades old: oil, watercolor, acrylic. But to sculpt- literally t o "sculpt": carving or shaping stone, wood, clay, wax- is t o work with one's hands on ancient matter: to remain in the present while simultaneously inserting oneself into a continuum that begins in the archaic. To work in bronze is t o immerse oneself in a process that has remained unchanged since its invention in Egypt in 2600 B.C. It is to create pieces that- no matter how new or idiosyncratic in form- share their molecules and the act of their making with Anatolian winged centaurs and bull's heads from Ur, Cretan double axes and Corinthian helmets, Saxon heads with silver eyes, Persian ewers incised with lovers and cuirasses with inscriptions from the Qu'ran, Etruscan sunburst oil lamps, hunting reliefs from Vace, Shang bells and drums and tall-stemmed bowls, the long-tailed birds of the Chou, their vessels covered with meanders and continuous volutes, their monster masks with ring handles, their animal-headed daggers and knives, cheekpieces, jingles, harness fittings, the mirrors inscribed "May we never forget each other" with which the H a n nobility were buried, shields from Battersea and Celtic buckets, battle-axes from Luristan, Greek charioteers, kings of Nineveh, the gates of the Assyrian palace of Balawat, Marcus Aurelius on his horse, the doors of St. Sophia in Byzantium and St. Zeno in Verona, the seven-branched Easter candlesticks of Rheims, Gothic fonts and covers, Romanesque chandeliers and pelican lecterns, Parthian perfume stills, Moorish aquamanales in the shape of lions, the huge eyes and blank stares

of Benin masks and heads, lanterns of musical Boddhisattvas from Nara, Bamun pipes of lizards and ancestors stacked like totem poles, the saints and miracles on the doors of Pisa, Renaissance lamps In the shape of a foot, in the shape of a man with his head between his legs (or worse),Donatello's plaquettes, Degas' dancers, Rodin's ponderer, filigreed flower baskets from Karnakura and the four-thousand-pound statue of Queen Napirassu of the Elam, three thousand years old and headless now, but with her hands delicately crossed ... Objects created out of a marriagetraditionally celebrated as such- of copper and tin, whose officlant, the smith, was revered and reviled, subject to the same taboos as priests. Objects created in a process that has always been seen as a metaphor of the sacred mysteries: the wax is shaped and encased in clay, baked in a kiln until the clay hardens and the wax runs out, leaving the mold into which the bronze is poured. "Lost wax": only when there IS nothing, when one has created a nothing, can the work be achieved. "Sculpture," said Brancusi, "is not for young men."



To which, looking at Nissen's work, must be added another layer of history: the New World- which made knickknacks of bronze, but never had a Bronze Age- before the arrival of the Old. Nissen, born in England in 1939, went t o Mexico at age twenty-three and stayed for seventeen years, with frequent visits since. 1 And there too, a long line of British ancestors: Thomas Blake in Tenochtitlrin only thirteen years after Cortes; Robert Tomson in 1556 accurately prophesying that one day it would be "the most populous Citie in the world"; that meticulous 18th century

observer, Thomas Gage; Frederick Catherwood, discoverer and the great draughtsman of the Mayan ruins; the chronicler of 19th century drawing rooms, Frances Calderon de la Barca, a Scot married into Mexican society; the archeologist Alfred Maudslay; Henry Moore, appropriating the reclining figure of the MayaToltec chac mool; the Surrealist Leonora Carrington; Lawrence, Huxley, Waugh, Greene, Lowry; and the anonymous legions of scholars and bohemians, repressed voluptuaries, missionaries, drunks, xenophobes and aristocrats gone native- those who went to escape and those who went to find.] Nissen, escaping the airless club room of post-imperial England, found in Mexico, as so many Europeans before him, vivacity- a vivacity that extends even into its obsession with deathand a unity, still extant in the hinterlands, of art and life. (Xntonin Artaud: "In haexico, since we are talking about Mexico, there is no art: things are made for use. And the world is in perpetual exaltation.") Above all, he found its indigenous history. Three of the forms of pre-Columbian expression are essential t o Nissen's work: the glyph, the codex, and the temple. Their elaborations are tracks towards Nissen's work: The Mayan glyphs are important here not for their individual meanings (decipherment) but for their system of construction. They were laid out on a grid that could be followed in a variety of directions. Within each rectangle of the grid, the individual glyph itself was a conglomerate of component parts (much like the Chinese ideogram): simple pictographs (a house for "house," a vulture for "vulture"), phonetic signs (each representinga single syllable), logographs (non-representational representations of a word), and semantic determinatives (specifiers of particular meaning). For the Western mind- if not to its native practitioner- the


glyph or the ideogram has a concreteness, a weight, that does not exist in alphabetic writing: the word is an object. Further, it seems- particularly to those w h o cannot "read" them- that each glyph, each word, has the same weight, that the glyphs are equal to one another, giving each thing in the world an identity of correspondence. The extraordinary scholarship, and partial decipherment, that has occurred in recent years has proven that the glyphs are even more complex. The Mayaologist Linda Schele notes- t o take one example- that the word "vulture'' could be written in pictographic form, geometric form, or syllabic form. A pictographic vulture with a crown was one of the many ways of writing ahau, which meant both "lord" and one of the day-names of the Maya calendar. The pictographic vulture could also refer specifically t o the black-headed vulture called tahol (literally, "shithead"). From that, the vulture glyphs (whether pictographic or geometric) were also used to represent ta' ("shit") or ta ( a preposition meaning "to, on, from"). There were, then, nearly endless ways to write any given word, and Mayan scribes were valued for their punning and ability to coin new variations while strictly adhering t o the rules. This meant not only that each word was an assembled object, but that each object was in a state of perpetual metamorphosis, its meaning only comprehensible for the moment it is seen in the context of the other object-glyphs. That metamorphosis, within the larger repetitions of circular time, remains, in Mexico, a constant. In the poetry of the Aztecs, the poet becomes the poem itself, which becomes a plant growing within the poem; the plant becomes the fibers of the book in which the poem is painted; the fibers of the book become the woven fiber of the mat, the symbol of worldly power and authority. Octavio Paz's "Hymn Among


His work table is covered with small components fashioned out of wax: tiny balls. constructs his sculptures as glyphs. horseshoe magnets. and with great originality. Surrealism. rather than presenting the usual heavily stylized renderings of the Mexican originals. but which has its parallels in the geometric patterns of Amazonian baskets and Peruvian woven cloth." H e has remarked elsewhere that he also considers those components as parts of speech. Clavijero's book. donuts. a stanza (literally the "room" in which the words are arranged). electronic circuits. The difference being that first. becomes. Pepe. Nissen has commented: "I use a method based on the found object. gridworks of letters that seem to. poets. but were incomprehensible to outsiders. it is reminiscent of the strangest illustrations in Mexican historiography: those that accompanied F. cigarette butts. Tobey. tuning forks. It is a kind of "text" unknown outside the New World. simply "interpreted" the glyphs and codices and redrew them in the current fashion. wrenches. the pictographic experiments on canvas of Klee. Clavijero's Historia Antigua de Mexico. screen-fold books painted on both sides." In its translation of traditional into contemporary imagery. tinieblas. It consists of grids of invented glyphs (some of whose components are recognizable small metal objects: keys. Nissen's more complex "Itzpapalotl Codex" takes off from the Aztec goddess Obsidian Butterfly and a prose poem on the subject by Octavio Paz. Thus. in the creation of codices. for us. Nissen has also worked extensively. of language as it is used by children. cubes. Berta . spell words like "glyph" and transform into a Mondrian "boogiewoogie. in traditional screen-fold book form.largely consisted of a hieroglyphic text accompanied by some illustration. springs). clippings and maps concerned with the village of Papalotl. j-shapes. Gottlieb. and so on. both of which could be "read. in the original. encyclopedia entries on the goddess. Ramon. a n . published in 1780. cylinders. according to their author. a snake crowned with arrows." Nissen. graffiti (mosca. The elaborations are wonderful: a running figure with a daisy head. then I find them. triangles. but don't quite.. and Torres-Garcia.the Ruins" ends with this famous line: "words that are flowers that are fruits that are acts.). home of the goddess' shrine. a man with a lily growing from his nose. a calendar. These represent. a hand holding a fish. 1 Nissen has continued. punsters. Then I assemble them. squares. wooden matchsticks.not all of them pictographic. butterflies. above all. zigzags. he drew a hand holding a fish in the style of an 18th century lithograph. with n o pretense of historical realism. fly. or "instrument for seeing." [Dennis Tedlock points out that the Maya word for the codex was ilbal. whose intentions were scientific. His "Madero Codes" invents a witty language of jigsaw puzzle pieces.the individual piece of sculptureis a phrase. creates both a science and a grammar. if he thought he saw. darkness. In that book the artist. rods. pellets. The result." Today the word is used t o refer t o telescopes. The Mayanof which only four survive. Maya numbers.J. I make the objects. crossword puzzles.Their assembly is reminiscent..given elements capable of a near-infinity of con~binations. In an interview. There were two kinds of Mexican codices. nuts and bolts. lozenges.that served as mnemonic devices for the priestly elite trained to "read" them. a single moment of relation permanently frozen in bronze. The later codices are more extraordinary: Each page presented complex images. then. Nissen. human figures (perhaps the Mayan "smoking gods"?).

one of the four books given to educate Frankenstein's monster. An obsession that reached its heights with the Romantics. the chaos of the heart overwhelming the orderliness of the intellect. turning into another. What matters is not the allegorical (that is.as well as the crumbled walls. So Nissen's "Pod. One can imagine them a foot high. with weathered stones. and a book that leads directly to Shelley's "Ozymandias" or Wordsworth's "Tintern Abbey. submitting three sketches of his design for the Bank of England: in the first. ruins. In the first place.a goddess I 1 of fertility and harvest whose last incarnation may well be Carmen Miranda. in the second. is simultaneously a fantastic Mayan pyramid. or a Meditation on the Cycles of Empires.cannot help but recall the particularly English preoccupation with ruins. The Romantics saw ruins as emblems of the transitoriness of power. The game has no end. and the blank face and extravagant headdress of an imaginary Pea Goddess. It has often been remarked that theMayan pyramids are less works of architecture than sculpture built on a monumental scale." a rumination on the rubble of the Roman city of Aquae Sulis (now Bath). after the translation in 1795 of Volney's The Ruins. There are works here called .I 0 5 I WAX 1 IkOLINl) 015Il. the uninitiated (the rest of us) must invent it. machines. the permanence of nature. It is possible to ascribe such allegorical meanings to Nissen's sculptures. topped with their high combs. an altar on which the pods have been placed." a stack of pea pods placed on a blank base. The vegetation. from the Maya. it is ivy-covered.the height of a Nissen sculpture. The two basic shapes on which he rings his countless variations are the truncated pyramid and the pillar. And more: the slender pyramids of Tikal (for example). and an inventory of tributes the goddess has received. the moment it is recognized.< T 5 entomological taxonomy. the destructive force of greed and corruption. as architecture... the Bank appears brand-new and gleaming. That play of stone. of course.as one could imagine certain of Nissen's pieces as hundreds of feet high. vegetable and metal brings another element into these sculptures: machines. a mathematical reckoning (an accounting. in the third. idols. a topography. The truncated pyramid comes." One thinks of the architect Sir John Soane. auguries. ships. What Nissen makes are altars. literary) interpretation but rather the fact of metamorphosis itself: the temple that becomes a plant that becomes a bronze. each. as they did. and the Bank is a stately ruin. the gaps (like aboriginal "x-ray" painting) revealing the tombs of images within. fountains . idols. friezes. the time is a thousand years later. The result is extraordinary: beautiful images that leave us just short of comprehension. the work begins as a transformation of what he literally saw in Mexico: buildings half in rubble. contemporary to these poets. with the harmonies and contrasts of the simple base and what was placed on the flat top (altars. overwhelmed by roots and branches. in all the meanings of the word). but they are unlikely. columns. in order to understand it the initiated (of which there is only one: Nissen) must recall it. that rise out of so many of Nissen's sculptures. the plant forms. temples. mimic a Maya head with its flattened forehead and elaborate headdress. falsefronts). Much like the ancient codices. It is an obsession whose earliest record is the Anglo-Saxon poem "The Ruin. and Nissen plays.

Hart Crane. They are not. carrying the argument to literature. maquettes for the monuments of a future civilization. galleons. They are never literal. What Nissen makes are fetishes: objects of power." It is interesting to see how.as the Surrealists used African and Oceanic imagery. One thinks of the great debates in the Machine Age of the 1920's and 1930's between the advocates of the machine as the ultimate icon of the new age. his "Fern" grows razors. The source of a fetish's power is accumulation: traditionally each supplicant added something to it. that acclimatization is complete in work like Nissen's. his "Jacuzzi" is adorned with the rings that are washers that are the hoops protruding from the blank walls of the Maya ball courts that are the life preservers o n a ship. They are idols whose attributes are not quite remembered. Nissen. machines with obscure functions. fifty years later. of course. for example) and.and those who argued for the perennial centrality of the organic (then called the "biomorphic")." reproduces that accumulation in each work. attempted to reconcile the two: "For unless poetry can absorb the machine.as in the case of the great Mexican muralists.e." Some o f the pieces are simultaneously reminiscent of both the severely truncated versions of the pyramids (the raised platforms in the Great Plaza of Copan.as icons of another reality to transport us to dream and the archaic. although he remains the sole "author. altars for a household shrine. cattle. Anyone familiar with Mexican art will hear the nunlerous echoes and rhymes in Nissen's sculpture: the anthropomorphic columns of Tula.it is not even a question. objects that look at us looking at them.meant t o be folkloric. the hooked nose of the rain god Chac protruding from the temples of Chichen Itza and Kabah. neither Nissen's nation nor his past. then poetry has failed of its full contemporary function." even "Jacuzzi. the office typewriters of the 1920's. (It is. and its strength was the sum of all the individual histories attached to it. castles and all other human associations of the past. he heaps layers of history that crumble one into another and become entangled with weeds. the diamond patterning of the Nunnery in Uxmal and the saw-toothed combs of its House of Pigeons.) Nor are they meant. his ''Zempoala" is a pyramid (in the Totonac site of that name) excavated by Nissen and a tool box. His "Typewriter" is composed of submarine vegetation. i.a progressive art to celebrate human progress."Metronome. They are objects t o be buried with.Working with a vocabulary of elemental signs. an identical shape. or glorifications of a national past. ." L'Hydrant. acclimatize it as naturally and casually as trees.

while working in another language. the South American bad beatnik poet. it has produced imitators: the American bad Eastern European poet. That Ashbery has become the most heavily laureled American poet since Lowell. the Surrealists were clearly. most obviously. and almost never by H. its main practitioners. . Blackburn. 1987-1 988. His dichotomy of Surrealism ("the transcription of spontaneously recovered. the Chinese bad imagist. a-logical unconscious materials") and Ashbery ("a calibrated verbal contraption") is false. To my mind.I N O T E S F O R S U L F U R I1 (Written for tl7e hack pages of Sultur.are considered "minor" poets. unseen since the European late Middle Ages.Fearing. constructing the latter. like many readers. only parodically by Pound and Z u k o f s k ~ . H e should spend a n afternoon in the deep shade of In the American Tree: Ashbery will seem a fountain of light. Reznikoff. But perhaps. I have trouble following Birkerts' exasperation: the passages he quotes seem perfectly comprehensible to me. We feel a blurring of bounds. Larbaud and Roussel. Stevens. I've become stupefied from watching too many flocks of untethered signifiers). ( O r perhaps. Rakosi. a n Ashbery poem has an unmistakable (however "impersonal") voice. " [Everyday American was a language only occasionally employed by Williams. or that Ashbery had never read them. At its best we are seeing legitimate heirs w h o are transforming the tradition. a subjective liberation from w the constraints of order") has been equally applied t o the Surrealists. What Birkerts doesn't discuss is the apparent impetus for his piece: Ashbery's extraordinary reputation.D.a major verboten in language-land. And Birkerts' isolated praise of Ashbery (the poems "weave a spell. Soupault and Char had never existed. After all. Interestingly. Oppen. French poetry. Breton. Despite various claims for the former. Baraka. At its worst.1 I i I Birkerts us. Crane. like many critics. two of the most interesting French poets today happen to write in English: Ashbery and Michael Palmer.. Surely one of the important developments of poetry in this century (and particularly in America since the Second World War) is a true internationalism. Olson. Birkerts seems strangely oblivious to some recent developments.and a n unmistakable atmosphere of oneiric melancholia.. et al. H e writes as though Apollinaire and Reverdy.] Furthermore. enlarge our sense of mystery. That this may strike some as an insult is a result of the continuing mesmerizing effect of Williams' nationalistic jingoism: "American speech. including. Jacob.. like all poets. Hughes.] hat I find remarkable about Birkerts' piece is its willful ignorance of much of the century. Moore. Ashbery [Contr~hutors were asked t o respond to a negative article o n l o h n Xshbery In the sarne issue hy the critic Sven B~rkerts. Birkerts is too smart.







Bunting. For the first time i I' I ' in twenty years.) But in the end it seems to me no different from rock video. there are .-and presenting themselves in the context of those they admire. as you imagine. both for and against.. which the industry calls "moving wallpaper.let alone discussed. a Utopic yearning for a whole. Where is the anthology for them? Most of the poets in the "language" anthologies are in their forties or older. for example. (Who else has the passion. but I am unaware of any substantial magazine run by anyone in her or his twenties. Reznikoff. But I d o believe that the concentration on "language7' poetry. 7. Also missing is any sense o f the young. the Caterpillar generation. world domination of literary production by the Lionel Trilling Cultural Brigade. The "real agenda" of my article was not. Since then. that sees the world as something more than a prohlematic text.) There seems to be an "aging" of poetry matching the demographic aging of America. never in the critical prose. I know two interesting magazines with editors in their thirties. and goes nowhere (utopia?) and consists of short wisecracks. and the isolated individuals who have emerged since. Zukofsky. Hambone. gnomic remarks. epigrams. One that will discover all that's been happening in world poetry since American poets generally stopped translating. "techniques of radical iuxtaposition" may be the one distinguishing characteristic of nearly all "avant-garde" poetry written i i this century. a revitalization of the American poetry "avantgarde" will only occur when the young appear with fresh readings of their living elders. (Strange that their wit appears only in the poetry. Oppen. A "language" poem in perhaps its most typical form begins.were news around 1912 ( "Zone"). And. most important." etc. much of "language" poetry could easily be seen as a kind of moving-wallpaper literature for the current generation of grad students who were raised in front of the tube. I have no agenda at all: 1 read books. I am aware of excellent poets who cannot get published in book form anywhere. ironic references to suburban American culture. etc. Unlike critics and "language" poets.D. Take the little magazine. and what seems to be left is what television calls "bites": very short bits of glitzy images or catchy phrases that are dependent on immediate effect. Acts and House of K." Were it not for the ponderousness of its defensive prose. Some of the "bites" are arresting. Many of the "bites" are funny. N o w the "language" poets have exploded the myth of the whole. A new generation of restless disciples that will pick up the threads of the "New American" poets.and they usually turn up in the reviews of "language" poets. however.) One that will discover its own models in the English/American tradition. all held together by a glue of impenetrable declarative sentences or seemingly random word-lists. Loy. Your "alternate forms of temporality. Those fragments of a whole were. (The poets of The New American Poetry were largely in their twenties or thirties. traditionally a young person's work. the time. and the dedication for such drudgery?) At the moment. (How)ever. Temblor. even in the little magazines. bits of slang o r advertising slogans or popular songs. To my mind. the best poetry magazines are edited by people in their forties and fifties: Szdlfur.decadent stage. Rakosi.a harmless entertainment not unlike the "7 types of ambiguity" poetry produced for students in the 1950's. large or small press. Now that we've said that it can't be said. rediscovering the neglected. ends.think of all the discoveries of the 1960's: Niedecker. has tended to drown out everything else on the aesthetic left. (And the place to start is Latin America." "critiques of narrative logic. H. one that finds the world interesting.

one of the projects of a huge movement like Surrealism." revisionary readings of the classics. a moment when political necessity compelled a settling of differ- . t o take a small example. created a large and genuinely populist audience for poetry. in p o p form. which is usually the aesthetic of the preceding generation. that unique moment when American poets served as citizens.F N K F h ( 1 lOx Literary movements have traditionally had three functions: First. This has simply not occurred as a collective effort. besides its political agenda." for me a t least. but have been extraordinarily enriching for those not active in the group: -The black nationalist poetry of the 19601s. would be an exciting and genuinely challenging movement if it presented its own idiosyncratic historical "canon. They have attempted to dismantle the prevailing aesthetic. To my mind there have been four movements (or tendencies or constellations) in America since 1960 which have not only produced important poetry. What they haven't done is I i ! I 1I bring any other (non-critical) writings into the fold. new readings or translations of well-known texts. "Language. Thus. a few non-affiliated contemporaries. commentaries not only on language but on languages. the criticism of the prevailing aesthetic. mythology and religion which had previously been absent in American poetry. But in their voluminous writings and public speeches."' They have tirelessly promoted a new aesthetic and its practitioners. had t o go t o Paris in the 1920's t o "discover" pre-Columbian oral and written literature. The members of the "language" movement have been hyperactive in fulfilling the first two functions. intellectual consciences of the nation ( a role that poets routinely perform elsewhere on the planet).W K I I 1 . Most important. Thus. with the notable exception of Hughes. offered scathing commentaries on white "verse. bridges t o previously unknown foreign poets. the introduction of other. which. as rap and hip-hop). Second. witnesses.far from it. a tiny movement like Imagism simultaneously soured the appreciation of late 19th century texts. discoveries of lost masters. had a close and exciting working relationship with jazz and some rock musicians (still extent. translations of the previously untranslated.what Ron Silliman. -The poetry written and read against the Vietnam War. promoted a handful of new poets. and forever changed the way classical Greek and Chinese poems were read and translated. This third function is both a service to the community and a means of historical or international validation for the new aesthetic: a new context in which t o locate the new." and brought in a great deal of African and Afro-American history.was the introduction of a wide range of non-Western texts: Latin American writers. had refused to do). Third. they have generally ignored everyone except themselves. Thus. in his MIA (of course!) paper modestly calls "the naive assumption of speech. effectively admitted black speech into poetry (something the Harlem Renaissance poets. individualism or 'beauty. historical or foreign. and the French and German critics currently fashionable among art critics and English professors. work: discoveries of neglected masters in the same language. the proposal of a new aesthetic and the promotion of its practitioners. the one truly enduring aspect of the New Criticism may well be its bringing of the Metaphysical poets back onto the map.which revol~~tionized o n all aesthettaste ic fronts. This is not t o suggest that they are individually ill-read.

D. feeling. in her statement here. That reductionist label "language" or "language-centered" says it all." though their rhetoric bears n o resemblance to "language" discourse. the unconscious and unknown. -Ethnopoeticsessentially an American revision and expansion of Surrealism. necessary member of the community. and raise the pioneer women modernists to their rightful positions of importance. the animal and vegetative. the Black Mountains hated the Beats and so on. especially by Silliman.) That black nationalism and ethnopoetics have produced no viable second generations. H. is. Creeley.ences among the poetry communities: not only between academic and non-academic. And Silliman is way off when he states that the "New Americans" were against critical thinking: true perhaps of Corso or Ferlinghetti. (And I should emphasize that I am speaking of group activity as a sum of all the individual efforts involved. (Though one that desperately needs more periodical outlets.) What these four movements have given me is a tremendous sense of worlds opening up. but also presented a re-reading of American literature. perhaps most of all. proposed an image of the poet. it is a concentrated and collective effort t o challenge the inherited (patriarchal) language. the women poets who are currently centered around the magazine ~ o w i e f ~ e After the isolated work of Dickr).) The readings and anthologies against the War were a truly democratic vision of a republic of letters. but among the non-academics." and his dream of a "symposium of the whole" where all "the old excluded orders must be included: the female. Sorrentino? All published at least one hook of critical essays. what "language" as a movement has given me is the sense of worlds being closed off. the great disaster of American poetry in the late 1970's and 1980's. and that the Vietnam War poetry led nowhere.. inson. emphasized oral performance and poetry rituals and talismans. who died yesterday.. One can only imagine how they will react to Rachel DuPlessis. based on the archaic. indignation. Jones/Baraka. seemed to portend a "responsible avant-garde" for the post-Vietnam years. For me.it should be said that all of these movements have promoted "critical thinking. translated a great deal of European modernist poets.obviously n o single individual can do everything. but Duncan. history. passion. as Clayton Eshleman says here. . reread and reconsider the entire history of poetry. -Finally. Dorn. invent a feminine and feminist language of poetry and new modes of criticism. that the Donald Allen anthology was intended as a peaceable kingdom for the bitterly warring factions of the anti-establishment: though it is difficult for us t o sort out now. transcendence. pluralism. (It has been forgotten. Snyder. the foreign. for me. and many of the others wrote isolated articles. Stein and Niedecker. offered new theories and practices of translation. [Given the current obsession with criticism. Levertov.. social and moral accountability. To my mind this is the most exciting group activity occurring in American poetry today. 2 1 years ago: "The drama of our time is the coming of all men into one fate.a poet who embraces all the words on DuPlessis' list and much more: curiosity. in the first Caterpillar. a model of the life and work of a poet was Robert Duncan. and. as a vital. Loy.Silliman's italicized "writing itself is not sufficient for completeness in poetry" being the latest pronouncement. spirituality. raising words like pleasrrre.] O n the other hand. and. the proletariat. Olson. discovered all sorts of strange and forgotten poets. I have never gotten over the first (now famous) words of Duncan's that I ever read.which not only introduced a tremendous amount of indigenous material.

found no room at his symposiun~ the "language" poets was. Askold Melnyczzik. I think. Religion generally implies a supernatural (non-empirical) explanation and a celebration of the order of the universe and the mysteries of life and death.even though nearly all of them stand in opposition to nearly all of his beliefs. for a mistake. are IL~L. is the machine divine? is the machine more human? is the human less human? is the divine less divine? The computer may be an international obsession." Tbe edrtor.for an issrcr of ly Agnr deuotetl to "Sprrrtuality After Silicon Valley. asked contriOtctors t o respond to a statement that read.. 10 assume recht70log~.the criminal and failure.ation o f the) comprcteriWI eaving aside the separate issue of the relation between the computer and literature.. a i IS G O D D O W N ? ! [Wrrtterl in 1087- r ~ p p r ~ x i m a t eAnno 5 o f the perso~zalcotnpriter. h r e ) ~ h'ls l~umanizedZO r h'7s humanit)' bee17 techt~ologizetliW l ~ c we reflect on machincz. Askold Melnyczuk's paragraph seems to break into four. dcuoted cl'en in press to questions rrszng aroz4nd the increasing hegemony of iotnpritsrs and thr liter~ry '1 word pr~)cessors. somewhat contradictory. h o w in 1987 is tbc sprritrial life affected by the (diuini.i More specifically.What are the promis- es inzplicit and explicit in tbr Gospel o f Apple! With '111 the space . questions: In the age of computers. what is it we are reflecting on? Is j~ the ghost it7 the t ~ ~ ~ i h i t plilusihle structure for a shapelier muse! O r does it aim iz t e rnerely t o keep us amused. L . toward the end." That Duncan. 117 part: '. as Melnyczuk suggests. A symposium of general agreement is no syn~posium t all. but it is hardly a religious phenomenon.

distracted solitude. however extraordinary as a tool for computation. and as cruel as ever. but is it a dehumanization? I was surprised that Melnyczuk raised yet again that perennial symposium topic (now approaching its bicentennial): are humans becom- ing more like machines? are we less human? Our wars may now be masked by technological euphemisms ("Pentagonese") but it is still war business as usual. of state surveillance). but they have never changed the nature of work.particularly when a "glitch" dynamites a bank account or a monthly bill. not the wisdom of the gods. Most work is deadening: it was a mistake of Romanticism t o find the machine more deadening. is nationalism as a kind of state religion. compilation and measurement. This probably would not have occurred without the computer in the workplace and the television at home. It may be a desocialization.offers no such explanations. and not in the obvious way. We may tnarvel at its superior calculating capabilities. or a sheaf of paper written with a quill pen. The 1980's. can usually be transformed into a yes. masturbatory pleasure. a spirit of enthusiasm for mundane tasks that rarely outlasts the first generation. The computer has so accelerated the Enlightenment that we have barely realized where we have landed. Nor is it a sacred being in the non-Western sense. but merely the non-human agent of inhuman bureaucracy (or. but this is human programming. have never made it spiritually satisfying. (The closest they've come. We may tremble and rage before it. Although it is a stickler for details.those who remember how bad things were before. where the real is either hostile or remote. Revolutions have succeeded in improving the material well-being of workers. among those w h o are most hysterical: the heterosexual middle class majority) of the other as carrier of a lethal disease. as it has been said so many times. never spent a 16hour day pitching hay.) We have to go back to Fourier to find a system of collective labor based intrinsically on human nature.but it is then no wrathful Old Testament god. The order of the universe turns out to be more divine than our (Western) image of it. unlike his neighbors.the Western divine. The human is no less human. a typewriter. The secretary stares with the same blankness at a monitor. It has of course been a force in psychological change.may at the moment be less divine. but rather the dehumanizing effect of work. There has never been a society more capable of describing the physical world. An age of a self-absorbed. (Wordsworth. The yes is instantly gratifying. The workers w h o construct microchips or Oldsmobiles are no more or less like machines than the workers who constructed the pyramids. To spend one's day working with a computer is a narcissistic.) The real question is not the dehumanizing effect of technology. those stubborn and vague creatures. is the decade of "me." of greed. and always answers yes or no. Unlike the video arcade where one always loses. and yet there has never been a society more bewildered by it. and the no. This is all quite different from dealing with humans. the computer. The extraordinary speed and precision of its measurements and calculations have not only failed to fully and "rationally" explain the universe(thus killing off God). after reframing the question or rethinking one's own logic. unlike messy humans. and the transition from facing a monitor t o facing a face can be difficult. where the object is to delay defeat. at the computer one nearly always ultimately wins. at its most malign. but the divine. of the Trivial Pursuit of happiness and the anxiety of "coping." and now of a generally unwarranted fear (that is. . in this century. always answers immediately.The computer. they have uncovered more mysteries than ever were imagined. Small wonder the physicists are sounding like theologians these days. an incarnation of a supernatural force.

on the other.) It is not difficult t o imagine one of these merging with a more cerebral. a Western scientist who considers herself a Christian has t o d o a great deal of defensive shuffling. in Iran. dancing. like extremely complex poetic forms: cl~'zntroyal. the computer has democratized certain tricks of the . and so many others without it. Certainly Islam. in their institutionalized form. Nuclear physicists at the Bombay reactor light incense before a statue of Ganesh. impersonal: behind each text is the human w h o programmed it. as a number of pop science-religion books have suggested. With the advent of "desktop publishing. an ultra-sophisticated caravel taking us into unimagined and inexplicable information. 1492 dealt the first serious blow to the three monotheisms: the first extended contact with a great mass of people untouched by God. including the mixing of type styles.Human nature can only take so much inexplicability. in Israel. have both theoretical and practical sides. or. in the White House. The monotheisms survived by largely destroying the evidence.may well bring a n end to the monotheisms." there will no doubt be poems that take advantage of its various features. t o adapt almost any development into their cosmic view: the Vedic god Agni is equally incarnate in fire and in a literary magazine. say. O n the one hand. and a morality progressively basing itself on less wisdom. a religion of idols. the elephant-headed god. trances. It is impossible to imagine the stepped lines of Williams. a religion that celebrates and explains the mysteries of the new cosmos. force them onto the paths laid out over the centuries by their mystics and heterodox sects. separation and exclusion. the less important question of computers and literature: is the writer a robot. or has the robot become a writer? To take the second question first: certainly the computer has forever proved that a thousand monkeys typing a t a thousand typewriters for a thousand years will not produce any Hamlets.those magnificent dream-structures of shepherds and desert villagers. a t best. there will be a pro- liferation of messianic and millenary cults. picking and choosing. Paz. "scientific" religion. (It is already the case in Africa. Stripped of their local trappings.are inadequate to the task. they remain remarkably compatible with the latest scientific news. charms. There are a few serious writers w h o have made use of the computer (not as "word processor") to "generate" texts. have tended t o embrace everything. and as the world's population increases with its concomitant suffering. o n the other hand. The Eastern religions. but in many ways they never fully recovered: the modern era of doubt and criticism was born. or Chinese poems that can be read forwards or backwards. Pound's Cantos rnakes much more visible sense in his manuscript than on the printed page.much in the way that Taoism and Buddhism. The computer. There is nothing sadder than their current desperate and final waves of fundamentalism: in the Vatican. as might be assumed. Furthermore. their ultimate pleasure deriving mainly from seeing the rules of the game put into action. spells. All three. are dependent on dogmatic rigidity. Judaism and Christianity. but as tool of discovery. music and magic to alleviate the daily worldly suffering. The typewriter certainly had a n effect o n the writing of poetry. As the millennium approaches. most notably Jackson MacLow and the members of OULIPO. These are not. and Christianity in the Third World.The results are weird or amusing. and Robert Duncan has recently insisted that his books directly reproduce his own typed manuscript. and it seems inevitable that a new world religion will arise in the coming centuries (if we make it that far). Finally.not in itself. the suppression of heterodoxy.

an obstacle t o concentration or inspiration. the tripledecker novel and the book-length poem were the norm. no less. refusing to consume.with a plan. Auden's far-reaching and witty rhymes lose much of their charm after a glance through the computer-generated Penguin Rhyming Dictionary (with its hundred rhymes for "Freud. nearly a hundred years old. have been strangely reticent on the subject of cheese.there will always be a President and a United States.S. for it seems that Panama is fated t o always have a man.think of Baudelaire's quip that the long poem was the refuge of those incapable of writing short poems." that wonderful phrase that turns writing into packaged cheese. Before the word processor and the Xerox machine. consolidate the texts. Bush A . a result of the huge population and the huge amount of artwork the population is producing. (Poets. George Bush declared that the purpose of the invasion was t o "restore democracy" t o Panama.an American man. and t o bring an indicted drug dealer t o trial in Miami." but only one." for "Auden"). the President of the United States.lately championed again by young conservatives. Today the standard work is the short story. In the era of microwave ovens nearly no one has the time t o bake their own bread.) The entirety of classical Greek literature is now available on a single compact disk. But this is not "word processing. But this is a time of continual distraction. a canal: Panama! It's my favorite palindrome. like most labor-saving devices. "broaden. Fehruar~. while the rest of the earth is wearing white robes and discussing philosophy with Alpha Centauri. the voice of the age.and who writes long letters? The computer is not. YYO.000 troops to arrest a felon.becomes more than ever a question of selection rather than invention. tapping at their private consoles. a tiny loop forever repeating itself. the anecdotal lyric. A labor-saving device: n o more. in itself. Rhyme. When it was pointed out that the U.] 1 "C'est le crach d u Panama qui fit de m o i un poete!" Blaise Cendrars. Yet.trade.) Word processing is essentially a means of manuscript production that eliminates retyping.will n o doubt yet again unwrap Teddy Roosevelt's big stick and clobber that little strip of jungle cleared for oil tankers and secretive banks. PANAMA: A PALINDROME I \krrrttetr as a "Letter from Neiu York " for Vuelta milg~lzr?re rn Mexrco.not t o mention voluminous diaries and correspondence. if only temporarily. (One creates by forcibly. normally does not deploy 26. and never out of date. when manuscripts were written out and copied by hand. the minimalist novel. and restore us t o our rightful role of Anonymous. said. A thousand years from now. Perhaps the writers of the late 20th century. it results in far less labor. should all feed into a giant mainframe that will eliminate the ceaseless repetitions that now fill the magazines. 19 14 man. It is a palindrome of our history. Chesterton. a plan.

S.but then again.S. is indeed the essence of betrayal.S. Bush replied that he was protecting American children from the scourge of drugs. For ten years.) The treaty has been a leitmotif of Republican outrage-"We built it.. working for the (. like Reagan and Nixon before him.) Now that he's the boss. normally does not send 26.[A . seems to be modeling himself on the patriarchs of the banana republics: crying out for a return to "law and order" while routinely ignoring the Constitution.) But few Presidents these days seem to have read the manual. except in cases of immediate threat. was once considered to be a "liberal" Republican. whether they are nuns in El Salvador or 260 Marines in Beirut. in some local speech somewhere. that the soldier was not in uniform and was attempting.\ ' l < l ' l ~ l1 N l<t t\<'l ION claimed he was deposing a dictator. and the subsequent murder of an American soldier by Panama Defense Force (PUF) troops. Bush claimed that the suddenness of the invasion was due to Noriega's declaration. it's ours!"-since Jimmy Carter signed it: Reagan used it over and over as a symbol of America's weakness and Carter's wimpiness. Reagan actually declared a national State of Emergency in response to the awesome malevolency of the Sandinistas. he. the Embassy in China) whenever an uncontroversial interim head was needed.") Noriega. When it was pointed out that the U. after all. modifying whatever values he had to conform with theirs. Beyond this palindrome of excuses was the usual net of political opportunism and some unusual personal ill-will. Quayle replied: "It seems like a good career move.2000. why he wanted to be VicePresident. to drive through a PDF roadblock without stopping.. of war against the U.s. It was an act of personal vendetta. for unknown reasons. The decades of his political career have been undistinguished: serving for short terms in sensitive or troubled government agencies (the CIA. routinely shrugs off the murder abroad of its citizens. His selection of Dan Quayle was a perfect example: a lump of cerebral anti-matter from which Bush may expect never to experience the slightest deviation. He loyally served his superiors. the Canal Commission was to have been headed by a Panamanian selected by their own government. the r1. (Asked. picked by Reagan to be Vice-President because no one could possibly object. he had even served on the board of the Texas Planned Parenthood. the U. demands absolute loyalty from his inferiors. the right has been trying to figure out how to get the Canal back. in the campaign. though hardly the incarnation of evil as he has been portrayed here.000 troops to topple minor despots. is supposed to be approved by Congress before troops are committed. (Much later we learned that the invasion had been scheduled weeks in advance. In the days before birth control was revealed to Protestants to be the work of Satan.the u. in turn. Bush prizes personal loyalty above all. they have another ten to work out some gruesome solution to their day of doom. perhaps inebriation. poised to drive their pickups north. (War. with the Commission now remaining under their control. Bush's ward from his CIA days. Though it is unprecedented for an American President to send thousands of troops to redress a private grievance. according to the terms of the Panama Canal Treaty. (On January 1. will withdraw from the Canal completely. Bush.) The invasion was set in December for one reason: On January 1. It is remarkable that Bush could repeat Noriega's threat with a straight face. it is now forgotten. As for the dead soldier. spending his eight years in the position only visible at state funerals.N. (Bush. For years he played both lucrative sides of every fence: collecting a salary from the Drug Enforcement Agency while helping the Medellin cartel.

according to the latest polls. of the fifty pounds which became fifty kilos of cocaine in his freezer (which.certainly not Noriega. the whole herd will go crazy. President Boosh! Thank you. as they were. This.who killed a few dozen enemies and had less than a hundred political prisoners. is a sample of the kind of news reports Americans were reading: terday shedding tears of happiness in spite of their predicament and cheering the Americans whose weaporzs turned many o f their bonzes into smolderirzg ruins. the television news told us about the twentysix American soldiers who had died. With Noriega on the loose. had shocked the soldiers who captured his house (being. Not once was the evil Panama of Noriega. but never mentioned the Panamanian civilians. speaking of loyalty. weren't they?") This.since its 1899 war with Colombia.another form of addiction). we were regaled with stories of Noriega's pornographic magazines which. t o o Panamanian for American taste. after Henry Kissinger's remark during the campaign that George Bush would lose even if he ran against himself. and of the heavy-metal music blasting into the . Only rarely was it revealed that the rest of the world. Part of this success is due to the media coverage. artillery shells and machine gun fire leveled the homes o f the poorest inhabitants and destroyed the meager possessions o f thousarzds. The narcissism of the Panama palindrome cannot be attributed merely to nationalism.in a sense. although it was obvious that whole neighborhoods had been devastated. Night after night. is now the most popular President after one year in office since John Kennedy. he remarked. people stood amid the ruins yes- . Night after night. "Boy. arming the contras and shipping American parts to the Sandinistas.even Maggie of the Malvinas. and after having been elected by only 55% of the 50% w h o bothered t o vote.) This was clearly more than Bush could stand. but it lifted their spirits and gave them hope. According to his Texan wisdom. Panama was becoming too unpredictable. This.and making deals with Castro. Here. "Thank you. blew bugles for the troops with the ardor of Gunga Din.Vatican Nuncio t o drive the opera-loving Noriega (not t o mention the presumably Gregorian chant-loving priests) mad. for a mildly unpleasant man whose normal speech is idiosyncratic t o the point of incommunicability. (Visiting Auschwitz in 1987. they were big on crematoriums.was aghast. Across this devastated and emotionally and economically exhausted urban war zone. for a man w h o had spent his first day as President showing everyone in the office a calculator that squirts water. would never have imagined its astonishing success: Bush. The invasion was a n enormous political gamble. according t o the Pentagon. more accustomed t o reading Being and Nothingness around the barracks). which. President Boosh!" exulted Alejandro Bullerz as he stood shirtless not twenty yards from the still-snzokirzg rubble o f the apartment brlilding where he once lived. if you don't lasso a rogue bull. for one. a last fit of fervor from a waning super- In this city's poorest neighborhoods. weeks later. (The only surprising thing about Noriega is that he never offered t o both shelter and assassinate Salman Rushdie. and I.compared with the mass slaughters by our allies in El Salvador and Guatemala. from The Boston Globe. of his red underwear t o ward off the evil eye (where was that evil eye looking?). were revealed t o be tamales. Not once did we hear that Bush had killed more Panamanians than anyone.

Hispanics and poor whites remains phenomenally high.families with both parents working cannot possibly enjoy the kind of lives they led in the 1960's and 1970'sand drugs and television are its main forms of relief. (Though anti-Hispanic feeling. Reagan devastated the poor: t w o or three million became homeless (one-third of them children) and unemployment for blacks. particularly in the "sunbelt" states. Reagan declared a rhetorical war. Though the mirror situation is. hozvevet. With Time on their coffee tables. far worse in the Soviet . T/Je doves in the Great Debate o f the past forty years were rigl~t all along. only they could afford. And. that the Soz)iet threat is not tohat it used to be. under Henry Luce. including a 7 5 % drop in the wholesale price of cocaine. in the beginning.power. crazed teenagers. evidence that the world had changed was visible locally in December 1988. the Cold War ended in 1989. The real point. Americans are slowly realizing that the country ruined itself fighting a war that never existed. of course. in the 1980's. Drugs have become an Evil emanating with the power of a million Noriegas. the real source of Panamania can be summed up in one word: drugs. and drug-dealing is the only guaranteed (and lucrative) job. when Gorbachev visited New York: the huge neon billboard in Times Square was flashing a hammer and sickle as the crowds along Broadway chanted. Very little is said about the causes of this epidemic. as there always is. millions of Americans found it necessary to turn their brains into refried beans. every time one turns on the television one is pummeled by yet another horror story. The middle class has become poor.a national problem has been transformed into a national panic. (Meanwhile.which is based on the assumption that the Anglos are able t o speak it. "Gorby! Gorby!"] Even Time magazine which. A new consensus is emerging. /For me.even Time was now writing: Scenarios for a Soviet invasion of Western Europe haz)e always had i7 touch of paranoid fantasy about them. a hidden agenda t o this drug war. There is. or racism. is that it never was. These days. was the preeminent journalistic flank of the Cold War and practically the architect of our policy toward China (thanks t o Luce's friendship with Chiang Kai-shek. fostered by the Catholic Church)-a policy that not only refused to recognize a quarter of humanity. As everyone outside of Washington knows. the frenetic greed of the corporate raiders and free-ranging entrepreneurs who flourished under Reagan was fueled by the sensations of speed and omnipotence given them by an epic of cocaine lines which. and the populace has been made t o feel helpless before this monster and its children: violent street criminals. of which Panama may be only the first salvo. Their use escalated enormously during the Reagan years. is rising faster than the Hispanic population.) And now Bush seems to be turning that rhetoric into action. Thanks again to television.) No.the true "unacknowledged legislator of the worldm. which is cheap. drug prices crashed from the glut on the market. Its most genteel battleground is the movement to have English declared the national language. Rather than address the social problems that have created this mass addiction. at the top of the heap. babies born addicted. though it is obvious why. but created the wars in Korea and Indochina t o "contain" the Yellow/Red Menace. There is little else to do in the ghetto but smoke crack.

while. the second-largest business in the world. the U. and the Republicans by Trotskyites in Tel Aviv. For the military to hold on to its hardware. twothirds of every tax dollar went to war. Gorbachev will effect the disbandment of NATO. needless t o say. transportation.) And within the Pentagon. more courts a n d more prisons.real Communists!-is in alliance with the coca growers and controls vast areas of the country. could be summed u p in one sentence: Any enemy of our enemy is our friend. That enemy is drugs. those who see the Drug War as the only means of selfpreservation. withdrawal of American troops from Europe and drastic reductions in Western military strcngth. So the Drug War is on. but. is quivering in its spit-polished boots." Sentiments like these have caused a panic in Washington. Our foreign policy. pcople will stop at nothing to get the consumer products they want. Bush and his minions are calling for more police. Domestically." but there may be another story: The far right seriously belicvcs that glasnost is the ultimate Soviet plot.which. The extraordinary success of the Panama invasion has made the prospects for a post-Cold War peace in the 1990's seem dubious. and where Green Beret military "advisers" are already in place. and quickly. be it blue jeans or cocaine. faced with hippie flower children in the Politburo. Right now. Drugs are the ideal capitalist venture: the market is limitless.unlike schools. are prevailing over those reluctant t o become mired in another Vietnam-style jungle war. and the country is cheering. has lapsed into catatonia before the events in Eastern Europe. [Bush calls this "prudence. as a n alien force. and for America to continue t o run on a war economy. It is. For every hundred dealers the Drug War eliminates. and one that requires far less capital and expcrtise. Like Panama. given the world situation. scanning the horizon with his binoculars for new territory to conquer.being the only public buildings Republicans like to construct. after arms dealing. and a swamp of environmental problems. And. in the Reagan-Bush years. and who is now associated with a magazine that claims that the Democrats are controlled directly by Moscow. By pretending to declare peace. where the Sendero Luminoso.Union. anyone can get into the business. make a fortune. which thought ~ that Eisenhower was a K G agent and the fluoridation of water a Communist plot. Bush. a founder. with very little money and hard work. . obviously a new enemy had to be found. of the John Birch Society.is in a shambles. (In. Bush is standing un the mountain of his popularity. equally abstract as Communism. d o nothing to stop drugs. let us remember that the Vice-president idolizes his father. where the Peruvian Army is fighting a losing battle. though no official wars were actually being fought. an old soldier w h o still checks for Communists under his bed.a t which point the Soviets will march in and finally conquer the world! If it seems far-fetched that any "responsible" leaders would believe this. in the 1950's. as Eastern Europe has demonstrated. it's the perfect spot t o simultaneously "restore democracy" and "stop the flow of drugs a t their source.] The Pentagon. education. a thousand will take their place. for decades.S has the worst health. Peru. Even superhawks like Robert McNamara (the Secretary of Defcnse during the Vietnam War) are now saying that the Pentagon budget could be cut in half overnight with no effect to our "defense. according to military journals. and social services of any Western nation.a concept more concrete in its particulars. hospitals or mnseums. and. standing still amidst a stampede of capitalists rushing in. for example. (Prisons. ") A11 of this will.

the artists were d e n t . when I saw the Norton Critical Edition of O n the Road. anti-Christian. With it came a kind of collective amnesia: n o one seems t o remember that. They are. like all art. a museum retrospective. We should be emphasizing that the primary function of art is subversion: the bringing t o light of the sub(terranean) versions: the versions that reveal that the world is not quite what we thought it is. It should be remembered that the NEA is a product of the Vietnam War. We're kidding ourselves if we think that this is a sign of a . a n opposite scene. Day after day. opposite t o the world that is before our eyes. before 1970.N O T F S I OI< S I i l t F K 111 N O T E S F O R S U L F U R I11 I Wr~tten the hack for pagrs of Sulfur. They sure knew what they were doing. I I I There has been only one reason for the perennial suppression of art: it tells you what you don't know. of course. the university was considered the enemy of contemporary poetry. We will need a new generation to bury this generation of good Germans. but Art that Enriches the Human Soul. It was founded and then expanded by our two w~liest presidents. the wholesale ~mportation of writers and artists. Today the leap from the barricades t o the marble halls is nearly instantaneous. It's not true. 1990. and perverse. obscene: presenting." The irony of the current NEA controversy is that these Soldiers of God may indeed effect a Confucian rectification of names: restoring the term "avant-garde" to its former place of dignity as subverter of norms. I remember laughing. a shelf of critical exegesis. the moment in this century when American artists and writers were most visibly the enemies of the state. showing their sensitivity t o student expression by encouraging workshops in various forms of "creativity. Snip through all the rhetoric of how my art could never be compromised by a government grant and one fact is plain: Through the Reagan years. Last night's bad boy or girl of the arts this morning receives a hefty fellowship. literally. defenders of the NEA piously repeat that these works are not obscene. a university chair." This required. anti-American. and that's more than most states can stand. and the hitherto unimaginable invention of "poet" as a comfortable middle-class career. the century's most shameful period in American history.] I 1 I I The N E A was cheered by the news this morning that the head of some Boston nut-group had condemned the opening there of the Mapplethorpe show as "avant-garde. Johnson and Nixon. alongside The Scarlet Letter and Billy Budd: it had taken less than thirty years to entomb that once-scandalous book.199 I . Parallel to this was the universities' friendly takeover of student protest by introducing "relevancy" to the curriculum: teaching what the students already knew. in the early 1980's.

Nearly everything of enduring interest produced in the last 1 5 0 years was made by the perverse. It is extraordinary how much she was able t o pack into the simplest declarative sentence." .are unfolding amidst the enormous events in the world. A 20th century sensibility: the news as autobiography. This is not so much a modernist collage as the result of modernist collage. Used with success by Blue-eyed Claude the Cabin Boy. Eliot: Conrad Aiken had praised Eliot's 1925 Poems.. T. Eliot wrote: "Have you tried Kotex for it ...S. the goal of artists and writers was t o work in such a way that n o one would dream of giving you money for it....." The reference was to that perennial frat-boy favorite.S. In the accompanying letter. KOTEX. only function as monuments to the dead." Aiken at the time was in the hospital suffering from an anal fistula. in the prose however she reveals herself as Reznikoff's worthiest disciple.healthy plurality in the institutions.. the ostracized. and shreds of mucozts .which can. or that someone who publicly shoves yams up her ass should dutifully fill out the endless government forms t o attest t o her craft? That this and the other NEA cases have been generally condemned as "censorshipn-here at the end of a century that murdered and still murders thousands of artists and writers.. Too few know it: a classic of "objectivist" prose.. which he enclosed. and should..... Eliot his morning I also happened to be reading (in Wayne Koestenbaum's Double Talk: The Erotics of Male Literary Collaboration) this anecdote of our pillar of rectitude. These days I find myself nearly alone in hoping that the right will succeed in making the arts perverse again. "The Good Ship Venus. Mary Oppen T.. Claude was: "a clever little nipper/ who filled his ass with broken glass/ and circumcised the skipper. he had underlined a description of vaginal discharge: "blood. mucous. the subversive.. banned and still bans tens of thousands of works.is indicative of how cozy and drowsy the American arts have become." to which Eliot had written some additional lyrics. purulent offensive discharge. Is it more incredible that Karen Finley's NEA grant was overruled. the obscene. Eliot replied by sending him a page ripped out of The Midwives' Gazette in which T he recent death of Mary Oppen sent me back to her autobiography Meaning A Life (Black Sparrow).. Not so long ago...or that this hasn't changed the face of the arts.. a t any given moment in the book the lives of Mary and Georgeand Mary's emotional responses.. Equally remarkable. 119901 T . In her poetry Mary often sounded like George.

recreated the effect of a Patriot hitting a Scud over the Statue of Liberty. For barbaric lyricism. in the evening. "true" crime stories. it is a subject. my untitled article on the poets of Baghdad [reprinted as "The City of Peace" in Outside Stories] was preceded by a quote from Whitman under the title "Barbaric Lyricism. where they rarely see their relatives.to talk about with the local strangers. and know best. among other stars of the American "left. it is a village where the neighbors stay. there is a craving for "real lifen-not t o live it. The stable presence of their unstable lives is not only a source of daily news and developments. being against the war in principle and feeling that the troops deserve a cheer. the displacement of five million more. O r more exactly: people mainly know.Barbaric Lyrtcisrn there. but a n amiable evening on the front porch dishing the neighbors? Even better. the tens of thousands of future deaths from disease and starvation. A Patriot missile was garlanded like a Shiva lingam and paraded up Broadway. when the point was to debarbarize.probably the only safe subject. the afternoon talk shows." George Plimpton and the Paris Review seized the moment for a fund-raising "Spring Revel" at $1. individual diaspora the need for gossip becomes insatiable. the "apocalyptic" leveling of a small country. celebrating the slaughter of 200." Said Plimpton to the Village Voice: "There's no political statement in this at all. Doctorow. unlike one's actual neighbors. The language of the tribe is gossip. The "Revel" committee included William Styron. why miss it?" Said Styron: "I don't think it's incongruous. if only a little. where tens of millions live alone and most people move every three years. William Kennedy. and where Main Street has been replaced by the strip and the mall. the local pyrotechnic geniuses. Frances Fitzgerald." n the last issue of Sulfur. t o the theme from "Star Wars. What is the Johnny Carson Show. but t o watch it.50 a head featuring "Dinner and Huge Fireworks Show Celebrating the Return of the Troops" aboard a hired yacht. Peter Mathiessen. happening." Some thought this the title and epigraph t o my piece. and in perpetual. and it's especially unfortunate t o have "barbaric" attached t o it. the same. the people they don't know: celebrities. and at least a decade of ecological calamity. the Gruccis. hardly anyone knows anyone any more." Said Fitzgerald: "Things are going to happen anyway. the place. there was the "Victory" parade in New York the other day. anything. If it's going on out I Olson and Rexroth Biographies n America.000 people. Sensationalist "news" programs.L. It wasn't. and where television wildly exaggerates the danger in something. for example. In lives where mainly nothing happens except television. but that global village is Hollywood. Kurt Vonnegut. o r lyric barbarism. funny or pornographic amateur home videos: I . The village has indeed become a global village. Norman Mailer and E.

were cut. Olson. on the order of Painter or Edel. dealing with the work.or they would not be published. Both books indulge in retrospective moralizing. preferably dead. It is a Puritan legacy. Clark. The latest.! 1t K Ill packaged real life is inevitably weird.those real people.who interviewed hundreds of his friends and enemies. Hamalian's is by far the better book.) Olson. her disdain grows.examined by someone else is not worth living. Connie Olson. The correspondence accelerates to the rate of two or three letters a day. even after they had found the men impossible to live with. perhaps worth reading the book. (As Clark typically tells us. has written little and published less. that Rexroth deserves. after one of many separations. This biographical imperative cuts across the strata of taste. the tale of the life of sin: only England and America produce biographies in bulk. Hamalian. And Olson. an ideological one. And so is everyone else we've ever heard about.W. [Rexroth. Olson is still floundering. It now seems that a life. paranoia.for biographies of contemporary poets. His one coup. none of it particularly illuminating. This gives Clark plenty of room for rumination on the work. Boldereff sends him into various branches of arcana that become part of the Olson canon.and how does he know?-Olson was tormented that his penis wasn't as Maximus as the rest of him. with Pound or Langston Hughes for its variety and frantic pace. years from now.needs every one of her apparently allotted 400 pages just to keep up. spent most of his life first not writing and then writing. released in the same week by W. Olson's first weekend of passion. Almost a year later they meet for the first time. (I've been told that another 200 pages.] Hamalian clearly starts off as an acolyte. relies mainly on published sources and interviews with some mutual triends. Into the safety of one's own bunker comes the mesmerizing news that what was suspected is true: the boy and girl next door. Norton. among the American poets. Yet I suspect its ultimate value will be. and both wave the Bad Boy banner with covers showing their subjects not typing but engaged in what current American mores now consider to be self-destructive hedonism: smoking. Frances Boldereff. phrases from both their letters become embedded in the poems he's suddenly furiously writing. He gets a letter out of the blue from a woman in a small town in Pennsylvania telling him he's a genius. and abuse of women. on the other hand. which is worse. and unpublished correspondence with. yet it is curious that both men were surrounded by women who deified them. with the exceptions of his time as a Democratic Party flack and at Black _Mountain.really are freaks. the promoter of many women poets. yours or mine. Both are about 400 pages long. There is even a market.) The book's impossible to put down as it zips through the chronology past the factual trees. bizarre and sad stories. is the previously littleknown story of. are Linda Hamalian's A Life of Kenneth Rexroth and Tom Clark's Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life.any life. won't leave his wife. Rexroth's life can only be compared. as the groundwork for the multi-volume Life and Times. and for many years the pattern of frenetic letters and rare passionate meetings continues.\<l I O N YOTI'S FOR St. but the deeper she gets into Rexroth's incessant philandering. [In brief: At age 39. says . which inevitably seem to issue from houses that never would have considered publishing the poet's work. was a personal misogynist. and getting weirder. however. but don't know. like Ed Dorn.U'R17TI N I<F. and in America they are poring out every day with their emphasized bad news.

Clark.the volume that is.as he had once compared the few remaining students at Black Mountain. there's no sense of Olson's charisma.000 for a new book of poems and 100. is that Rexroth was. Olson the bookworm.) His public exposure in the fifties and sixties seems unimaginable for an American poet today: a weekly radio show. and then piled on the evidence. the mistakes and indiscretions. H e spoke grandly t o his "fellow citizens" of the "Republic of Letters. further articles in magazines from Art News to Mademoiselle and Nugget (whatever happened to Nugget?).to Mao's band in the Yenan caves. and most of the rest out of print.plus the endless local discussion groups and readings he organized." but had only a few devout followers. Rexroth the Buddhist and Christian. the bad days. living alone in an apartment piled with trash where the phone never rang. tormented genius. writing on every available surface. Rexroth's second wife is the godmother of the daughter. deep in the selflessness of ritual and meditation. Rexroth. Olson obsessively researching the West for years before actually going out t o see it. Finally. Clark ends with Olson's funeral. it is Rexroth's that is the more incredible. There is a sad moment in the letters t o Corman where he compares Origin magazine. the twice-monthly "Classics Revisited" series in the S ~ ~ t u r d a y Review. as Olson did not: Sulfur readers need hardly be told that nearly everything we know about Olson. Olson the local hick. Most incredible now. with its print run of 300. it is true that few among us could survive the investigation o f a biographer and not emerge a monster. bad blood. the garbage itself is: the petty cruelties. sleeping all day and wandering empty streets at night. because Charles is her God.] Clark apparently began with the image of a pathetic. interviews in the national media. the texts of most of the poems and much of the prose. his great workis due entirely to Butterick. famous among general readers. And so on. however.000 for the Chinese translations. Two lives that couldn't be more different: Rexroth the adventurer. And a pall hangs over his book from his willful. Taking out the garbage is not the stuff of biographies. led the life generally available to a poet nearly everywhere except in America. in the last years. criminal neglect of George Butterick.she doesn't believe in God. whatever his motives. records of his poetry readings.who is mentioned only three times in passing as one of the disciples. Olson the timid. H e planned national and international institutions and symposia and think tanks t o get the message out. has written a biography of Kafka without M a x Brod. . Rexroth the cosmopolitan.alone with Hughes. led a more normal American poet's life. book reviews or articles once a month in The Nation and four or five times a year in the N. Rexroth compulsively surrounded by people of all types. Olson. He died with most of his work unpublished. when he is remembered but largely unread. all of which came to nothing. For the life of a n American poet. Olson the Jungian. even talk of a television show. and the very existence of the third volume of Maximus. and Pound in the teens and twenties. sales of 10. critical glosses of thousands of references. the hypocrisies revealed in the archives of correspondence. bad habits. for me. even the walls. to whom he's bigamously married. deep in the symbols of self. a twice-weekly column in the San Francisco Examiner. Y Times Book Review. in other words.an American poet who was a public intellectual figure. Olson by a few disciples and. who is born t o his third wife. (Ginsberg's celebrity is another matter. named after the first wife. Rexroth in the American wilderness. Rexroth the Don Juan.

the achieve of. the mastery of the thing! The paradox is. the Figure of Outward.ruined? And what happened to his own reading of the lines. the great lines "When one's friends hate each other1 how can there be peace in the world?" refers to the bickering among three women in his harem. Then the other day it struck me: H o ~ k i n sOne .My hcart in hiding Stirred f o r a bird.(like] the armature in a statue: an essential part o f t l ~ finished structure. . P he signature Olson syntaxthe dangling p r t i c i ~ l e s which Creeley picks up. But what the X-rays show is essential to beauty.. So now we know that Rexroth... without the armature o f the skeleton Miss America or Mr. writing mash-notes t o half-a-dozen other women. of many examples: T 119911 .) Is "The Librarianm-and the most mystcrious lines in American poetry. and why Olson wondered. the century's great celebrant of married love was.. from writing them (when he's clearly talking to himself) to publishing them (when he rrlust consider their effect)? Frank Moore troubles my insomnia. The Six-Corrzered S~owflake. of Traditional Prosody Eutzlre P M L A article rosody remains enz bedded in the finished work . simultaneous to those poems. Unlverse would collapse to a heap o f flab. certainly not Massachusetts. and the sudden exclamations.always seemed to come from nowhere. e any move than we judge a beat~tycontest by the X-rays of the conzpetitors. Perszdasiue Nezci Drfensc. nearly always reads like an escaping convict with only one leg.But the deeper question is what the biography of a poet does t o subsequent readings of the work. cheapen it. So now we know that among Pound's last words. . So now wc know who Frank Moore is. We do rzot iudge a statue by its armature. the poet of projection. " -John Frederick Nims.. It cannot help but localize the poem. (In a letter to Ferrini in the first Origin he had revealed what's buried behind Lufkin's diner. fix it permanently in its biographical interpretation..

most of my travels started out from poems.both a use of the ancient (in this case. Pound t o Renaissance Italy and the history of China (and later t o Chinese itself) and the Anglo-Saxons and medieval Provence. From there I wandered undirected through the poetry shelves.READING POETRY I \Vr~ttrnfor a pallel o 7 z ' ' P o ~ J t rd.a source of knowledge a t its most literal: information.was the pamphlet of Octavio Paz's Sttr? Stone. It is my religion. said. In those adolescent years. beyond the great metropolises. My life with poetry began when I discovered that it was talking about the same things. ending as silence: a poem is the Hindu history of the universe. to Mesopotamia. Olson to the Delphic Oracle and the pre-Socratics. and more. among the man-made artifacts.and this is rarely. not the bored dictators of the classrooms. It was I the first modern poem I'd come across. Its limitless archive of tiny and piercing. M a r k ' s Church. Provence in the troubadours. wanted to be an archeologist.l 've read it every day of my life since I was thirteen.leading me from one poet to another. equally important. The list is endless. in as much as it is a n affirmation of the sacrality of all things. running through its cycles of silence and sound. which simultaneously sent me into the Grad and medieval mythology. Bursting into sound. my primary source of knowledge of the stuff of this world and the next. Similarly.and not only emotional things. But poetry is also. It is. But. beginning at sixteen when Neruda's Canto General sent me off t o Machu Picchu and the Atacama Desert. and still continues: hardly any of the books I know cannot ultimately be traced to a poem or poet. poets and poems were taking me into worlds besides literature. And the cities themselves live for me as a s~multaneousmoment of the poets walking their . beyond my imagination. the Aztec calendar) to read the contemporary (20th century history and one man's autobiography) and a recreation of it in an intensely musical language. if ever. it brings me news from the unknown. The places 1 now happen to know best. A boy's discovery that poetrythis language that didn't sound like anything else. poets. it wasunimaginable for me until then. New York. at that moment reading everything I could find on pre-Columbian Mesoamerica in an unusually good high school library. were first literary landscapes: India and Mexico in Paz.my real teachers. t o the whaleship chronicles and the history of agriculture. in Muriel Rukeyser's translation.was a doorway opening onto all times and all places.I first began reading about Buddhism because of The Waste Land. Stuck inside some fat bookPrescott or Bernal Diaz on the Conquest. Artaud t o the Tarahumaras and the Black Death. Hart Crane to Colun~bus'diaries and 19th century New York and Atlantis.to take a few examples. vast and enveloping perceptions of "the way things work and move" (Keats) has forever altered and continually alters my own. Williams t o colonial America. Italy in Dante and Pound.that interested me: I was thirteen. 1 Y90. it is a daily opportunity to talk with the dead.K t z o ~ ( ~ J ~ d g L " y a t St. Lorca took me to books on the Spanish Civil War.

any poem worth reading always goes somewhere. it has turned out. there I 2 . In countless oral stories the hunter. as its descriptive language implies (verse. Marianne Faithfull) and hundreds of rising or failing practitioners. It is the origin of the "way.1 hy l ero birthdays are a n occasion when it's forgivable t o drag out the old photos. a teenage nerd following the hors d'oeuvres trays through a crowd of grandmasters (Olson. always is somewhere. but poetry happened to be my totemic animal. Nearly all my intellectual and physical wanderings have been on the track of poems. ROTHENBERG: NEW YORK 1 1968 1 Wrtttetf for the hook. tracking a certain prey. MacDiarmid. alone and floating nowhere.a century ago. I had twigged to Jerry as an adolescent in the mid-60's: Some/Thing magazine. even when its ostensible subject is the wilderness. the first JR book I remember buying. e d ~ t e d P~errczIorts ( T ~ h w zBooks). And strangely.w h o had silenced the room with a shout: " N o one insults my wife's boyfriend!") pop icons (Ginsberg. metrical feet). Naturally many other things might have taken me on similar paths. I confess I adhere to the 19th century image of each poem existing as part of a glittering net of correspondences. metaphor. Spender. Jerry's Between had just come out from Fulcrum. many of them now ghosts." in its universal religious sense. the "rituals" a t Judson Church and the Something Else pamphlet Ritual (1966). Ungaretti) poetry stars (Auden. Par. Conversely.I. Joy! I'ra~se! Jerome Rothenberg a t 60.streets and as a collage of their paper monuments. Berryman. 1991. to read poetry is to be alive in the city: the modern poem is a city. H e was already on my m a p when we first met in 1 9 6 7 at the elaborate parties surrounding the London Poetry Festival. Neruda. and there's one snapshot I want to pull from the overstuffed Rothenberg album: an important early moment in his work and. follows an unrepeatable path into another world. I've never understood the concept of the discrete literary artifact. Burroughs. Mick Jagger. these zillion bits of the world were learned from what is traditionally considered to be the most rarefied. imagined by the New Critics as a golden bowl (or was it a well-wrought urn?) or elaborated by the so-called post-moderns as some sort of textual outer space debris. Trocchi. an indelible one in my life: the publication of Technicians of the Sacred. unworldly world of writing. Empson. For me.

had finally caught up with The Seven Hells of the Jigoku Zoshi, the first of the JR medium-length sequences, and still lively, though now more likely to be read as an arrow pointing directly to his masterpiece, Khurbn. There were, in the later 60's, two New York Schools. The first, of course, from the Donald Allen taxonomy: Ashbery, O'Hara, Koch, Guest, Schuyler, and others, and the "second generation" of Berrigan, Waldman, Padgett, and so many more. But there was also "my" N.Y. School- mine as a reader- a group as coherent as any poetry group, but too young for the New American Poets and, in retrospect, whose individual reputations perhaps suffered from the lack of a name, a compartment in the brain to locate them in the subsequent population explosion: Rothenberg, Antin, Eshleman, Kelly, Economou, Owens, Schwerner, Makoski, MacLow and others, with Paul Blackburn, in terms of publication, a n older brother. Both came, in part, out of Surrealism. The official N.Y. School from certain aspects of the French poems: irony, wit, whimsical juxtaposition, random apprehensions of ordinary life, the panorama of the street. The "others" from Surrealism's exoticism and the exotic branches of the rllovement itself, from its politics (as response t o one war and prophecy of another), preoccupation with the magical power of the "primitive," and techniques like chance operations, writing under hallucinogenic drugs, collage, and performance. The difference, say, between the poems of Peret and Peret as translator of the Pop01 Vuh, strange dreams and prophetic dreams, Roussei in Afr~ca and Artaud in Mexico, DeChirico and Duchamp. I had picked up o n JR early because my image of poetry was (still is) as the place where one got the news from abroad, from the dead, and from the gods. W ~ t h firsr page of the firsr issue the

JK's "workings" irom the lilorerztine Codex, I of So~ne/Thing, knew that this was part of(MacDiar111id's words) "the kind of poetry I wa~lt.'' The book 1 eagerly awaited, and then devoured when it finally came out in 1968, was Technicinni of the Sacred. 1968: a tired story we tell over and over, the Great War for which we are the old soldiers: the year of the international student revolutions, the assassinations, the conviction that the entire world was on the verge of radical transformation, from the structure of society and state to the details of body ornament. But more: the belief that the way to the new was the old: hallucinogens as the source of ancient wisdom, tribal communisnl as the answer to capitalism, the wilderness to industrialization; an "Electric Tibet. " A year of continual unforeseeable developments in the day's papers, and an equally incredible poring out of news from the poetry presses. Alongside Technicians, these were some of the new books appearing like oracles that year: Pound's Drafts and Fr~ignieiits, Bunting's Collected Poems, Oppen's O f Being Numerous, the second volume of Olson's Maxi;nus and the first available edition of the Moyizn Letters, Duncan's Bending the Bow, Snyder's Tblic Back Country, Rexroth's Collected Lonpp l'oenzs and his translations o f Keverdy, Niedecker's North Contral, Eshleman's translation of Vallejo's Human Poelrzs, Blackburn's In. On. or About the Preinises, MacLow's 22 Light Pocrns, Enzensberger's Poenrs for Pcople Who Don't Read Poetry (trallslated by Jerry with Michael Hamburger), Ginsberg's l'lan~~t Nezvs, Dorn's Gttnslir~gerI... as well as small hooks and pamphlets by many others (including two by Rothenberg), Caterpilliir magazine, " A serillized in P C t r c o ~ ~ n t l e sreadings s against the \$2.Tar, p o p ~ ~ l i readings and jazz collaborations o f tht. st the hlack pocrs- a n d the first word from Don Juan! Nothing

more tedious than the joys of someone else's youth, and yet: it is a moment from which I, then 19, like so many others, never recovered. It was a moment when the world and poetry-world were inextricable, and both were devoted t o political change, passionate comniitment, commitment t o passion, alternate realities, the foreign and the ancient. Technicians, more than a n anthology of tribal and oral poetries- like Willard Trask's two-volume The Unwritten Song, which had just appeared in 1966 and 1967 and had gone unnoticed- was an attempt to bring it all together, the "rite of participation" invoked the year before by Duncan in Caterpillar, the true coming of Here Comes Everybody. It is incredible how many of those everybodies Rothenberg would go on t o embody. Here, among his friends, it needs no reiteration. Only this: he is probably the gateway to more corners of the earth than any poet in this century. In the pages of a Rothenberg book- the poems as much as the anthologies- the world has a coherence. Perhaps this coherence is false- the tangle of correspondences from Altaic shamans t o Blake t o Kabbalah t o Mixtec codices t o East Village perforn~ances- but we cannot deny that Rothenberg, as so few others, has managed to construct a world. And more: it is a world, even in the hells of Khurhn, of ecstasy and a fundamental joy. Not Utopia, but a model of the world t o set against the world. Startling that, at 60, Jerry enters the ranks of the senlor poets, alongside the equally suddenly venerable Creeley, Snyder, Ashbery, Tarn and Ginsberg, and next year, Antin. Yet his 60 is a youthfulness the lugubrious youths of poetry-world might well emulate. W h o among them has as many projects cooking? And w h o among us, the now incomprehensibly middle-aged, has the curiosity and erudition, the Cinemascope frame and the genuine

multiculturalism, the enthusiasm, the accomplishments t h ~ t Rothenberg had at 4 0 ? To put it simply: I have read everything that Jerry has written, translated or edited, and I still read it all the time. He is the rare poet whose last book is his best book, and whose next book I'll read the day I get it. At this moment of the breaking-up of nations and the end of the ideologies, the disaster and threat of the next d e c ~ d eand the next century will be ethnocentricity, nationalism, a!l the forms of excluding the other. Ethnopoeticsa poetics not of "the people," but of "peoples"- could be one of the ways out. American poets, in worse isolation than ever, symptonlatic of the times, have stopped talking to strangers, stopped listening to the news from elsewhere. Think of what informed those Greatest Hits of 1968 and what informs even the Hits of 1991. Ethnopoetics was this great pod exploding, but the seeds still lie dormant. Now that the 25-year time-lag of recognition (Pound's Law) is nearly over, I think- maybe I'm crazy- that the moment for a revitalization, a new generation of ethnopoetics, is almost here. And with it, the realization that Rothenberg, all along, has been one o t the wisest in the tribe, and the one who, amidst general indifference, has been taking care of the sacred bundles.


o begin with, I should say that, as a loyal member of the generation of '68- one who still sleeps in his uniform- I was naturally involved with drugs and hallucinogens. But I should also say, for certain elements of this newspaper's readership, that it's now twenty-odd years later. .. There are t w o aspects t o this: one I'll speak of as a writer, and the other as a teenaged inhabitant of the United States at the end of the 1960's. As I writer, I think that the experience of hallucinogenic drugs can he useful because under their effect ordinary objects are transformed: the chair you are sitting in is more than a chair; it is a chair that has its own aura of signification. It is a way of discovering that the world is not what it seems, and moreover that there is another world that can be explored. But this is only a first step, because one goes from there to the discovery that in poetry the world is transformed in exactly the same way as on drugs: In a poem a chair is not a chair. It is a chair charged with meaning. As soon as one makes this discovery, drugs become unnecessary.


But I also happen to believe that the origin of writing- more specifically, when writing goes beyond the act OF tallying- is in hallucinogenic drugs. One of the experiences o t drugs is that it creates a correspondence between abstract signs and meaning. Under its effects one can look at cloud formations or animal tracks or tree branches against the sky and find significance. In tact, many cultures have myths in which the origin of writing is tied t o hallucil~ogens.For example, it is extremely interesting that the Ivlazatec shaman, Maria Sabina, w h o was illiterate, said that, when under the influence of the mushrooms, she received a book from which she "read" her healing songs. And the Mexican codices were, in part, mnemonic devices that perhaps were read- o r could only be read- after taking mushrooms or other hallucinogens, or after having performed other actions that produced hallucinatic~ns, like the bloodletting practiced by the Maya. Under the influence of drugs the images of the codices would have taken o n meaning. N o doubt these books were not for the general public, but were exclusively for a n intellectual or priestly elite. Yet they represent that small leap from abstract signs taking on a personal significance under drugs to abstract signs having a shared kig~lificance- in other words, reading. O n the other side, in the 60's taking drugs was a political act because it was an act, however futile, against the established order, and a negation of the prevailing reality. We were looking for an alternate reality because we rightfully couldn't stand the existing reality, which meant primarily the Vietnam War, the most visible and clearly unjust of the world's injustices at that moment. And the other reality that we were discovering was, of course, a spiritual reality. Spiritual reality is always the enemy of political reality; the way the two have been reconciled historically has been through the institutionalization of religion.

in a way that is unimaginable now. (I'll never forget those alarmed articles in Time magazine: "Who's going to run the corporations when these hippies grow up?" It took no time at all to produce a new generation of what the sus used to call "bullet-headed make-out artists. con~fortablework clothes. was the artistic expression of the new society.among them.the survivor of the Second World War. Everything that was considered radical in the 60's turned into popular consumer choices: rock music. What happened to rock & roll was exactly what happened with Constructivism: it turned into designs for bathroom tiles. If you take drugs you're of course opposing your parents. communes. and so on.and for this reason the counterculture was more than adolescent rebellion.and with it a return to human origins. in Kerouac's novels. This makes it difficult. in any way. vegetarianism. much as Constructivism was the artistic expression of the new Soviet society.. exactly as it had occurred with Beat culture. the "natural look" for women. a sort of LITV O F the mind. In the 90's it has become a form of entertainment. jazz. And the ideology behind these material manifestations takes another form and becomes part of another culture. say. was that the universities accepted the more superficial demands of the students.\\ I<I I I \: I l<I. that recent books were introduced into literature . for members of my generation to have too n ~ u c hinterest in the drug-taking among those w h o followed us. Thus the counterculture was a kind of return to the origins of religion.S. something one carried on one's back. Yesterday's wildness is today's conventionality: red wine. The way to weaken that danger was to institutionalize their teachings and develop stricter ties between the social and religious orders. I think. a "band of outsiders" as Godard's movie was called. or it merely fades away.") And rock & roll. as they are represented. the return to the land. that the "Woodstock nation" was like the Sioux nation. Sixties' youth genuinely believed that the world was on the verge of a radical change. in the 60's. We thought that the other reality would replace the existing reality. at least in the U. close to nature and the gods. It seems absurd now.the counterculture was a whole cultureand can't be broken down. romantically. \Vhy did the spiritual quests of the 60's seem. This naturally led to a fascination. from the demonstrations against the Vietnam War to rock music. that had been obliterated by technology and capitalist greed. with American Indians. long hair. in the first stage. to Basically what happened was the McDonaldization of the counterculture. Taking drugs was inseparable from what was happening at that moment. This meant. It was said then. opposing society. Another thing that weakened the counterculture. if you take drugs too much you're opposing yourself. etc." the 50's existentialist alienated outsider. for example. There was the inevitable identification with a n iinagined "sinlple" and communal life. Coincident to the "baby boom.had now expanded into a group of internal exiles with communal yearnings. we took drugs much in the same way that our parents went to work. and so on. marijuana. exotic cuisine.\II I O N All of the religions have besun as a revolt against the established order: Jesus or Mahavira or the Bllddha were dangerous people. sex without marriage. Chinese food eaten with chopsticks. but that was what it was like.in a certain sense. but you're not. Look at the Beats in the SO'S. have lead nowhere? ill the end. that what they study have greater "relevance" to their lives. All of this was of one piece. it was a genuine belief that in a few short years the dominant culture was going to be transformed. That is to say.

n o marketing.whereas the hippest kid today is a techno-freak. But it's true that in the 60's drug-taking was seen as a return to the natural world. Perhaps what happened in the 60's was the loss of certain norms. what then is the countercultureSophocles and Milton? inhabited by survivors of the lost continent of Lemuria. because that was the part of the counterculture that was in opposition t o all forms of industrialization. for example. In the 60's. in other words. the practices.and you can study Madonna or Neuromancer for a degree. the cliniax of the hippie movement. in retrospect. but the hippie trade in marijuana and hallucinogens was carried out entirely by small- . most drugs require a great deal of preparation. But nobody I knew went to Woodstock. there was a general set of beliefs shared by those who took drugs. At that time. as it is described in the Vedas.meaning. It doesn't make a great deal of difference if its origin is the modern laboratory or not: Amazonians preparing ayahuasca are lab technicians in different clothes. well.except the manufacture of long-playing records. however. Sliasta. but not the beliefs. An attitude that no longer exists. An elite.and nearly all youths are students. heroin. I think that in the 60's there was a kind of elite who took drugs. Dztring the ere-Hispanic era. there were people rclhose f~tnction it was to guide others in the takiizg of dr~tgs. had gone suburban. and that messages from the Lemurians could be decoded from Beatle records. not of priests. that it was In this century drugs tend to come more from the laboratory than from the natural world. pop culture. as it is remembered. By the second stage. had spread to the entire country." That weekend. It's curious that the courztercultzire which was opposed to indtistrialization alzd capitalism should have created the enormous industry of drtlgs. Think of soma.one which. I wish had lasted: I'll take group mud baths any day over group baptisms. the symbol of youthful rebellion against bourgeois values would be the most successful businesswoman in America: Madonna. in 1969. but a sign that it was over. from the current perspective. a return to the values of the tribe. zuhich had a specific merrning. until around 1967.to which the new French theories could be so cleverly applied. playing flutes.white middle-classintellectual New York City kidsWoodstock was not. in Cklifornia. things people were reading anyway. certain knoulledge tinder which drzigs shouId be taken. in the 1980's.courses. The ideology had dropped out. My friends were far too self-co~isciousl~ to light candles while the dreadful Melanie cool sang "Beautiful l'eople. And yet. down the stream from a group of people who used to wander naked in the woods. Ten years later. I was camping on the side of Mt. of course.was controlled by the Mafia. In fact. Do you thirzk this hirs created the absence of sacrality in the constimption of drugs? Not really. For us. By the time of Woodstock.the drug of the ghettoes. That's not entirely true. Woodstock belongs to another world: There were no t-shirts sold at Woodstock. and what was left was a new form of hedonism. So now if you're a student. this had expanded to recent culture in general. but of believers. They believed that the mountain was hollow. the authority figures. urged o n by the professors.

I can only speak of what has happened in the U.. and should not be regulated by the state.S. usually of small quantities.sale and possession. without direct effect to others. .with its attendant prison population. there should be a war against what makes people take drugs. This is where the government should be putting its money: legalize drugs and impose a tax on them that would go to improving the infrastructure and treating the addicted. with their innocent bystander victims. But when the ghetto discovered the drug. and started using it under a different name. And we all know that smoking marijuana did not make us go out and beat up kindly grandmothers. far more severe than those for cocaine. I should say that I am in favor of the complete legalization of all drugs. This applies to all sorts of activities which have varying degrees of illegality throughout the world: sex of any kind between consenting adults. various combinations of three numbers. There is a n interesting parallel phenomenon in the US. dangerous t o society.S. criminal penalties for crack are. is not the business of the state. but who have the money to pay for it and lead productive lives. the prohibition of alcohol in the 1920's. for all the obvious reasons. For most of the century. Instead of 3 rhetorical "war" against drugs. and so on. unthreatening to anyone else. and the police could concern themselves with genuine criminals.) Similarly. abortion. Drug use increased enormously in the 1980's because of the economic disaster o the Reagan era. The newspapers and television are now full of terr~fylng stories about crack addicts. Among them. or acting with consenting individuals. as they once were about heroin addicts. One often hears the argument against legalization that drugs create anti-social behavior. When people f have decent lives there is less reason to escape life. should be treated as a health problem. and therefore must be prohibited by the state. birth control. the kind of people Mario Vargas Llosa supports these days. With legalization this would end overnight. It has nothing to do with narcotics traffic as it is now practiced by international cartels.. but here the vast majority of crimes are drug-related. murderers and rapists.besides. that the money could be put t o good use. and now all the states have lotteries. the fact that it would eliminate a huge category of supposed crime . and the wars among the drug-dealers themselves. This is fascinat~ng because crack was called "free-base" when it was used in Hollywood and by Wall Street yuppies. of course. suicide (especially by the terminally ill). not a criminal problem. as well as all of the violence associated with drugs: robberies by drug-takers. so-called marijuana addicts. a form of gambling run by the Mafia. the state spent a great deal of time and money attempting to eliminate the numbers racket. But this brings up the question of the legalization of drugs. there are many musicians who are life-long heroin addicts.scale independent entrepreneurs. very much like prostitution. Drugs. (And in most states. It happened overnight. the wars between the drug-dealers and the police. not surprisingly. suddenly it became a menace to society. as the propaganda in the 1930's said we would. it was recognized that people will always gamble. I also believe that any activity which involves an individual acting alone. and was not considered to cause psychotic behavior. Then in the 1970's the government realized that this could be quite lucrative for them and instituted a lottery game that was played in exactly the same way. now over a million in the U. with the money supposedly going to education. That was the end of the criminal aspect of the game: In place of a n Evil t o be combatted. From another angle. and before that.

T ) ~ smells. the image of Maria Sabina. t o the delight of the local missionaries from the nefarious Summer Institute of Linguistics.S. and it was a tremendous shock. I a m not so paranoid as t o think that drugs remain illegal in order t o serve the interests of the state. And Mexico. despite the high risks. there is a long tradition of drug use. touch sorirzcis. Much later. The difference is that he was a reflection of what was already happening in the U. And India was a place where drugs were easily obtained. There was an amazing amount of publicity around her in the lVSO's. ered" her. that invasion of the body snatchers. is extremely interesting.. for example. sometvhat later. particularly in India. you can't win a war against drugs beca~iseit's a war with no end. At the local level. at that time. weapons) and it is well known that they provide an overflowing source of untraceable money for the clandestine activities of many governments. . but I d o think that their illegality is awfully convenient for the state. To go t o India was not only a way to get in touch with the Other. All the major magazines ran articles with titles like "I Ate the Magic Mushrooms. who had brought Wasson there in the first place. Like Carlos Castaneda. But it was much like the enormous publicity around the Beats: Out of nowhere there were these new subversive elements. Moreover in Asia. New soldiers wlll always appear: lt's such an easy way t o make money.all this had little t o d o with the person herself. but also a way to find the means for getting in touch with the Other: drugs.~ys been the other side of the mirror for the West. ~ 1 t z c S O on? i Asla has alw. WbLrt abotrt the reliztiorz bettueen drugs and Eastern religionsmystic-'11qtrerts to India. orchestrated by Gordon Wasson. At a higher level.after. (That is t o say. whereas Castaneda was a confirmation of the new radical values that had been created in part by the discovery of Sabina. about whom I'd like t o write one of these days. too. for example the way abstract srgns become meanrngful. we ~ C L I C O ~ Csee S . drugs are the second biggest industry in the world (after. so that the leap from the world of hallucinogens t o the world of the East is not so great. The case of Maria Sabina.) She was a radical contradiction of the prevailing values. and thus a very ancient practice came to an end. and could be taken generally without harassment. besides dreaded Communism. in American society. Sabina claimed that the mushrooms subsequently lost their healing powers. The world of the "magic mushroom" was a kind of window of subversion in the conforn~ity Eisenhower America. it's the only job in the ghetto that requires no training and guarantees good pay..Anyway. the banker and mushroom expert who "discov- There are other parallels between hallz~cinogenicexperience iznd poetry.. o f course ." and the Mazatecs were overrun with gringo soul-seekers and Mexican federal police..a salary that is irresistible t o many. Pepper.Castaneda's first book is in 1968. Sgt. whereas Maria Sabina was a contradiction. of Suddenly there was this revelation of a world that was entirely different. and t l ~ e experience of synaesthesla: liz poetry or under I \n. of course.

the amarita muscarinu. We all have our paths to wisdom. a drink made from hash. The principal drugs of India today are hashish and bhang. The ceramic sculptures seem to be emitting sounds because the figures appear to be singing. And this is true in the other arts. at least for me. the kids playing good-natured hideand-seek with the local halfwit. dreamed of moving to Oaxaca to recover his health. More than the others. have dreamed of dying and moving to Oaxaca. that kept turning Ine on. and how this coincided with the origin of poetry. Others. the drug of the Vedas.199 j. For at any moment. the strange silence that presses down on the square. and more psychedelic than psychedelics. screaming. was soma. sitting at the center of the universe. And there are some interesting Vedic hymns that deal with how the gods gave soma t o humans. The Oaxaca zocalo is more than the most beautiful Plaza Mayor in Mexico. but the great drug of classical India. And it is more than the sensation of being enveloped in the salubrious climate Nietzsche dreamed of. here in the north. even the various metrical forms of poetrJ are elaborately tied to the gift of soma. where I want to be is in its zocalo. laughing. and this is absolutely the case with hallucinogens. it fulfills the function of all zocalos: a place for doing nothing. I N THE Z O C A L O I Wr~tt(vz a12 I S S I ~ Pof A r t ~ sd~ M for ~ ~ II ~ CO J L I O ~ P ~ to the crty of Oax~lccz. dying. and it merely happened that it was ancient words.One of the great works of synaesthesia is of course Rimbaud's poem where each vowel is associated with a color. N . not ancient pharmaceuticals. I ietzsche. more interesting. In my own life. the balloon vendors dwarfed in a kitsch explosion of pink and silver mylar. I also discovered that. It is more than the touristic pleasure of sitting for hours on the raised platform of the Cafe El Marquez. myself among them. looking out over the cobblestone streets without traffic.the clay is full of sound. the orange blossoms in the canopy of the flame trees. we receive for one or two days in late spring. and if for only a moment. even when thousands are viewing the whimsical tableaux of the Night of the Radishes. In one version.a weather that. and remember the rest of the year. poetry was more profound. Gordon Wasson has persuasively argued that soma was a kind of mushroom. In India the relation between hallucinogens and poetry is explicit. It was extraordinary. for example the pre-Columbian sculpture from Veracruz that we were all looking at the other day in the museum in Jalapa. 1 discovered poetry before I discovered drugs.

To sit in the silence of the zocalo in Oaxaca. was sent to erect a grid over the razed buildings of the small Aztec fort. t o the Mixtec kingdom of Tututepec where the climate was too tropical and the natives hostile. [Conquest followed by the replication of monuments t o one's self: it is the norm in the West. and then back again in 1522 to Huaxyhcac. the power of the city emanates.] Few of the Spanish colonial cities. was the most literal manifestation of this: laid out in the form of the Big and Little Dippers. there were 2 7 3 similar cities throughout New Spain. consider this bit of Chinese intelligence: when the legendary Founding Emperor Huangti defeated a city. The zocalo he laid out. and that is now so noticeably absent from most of our cities and most of our lives. and later. Oaxaca itself wandered and changed names for a few years: first in 1520 as Villa de Segura de la Frontera near the Zapotec town of Tepeaca. vacuumed out. the original Nahuatl name having been transformed by Spanish mumbling. the "unwobbling pivot" of Confucianism. the Aztec direction of death. the Italian Renaissance rediscovered it. in s o many things a conjunction of East and West. and from that still center. the city is laid out in a grid. then south to the coast. on the island of Hispaniola. where the local deities of besieged cities were invoked and persuaded to move to Rome. was exactly 100 by 100 vnrils square. The Spanish took it from the Italians. from human activity. The Romans. N o walls were needed to keep the barbarians out: from the zocalo this balance o f sacred and secular power would radiate unobstructed throughout the valley. It is a center. In moments of imperial confidence. Santo Domingo. In times of insecurity. as the town of Antequera. from the arches of the Romans to the arches of McDonald's. around it the comings and goings of the world turn. and within four years of Columbus' first voyage were erecting their first grid city. was to be the cathedral. easily defended streets. as in Medieval Europe. municipal buildings.a silence that is not from the absence of motion. the center is found amidst a maze of winding. two thousand years ago. architect of Mexico City and Veracruz.the great exceptions being Mexico-Tenochtitlhn and Cuzco. gave a proto-capitalist twist to this Asian practice: the evocatio. inspired. strategies. with the Emperor's Glittering P: lace at the place of the unmoving North Star.it is very Italian. but rather as though sound had been erased. traditionally. To the north. all within the confines of defensive moats and walls. emblem of the new order that has overconle the previous chaos. after the luminous Dark Ages. H a n Ch'ang-an. precisely aligned. does not merely contain a sacred or secular center.were built over the preColumbian cities: a New World must have its new world order. and assassinations.it is unclear when. It is to imagine an existence. as centers always are. to house and retain the vital forces that had once given strength to the fallen city. In contrast. a shipwreck on a tropical island.A city. he had an exact replica of its palace built in his own capital. To dream of sitting in the z6calo in Oaxaca is not to imagine an escape from the world.as Oaxaca. to the cardinal points. Mohenjodaro was the first of the many grid cities. and later. To the south. then to the Aztec fort of Huaxyacac. surrounded by streets and houses.is to recover that state of perfect rest that can only occur at the center.by the chessboard: the little orderly squares as the stage for intrigues. where they would enjoy greater powers.one that can only last a few . By 1580. Alonso Garcia Bravo. In 1529 the great urban planner of the Empire.

that of the razed town of Huaxyacac. Tepanecas. and. upon their coronations. to the north. And n~etaphorically. one must sit in that place and let the world continue on. and so many others are similarly slightly. a seashell you hold t o your ear. Monte Alban. inaccessible to the public. in pre-Columbian Mexico. is there. In Oaxaca. the source of music. a music to reenact the sound that created the universe.though the children. Mitla. symmetry is set askew. one must circumambulate. with other groups scattered on the outskirts. to the ornate and Ruritanian bandshell. packed with local musicians at night. . a block from the zocalo. Physically. t o the south. that space is filled with music.Texcocanos.or historically. one needs to join a n alternative religious group to sit without embarrassment. were required to circle the sacred center. There are two things to d o in the zbcalo. Circumambulation stakes out one's place in the world. where the municipal market now stands. a t the end of the day. The word handshell captures it perfectly: band. as the new kings of China or Egypt or Cambodia. Spiral: from a central point of origin whirling into the unknown. Yet it is unimaginable in certain other cultures: here. Jagged steps: the least direct way to get from one point t o another. but never quite. Where I'd like to be. at its center is a n empty space. slightly off-center. right now.at the heart of the world: to be completely in the world.but rather an enclosure of empty space. one is planted at the center and pulled in two directions. around that pivot. First. 111 the zocalo in Oaxaca. Who cares if the music is less than ethereal? The image that one dreams of is this: at the center of the universe is a perfect and perfectly aligned square.as sacred and natural as washing one's hands in India. the high raised platform of the bandshell is forbidden space. as if in an ancient parable. a territory t o inhabit. Sitting in the zbcalo. fixed? Time. intentionally dislocated. as always in Mexico.ladders between heaven and earth. there is always another center. but never rival. always manage to find a way in. but without distraction. And yet. shell.moments. that can imitate. Empty by day. one's eyes are invariably drawn t o the center of the center. Is it an image of the imperfection of the human world. and a reminder that. the sound that will invent the following day. and where there is the ghost of another center. Chichen Itza. t o the adjoining little raised plaza beside and the Alameda in front of the cathedral. another hubbub of activity. It is the great late European contribution to this concept of sacred space: that at the absolute center is not a cosmic tree or sacred mountain or pillar of stone. Second. in its democratic form. not t o own or rule. It is a n act that is natural in Mexico. heaven? O r is it the emblem of becoming. each in its own quarter: Mexicanos. for example. might have been a nest of perfect circles. the world turns. In its day it too was an ordered and quartered city: six hundred men with their wives and children from each of the principal Aztec provinces. order is always subverted. of forms that are almost. Xochimilcas. one within the other. Time turns. but the dominant forms were the spiral and the jagged steps. The central axis at Teotihuacan does not pass through the Temple of Quetzalcoatl. a bounded hollow.

the central question was what language to write. he died at 86 and never learned t o type: MacDiarmid! The work that will survive begins in 1922. even Norn. which was flaring all around him. And behind the curtains of this vast collective enterprise was a short. Orage and Ezra Pound in the New Age." was their own invention. often miserable and alcoholic man. but a lot of rubbish. "synthetic Scots.perhaps he was himself. acrid smoke and tons of dead ash are indeed among his attributes. followers of Hindu Vedanta. most of his writing was completed by 50. He occupied. and the Russian philosopher Leo Shestov for his evocation of the limitlessness of the imagination. They produced tens of thousands of pages of journalism and commiss~onedbooks. when. Marxism. had been one of the grand vehicles for poetry: the Great Makars Robert Henrysoun and William Dunbar (whom the English call the "Scottish Chaucerians"). "Hugh MacDiarmid": the dominant pseudonym among a dozen pseudonyms and one actual birth-name. but a volcano is too small a trope for Hugh MacDiarmid. supporters of Mussolini and Stalin and Scottish nationalism.Scots as a literary language decayed. They wrote about each other. Dostoyevsky for his nationalist spiritualism. with passages in a few dozen others. wrote an autobiography estimated t o be 4000 pages long. lit by the Irish and Russian revolutions. Most of the passions of his life were already in place: Scottish nationalism. Douglas.an entire planet. For Scottish writers at the time." After 1603." Heat. Gawin Douglas' magnificent version of the Aeneid. In I Wrlttelr '1s the 117trodr1ctlo1lo the Selected t I'oems o f Hug11 X l ~ c D ~ n r m ~ d . hundreds of letters to editors and thousands to friends and enemies. a nationalist who hated his nation. above all. the transformation of the Scottish James VI into the English James I. hundreds of pages of fiction and translations. Christopher Grieve gave birth to Hugh MacDiarmid. usually in praise. edited anthologies and a string of magazines. much of it in long lines. some 2000 pages of poetry. emitting not only flame. At the time he was a nine-to-five journalist for small-town newspapers and a bad Georgian English poet. All of his teeth were extracted at 24. "Venus and Cupid.MACIIIARMID the two primary languages. ~ ) I ~ C C ~ I ~ I 1 9S9) I.R. an imagination beyond all dogmas. is "to erupt like a volcano. Z I y job.the death of Queen Elizabeth. and. ctiltc>d1))' AI'zi7 Kiac-17 ntrd M~chirrlG'rrc~l~e (Nrlc. and the subsequent loss of Scottish autonomy in the "United Kingdomn.H. Christopher Murray Grieve. They were Nietzschean Marxist Christians. and where all contradictions are reconciled. the Social Credit schemes of Major C. sometimes in disagreement. a gregarious misanthrope who spent most of his life in extreme poverty. One of M . at age 30. Middle Scots. His heroes were Nietzsche and Lenin ("I have n o use for anything between genius and the working man"). fireworks." he wrote. They wrote in variations of two languages. . championed by A. Mark Alexander Boyd's single and perfect sonnet. in the 15th and 16th centuries.

and the invention of Nynorsk. By the time of Grieve's childhood. it is important to remember that this is exactly how most Scottish readers would have had t o read it at the time. By doing so.) MacDiarrnid's Scots. From them. There were the examples of the revival of Gaelic in the Irish Republic. His mentor." he set out to write the Scots Ulysses or The Waste Land. but also for the rigorous intellect of difficult "n~odern"works. His sources were books like John Jamieson's 1808 EtymologiScottish Language and Sir James Wilson's cal Dictionary o f t l ~ e Lorulund Scotch as Spoken in the Loz~lerStratheurn District of Perthshire. which in turn led to vaudeville parodies. much of his English. which Grieve and his pseudonyms had violently opposed as reactionary and irrelevant t o the struggle.anticipating. in fact.a perfect description. Allan Ramsay. which he later dismissed as "chocolate boxes. the wonder year of Modernism. The result was A Drunk Man 1. kids were punished for speaking Scots in school. there was the general belief that this sensibility." and with a "zest for handling a multiple of detailsm. opening the gates for all the world's languages to rush in.the L8th century. and Joyce. ("Speakin' o' Scotland in English words. he thought he would help to sever Scotland from England and insert it into Europe as a nation among equals. There was a new Scots Revival movement. There he found the words like watergaw (an indistinct rainbow) and your-trummle (cold weather in July after sheep-shearing) and peerieweerie (dwindled t o a thread of sound) that would fill the lyrics of his first important books. David Hume.ooks at . (Worse. Robert Fergusson and finally Robert Burns attempted a revival which never quite caught on.as a n experiment in writing in Scots. a conjunction of forces changed his mind.) Ironically.and kept MacDiarmid's identity secret for years. t o "extend the Vernacular t o embrace the whole range of modern culture.are written in a language foreign to everyone. spoke Scots in private but wrote only in English." as well as t o delineate the Scottish mind. His goal was to return not t o the folkish Burns.could only be expressed by the Scots language. a poem that could demonstrate that Scots was not only a medium for lyrics. of MacDiarn~idhimself. led by the various Burns Societies. Grieve created MacDiarmid. From these early short pieces. there were the examples of Charles Doughty and James Joyce: Doughty. for one.") And most of all. Moreover. But by 1922. Benjamin Lee Whorf's studies of the Hopi. As one stumbles through these poems now. the glossaries in those early editions were in the back. but to the continental and intellectual Dunbar. and supported Scots." "easily passing from one mood t o the other." MacDiarmid later wrote. (Their greatest contemporary. capable of holding "without conflict irreconcilable opinions. Grieve believed that one's spoken language was not enough. it was the success of Burns that strangled the movement: Scots became the domain of the corny songs of his imitators. Sangschaw (1925) and Penny Wheep (1926). was like "Beethoven chirpt by birds. a new language created out of various rural dialects. in a way. the eyes bouncing between the lines and the glossary below.and later. the militant nationalist Lewis Spence (now remembered as a n historian of Atlantis) suddenly switched sides. There were the writings by Gregory Smith promoting the idea of a unique Scottish psychological make-up: the Caledonian Antisyzygy. it was considered unspeakably vulgar. that one must ransack the dictionaries for precision of expression. mining his poems from archaic English. which became the official second language of Norway.

who similarly has the last word.an odd pair as models for one's superlor self. To Ulysses' single day. though one that continually locates itself. and its insp~rationfrom Paul Valery's La Jeu~zeParque.and it collages other texts: tr'lnslations of whole poems by Alexander Blok and Else LaskerSchuler. and some forgotten continentals such as Zlnaida Hippius. cultural inferiorities and doubt. psychological difficulties. sign of the DrunkMan's virility. A hero-worshipper. founded the Scottish chapter of PEN. and contributed t o dozens of magazines with "Scots" or "Scottish" in their titles. it takes place in a single night. joined and broke with countless political organizations. In the 1920's he edited three magazines. stood for Parliament a few times. and held posts in local governments like Convener of Parks and Gardens. In 1933." A Drunk Man is unquestionably the Scots masterpiece of the century. a greater Burnsn. MacDiarmid wrote a series of h~~ck-works. Hospitalmaster. which is considered to be the greatest Scottish literary review ever. he read the news from Italy and. and Grieve and the psendonyms shrank in his shadow (except of course when writing articles ahout him). into "A greater Christ.though largely interspersed among ballad stanzas. it is written in a varlety of styles and meters. believing that the combination of MarxistLeninism and Social Credit would end the struggle for material existence and prepare the world for the struggle for spiritual transcendence. Like T!JC !e Waste Land. At the end of a century that has ' I seen what can be wrought by acts of "the beautiful violent will. to give the poem a European context. he moved t o a place called Sodom on the tiny island of Whalsay in the Shetlands. its Molly is Jean. Certainly it is dense w ~ t h complexities that are still being unravelled in a parade of monographs. George Ramaekers and Edmond Rocher. member of the Water Board. and son Michael. including The Scottis!~ Chapbook. the dream of the transformation of the low-horn Drunken Man. The thistle itself is fraught with significant meaning. But it is a curious late Symbolist work in the age of High Modernism.that is most difficult to take. a poem five times as long as Ellot's. most of them written in Scotland." But his continuing loyalty was t o Lenin and Major Douglas and Dostoyevsky ("This Christ o' the neist thoosand years").as many did at the time. the poet.t7 Thistle ( 1 926). and nearly all of MacDiarmid's critics and acolytes consider it his greatest work. he went into a kind of exile and a prodigious I3urst of writing perhaps unmatched by any other writer in the century. it even becomes Ygdrasil. Like "Prufrock" it is an interior monologue. paying two shillings a month for a house without electricity and water a quarter of a mile away." it is MacDiarmid's Nietzschism more than his Stalinism. which the French poet described as "the transformation of a consciousness in the course of one night.perhaps they are the same. The falnilv subsisted on gifts of fish and potatoes from their neighbors and gulls' eggs gathered in the cliffs. which makes a cameo appearance in the poem. Its narrative comes from Burns' "Tam o' Shanter" w h o was also on his way home from the taverns at rnidnight. . In his eight years there. with titles like Scottish Lloctors. image of the soul flowering over the thorns of the "miseries and grandeurs of human fate".mistook National Socialism tor socialism and wrote "A Plea for Scottish Fascism. And its Nietzschean narrative has dated badly: the triumph of the intellect and the soul over drunkenness. a t age 41. Valda Trevlyn. and would have appalled the Imagists: emblem of Scotland and the Scottish character. the cosmic tree. Though A Drunk Man sold poorly. With his wife. Hugh MacDiarmid became poet the most f ~ ~ m o u s in Scotland.

Scottish Eccentrics. and "Cornish Heroic Song for Valda Trevlyn" itself now survives as an eight-page published a book of Foetry called A poem. he wrote some six or seven hundred pages of it." as he had invented a "synthetic Scots. The "Kind of Poetry I Want" (now fifty pages) was to run throughout the Cornish Heroic Song. Corrrish Heroic Sotzg fbr Valda Trevlyn. Second. And he had taken to heart the words of Lenin's last speech. H e edited a series of books on Scotland and a large anthology of Scottish poetry. and which are quoted twice in Lucky Poet: . but an epic without heroes (or with thousands of heroes). Often this meant transcribing. poems that had been Lap of Ho?zoz~r. Third. o r What Leizin Has Meant to Scotland and Scotland a n d the Qliestiovt o f a Poptllar Front Against Fascisin a n d War.000-line section entitled Mature Art. but plagiarism.one-third of the intended whole. MacDiarrnid discovered that the way out of the traditional prosody and r h y ~ n ehe had hitherto employed almost exclusively was to break prose down into long jagged lines. and its ultimate mysticism anticipates the computer age." of hundreds of thousands of details ("The universal is the particular"). and "Direadh" (now thirty pages) was to be in a later section. but the publisher rejected. His practice of reproducing these uncredited led t o charges of plagiarism later in his life. The Islatzds of Scotlatzd. t o his mind. According to MacDiarrnid's biographer. in English. but with a vocabulary drawn not. H e was expelled from the National Party of Scotland for Communism and from the Communist Party for nationalism. and a n autobiography estimated t o be a million words long. was besides the point for an epic that was to include everything. This was virtually all of the poetry (with the exception of The Battle Continues). that he was to publish for the next forty years. the attempt to create a "synthetic English. political tracts like Red Scotland. translating the Gaelic sections himself. The Cornish Heroic Song has never been reconstructed.000-line version to Eliot at Faber's. as Doughty had done. And there was more: H e set out t o write.the current term is "samplingn. omitted froin his 1962 Collected because he'd forgotten that he'd written them! Rescued by the scholar Duncan Glen. parts of which were later published as Llicky Poet and The Company I've Kept. he had come to believe that the poetry of the classless society was not the personal lyric. Alan Bold. the longest poem ever written by one individual. largely unrevised. which the poet admired (while finding the title "forbidding"). Thomas Mann's Tonio Kriiger. It is unclear where all the other poems belonged. Scottish Scene. in collaboration with Sorley Maclean. Herman Melville's letters. It is a poetry of "hard facts. reviews in The Times Literary Sltpplement. these contained some of his greatest works. Of the surviving longer poems." Various forces impel the poems of Cornish Heroic Song: First. Martin Buber. from archaicisms. delivered in 1922 in a prose that sounds like MacDiarmid's. including "Diamond Body" and "Once in a Cornish Garden. H e had a nervous breakdown and was hospitalized for some months. MacDiarmid sent a 10. where an unprecedented precision of measurement and description has only made the universe far more mysterious. he claimed. In the two years between 1 9 3 7 and 1939. In 1967 MacDiar~nid containing.other people's prose: long passages from obscure travel and science books. "In Memoriam James Joyce" (now 150 pages in the so-called Complete Poenzs) was originally merely a piece of Matlire Art. the first part was a 20." a project inspired by Doughty. but from the new language of science.

catalogues of scientific terms and theories. utilizes elements of over a score of l a n g ~ l a g e s Oriental and Occidental. the synthesis of East a n d West and the future of civilization." It is a poetry t h a t w a n t s to raise the standard. Sylvia Townsend W a r n e r d e s c r i b e d MacDiarmid's autobiography in words that are Inore a p p l i c a b l e to the poetry: "as though the pages of two e n c y c l o p e d i a s were being turned by a sixty-mile gale. it explains e v e r y t h i n g i n a persistent.m a d e h i s o w n and worked over anew all that was of value in the m o r e t h a n t w o thousand years [!] of development of human thought.H. It is a very learned p o e m i n v o l v i n g a stupendous range of reference.as editors of various editions of Selected Poe~lzshave been forced to do.. aphorism and spiritual transcendence that occur after pages of foreign word-lists and arcane bibliographies.. "an enormous poem." "Direadh 111. the problems of linguistics. It is an attempt t o r e t u r n poetry to its original role as repository for all that a c u l t u r e k n o w s about itself. the earlier "On a Raised Beach. unorganized stream of erudition to match the J o y c e a n stream of consciousness. then. These are the volcanic fireworks amidst the tons of dead ash. German literature a n d p h i l o s o p h y . rage.from the poenis of Cornish Heroic Song is to destroy the effect of MacDiarmid's greatly underestitnated music.and it is a poetry that. C o m m u n i s m becomes a n empty phrase. a n d w h i l e mainly in English. especially to Gaelic. Rather like excerpting the magnificent landscapes from the Ca?ztos.\Yl<l 1 1 1 N III . a man whose millions of words revolve .\< I I O N It would he a v e r y s e r i o u s mistake to suppose that one can become a C o m m u n i s t w i t h o u t making one's own the treasures of human knowledge . But to excerpt. Italian and Indian literatures. if he has not worked over in h i s c o n s c i o u s n e s s the whole inheritance of human knowledge. was.among them." Certain poems easily detach themselves. and their power is diminished. as he wrote." "The of Glass of Pure Water. nothing even close. and modern physics and the physiology of the brain. histories of literature and art and philosophy and music.. H e is one the great materialist poets and one of the great mystics. David Jones." H e was a political animal w h o believed that the role of the poet is to be a solitary contemplative. i n MacDiarmid's words./ Is an extended metaphor for something I never mention. Unlike Pound's Cantos." "In the S l u l ~ ~ s Glasgow." dealing w i t h the interrelated themes of the evolution of world literature and w o r l d consciousness. in astronomy and physics who could also write "The astronomical universe is not all there is" and "everything I write. it does not merely a l l u d e t o its extraordinary range of referents. intellectual insight. . The result. out of contest there is no contrast. The pleasures of MacDiarmid are precisely the explosions of passion. Based o n Scottish piping and Indian ragas. D. they are the jewels without the crown. There is nothing l i k e i t i n modern literature. keeps reminding us what it ought to be: "The Kind of Poetry I Want. R u s s i a n . piling up. the place a n d potentialities of the Gaelic genius . a mere faqade.. like Zouave acrobats. a n d the C o l n i n u n i s t a mere bluffer. a poet thoroughly in~mersed the technicalities of geology. it is dependent on the counterpoint (MacDiarmid would say dialectic) between a continuous drone and bursts of melody. and uniquely. Basil Bunting.both in the sense of hoisting a b a t t l e flag and of educating the world through unremitting iiistructio~~ admonition. Lawrence. of course." "Diatnond Body" and "Once in a Cornish Garden" .and can stand with the poems of the great 20th century poets from the Celtic Isles:Yeats.

H e envisioned a Celtic Union of Socialist Soviet Republics (Scotland.around a center of absolute stillness: "The word with which silence speaks/ Its own silence without breaking it. H e wrote in a style that owed nothing t o the modern writers he most admired: Joyce. Brecht. and that it rose in Georgia. I loved Ezra Pound. "A disgrace t o the community. Cornwall) which would join in an "East-Wcst Synthesis" with the Soviet 1Jnion. through an astonishingly detailed celebration of his wife's clothes and cosmetics." H e believed that Cornwall was an outpost of Atlantis." but at his death this was ignored. philosophy rnatters. He started a Hugh MacDiarn~id Book Club. but honored them for their stoicism and loathed them for their ignorance and spiritual decay. Pound. while simultaneously signing a public letter denouncing it. "innumerable meat without minds. could be embodied by one superior man. in 1970. Mayakovsky. when Pound had already stopped speaking and MacDiarmid was nearly deaf. He believed that the first civilization was Ur-Gaelic. H e debated on the same side as Malcolm X at the Oxford Union in defense of extremism. and had met only once. Scicncc was his mythology." but they only briefly corresponded. in "Once in a Cornish Garden. which offered subscribers a new MacDiarmid book every two months. can utterly change the nature of man. in the poem." A Nietzschean Marxist. . . A Communist from the working-class (unlike his English poet contemporaries). Wales. he thought that the collective. H e believed that "there lie hidden in language elements that. Hikmet." He read his poems under huge portraits of Blake and Whitman in Peking in 1957. H e listed his hobby in Who's Who as "anglophobia. effectively combined. with all its contradictions. birth-place of Stalin. Ireland. he had no pity for the poor. In his eighties he was writing television reviews. Rilke." one of the great love poems. He rejoined the Party after the invasion of Hungary. H e said that "Of all the men I have known. The words he wanted on his tombstone were ." H e expressed his love. He may be the only poet of the century for whom.

1991.was widely . A tiny personal example: Six years ago. Hitoshi Igarashi. was stabbed in his apartment in Milan. translation remains the most anonymous literary profession. implied the ultimate blasphemy: that the entire Qu'ran was composed by Satan. another sainted translation martyr. and ayat meaning specifically the "verses of the Qu'ran. Muhammad." after the two excised lines about the Meccan goddesses: "These are the exalted birds/ And their intercession is desired indeed. Days later. the Italian translator of The Satanic Verses. the Japanese translator.MISLAIII I N T R A N S L A T I O N I W r ~ t t c for r~ n tiilk izt M ~ d t l l c O z r r(:ollc. in Arabic. Thc Satanic Verses. despite the fact that people even die for it. as Mircea Eliade has pointed out. In Arabic (and its cognate languages) the verses are called gharaniq. hundreds of thousands demonstrated around the world.but the point is this: Despite the fact that nearly everything any one of us knows about world literature is due t o the work of translators. that nearly every literary renaissance anywhere has been inspired and fueled by translations. Thus the Qu'ran.) P F What you may not know is that the name "Satanic verses" was a n invention of 19th century British Orientalists. Salman Rushdie's book was named after a strange legend in Islamic tradition about the composition of the Qu'ran. the title. having met considerable resistance to his attempt t o eliminate all the local gods of Mecca in favor of the One God. The actual contents of the book were almost irrelevant. hundreds were wounded and more than a dozen were killed because of a mistake in translation. at the time the largest volume ever done in English of a 20th century foreign poet. (Though God certaiilly could have used some editorial assistance when he wrote Thc Book of Mormon.unusually for a book of poetry. The mayhem was set in motion by the mere title of what has become the most famous novel ever written." In Arabic (and similarly in other languages) Rushdie's book was called Al-Ayat ash-Shataniya. According t o the story. is the only divinely revealed text which was suhiect to revision. As you may know. Later he claimed that the verses had been dictated to him by Satan in the voice of Gabriel. thousands rioted. H e survived the attack. and the lines were suppressed." As the phrase "Satanic verses" is completely unknown in the Muslim world. the latest news fro111 abroad. extreme cases.I 9 9 3 . I published a 700-page book of the Collected Poems of Octavio Paz.like that of William Tyndale. then. Translators paid for this mistake in translation: O n July 3. which was dictated to Muhammad by Allah himself through the angel Gabriel.qr~. Ettore Caprioli. strangled and then burnt at the stake in 1535 for the crime of turning the Scriptures into vernacular English. a n Islamic scholar. The book. of course. was stabbed to death in his office a t Tsukuba University in Tokyo. ] ~ our years ago. with s h y t a n meaning Satan. recited sonle verses which admitted three popular goddesses as symbolic Daughters of Allah. "the birds. These are.

workmanlike or wooden. eightyfive didn't mention me at all.one I hope will never be written. The morning of the broadcast. Chinese. and knew that we would be included in the first program. it could easily seem ridiculous. When the cultures are close. but it is also more than pumpernickel: it is the image of warmth." "lackluster. and I quickly turned t o I . and." "brilliant. then at 8 0 in a retirement village in the Black Forest. I use my own case not to elicit pity. at a second reading. it manages to wipe out most of world literature for any given individual. But consider this: Of about a hundred reviews. say.and one I've actually heard.is t o be found in a few isolated examples of our specific word-choices. nourishment." Pumpernickel in the poem is pumpernickel. are not the same: each carries its own world of referents.000 lines of complex modern poetry.unlike any other writers. in conversation and in print. in the nostalgia for dirndelled maidens. To my mind. And the true measure of our worth. all o f them. but probably has been: "Her body (or his body) was like a fresh loaf of pumpernickel. Every reading of every poem is a translation into one's own experience and knowledge. a contradiction or an expansion. the German word pumpernickel into the American word pumpernickelwhich. Poetry is that which is worth translating. O r imagine a 14-year-old German boy reading the line in the springtime of young Aryan love. This being my national television debut. even when read by the same person. it is true: a slice of German pumpernickel is not a Chinese steam bun which is not a French baguette which is not Wonder Bread. when we are not invisible. It's true that no translation is identical to the original. But no reading of a poem is identical to any other. A few years ago. homeyness. reading t o reading. The poem does not exist without this act of translation. complaining about the specific translation of a word or two in some 13. naturally I wondered if their tv critic had discovered any latent star qualities. for the most doggedly literal. it is possible to translate more exactly: say.for not reading. Of course." Five gave me a paragraph or two. The poem dies when it has no place to go. t o stay alive. while serving as the chargi d'affaires in the German consulate in Kuala Lumpur. even in the rave reviews. The poem must move from reader t o reader. and becomes yet another excuse. The first encounter with our poetic might be delightful. According t o reviewers. But consider a hypothetical line of German poetry. As a philosophy. despite appearances.especially if you like your lover doughy. but because I happen t o have all the clippings: any other translator could tell you the same story. the int translatability of poetry is rather like the essential meaninglessness of language or of life: something t o ponder for a minute or two. Ten summed up 111y work in one word: "excellent. it is not terribly helpful." "mediocre. I had read there with Paz.) "His body (her body) like a fresh steam bun" also has its charm. before one gets on with it. how n ~ u c h would really be lost if it were a steam hun? (I leave aside sound for the moment. Worse. But to translate the line into. far from the bakeries of his youth. Bill Moyers did a PBS series on poetry that was filmed at the Dodge Festival in New Jersey.reviewed. of that mushy chestnut: Poetry cannot be translated. poetry is that which is lost in translation. then at SO. in the case of translation. even five minutes later. I noticed in the index of that day's N e w York Tinzes that there was a review of the show. those of us w h o translate poetry must suffer the tedious reiteration.whether it is a confirmation. we are merely lively.

words.in this case.\ I 1 5 1 . New York. like the Reverend Pat Robertson and Phyllis Schafly.\N51 tll I O N / ' the page. But the point at which they cannot translate is the point where real translations begin t o be made. as it might seem.and it is a point I want t o make here. This is not. What he wrote was this: "Octavio Paz was accompaname given of course-"always a nied by his translator. (This is easily refuted by the evidence. The purpose of a translation into English is not. Blackburn's Provenqal or his Cid. "target language". but is rather a gift: It gives the translator in English a certain freedom not always available to poets writing in English: the ability to introduce strange elements.say. and they are obsessed. as it is usually said. carries the geographical and historical context of the original with it." These are the people w h o write nearly all the reviews that mention the translator a t all. It always. (One reason why the partisans of the dullest academic American poetry often turn out to be aficionados of foreign avant-gardes. Pound's "Seafarer" or Confucian Odes. than any of the existing scholarly versions. Of course it never occurs to them that the translator. but they were generally as accurate." Down there in Translation Inferno. Any lapse in proper behavior. [I use "English" here rather than the usual term in translation-land. anyone can translate anything faithfully.) The ideal English translation. and occasionally wittier. What they produced were not masterpieces.even a one-word stand.it is not a series of matching en face lines. is one that allows the poem t o be heard in English in many of the ways that it is heard in the original.and should never be read as such. even as poems written in the voice of a persona." presumably because they are howling with glee at discovering the transgression.which seems more appropriate to weapons practice than poetic practice.that readers will assume are mandated by the original. inescapably. one . u p to a point. next to the poetry-can't-betranslated shades are the legions of those w h o find translation "problematic. The great translations of the century. and asked to translate the poem.that the object of a translation is t o create an original poem in English.musical structures. t o give the foreign poet a voice in English. and possibly accept in ways they wouldn't from a poem in English.though of course the translation could be going into any language. sounds. might have deliberately chosen t o translate the word in a way not immediately apparent t o the reviewer's ten seconds of reflection on the matter.which is the easiest partbut rather to invent a new music for the poem in the English.is branded a "howler.would all be ludicrous if they'd been presented as original poems by Americans of the 20th century."-no problematic necessity. Rexroth's Li Ch'ing-ch'aot o name only a few among the dead. Neither they nor their teacher knew a word of French.] This does not mean.411) I N IR. then. a burden.) The translation one writes will always be read as a translation. were given a text by Rimbaud and a bilingual dictionary.as many translation enthusiasts and even many translators believe. phrases. In short. This means that a translation is a whole work. It is t o allow the poem t o be heard in English. the fidelity to the dictionary meanings of the foreign words. It means that the primary task of a translator is not merely t o get the dictionary meanings right. w h o knows the original better than anyone and has spent months or years o n the work. The value of "fidelity" was made clear t o me by an interesting experiment I once witnessed: average 9-year-old students at a public school in Rochester. with "fidelity".

for example. we learn to speak. written or not yet written. But we need tl~em. This is why nearly all so-called scholarly translations are so dead on the page: their authors know everything about the foreign language and text.more important. Translation. N o t to mention their proprietary interests: they have t o drum up customers. right now. It is only inferior t o other translations. so naturally they find most translations. at a certain level.w h o are usually members of the department of the original's language. and nothing about how poems are heard in this country a t this moment. There is 110 definitive translation because a translation always appears in the context of its contemporary poetry. as is well known.that is mandated by the original. but which. w h o hear only then~selves. except those done by colleagues.and the realm of the possible in any contemporary poetry is in constant flux. They are the best because they are writers and often prodigious readers of contemporary poetry in their own language. Translation is a necessity. The translation is never inferior to the original. . we are not to end up repeating the same things to ourif selves. even reproduce Inany of its effects.are incapable of listening.with the skill of knowing how far they can go to make it different. Translation expands what we can write. t o be pale imitations.despite the titles of every academic conference on the subject. not a n accessory. (Which is also why the opinions of the most strident reviewers of translations. This is also why poets are.is able t o evoke another music. Any poem should be translated as many times as possible.often. The foreign has already spoken. because it will be read as a translation. From listening. can hear.") A music that is not a technical replication of the original. even by the same translator. at ease with what it sounds like and. There are only poems that have not yet found their translators. They're sort of like the way hamburgers look and taste in Bolivia. (Remember Robert Creeley's famous dictum: "Form is a n extension of content.) A music that is perfectly viable in English.are generally suspect. they don't need us. altered by the translations that have entered into it.) And those poets w h o have been the worst translators have been precisely those enamored with their own voices. it should be emphasized. Which in turn expands what we can hear. Translation is not a means for allowing the foreign to speak. and therefore of recreating the experience of listening. one of the pleasures and. Translation is one of the ways that lets us listen.because it is a translation.not one of the problems. It expands the range of possibilities of what we. is a Zen exercise: it is dependent on the dissolution of the ego. that attempt to recreate a foreign meter or rhyme scheme. (There is nothing worse than translations. both the best and the worst translators of poetry. There is no poem that cannot be translated.

" H e cites Schedlinski at length on the poet's need to counter the prevailing enforced silence and self-censorship. it is estimated that one out of every fifty East Germans was an informer. off-hand remarks. and accessible poetry of Biermann and his generation (all expelled to the West). Schedlinski. At least one poet was. Iverson ends the first part of his essay with the collapse of the Wall. advanced by the poet Wolf Biermann. The poet most quoted by Iverson. parents and children reporting on each other. for it turns out that throughout the years of the Prenzlauer Berg scene." or where "one word destroys the one next t o it. presses.1 East Berlin Poets w o years ago. edited by Roderick Iverson. that the Prenzlauer Berg scene was actively encouraged by the Stasi. according to the recently opened Stasi files. 1992. There is also the theory. the Prenzlauer Berg story has curious loops back to the Paul de M a n case.) And another loop: In that same issue o f Sulfur.1995. arrested.) And from the galactic size of the Stasi files." ( N o t surprisingly. and so on. (Anderson and Schedlinski.. language is "dismantled into the smallest mnemonic unities which [are] nlutually purged from the text. though close friends.NOTES F O R S U L F U R I V [ Wrrttetl for the hack pages of Sultur. were probably unaware of each other's secret life. the editor of a samisdat magazine called ariadnefabrik. the local gossip. Sulfur 27 featured a section. Schedlinski was hardly alone. Schedlinski was a regular. paid informant for the Stasi. Over 600 friends and acquaintances of the novelist Christa Wolf sent in reports. was Rainer Schedlinski (b. responding to my attack on the NEA (as having bought the silence of the artists . including husbands and wives. and sits with the poet in a former literary hang-out as he laments the defection to the West of many of his friends. Another Stasi employee was Sascha Anderson. sent frequent reports on all his friends: the parties and literary events they attended. Iverson speaks of attending a n underground reading by Schedlinski and others. and this quote from Schedlinski: "The person who knows how things will proceed from here is a person who is not completely informed . in Schedlinski's words in Sulfur. and describes the discussions that followed as "being voiced with astonishing moral anger. rock concerts. on the basis of this information. the East German secret police. and the one who opens the section. 1956).. the secret police welcomed the endless essays couched in deconstructionist jargon and the kind of poems where. on the East Berlin poets in the bohemian Prenzlauer Berg scene. and legendary parties." T That last word has taken on an eerie resonance.that after the highly emotional. a poet and general impresario of the sceneorganizer of art shows. magazines. political.

S. having created what he calls his "video style. if the Stasi want to finance the underground. "Trench Town Rock.their poems playing a role q ~ ~ isimilar to that of rock music in the U. and on a lecture tour of the U." Brathwaite remains little known in these self-absorbed states. its opposite and equal. Chi~zese"Obscure " Poets he Chinese poets of the "Obscure" o r "Misty" group were the aesthetic vanguard of the student uprisings of the 1970's and 80's. sentences copied down: the endless particulars of the world he has collected take him into cosmic celebration. Visually. He is the great chronicler and singer of the African diaspora. or. in European magazines and on television. te Since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. cosmic rage. it is a glimpse of the territories poetry is just beginning to stake out. Unpublished in the U. lyric passages. and Schedlinski has. both trilogies are compendia of African and Afro-Caribbean history. Sun Poem. facts.) His great works are two trilogies. Documents.and writers during the Reagan years). Clayton Eshleman writes: "I've given up on trying t o make a connection between source of income and quality of artistic production. but it's worth noting that Rainer Schedlinski now claims that the only reason he worked as an informer was to pay for his magazine: "I had no scruples about that. he is the first important poet to N explore in depth the possibilities of computer fonts. Combining the Dos Passos "camera eye. Even more. have formed a publishing company called Galrev. mythology and current realities." that "capable imaginations will d o their work" regardless.] Kumazi Brathwaite athaniel Mackey's Hambone is the main meeting-place for Third World.'' newspaper clippings. transcripts of radio talk shows. and one whose formal inventiveness keeps him forever moving. The latest issue ( # l o ) features an 80-page poem.S. histories. lists.fine. in the 1960's." by the Barbadoan poet Kamau Brathwaite. which consists of Mother Poem. an African folk tale. written in an astonishing array of lyrical and anti-lyrical forms. particularly in his rejection of KKC: English as an essential part o f working toward a post-colonial Caribbean identity. and XISelf.S. where he lives. I thought. It is one of the two or three poetry magazines that is always worth reading. Jamaica. like most victims and perpetrators these days. Many would agree. from the 19603. and the unnamed second trilogy from the 1970's and 1980's. meanwhile. Eliot. American minority and white avant-gardists. songs. it is the kind of knock-down political poem not seen in these parts for twenty years." [Schedlinski and Anderson.. bits of conversation overheard.S. nearly all of these T . on the violence in Kingston. and a computer-generated typographical montage. The Arriuatzts. made a career of telling his story. (In the Caribbean he is something like William Carlos Williams t o Derek Walcott's T.

Yang Lian writes that the only ones who don't believe words are the poets. In Aarhus. H e was accompanied by his wife. Their early work. O u r conversation. Bei Dao's early poems are in The August Sleepwalker. his work is in Looking O u t From Death. surrealist and emotionally charged in the group. Norway and Germany. translated by Gregory Lee. a poet who has not been translated. Jintian (Today). Gu Cheng has the humor and exuberance of the early European modernists. in order. They lived on Waiheke Island. Samuel. the recent work. Denmark. made from the leg of a pair of blue jeans. and has resurrected his magazine from the 1970's. Australia) translated by Mabel Lee with a n interesting long introduction. published in England by Bloomsbury and unavailable here. Xie Ye. in 1 9 9 5 his wife and daughter were allowed to join him in California. His Selected Poems (various translators) has been published in Hong Kong by Renditions. who have not been permitted t o leave China. Xie Ye told me that he slept in it. Since then. for the writers in exile.though often in translations that require some reader participation in the creation of the text. and then deported. sponsored by the Academy of American Poets. Duo Duo has been living inEngland. In 1994 he attempted to enter China t o visit his family. Since 1989. H e wore a tall cylindrical hat. H e is separated from his wife and child. at Gu Cheng's insistence. At dinner. and a woman of extraordinary beauty. a disciple of Chuang Tzu. where they rejected socialist realism in favor of highly subjective lyrics and a n independently-invented Imagism. translated into halting English by Xie Ye. a 300-page philosophical poem whose title is an invented character pronounced 1 (as in 1 Ching) has yet to be translated. where they gathered food. H e was arrested a t the airport. Bei Dao writes that he speaks Chinese to the mirror. sometimes subsisting on roots and berries.poets are in exile. They had a small son with an English name. Bei Dao has been living in Sweden. A Splintered Mirror. Yang Lian has been in Australia and New Zealand. They were an exceedingly strange couple. Duo D u o is the most political. detained and interrogated for a day. The boy spoke no Chinese. [Postscript. New Zealand. H e had never done this before. Berlin and New York.S. and supplemented their income by selling spring rolls in the market. is best represented by the North Point anthology. has been living on a tiny island off New Zealand. his "Bulin" poems are eccentric cousins to Rothenberg's Coyote and Cokboy (which he's never read). each of the poets has been moving in a different direction. translated by Donald Finkel and Carolyn Kizer. preferring t o merely eat whatever he was given. Gu Cheng startled his wife by glancing at the menu and actually selecting a dish. to keep his thoughts from escaping. went on for hours. She . Gu Cheng. where he was part of a reading tour of Chinese poets. Gu Cheng was clearly modeling himself on one of the Taoist Immortals. he said. Perhaps because of the ensuing publicity. Denmark. whom they had given. Meanwhile. and Gu Cheng spoke no English. is in O l d Snow (both New Directions. Yang Lian's major work. and their work is starting to appear in English. two sets of six-line poems are in Masks & Crocodile (Canterbury Press. Canada and Hol- land. written in exile in various Northern European countries and full of haunting images that are simultaneously simple and nearly impenetrable. t o be raised by a Samoan family on the island. and all their books are worth tracking down. I met Gu Cheng in 1992 in New York. both translated by Bonnie McDougall). 1995: Bei Dao is now living in the U.

35. I ION tape-recorded all of it. zaz~rn-like sounds. as the early work was entering public domain and the family began losing control. because "everything Gu Cheng says should be preserved. waiting for hares t o break their skulls by running headlong into the tree trunk. and wacky humor. the heirs appointed the leading Lorca scholar. he had invented a poetry full of Steinian repetitions. excellent notes. but not even always. Any topic quickly turned into speculation on the universe. At 900 pages. I refuse to see it!": D.W'RII'I I N K I ( . 37. From the poems he read later that week. that I happened to see over the years. and his versions of the recently discovered Suites is a 250-page section . the poet discovers that he is the hare. dizzying. Lorca's poetry F languished here for thirty years.O. smiling. in the mid-1980's. Not necessarily a terrible idea. English that is generally. Maurer assigned Poet in New York to two mellow dudes from Oregon who'd never seen the Manhattan skyline. ( O K OK. that she hoped Gu Cheng would die. He had written: "The poet is like the fabled hunter who naps beside a tree. But he has also. Especially when the tone is metropolitan freak-out.and.A. and then hanged himself. O n November 11. The one poet in this faculty lounge is Jerome Rothenberg. But there's gloomy weather on the recto: Maurer has chosen to ignore the many existing published and unpublished translations in favor of entirely new versions. so that she could live with her son again. ultimately incomprehensible. Finally. on Waiheke Island. elliptical. though infinitely superior to Belitt. murdered Xie Ye. Christopher Maurer. or worse than the five or six manuscripts of the complete text." She gazed at him raptly throughout. by the way. no better ~~. both of them radiated sweetness."] Lorca Collected or decades Garcia Lorca's heirs deemed all English translations inadequate and refused to grant permission for any new publications. some of them graduate students. as the editor of English-language editions. but it helps. What they've produced is hundreds of pages of "Green oh how I love you green" and "No. 1993.) The result. represented only by the slim New Directions Selected and the monstrous Ben Belitt Poet in New York. let alone the stoops of Harlem. With little knowledge of Western modernism. His conversation was funny. other than a few samisdat editions like the Blackburn or Spicer. with an ax. Now Farrar Straus & Giroux has finally published the longdelayed Collected Poenzs.you don't have to. She had told him that she had finally decided to leave. was Lorca A P R laundered and pressed. it's a great ball of dough with a diamond inside. A beautiful book. edited by Maurer. But changing the tapes. and an authoritative edition of the Spanish texts: virtually the complete poetry (except Poet in New York).from every possible poetic campwho occasionally translate Spanish and could have collaborated. After waiting for a long time. with one exception. Gu Cheng. she told me. and instead given the work to "colleagues" in the Spanish Department. semantically correct. eccentric rhythms. rejected by the heirs. Thus. The translations I've seen only hint at this. it was obvious that Gu Cheng was probably the most radical Chinese poet who ever lived.good intro. equally ignored all the American and English poets.

for good reason. It limits itself to poems previously available in book form. the Simon Hart Crane. The great Catullus translation is included. most musical Lorca in English ever. Zukofsky Collected rilous poems. there are very few collections of letters. though expensive. 27 years after his death.D. and Olson's prose and even Robert Lowell need t o be put together . Rexroth and postwar H.D. 32 years after his death. Otherwise the title is a misnomer and the book a bummer. edited by Arnold Rampersad and David Roessel. edited by Faith Berry. The Zukofsky book is further evidence of how badly the American moderns have been neglected by the scholars.. the rest remain a mess. Prose a n d Plays of Robert Frost. Incredible that there's no scholarly edition of Eliot's poetry (the scur- I f you don't have one of the . A tour de force. Other than Pound. have never been published) and that there are volumes to be done of his uncollected prose. ( t o 1944) the landscape is desolate.] samisdat copies of 80 Flowers. There are no textual notes. Strangely. In Spanish this may not be Lorca at his deepest song. not even of Frost. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes (Knopf) appeared.that ejects itself from the rest of the book. as in the original Cape GoliardIGrossman edition.The Cantos keep changing with every reprint. taking away exactly half the fun of matching the sounds. a collage of voices written almost entirely in upper-case letters. I'm told. The list is endless. for example. or Langston Hughes. it has finally been published in available. and H. Once upon a time the academy used to give us text. early Pound. (Compare the treatment any Dead French M a n gets. but does not include the many poems which appeared in magazines and were never reprinted. need editions with all the variants (and Oppen a gathering of his extraordinary notes to himself). the Library of America announced the publication of a huge Collected Poems. are also excluded. not merely its explication. Textually. but it is by far the wittiest. It essentially reprints the Norton All. But it's a chance t o read the text of a rare collector's item: Ask Your Mama (1961). is full of ~nistakes. In 1995. form in the Complete Short Poetry of Louis Zukofsky (Johns Hopkins). the Butterick Olson. The Niedecker is a well-known disaster. and a work similarly ambitious and unrecognized as Duke Ellington's last Suites.) Out past the LitzIMacGowan Williams. It is mind-blowing that there's no complete poetry of Stevens.. the political and agit-prop poems of Good Morning Reuolutiorz (Lawrence Hill). and should have been published separately. Hughes'book-length poem. nor any unpublished material. especially. N o editor is listed. but without the Latin facing it. omitting hundreds of unpublished poems and work that only appeared in magazines. most inventive. 1995: In 1994. the Cooney Reznikoff. Moore and Oppen. and a pity we have t o pay $50 t o hear it. [Postscript. the Loy. above all.

abiding by the first principle of their selection: poets w h o make nothing happen. she's easy to read. Eberhart. she was notoriously trashed by Randall Jarrell and never fully accepted by them.Poet Laureates p there in Prize World. Nemerov. Her best-known poem. She rhymes. and strange I . used to attend black-tie dinners a t the Reagan White House. she's a she. Norton published a massive Collected Poems." The actual humor of this escapes me. Well so what.) Three is the real scandal: Throughout the years of the NEA debate and the assaults on art and speech by Senator Helms & ilk. joining the august ranks of Wilbur.used his position t o publicly rise in defense of literature and free expression. although her friendships were with New York literary establishment types. the rule is: when in doubt. was anyone ready for a long lyric poem that begins with the lines: "Whoever despises the clitoris despises the penis1 W h o ever despises the penis despises the cunt"? In 1979. In the 1940's. but. quoted in every press account every time she wins something. She started out in the 1930's as a Yale Younger Poet and Communist Party member. she's cheerful. and too modernist and documentary for the ruling New Critics. But there are a few interesting things about our Laureates. too documentary for the modernists.Nemerov. but it does retrospectively elevate Ogden Nash to a Karl Kraus-dom of corrosive wit. and best of all. Van Duyn has just been crowned our new Poet Laureate.even as late as 1968. as I remember it: "I sometimes think the world's perverse1 But then again it could be worse. In the late 60's she was highly visible as a n antiwar activist and wrote some of her best poetry. a year before her death. tap Mona Van Duyn. Strand and Brodsky. n o doubt fervently discussing Hardy and melancholia over the koho salmon quenelles with Sylvester Stallone and Jerry Falwell. One is that they are all openly heterosexual: certain same-sex epicures in the Establishment have quite obviously been passed over. 1 9921 1 Muriel Rukeyser n the continuing recovery of neglected American women poets. or Brodsky. even before he was crowned. but her documentary poetry was too modernist for the Party. except for Brodsky ( a card-carrying anti-communist) they have never. expressed any political opinions. in their careers. They were all happy campers in the BushIQuayle u administration. full of wonderful and awful poems. reads in its entirety. and had n o connection t o the clans of the New American Poets. a she w h o writes about how much she loves her hub. Strand. I'm surprised no one has picked up on Muriel Rukeyser: a strange case of a well-known but unread poet who never really formed alliances with anyone. In the 50's and early 60's she essentially dropped out to raise her child. (Brodsky. not one of the reigning Poets. Two is that.

Hers is a "poem with history. but it's far more interesting to dig up a copy of the Collected and wander by one's self.a man actively involved with nearly everyone. Myung Mi Kiln est first book I've read recently is Myung M i Kim's Under Flag (Kelsey St.a n uncoiled tasselled curtain tie between every poem. on a 76-year cycle like Halley's. B . recent development. his life would take pages to summarize: perpetual traveller from Vladivostok to Rio t o Hollywood. is long out of print. (After that. All her work was out of print in the 80's. It's not bad. in all the arts. Susan Howe. F ity of subject matter. merchant seaman. For some reason.of Cendrar's Complete Poems (University of California Press). A way pointed to by Rukeyser and Lorine Niedecker (however obscured by Niedecker's male handlers: look at what Corman left out of the Selected)-but the major influence here is. Ozrt of Silence is a place t o begin. Norton is planning a Reader of her poetry and prose. Further evidence that the entry of history into the poetry written by American women is a n engaging. Kim. Press). of course. but also strange and fresh takes o n the language used t o tell the tale of the tribe. is a Korean-American woman w h o came t o the U.S. soldier w h o lost a n arm in World War I. journalist. in the Modernist explosion. filmmaker. born 1957. publisher. he wrote prose. and the book itself disfigured by the reiteration of the least appropriate dingbat in memory. N o w Triquarterly has published a selected poems edited by Kate Daniels. But now we have Ron Padgett's translation. and the Cendrars' comet. the New Directions Selected Writings. Born in 1 8 8 7 in Switzerland. and a biography by Daniels is in the works. all of his poetry was written in the twelve years between 1912 and 1924. poet. History as her story not only opens a n infinite possibil- B laise Cendrars is the great comet of French poetry.) Among those works is the single greatest poemobject of the century.items like a book-length poem on the life of Wendell Wilkie. with lively translations by John Dos Passos. Though he lived until 1961. is once again visible over North America.a n instant classic. among others. the 1 9 1 3 Prose of the Trans-Siberian published as a folding seven-foot sheet covered with hallucinatory colors by Sonia Delaunay. sometimes thrilling. as a child." and her history is the Korean War and the American occupation under the flag of which she was raised. he has been less known in the US than his contemporary and equal. Meanwhile. Only white boys think content is dead. resistance fighter in World War 1 . The best previous edition. appropriately called O u t of Silence. 1 novelist. Apollinaire. but the more conventional work is emphasized.

In his latest project. Alexander writes on. A poetry that could have recognized. a n d Limbo are completed) which are paralleled by a trilogy of collections of poems (so far. Enver Hoxha? W h o else would attempt t o inhabit the brain of an animal in ecological catastrophe? W h o else could spin a 40-page poem ("The Stratospheric Canticles") from the verb "to paint"? . is a poet who lives by the old injunction. like Hugh MacDiarmid. teaching positions. His work resembles no one's. but which is an extended meditation on the way seeing is transformed. changed the poetry everywhere else. are vast: read Alexander with a dictionary and you'll see how precise he is.a poem that not only ranges through the history of world art. their own marginalization) I think of Will Alexander. readings. almost totally hidden from other poets. Though there's an argument t o be made that "Zone" is the most ~nternationallyinfluential poem of the century. H e is probably the only African-American poet to take Aim6 Cksaire as a spiritual father (and behind Cesaire. funky rather than serene.at the moment. H e was born in 1948 and has spent his entire life in Los Angeles.These funny. N o subject seems alien t o him: W h o else would write a long poem on the death of the Albanian dictator. reportorial.a writer of utterly different temperament. one of my favorite writers. Will Alexander. Will Alexander henever I hear or read the professors (or worse.a poet whose ecstasy derives from the scientific description of the stuff and the workings of the world. sentimental. they remain lively and. full of slang. But he is also. documentary. His erudition and vocabulary. grants. by the chemical compounds of paint.undated. as the world followed France for most of the century. Neutrality. In a country where poets are hidden from society but known t o each other. Sunrise in Armageddon (Pandora's Hatchery and Isolntion. Jazz Press. and is instantly recognizable. Impulse 6 Nothingness and The Strntospheric Canticles). he is working in the tickets department of the Los Angeles Lakers basketball team. he is two-thirds through a trilogy of novels. like MacDiarmid's. sometimes found poems were ultinlately a dead end. into vision. In part. he has only published w one small pamphlet of prose poetry (Vprticnl Rainbow Climber. H e lives entirely outside of the pobiz world of prizes. one can only imagine a French poetry that would have followed Apollinaire and Cendrars: physical rather than metaphysical.) After Baudelaire and Rimbaud. "Astonish me!" [I9931 . And. French poetry splits: One road whose first prominent landmarks are Mallarme and Valery and Reverdy and which runs to the present. 1987) and has appeared in exactly eight magazines. (Perhaps because they had no imitators. the poet-professors) talking about "marginalization" (or worse. he is an ecstatic surrealist on imaginal hyperdrive.except for the occasional whore-with-heart-of-gold. the other which begins and ends with Cendrars and Apollinaire.might even have translated!Pound and Williams. Artaud and Lautreamont). In twenty-odd years of prolific writing.

he Columbia Anthology of American Poetry. Dugan." as he was in the 1950's) gets slapped in the face with a single page. Howard are history. her punctuation has been "normalized" (as they used to call it)-even now. only Ashbery. it will only be of sociological interest for those who are amused watching the glass-enclosed elevators of literary reputation. but they are grudgingly allotted one or two pages each. or reprinted elsewhere. Kizer. and Millay gets the same space as Williams. The brief introduction is most notable for this piece of Newt jingoism: "The modernist movement in poetry was largely American in its origins. Zukofsky. In the new Multi-Culti world. Wylie and Winters linger on. according to the page-count. it's even a Book-of-the-Month selection." and has been an important influence o n the (otherwise unmentioned) "language" poets. Meanwhile Teasdale. contains no bibliography or any notes on the individual poets. Ashbery. is being heavily promoted as the new standard. is the third greatest poet of the century.would have independently selected the same short poem from Olson's vast work. Meredith. Spicer. after forty years of the Johnson edition and a thousand monographs o n her dashes. Olson. and Gwendolyn Brooks. Creeley. Gregory. after Eliot and Stevens (followed by Frost. almost unbelievably. 750 pages from Anne Bradstreet to Louise Gluck. Among the women. Stein or Niedecker. Zaturenska. it is little-known: not included in the Olson Selected Poenzs. van Doren. and Duncan have now been admitted. For Szilfur readers. The major living poets are.but the redressing of imbalance does not extend to Loy. Of Sulfur contributors. There was no way in hell. . and joined by Ezra Pound. in number of pages. Snyder. is once again proved fleeting: prize-winning poets of yesterday and today such as the Benets. that another anthologist.50: Innovators & Outsiders. unusually for a university press publication. Buried in the third volume of Maximus. there is T one scandal and two surprises: Dickinson still remains too radical for these oak-panelled walls: though praised in the introduction. and that The Cantos "has failed t o convince anyone but a few isolated critics of its greatness."Poem 143: The Festival Aspect. Ginsberg. in thicket." This happens to be a poem I included as part of the Olson section in my anthology. Rexroth. X. Oppen. Lowell.particularly one with no apparent interest in Olson. and a host of future unknowns are introduced. Hugo. Thus. and Merwin (called "Willian~ S. American Poetry Since 19. Pinsky. Blackburn. Levine. Karl Shapiro. Charles Olson was represented by one short poem.J. Kennedy. as ever. Clearly Parini had react my book. Swenson.D. Merrill and Pound). Everson (among the dead) are still nobody. But there's more: I became interested in the book after a glance at the table of contents." The book. Bly. Reznikoff." We also learn that Imagism was "founded by Amy Lowell and H. (Would a Columbia History of Art put black bars across the nudes?) Moore and Millay are definitely in the UP elevator: Moore. no better than some avantgardist. edited by J a y Parini. Kumin. Logan. Fame in America. and Baraka are included. there are many more women and African-Americans then there used to be in such booksparticularly a lot of (usually justifiably) forgotten women from the 19th century. Rich. she's given less space than Longfellow and. Simpson.

and Robert di Yanni's Modern Americ~~n and Visions.ECTIONS ENTIREL)' OK LARGEIY DRAWN FROM L. Scott Momaday. I could account for two-thirds of the poems and almost two-thirds of the complete or nearly complete sections for individual poets. The other poem in Parini's Rukeyser section was "Then I Saw What the Calling Was.U'l<ll 1 1 S l < l :I<O N II I started checking out the other poets whom we both include. Galway Kinnell. Simon J. O'Hara and Zukofsky that are not often anthologized. Nancy Willard. Duane Niatum's Carriers of the Dream Wheel. Sylvia Plath. Denise Levertov. SF. Delmore Schwartz.D. It turned out that. When I tracked it down. in a book that pretends to be a new multicultural reading. and. SEI. and found various cases where Parini repeated part of my selection for a n individual poet. McClatchy's The Vintage Book of Contemporary Arnericrzn Poetry.Y DRAWN FROhl NORTON: Jean Toomer.ANS): N. Allen Tate. Small wonder I began to wonder what other anthologies Parini had been reading.e.R. If we add Ellman and Robert O'Clair's The Norton Anthology of Modern Poetry we have nearly half the poems. Hart Crane. SELE(:TIONS ENT1REI. Charles Olson. SELECTION ENTIRELY DRAWN FKOM ADCOCK: . CANS): SELECTIONS ENT1REI.I also found Parini's complete selection for Josephine Miles.Y DRAWN FROM NIATUhl (NAI-IVE AMERI(. Robert Duncan. The give-away was a poem by Rukeyser. Even more blatantly. all of the Native American poems came from one anthology. e. One-third of the poems was taken from Richard Ellman's The New Oxford Book of American Verse. Archibald MacLeish.S. A. cummings. Anne Sexton.in Fleur Adcock's The Faber Book of 20th Century Women's Verse. Eliot. Josephine Miles.D. These anthologies were apparently supplemented. with merely a cursory search through a handful of other books. limiting myself to the 20th century poets from James Weldon Johnson t o Louise Gluck. Some of these were not terribly unusual: poems by Baraka. Randall Jarrell (213).James Merrill (316).D. to a lesser degree. Snodgrass. Arna Bontemps. Paul Laurence Dunbar.ATCHY: W. Charles Wright (416). Ammons.I compared selections. Countee Cullen.I. Gwendolyn Bennett. but are not especially obscure. Robert Hass. and isn't even included in either the Rukeyser Reader or Selected Poems. H.ECTIONS ENTIRELY OR LARGELY DRAWN FROM OXFORD: SELECTIONS ESTIRELY OR LARGELY IIRAWN FKOhl MCCI.0NGMAN: Donald Justice. Stuart Freibert & David Young's Longman Aizthology of Contemporary American PoetPoets: Their Voices ry. SELECTIONS ENTIREIY LIKALVN FROM 111 YANNI: Robert Creeley. Here's the breakdown: Vachel Lindsay. Ortiz. Elizabeth Bisho p (417).assumlng their "canon" to be less petrifiedthan the 19th. T." also an unusual choice. and all of the poems for six African-American poets (and most of a seventh) are from the old 1938 James Weldon Johnson Book of Amerzcan Negro Poetry. Robinson Jeffers. Claude McKay. "Ir~s":I had pulled ~t out of her huge Collected. with poems from J. Carl Sandburg (316). Mar- ilyn Hacker. James Tate. SELECTIONS ENTIRELY DRAWN FROM WEINKERGER: Louis Zukofsky. both as a poem I liked and to bounce off a poem by Sobin called "Ir~ses."Rukeyser's "Iris" has never been repr~nted in a n anthology. Conrad Aiken (213). SELE(:TIONS ENTIREIY DRAWN FROM JOHNSON (AFKICAN-AMERI- James Weldon Johnson. I had a hunch Parini hadn't discovered it in the poet's own books. (416).

Penn Warren.Y O R 1. be plagiarism. This may not. many of them Parini's colleagues at Bread Loaf. Paul Hoover and Douglas Messerli. strictly. rarely overlap with Parini. With the exception of a few poets whom Parini obviously has read in depth. Gary Snyder. his book is.Y IIKAWN FROM (:OhIKINATIONS OF THESE ANTHOl. Weinberger plus Norton: Frank O'Hara. Oxford plus McClatchy: John Berryman (516). far beyond coincidence." it's worth noting that for certain poetsamong them. whom it must be assumed that he actually reads.James Wright (415).AKGEI.NT1REL. And it's interestAnthology of Contenzing t o compare Helen Vendler's H a r r ~ a r d porary American Poetry or Hayden Carruth's The Voice That Is Great Within Us.have done what a n editor of a n anthology is supposed to do: offer a reading pitched between history ("canon") and an evident personal taste. Millay. covering many of the same poets.ECTI0NS F. These are the sources I could track down in a n afternoon. Riding. Johnson plus Nortott: Langston Hughes. Marianne Moore. a half-hearted recapitulation of a few other anthologies. Adcock plus Weinberger: Muriel Rukeyser. more recently. McClatchy and Ellman are quite different. Oxfbrd plus di Yanni: Robert Frost.Amy Lowell. Carruth. [The poets I couldn't find generally fall into two groups: women from earlier in the century. Allen Ginsberg. based on a fairly thorough knowledge of the individual poets.Parini has clearly made his own choices. but it's as close as a n editor can get. Robert Lowell (617). Longman plus McClatchy: Robert Hayden. [I9951 . Theodore Roethke (518). it is probable that a more diligent researcher could find more. McClatchy. Amiri Baraka.IES: Oxford plus Norton: John Crowe Ransom. Adams. Longman plus Norton: William Stafford. Love them or hate them. which. it is obvious that Vendler. and Ellman. and contemporary poets. Ezra Pound.SEI. Wylie. only repeats himself half the time. Brooks and Rich. Oxford plus di Yanni plus Longman: Wallace Stevens (9110). Stickney.or.] To the inevitable response that many poems are "canonical" or "anthology pieces. Williams.O<. Teasdale. and even Ellman (the secret and unwitting co-editor of this book) going from the Oxfbrd t o the Nortott. McClatchy plus Norton: Richard Wilbur.which possibly indicates a n anthology I missed.

~ i n nujrittei~ t h ~ ll~ for 1. 1994. H e stares at her and forgets why he has come. Artc (. He enters the house.) "Quietil/~~tz tnitad de la ~ ~ o c l ~ e . a particularly fierce monsoon brings floods: the cattle are drowned.his wife. illusion. the lover/ wife. central to it all. When he awakes he finds himself on a rock." Narada opens his eyes and finds himself alone with Vishnu on the burning desert plain. his father-in-law has died and Narada has inherited the small farm. Vishnu tells Narada he is thirsty.P A Z I N INDIA I-rht./ Now it is a name with no substance. in "A Tale of Two Gardens" (Cuento de dos jardines). it is too late. Narada runs to the village and knocks at the first door. their house collapses.the poet is alone on a balcony overlooking Old Delhi. they struggle through the water. Narada. The book opens with the lines "Stillness/ in the middle of the night7':'. painters. musicians.// The signs are erased:/ I watch clarity. A branch strikes Narada on the head. landscapes.'otrten~porai~eo.'ultt~r~~l/ children. I l he god Vishnu appears at the cave of an ascetic.4siil" o r ~ .this being poetry and not philosophy.the only characters in Paz's poetry. gods. tombs. is with him. his wife. but in the middle of the equally empty ocean on a boat leaving India. Mrsrio). which is opened by a beautiful young woman." it all vanishes: "The garden sinks. As he returns he sees the other two children swept off. Mexico. bits of Indian English. fourth port o f tljc ct7tC~log Octavio 13: '2 CSSII~ "Pnz it1 . He puts the two children down to search for her. Suddenly he hears a voice: "My child! Where's that water you were bringing me? I've been waiting nearly half an hour. They find themselves in the middle of a burning desert. c>drtrd11) d e the Enrico Marro Snnti ( E ~ f i c i o i ~ders Equrlihrista. swimming after them. i 990) iznti rrpri~~telf Outside Stories iiz Krvrsr~tilllld ~ j v p ~ ~ n for ~ f hook Archlvo Blanco.""" The poet is not in the desert. That year.and then it immediately fills. who has been practicing austerities for decades. sobbing. Narada asks the god to teach him about the power of maya. the following year they are married. In the end. overflows. temples. philosophy. Maya: it is the "plot" of the first two sections of East Slope (Ladera este). He lives in the joys of marriage and the hardships of village life. Twelve years go by: they have three children. with Indian stuff: monuments. her parents treat him with respect. and asks him to fetch some water from a village he will find on the other side of the hill. gardens. (Although. a jungle of specific flora and fauna. history.and. The smallest child slips away. palaces. rather than Vishnu.0s privilegios de la vista ((1?rztr0 C. is pulled under. Carrying his T . he is knocked unconscious and carried along. a large cast of strange and funny characters. The god beckons Narada to follow him.

Only three more refer to phenomena that exist in India and other places. Its time is intemporal time. Narrator a n d auditor are projected into a sacred space from which they view historical time and all its products: a world to which they must return. only three words in the poem pertain specifically to India: the neem tree and the musical instruments sitar and tabla. In fact.the long poem "B1anco"." as Huidobro dreamed. above all. who is himself but one incarnation in an endless succession of Brahmas. slips through. erases time by projecting us into a world where everything looks the same but is more vivid. though heard in a time that has its own precise measurements (prosody). The first t w o sections ("East Slope" and "Toward the Beginning") of East Slope are "travel poetry": a poetry of verifiable landscapes. to effectively rewrite the future. intellectual cadenzas. The Indian cosmos is a map of ever-widening concentric cycles of enormous time: millions of human years with their perpetual reincarnations are merely one day and night in the millions of years in the life of Brahma. The poems are simultaneously located in India and in a notIndia. its glittering . have tended t o write their travels in prose and letters. but are not universal: crow. things and people which are foreign t o the author. with extraordinary powers. But more: o n nearly every page are synonyms of silence and stillness. and the one with the fewest images of India. off the m a p (out of the calendar) and into the undifferentiated bliss of nirvana (which the Buddhists would later say was equally illusory). As Aztec shamans would travel out of the earth to a place where all time was visible in a state of total immobility. and the concrete is a manifestation of the divine. vtiltttre. (Poets.) One reason is its precision of observation. The function of yoga and other meditation practices is to break out of these cycles of illusory births and rebirths. where "the present is perpetual" and bodies "weigh n o more than dawn. is a religious poet whose religion is poetry. and though its narration unfolds in measured minutes and hours it abolishes time with its narration. The poem too.Maya is made manifest by time. As the first two sections of East Slope observe the world from a world where the wind comes simultaneously from everywhere. a somewhere else. Rather it is the poem that opens a hair-line crack in time through which the poet. language." Paz. But they are among the few instances in the last t w o hundred years of a travel poetry worth reading. where ideas and emotions become concrete particulars.is both the most "Indian" poem in the book. jasmine. There they could observe the life-force of the tonalli at any given moment before it occurred in human life. since the birth o f Romanticism. where we speak the language but it doesn't sound like the language we speak.{ Myth is a similar rupture of time. Certain words from Indian iconography which one would expect in the text are noticeably absent: i 1 / . emotional and erotic rhapsodies. but to which they return educated. The final third of East Slope. The shaman's task was to alter the tonalli. in astonishment. This does not mean that the poet is a "little God.

four defects. a line of which Paz uses as an epigraph. They are based on extremely complicated sets of four. does around "Blanco. drawn on paper or painted oncloth for personal meditation. composed in 690. Mallarme's poem. Tibetan versions are riots of activity. like a pyramid. Mexico. The earliest mandalas were simple geometric figures. originally published on a single vertical folded sheet in black and red type-"black and red ink" in Nahuatl means "wisdomm. four walls. They are simple o r complex configurations of nesting circles and squares. which Yoga causes t o shine once more in the depths of our being. to. and proceeds from the creation of samsara (all the things of the world)."] l . however. It can only be circumnavigated. O n the Eastern side. four gestures. sometimes containing letters or words. filled with often terrifying iconic images of the gods.is usually described as descending from Mallarmk's Un Coup de Des . whose The Theory and Practice of the Mandala was one of the books that informed the writing of "Blanco. four goddesses. In the words of Giuseppe Tucci.. L u n g s t o n e . itself a kind of Indian festival. four colors. other than poetry. It is more likely that the Western grandparent of "Blanco" is the original 1913 edition. as well as the Indo-Tibetan mandalas and Indian tantric scrolls indicated in Paz's notes. begins at secular nothing. has n o gods. "Blanco" was apparently modeled as a simplified version of the mandala described in great iconographic detail in an IndoTibetan text. o r perhaps any reader. although it plays with varying typefaces and blank space. entire and luminous. and its representational imagery tends to be abstract. which are endlessly elaborated in the esoteric texts for the initiates.much as this essay. and so on. [The stupa. the enlightenment of nirz~izniz." It too is a floor-to-ceiling vertical sheet with different typefaces in black and red. or laid out with colored powders on the ground for ritual practices. four requisites. in order.. and the meditation on it. Castille.it is the only sacred space that cannot be entered or climbed. Consummation. and four portals. The construction of a mandala. still uses a traditional (though oversize) page as its playing-field: it exists t o end up in a book. Blank.always with a fifth at the center. to that Absolute Consciousness." The Four Moments in the creation of a mandala could equally refer t o the progression of "Blanco": they are.. called the Hevcljra TLlntra. The poem. Mandalas have been called "psychocosmograms": maps of the universe that are maps of the self.unlike the cave. The form of the poem. which is conceived as a stupa seen from above. the poem was clearly originally conceived as a simplified mandala. But it largely follows the general outline for the Heuajra Tantra mandala. four doors with two columns a t each door. called Tantras: four directions. is a representation of the cosmic mountain.words signal its universality: Grail. four joys. of course.sacred nothing." it is a "scheme of disintegration from the One t o the many and of reintegration from the many to the One. to the reconciliation of all opposites. of Cendrar's "Prose of the Transsiberian. four moments. Variety. The later. Development. the cathedral. designed by Sonia Delaunay. but unlike "Blanco" the words are not surrounded by emptiness: every inch is covered with Delaunay's hallucinogenic color. with a center dome. and. or the consecrated ground. finally.

V. and imagination. It is a washing away of speech (as throughout this section). which was. which are: N: yellow. Its with thunder. fire. The creation of a mandala always begins with the placing of a jar. it is also apparent that the poem follows what the Hevajra Tantra calls the Four Joys: I. earth. and it is also associated suggests. and understanding. IV. It is devoted to the consecration of the body (here a baptism of fire). water. From bottom to top are images of the seven chakras. as throughout this section. with prajna in the Tantric texts meaning both "wisdom" and "a woman's body" ("naked place/ in a naked woman"'". Curiously. although both unfold in time.is the smile ("you laugh. corresponds t o what is called the First Joy. and it is at this point that the two columns come together. like a Hindu or Buddhist adept before Enlightenment." and "Grail" in the poem). air.symbol of the initiate's body- into which the gods are t o descend. corresponds to white. Center: green.-IV. E: red. as in the sexual intercourse which becomes explicit in this part of the poem. is Perfect Joy. IThis slightly rearranges the traditional Indian color-direction correspondences. Such scrolls represent the human body.).as the storm in the central c o l u n ~ n gesture is the embrace. perhaps William Blake's. and perception. called the Fourth Consecration. IV. W: white. the Aztec correspondences were nearly identical: N: black. It is a washing away of impurities of the mind. Four Gestures. W: white. (South) to blue. "Blanco" also takes some of its formal arrangement from the yogic and tantric vertical scrolls which depict the ascent of the kundalini (the "serpent power" of latent energy). while a mandala moves in four directions simultaneously. S: blue. 111. For this reason. 111. The problem of modeling a poem on a mandala. and sensation.". known as The Secret. known as Knowledge of Prajna. and I. is Joy Innate. (East) to red. though an outline of the body itself is rarely shown.naked"). "weary of time. is Joy of Cessation. (West) t o green. S: blue. represents the center column sections at the beginning and end of the poem. the color of the Absolute. I. Here body.] Although not indicated by Paz's notes.":'etc." "chalice. E: red. 11. of course." 11. the energy centers that run from the base of the spine t o the .there are.. and its gesture is union. the four sections consisting of acenter column and one left and right column each. V. and its accompanying gesture. presumably. and its gesture is the gaze ("I watch myself in what I watch. (North) corresponds t o yellow. its name is The Jar ("vase. As explained in Paz's notes.). is that a poem tends t o proceed vertically. It is interesting that into this jar Paz has placed a sunflower." etc.According t o this schema. mind and speech are all consecrated. Center: green.

"there are n o places of pilgrimage like those within one's own body. all language. loosely. rather like "Blanco. From there the kundalini rises as the poem descends through the other chakras. and through which the kundalini ascends during ~ogic meditation or tantric practice.an earth-body pun meaning both "mineshaft/scapulary ladderm." "Blanco. in a poem. reach the sixth. and everything in the cosmos is born. has a host o f attributes: elements. The left. almost needless t o say. w h o is the half-male. lalana. "gaze"). And it is associated with nada. planets.] Further. though made of air. is feminine and associat- ." and izada both "nothing" and "cosmic sound"): "sound (they are) words/ air sound (they are) nothing (cosmic sound). That is the point between the eyebrows (the last word of the poem is mirada. Mzlladhara." there are three "nerves" or "veins" which convey sacred breath and the body's subtle energies. Each of the chakras." The seed-syllables." though not quite in the same order. the "illumination of the void": t o d o so. and equally illusory: Sanskrit nada is Spanish nada. and n o one produces it. Other attributes of the Muladhara chakra are the earth ("escalera de escapularion.in what is otherwise meant to be the "fire" section) and the previously mentioned color yellow ("yellow//chalice of consonants and vowels" )'". as an upside-down diagram of the chakras. cosmic sound. (As the Hez~ajra Tantra says. which becomes a complex Spanish-Sanskrit pun in "Blanco": "son palabrasl aire son nada" (with son meaning both "sound" and "they are. As an early Hindu commentator wrote. the syllable-seed (the next t w o lines are: "la simierztel latente" or "the seed/ latent") which is also the dot that is the literal starting-point for the mandala. colors. in this map of the Hindu body and of "Blanco. It is created by the union of ali (vowel) and kali (consonant). form words." which must necessarily be read down the page (it not being written in Maya) can be seen. The bija is the sound of potentiality. [There is a form of meditation. emotions.though not strictly: most of the attributes of the chakras are present in "Blanco. seventh chakra.and so on. senses. and represents pure thought. half-female incarnation of Shiva. "Nothing is mentally produced in the highest bliss. where all the elements return in purified form (as they d o in the poem)." called nada-yoga.") But it does. the union of all opposites ( " N o and yes" and the many other pairs which unite in this section of the poem). which consists of focusing on a succession of sounds as they emerge from and retreat into silence. Its first two vertical sections (before it splits into left and right) correspond to the first chakra at the base of the spine. It never reaches the final. The three are inextricable.":" Its reigning god is Ardhanarishvara. and whose "color" is transparency ("Transparency is all that remains. and from it all sound. philosophical concepts. form the cosmic sound. which means "the foundation" (the first two lines of the poem are: "el comienzol el cimiento" or "the beginning1 the foundation") and which is associated with the bila. form the universe.top of the head. following this schema. called Ajna ("power").would be less presumptuous than impossible: at that point poetry ceases t o be written.

used t o emphasize that the poem "is not the record of the event. emptiness. "Blanco" ends at the chakra between the eyes. demands reader participation in the creation of the test by offering a list of variant readings that is. wisdom. method. a schema followed loosely in the poem through its left. (The "right-hand" group of Tantrists believes that all of the material words should be taken only as metaphors for the spiritual. But "Blanco" goes even further: with its male center column and female split columns. like copulation on a cremation ground. Again. the union of the two veins and all their attributes. Each word carries a long string of associative possibilities. like those attributed t o the three yogic "veins" above: the spiritual words have materialist and erotic meanings. consonants. the Yamuna (the other great river in India). Tantric texts are written in sarzdha. In India the primary act of daily wor(seeing):it is both a "viewing" of ship among Hindus is darsl~ana the gods as they are manifest inthe temple and wayside images. their transformations into one another. nature. is masculineand associated with the sun. but he is equally an invention of India: "Indian" readings are possible for poems he wrote long before he went there.ed with the moon. but the event itself. (As. Writer and reader are yet another pair of opposites who unite in the poem. rasana. their identicalness. the syllable-seeds engender language without human assistance. ." "Blanco.) Robert Duncan.) There is a pair of sandha-words in the Hevajra Tantra that is particularly intriguing: preksana (the act of seeing) is agati (the act of arrival or achievement). Its last line reiterates an earlier couplet ("The unreality of the seen/ brings I I I The map of the body is a map of the earth is a map of the cosmos (or time) is a map of language. are scandalous to outsiders. The right. He is surely Western poetry's primary "inventor of India for our time" (as Eliot called Pound the inventor of China).) The author has closed the door behind him on his way out. which. it is. and has always been. compassion. vowels. it remains for the reader t o peer (or not) through the keyhole. right and center columns. (The best texts on this are still Paz's pages in Conjurzctions and Disjunctions and the essay "Blank Thought" in Convergences. and vice-versa. moreover. Most of Paz's work is. uniquely in erotic poetry. intellect. in India. like Duchamp's Etarzt d o m e s . Much has been written about the connections between "Blanco" and the ritual copulation practiced in Tantrism: an escape from the world (and a return t o the original unity of the world) through the union of all opposites as incarnated in the actual bodies of the male and temale adepts. In the center is avadhztti. sight goes out to physically receive the god's blessing. the "left-hand" group believes that all of the spiritual words are merely code names for aspects of the rituals. in the era of "action painting" in the 1950's. a poem that makes love t o itself. the Ganges river. which Mircea Eliade translates as "intentional" language." though far too structured t o be a n "event" of' writing in the processual sense developed by the Black Mountain poets. deliberately left incomplete. and something more: in darshana the eyes literally touch the gods. concerned with the tangle of correspondences anlong these four elements.

reality t o seeing"" ) in the context of a ritualized copulation: "Your body/ spilled on my body/ seen/ dissolved/ brings reality to seeing." :":- ) The poem, then, never erases the world, never enters the "plentiful void" of nirvana (as the last canto of Altazor does: a void filled with syllable-seeds) or the "empty void" of sunyata. In the unreality of the world the poem ends by affirming the reality of a seeing which is touching which is writing. As Indian philosophy often reiterates, perception is real, even if what is perceived is unreal. [In the famous Buddhist parable, a man is frightened by a piece of rope lying o n the ground which he thinks is a snake, runs away, trips, and breaks his leg: although the cause is unreal, the effect is not.] Tantric art is notable for its representation of the cosmos in another form of simple o r complex geometric drawing: the yantra. Paz's India (India's Paz) is a yantra composed of a triangle (seeing-touching-writing) within a square (body-worldcosmos-language) within a circle, which in India stands for a vision o r a system. An 0 that is a poet's political button, this poet's monogram, the egg (symbol and syllable) of the cosmos, and the delineation of the nothing- the empty void or the plentiful void- from which everything is created and t o which it returns. In the Hevajra Tantra, in the rituals in which Buddhas and Masters, goddesses and yoginis dance, "the sound of a bee is heard at

the end of the song": in Blanco, it is "this insect/ fluttering among these lines." " In the meditation, the yogin imagines a lotus blossoming on his navel. O n the petals of the lotus are the letters of the mantra ARHAN. Smoke appears, rising from the letter R. Suddenly a spark, a burst of flame, and the lotus is consumed by fire. The wind picks up and scatters the ashes, covering him from head to toe. Then a gentle rain falls, and slowly washed them away. Bathed, refreshed, the yogin sees his body shining like the moon.

"1-a rrreulitiad de lo inirndol dt7 rcalidnd a hz rnrmda. :. :.T u : : . I 7ol derraninndo en rnr cucrpol r'rstol desvilr~ecidol r tfa renlidad n In rnzruda. :'t:ste iizsectol revoloteando erztre estas pLzla6rL~s.

suming book called An Anthology of Mexican Poetry. For far beyond its ostensible subiect matter, the book was the result of an improbable encounter between Octavio Paz and Samuel Beckett on the field of classical Mexican literature.

[Written as the ~iztroductiolt The Bread of Days: Eleven .Mexican Poers, to
Translated by Samuel Beckerr, a limited edition with artwork

by Enrique Chagoya (Yolla Boll)?Press), 1994.l

O n the flowers the angel of the mist sc-attered pearly molsture from hls wlngs, and Arrrora floated o n the air, enveloped 117 her g~zrrzytoprzz robe. It was the nlrpti'zl holir. T h e earth lay sleeping, virginal, beneat17 the bashful veil, and t o surprise her with his amorous kisses the royal sun inflamed the firmament.

ho would suspect that the officiants at this pastelled marriage of heaven and earth were none other than two of the primary architects of postwar international modernism? If part of the Surrealist project depended on the fortuitous conjunction of disparate elements in an unlikely place, then surely one of its oddest late productions was an m a s -


In 1949, Beckett was forty-three and Paz thirty-five. Both were living in Paris, and both were generally broke. Beckett was trying to find a producer for his play, Waiting for Godot, and a publisher for Molloy, the first of his trilogy of novels. (His earlier novel, Murphy, had sold exactly six copies in its first year of publication.) Paz, though known in Mexico as a young poet, was just finishing the books that would propel his international reputation, The Labyrinth of Solitude and The Bow and the Lyre. His first major long poem, Sunstone, was still some years away. Paz had a low-level position at the Mexican embassy. Beckett was surviving on literary hackwork, some of it for UNESCO, which was then sponsoring a series of representative works of world literature in translation. Beckett called it "that inexhaustible cheese," though his own life at the time, according to his biographer Deirdre Bair, was more rat than mouse: sleeping all day and roaming the streets of Paris all night. The UNESCO cheese lured Paz into a project for which he had little enthusiasm: an anthology of Mexican poetry to be translated into French and English. Paz, an anti-nationalist, would have preferred to consider Spanish American poetry as a whole. And worse, in Mexico, between the twin volcanoes of the 17th and 20th century poetries lay a gloomy valley of some two hundred years of largely feeble European imitations. The book was further encumbered when a well-known Mexican poet, Jaime Torres-Bodet, became the director of u~b.sco TorresBodet, with the once-prevalent inferiority complex of the Third

\Y I ( I I I I II(1 . \ ( I I O N

World intellectual in the halls of European culture, insisted that each edition be introduced by one of those grandiloquent poohbahs who perennially serve the role as "leading critic." For the French edition, Torres-Bodet chose Paul Claudel, then eightyone, decades past his best poetry, and largely preoccupied with theological questions. For the English, he asked Sir Cecil Maurice Bowra, the Hellenist and warden of Wadham College, Oxford. Neither had the least interest in Mexico. I've never seen Claudel's text, but Bowra's introduction, called "Poetry and Tradition," cheerfully rambles for pages through world poetry- not excluding that of the Ainu, the Asiatic Tartars, and the Lower Slovenians- until it final settles, in the third-to-last sentence, on the subject at hand. That sentence- Bowra's only comment on the matter- informs us that Mexico has a "vivid and varied culture." Paz was, as he recalls, furious, and further disappointed when Torres Bodet decided that Alfonso Reyes, the Grand Old Man of Mexican letters, would be the only living poet admitted in the book. This meant eliminating the work of poets such as Xavier Villaurrutia and Jose Gorostiza, members of the Contemporaneos (Contemporaries), the vibrant and internationalist Mexican poetry group that flourished in the 1930's and 40's, and was so important t o Paz's own writing. Paz was responsible for finding the translators for the two editions. For the French he commissioned Guy Levis Mano, a poet and Spanish translator who remains known as one of the great printers of the Surrealist movement, producing limited editions of texts by Breton, Tzara, Michaux, Char, and Soupault, with artwork by Giacometti, Picasso, M a n Ray, Miro, and others. For the English, someone suggested Samuel Beckett, whom Paz knew slightly through their mutual publication in Max-Pol Fouchet's magazine Folztaine. An obstacle that would daunt lesser, or less

hungry, mortals- Beckett's total ignorance of the Spanish language- was quickly overcome. Beckett had "a friend" who would help, and he had, after all, studied Latin a t Trinity College. Beckett completed his work in March or April of 1950. The original manuscript, now in Texas, includes two pages of notes, "not in Beckett's hand," on the translation of specific words, as well as corrections and additions "mostly in another hand." ( N o one knows to whom these hands belonged.) The French edition was published in 1952 by Editions Nagel, had one printing, and vanished. The English language edition, delayed for unknown reasons until 1958, appeared simultaneously from Thames & Hudson in the U.K. and the Indiana University Press. Thanks in part t o its unusual collaborators, it has remained in print in paperback ever since, an extraordinarily long publishing run for what is, after all, a collection of otherwise generally arcane texts. Years later, Beckett would write that his work on the Mexican anthology was strictly an "alimentary chore," and that the poems were "execrable for the most part." And certainly those martinets of the bilingual dictionary who normally review poetry translations would have a field day with Beckett: In the poems included here, for example, he drops two lines from the Lopez Velarde poem, and writes "twenty" for "seventy." H e is hopelessly lost among Mexican flora and fauna, confusing macaws and macaques, tigers and jaguars, magueys and aloes. (When the going gets really rough, in Alfonso Reyes' "Tarahumara Herbs," he randomly selects Old World plants to stand in for the Mexican.) He's clearly unfamiliar with such things as the Mexican calendar stone, which he calls "a stone of sun." Sometimes he's mysterious, as when a sinfonh logrizda (a fully-realized symphony) becomes a "symphony of positive esthetics." Sometimes, he's

one never knows: I thought "gyps" was a typographical error for "gypsumn until I discovered it was an obsolete form. such as the Nervo. and quite a few individual lines are simply more intense in the translation: greeny sea-wrack coils a waky tress (Ralbuena) .not knowing that the word derives from the Phasis river where the birds once abounded.) Beckett accomplishes this through a subtle mimicking. be my passage through the world." and turn it. "ensample" for example. not the original./ until that new dream. even the O L D didn't help: "wildering" for wandering. did someone misread his notorious crabbed handwriting. He can take a sow's ear. so white of flesh. Did Beckett make them up. "cramoisy" for crimson. as it doesn't in Spanish. n o doubt made his day's (or night's) work more amusing.and who. literally: Who is that siren with the voice so painful. the distance between us and them. that strike me as better in English than Spanish. but the rhymes of "distressed. "grateless" for ungrateful. "cark" for anxiety or grief. cruising until he can reach the next poem. Moreover. which doesn't rhyme at all. "monachal" for monastic.. besides Joyce. was a better mimic?-of the English poetry contemporary t o whatever period he is translating. but rarely in translation." and "tress" are more complex than the original. demands it. as when the last lines of Rodriguez Galvan's poem (which mean." "flesh. "tilths" for tillable land. among others. which tends to be written according to present-day usage. In two cases. if not quite to silk. in thy safe keeping let me come/ to this world's end . "featly" for graceful. (One has it in one's own language. he has created a vivid music for each poem by avoiding the end-rhymes of the Spanish (while still suggesting the original prosody through complex internal rhymes) and by breaking the lines where the English. And the play between "distressed" andntress. Godot can never arrive. Its greatest achievement is its recreation of that sense of reading old texts. And I was puzzled that he would translate "pheasant" as "bird of PhasisX. sweet and graceful. we find.just being Beckett. or are these actually lacunae in the definitive dictionary? With Beckett's erudition. "Dream. "popinjay" for parrot. "fatidic" for prophetic.") are clipped to "Dream." (Even in a translation. "mede" for recompense. Nervo's lines mean. Yet Beckett's Mexican anthology is one of the liveliest English translations of the century. There are whole poems. then into a purse with some inner compartments. with braidsltresses so dark brown? Beckett transforms this to: Who is yonder siren s o distressed of voice. "flower-de-luce" for iris..) And in many of the poems he seems t o be on autopilot. like the opening two lines of Nervo's "An Old Burden. as well as "cha1chuite"an archaic derivative from the Nahuatl word chalchihuite./ shows me the sublime face of God. And he displays a stupefyingly vast command of English archaicisms that will send any diligent reader deep into the OED." which Beckett made up. so dark of tress? The "yonder" may be a bit much. The poem sings. "adust" for scorched. literally. whatever present-day it is. with flesh so white.for turquoise. and a bird's "crawy" call. In the poems included here.

and the repository of some remarkable poems. For Mexican poetry begins not in the expected grand and tragic spectacle of the Conquest. or the Yeatsian: the tower riddled in the slinging winds (L6pez Velarde) We will never know whether Beckett. And yet one wonders if there was not a shock of recognition when Beckett read the first page of the manuscript Paz gave him.. 1 cast around for wherewith to uphold me with my hands. But no matter how or why it was written. was secretly enchanted with some of the poems. we might never have made the connection. It stands. or whether. U~zder Volcano. It contained what is perhaps the first sonnet written in Mexico.. in some strange way. and all but fallen to the griping jaws of a wild beast in wait for me below. gropingly. Little and little the herb came swift away. a curious loop forms. Francisco de Terrazas. and the other twined about a little herb. next to that other great. Certainly it is as impossible to imagine Beckett in Mexico as it is to imagine Malcolm Lowry anywhere else. the late 1940's invention of Mexico in English. despite later denials. would be the great cartographer: 1 dreamed that 1 was thrown from a crag by one who held nzy will in servitude. forty-five years later the book still remains the best introduction in English to classical Mexican poetry. centuries later. a nobody suffering in nowhere. that dismal world for which Beckett.In such throng of dead forms thou didst not die (Sandoval y Zapata) Space is azure and the mountains bathe in vivid azure and in azure shade (Rodriguez Galvan) For the people the bard is grace not cark (Diaz Mircin) A precious pearl in the slaver of a mollusc (Diaz Mir6n) and throughout that brooding and adust savannah. But because of his presence. his hackwork would be anybody else's master- . with a writer like Beckett. Had Beckett never translated Mexican poetry. not a path. but with a single individual in a desolate landscape. In terror. and the one closed about a trenchant sword. and the sword ever sorer vexed my hand as 1 more fiercely clutched its cruel edges. not a track (Oth6n) what a wilderi~lgmidst ruins and pits! (Oth6n) and many books made me all-ignorant (Gonzalez Martinez) piece. by the first Mexican Spanish poet.

chatting. riddled with holes. oblivious to the elderly woman lying shot dead at their feet. Until now. but certain wars seem evidence of something more than the varieties of human brutality. Not only as the first performance. Yugoslavia. charred at the edges. in this century. Wars one can't stop thinking about. you open a newspaper. are dying is a reflection of the way we are living. we who are not in the slaughter. was the triumph of the destroyers of art. our minds." of the global cataclysmic battle against fascism: Spain.Iobal City Kev~ewdevoted t o texts of t w o if pages o r less. and of the tech- Y . over there. m y distress! YUGOSLAVIA I Written for '772 rssur7 of (.O h wretched me. As if the way they. 1994. was the small internal war that unravelled transnationally as a parable of the age. You. seen from a distance that turns their daily horror into allegory: another. bloodless war that is reenacted in the mind.] ugoslavia. Two men in suits walk down the sidewalk. And worse: that the way we are living is the cause of their dying. a few words ahout ati etzornz~ty. could be scritl i77 atzythrtig. It's you. in a provincial "theater of war. A severed head on a pile of shoes. Spain. that I rejoice t o see m e mangled thus for dread of ending. War and always war. in Western minds. Certain small wars. dying. A77 ~ t t e r n p tto tirsiover what. and h o w from self estranged.

religious animosities. for the moment." the painting. and within a global consumer market. Here. The airplane. what will never happen happens over. but a rain of bombs. Yugoslavia." all over the planet. drink the same Coca-Cola. images are the representation of a conspiracy between creators and receptor.ex-Yugoslavia. It is a dismantling of the world. we see the evidence. and any opposing notion equally true. Angola. and not merely as the chaos that follows the collapse of empires and ideologies. or even in the Balkans in the years before the First World War. the people we think we once were. As always. is the emblem of the age. manipulated by the power-hungry. and the paralyzing uncertainty of the rest who are watching. the "steady state" model of the universe. racial.post-ideology. Sick and weary at the end of a century that murdered millions in the name of certainty.nologically powerful over the aspirations of ordinary people. There. What we. the aspirations of a peasantry hopelessly crushed by the technologically advanced. The dead are seen "live. and wonder what to do. of supposedly ancient ethnic. These are wars that seem. draws its force. on either side. the wars in the name of this century's cruel ideologies. they say. It is a scene that was reenacted from the conquest of the Americas t o the last of the colonial wars: Algeria. After three centuries. The world is simultaneously coming together and blowing apart. the Age of Criticism has reached its decadence.there is always carnage.post-modern. Vietnam. The tragedy of Yugoslavia is the certainty of the combatants. we are told. "Cuernica. These are wars being acted out within a global network of communication. and wonder what is evidence. not from its depiction of carnage. and wonder in what name is anything done. that return to the roots of war. Wars. books are lies imagined into truth by their readers. every narrative is false. on the television news. most hate about ourselves is the agent of the destruction of what we imagine is most admirable in the "old" people. and continue to die every day in the name of our disbelief.above all. in an unprecedented. the "modern" people. transformed doubt into a science. [4 March 19943 . Rut these are not wars taking place in the rain forest. Instead we have the so-called "tribal" wars: the revivals. so that murderous certainty will never happen again. nearly unbelievable manner..but from the image of the old ways being oliterated by what is most horrible in the new ways. over: the imperial territorial expansions. people die every day in the name of their belief. and let a thousand other images rush in. Yugoslavia is a nervous breakdown in the collective mind of the West. the generation that considers itself " p o s t n . Words d o not mean what they say.brings not the reign of progress.has.till then the great symbol and glory of the Machine Age. the combatants.

pointing his finger at rite.l c ~ d ~ i~rI ~ lI 6-S t y L ~ ~ J allegra7zces lead you t o stop writing. uttd his defense rap o t t l l e rmprrsonment o f the utterly upolrtical Gut gay wrrter Rei~raldo Arenas '7s LI "c.orrl~ter-reuolrrtro?rary.~lr~.the rrotroil o f '711 c f f .irr. ither her o f the corresl)orrdc~~lts been r7li7rrired b y .I?I c~irdorc~ed thcz " T H E R E V O L U T I O N AT ST.~rd. "011.zgc~ I'd actrr. had BL~rLrki7's condem?tatioir o f the "l~ortzography " r~t lyrrcs. among other thrizgs.uys. c. ?~zo?rtl~s l'oetry Flash ran li7tcr.' Baraka had krcked his tlijo c-ctrts 171 o against Wei~zOerger u1c~11.pL7rtrc-rrlarlyr i r the' corr~rtrrr~s that ~l.rngsIZ poetry"171 07IC p~rsr)izc ~ I I I ~t "tire I ' C I Z ~ ~ ~ U C ~ S I O I Iof I U O ~ I C I ~~I~ UII uttered a scjrtes o t Oairal conrnro?rplaces. t~c~gan bas she yelliirg b ~ i k . poizt a i ~ d gay actiutst. hag that had been sent t o m e care of t i ~ c church.t o t e an rchi~t African-Americarr poet atzd labor organizer: Eileen Myles. MARK'S C H U R C H charr 171 u conceirtratrorr c~liirp. W1c~r~rl)rrgcr lust sold f l~rr~rchedfull sci~le hod 5 u Oarrase. '111 Mr. It ulas drshe~7rte11rng th7t thc~). T h e n 1 spoke. Iln May 1994 the Poetry Project at St. J(. ~ t r l ~rrt . Many N o o77e expresses rage 11ke Amrrr Barak.ood (.for 527.l. Amiri Baraka.rrf/i?t.inrrf t o /J? /~atr?rg Elrot W c . Trm (. rn the subscqrrent chaos I'm atrartl ~ ' L forgottell u h a t she said.11. g r ~ z e ' zii ~ t o i l d o ~ It ~ I I c ~ I ~ I c t~ IhI s/)~czfi[. h y w the Project surd.orrifc~. " lrko It's Clrr1olis ti7~7tt/lls c ori~c'rof Po. account of the symposrum I)!. and thc nrght eirded.l~r'rca tbc8y 071ic.rger's c. as sayr?rg that revolution never consrstcd of '.~llys. Cold War dcnroirrzutro?~ f C.rotr7: "f. This led t o a letter in a su1)sequent rssue " fiom Bnraka. ~ Rothsc-h11d hclii up /acksoir h l ~ c Low as "lrurng proof" against " M r . Baraka got up. HarakL~ taken very careful notes h17d 072 what symposrrlm. T h e package u8asfilled with trash. He re. T h e eueirrtrg tiegun stra?tgely: As 1 entered the church. e ~ ~ u~orrltiin LI paircl drsc-ztssioir the next daycall 'an iircre~lrOlyi~uttiateti lrheral. the topic that year was "Revolutro?r~~ry Poetry.ue?r setrtetrces of the line "b0lt~geOl~ rrrtellect~r~~ls Wrinberger Ire. and t o u.~- 'I rage U J ~ C Ia c t ~ i ~ ~ l had I I ly that has also leti t o ~iztiel~tlle poetry. w e got your package and paid for rt. had /) )~ ~ ~jrl'i7jnsand modcls of Re~~olritroii i7re r1ouJ. Mark's Church ril " N c w York held its 11717111111 And / I [ . 1 couldn't help hut open rt.zc'rote that "Mr.11zg ~ O C O I Zrac." On the r~pt~trrirg nrght there were four "keynote" speakers: trrc-a Uuirt. then whipped out hrs n o t c ~ / ~ o osatd. shorit~irgthat l~~sl~zutzrsm nothrng t o do zvzth the revolut~on." and lau17ched itzto a fifteeiz-rnrn~itetzrdtle. A feu. Wer?rOerger's thesrs (the lrkes of whrch we harie not set~rz srtrce the Potempkrir) [src-1. / t ~ ~ poetry. and. sec. Hunt spoke first. " A n d n o w I'd ltke t o reply t o k. thofrght they were and i1e~71. LI )Ioung w o m a n from rc)irrird them that the Potc~nrkif~ surlors were the (. Thrrlgs fill apart. myself. W~~rrrhc.0. the gentleman uiho proceeded me." 1 wrote t o the ~ ~ e u ~ s l e tin r attempt t o s.M y k s gave trot rly a very f u t r ~ ~"yl ' m a leshran" rap.lar?i~t h i ~ ~ ~ ~ l r t i i n~l . W h e n he turired t o Mylcs. talkctl for five nzrirutes.rT r~tfants dtrriitg the Vretnum Wnr. r i ~ / ) e r ~ ~ r . 1771 the ~71tdrence u~cv. inexplrcahly.hr?ra. effectr~iely scuttlri~gMr." She handed m e a bulging /iff)." Thrs tuas followeti by a report ' rir Poc7try Pri~lcctrre~vsletterI J Dorlglas Rothschild o n m y "trow legendary talk. the reception ~ i r d seem p a r t i i ~ r l ~ ~i~ostrke.' ilirri c~sl~orisrd ' c'~j what scholar Waltcr 1 . ~ 1 t t ~ i 7 1 p o~drrai/ loho tt d .eryr. ~ 1 1 t ti?ree varratrons h 171 sc.itJor/d 1e'~ls sc~l?l(ia/ize~i.

Spain. in some way. or expresses outrage at. First. These days you mustn't stroke 'zizyo~ze's he'ld. In talking about revolutionary poetry. but not necessarily. It affects your ~zerves. It)t)i] Lenin t o Maxim Gorki: " I can't listen to nzusic too often.t. exalts certain individual heroes of that struggle. o n revolutionary poetry. Iran. "socially aware" poetry. nearly always. and were." i to here is something nostalgic and quaint. wozrld see the usceitsioit of <. rtot read.were engaged in some form of T revolt. iiitcvldad t o l ~ heard. specifically denied by him: H e believed that the revolution would be led by the urban proletariat in countries like . [My first thought. When it doesn't.except Bill & Hillary.as is obvious when one reads old issues of the New Masses o r any anthology of guerrilla poetry. In this sense. The poetry that bears witness to."] And yet the subject is more pertinent than ever. It's always a mistake to confuse one with the other. in 1994. revolutionary poetry presents the horrific details of present existence. rallies its readers o r listeners to struggle against injustice. we have some of the great poetry of the century: Hikmet. particularly as revolutionary societies tend to suppress any further revolt. and carries within it a formed image of the new order. Neruda. Politically revolutionary poetry only sometimes coincides with aesthetically revolutionary poetry. the enormous horrors and injustices of the historical moment is not necessarily revolutionary. a matter of definitions.you might get your hand bitten off: Y o ~haz~e hit them o n the head without any mercy. Most important. Brecht. to name a few.. or is the product of. some of it written by these same poets: a poetry where the message is the medium. nearly all of us in the generation of 1968. Mayakovsky. It is only revolutionary when it serves. to get t o the second. utzd t i ~ c Oklahoma b o m / ~ t n #-]u/y . [Though interestingly. was to recall the least prophetic line uttered in my lifetime: "The revolution will not be televised. in fact. Revolution is the struggle. the classic difference between revolt and revolution.nearly every important revolution of the 20th century has been fought under the inspiration of Karl Marx.makes you want to say nice stupid thi7zgs and stroke the heads of people who could create such he'urty while living in this vile hell.ear.~ilgricht o call htm Newt is t o itisult otcr saln~~tnildc~r ( friends). the destruction of the old order. about a conference now. a violent struggle. excoriates o r lampoons those who are responsible for the misery. t o replace one form of soctety and state with another. and something sickening. When it does. MacDiarmid.the ii. o n being invited here. W~thrit r z c ~ t the >. But the real problem with revolutionary poetry is the Revolution.s.in its political senseI also want to draw a line between it and political. the passage of Pr(1/~(1jit1otz c p t Calzfonlia. and offers a vision of the paradise that will follow the victory of the revolutionary forces. With certain exceptions. among them. none of these revolutions were imagined by M a r s . but only a few were revolutionaries. Traditionally.T h c speech was. I want to clear through the first.. Revolt 1s a n uprising of some kind against some aspect of the existing order. of cozrrsc.u calnz before the storwl.Mexico. It shorrld he noted L ~ # N Z I I c thut this 1s May 1994: r?i rrtrr~spcc.it can produce some of the worst poetry. the Replrblicalt feediitg frritiy 187 on t i ~ e poor. the form of the new society is usually fairly fixed in the minds of the revolutionaries.

Eluard or Lorca. It is Arenas. a negative and a verb? Targeted by the "anti-spiritual pollution" campaign. w h o wrote novels that were confiscated and then wrote them out again. must judge the merits of a state first according t o what it does for ( o r against) us as writers. in Cuba.] I happen to think that all of us as writers. these same states all enforced strict censorship. a whole generation of students was exhilarated by a line of poetry most of us in the West would be too embarrassed to write: Bei Dao's "I. The poets who were not killed were essentially required t o write useful paeans to the boiler plate factories." with a well-known poet. these poets were imprisoned. Furthermore. Ernesto Cardenal. akind of poet's dream. In the 1970's.believe!" For in a collective society. imprison. O n the one hand.familiar to us in the U. most of them are in exile. all of the Communist states were. like any good union members. and that it had exploded a glass of water on his windowsill.who thrive in arts bureaucracies. H o w thrilling it once seemed that Chairman M a o wrote poetry in classical Chinese. Jose Lezama Lima. or continue t o be. or forced to publish underground. H o w thrilling it once was that Che carried a copy of Neruda's Heights of Macchu Picchu in his knapsack in Bolivia.even though n o one else was allowed to do the same. such as Rimbaud and Baudelaire. in a place like Russia. it created writers' unions where the state essentially paid writers to write. some years before he began dying of AIDS. silenced.not. Meanwhile. would be impossible. he assunled an internationalism t o the revolutionary proletariat. N o one seemed to remember that Cardenal h a i started out as the youngest member of the Nicaraguan poet . and who was finally let out of the country with the mentally retarded and the violent criminals in the Marie1 boat exodus. in this respect. The writers who flourished were either supporters who were famous before the revolution. a t first. a poet as great as Neruda. as its Minister of Culture. achieving a kind of Grand Old M a n status (such as Nicolas Guillkn or Alejo Carpentier in Cuba) or else they were the kind of utter mediocrities. exile or silence most of their best writers.S. w h o spent a few years in prison for the crime of being homosexual. O n the other hand. simple. that the KGB had some sort of death ray aimed at his apartment. disasters. when I think of Cuba. highly subjective imagist poems. It is one writer among the many exiles: Reinaldo Arenas. telling me. Communism brought nearly universal literacy to its masses and produced millions of inexpensive books for them t o read. what is more subversive than the first-person singular. Since the Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989. in a tenement in Times Square. such as Neruda. and forbidden to publish. or considered too remote in time to be dangerous. H o w thrilling it was t o read about Nicaragua under the Sandinistas. It was these translations that inspired the young poets w h o came of age in the Cultural Revolution and rejected social realism to write what were. w h o had opened hundreds of poetry workshops around the country for the campesinos. and thought that a revolution led by the rural peasantry. In China. or any capitalist country. proclaimed here as a "land of poets.do. it is not all the beautiful books published by Casa de las Americas. Today. Only in the crevices could something new or aesthetically radical be published: translations of foreign poets with impeccable political credentials. the revolution wiped out a thriving modernist movement that had begun in the 1920's and 30's. quite unlike the nationalistic Marxist revolutions that actually occurred. with serious intensity.England and Germany. And there is n o question that. was under a form of house arrest. and tended to execute.

and that. Eluard. had never experienced a revolution. That his conversion to both Marx and the Church had led to some strange conjunctions. Of all the American poets who trooped down to Nicaragua in those years. he was executed by his own people as a CIA spy. and that Cardenal himself wrote love poems to one of the Somoza girls. where. In 1975. Other anthologies from the period are similarly filled with the disappeared. the only significant poet to start publishing in book form in the 1930's and keep publishing was Muriel Rukeyser. He must also make sure that the Administrative Secretary o f the Central Committee. The poet must educatiotz of all members contribute in the utmost to the cultt~ral of the Party. These four survived. fascists who supported Franco. among many others. Here is Roque Dalton. he compared napalm to abortion.and . the EKPformed the Roque Dalton Cultural Brigade.with Kenneth Patchen a distant second. or St-John Perse.) A few years later. MacDiarmid. In fact. like Brecht and others in Eastern Europe. as Mandelstam said. unattracted by possible discussions of Anabasis or Miserable Miracle.Neruda. the guerrilla saint of Latin America: The Party must train the poet as a good militant Communist. Mussolini. In 1931 Louis Zukofsky attempted t o launch a new generation of American modernist poets with his "Objectivist's" issue of Poetry and subsequent anthology. The Party. who was not a young man in the 30's. and give them a clear concept of the role of ct~ltur~zl work within the context of general revolutionary activity. loves St. traditional prosody and all metaphors were strictly forbidden? H o w many reported back that gays and lesbians who had fought for the revolution were interrogated and sometimes imprisoned in an attempt to purge the Sandinista ranks of deviants? I need hardly speak of the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe. CCsaire. us a valuable cadre for mass revolutionary action. in one of his many poems against the Vietnam War. like William Carlos Williams and the young poet Kenneth Fearing. a soldier with expert murksmanship- in a word. as when. and the first Somoza. Johtz o f the Cross. specific all^: must help the poet develop into arz effectiz~e agitator. but most of the other young poets included as "Objectivists" were never heard from again. but a book can only be the result of a subversive solitude. essentially gave up poetry during the late 30's and 40's t o write prose.z~a~zguardia. they took poetry seriously. Henri Michaux. Reznikoff. for example. after long periods of not writing or not publishing. anlong other things. Rakosi took 2 6 years between books. But it is revealing that those poets who maintained a life-long devotion to the Party tended to live incountries that never had a Communist government. Doomed young people: The great unwritten history in 20th century American poetry is the black hole into which the young poets vanished inthe 1930's. For what Communism governments understood too well is that a collective builds a dam. Oppen's second book came 28 years after his first. The fate of four of these "Objectivists" is well known: Zukofsky would not publish his first pamphlet of poetry for another ten years." could be written. a fit cadre. (This is now attributed to a "militarist" or "adventurist" or "Maoist" faction. called "exteriorism.or else. how many reported back that in the workshops only a certain kind of poetry. Dalton joined the People's Revolutionary Army (EKP) in his native El Salvador. The landscape of the revolution is filled with doomed young people. Aragon. Vallejo. The poet must acquaint all his comrades with Nazim Hikmet or Pablo Neruda.

probably thousands of poets. it may be the most political. Farrell. This was the era. but one that dismantled and reinvented the received language of the conquistadors.they have murdered. N o amount of revolutionary romanticism. Three fundamentalisms have dominated the revolutions of this century: Marxism. of the kind that is still being written. nationalism. His solution was to churn out colorless Party-hack prose and keep the poetry utterly uncontaminated. and a poetry to serve poetry. a revolution that will honor continual revolt. (The fundamentalisms of the other two monotheisms have created states. have never done. or the revolution itself. it has become impossible to talk about revolutionary poetry.a poetry not only written out of extreme poverty and the trashheap of history. it was a crime.or. you'd better move somewhere else. inhabited a no-man's zone between the avant-garde and the establishment. like Oppen. and ethnocentricity. imprisoned or silenced hundreds. but not modern revolutions. I don't mean to suggest that all of the poets. throughout her career. And who can keep writing. ended up as disillusioned cranks in the pages of the National Review. though some undoubtedly did. who can age gracefully. as it becomes apparent that there is nothing more unreal than yesterday's realism? In retrospect. and never write a line of doggerel: CCsar Vallejo. in Brecht's famous formulation.t o take Camus' examplewhen young people hotly debated whether one served the people best by being Shakespeare or a shoemaker. how inspiring to the poets revolution can be.) This was the period in America when the Party dominated intellectual life.) Because of this. and the most revolutionary.wondered what happened to the scores of writers he knew as a young radical. And the fact remains that. in times like these. can obscure this. As for the others: in an interview just a few weeks ago. following the extinction of countless oth- . with all their injustices. W h o could write poetry when one had to defend both the utilitarianism of poetry and the murder of poets for the greater good? Only the stubborn. fascism. a revolution that will tear down the monoliths and not build prisons in their place. joined the Party and gave up writing for organizing. to talk about trees. and whether. the oblivious. as the so-called secular capitalist states. Two specters haunt the nest century. a revolution where the poets can live in their own homes. the psychological apartheid that is paradoxically erupting as the world moves toward a single consumer culture. from Algeria to North Korea. W h o knows what that revolution could be? For the moment. Not coincidentally. there is only one major world poet who managed to keep his commitment to Communism. or those w h o had begun writing before Stalin. The other is the very real possibility of the extinction of the human race. modernism and agit-prop. keep writing. and Islam. free to d o whatever he wished: a prose t o serve the people. N o w matter how thrilling. [This was also true of prose writers: We know that some of the most prominent. a revolution to crush the dreams of the old revolutions and construct new ones. the message is plain: After the revolution. What we need is a revolution of revolutions. Henry Rothwho himself stopped publishing for 60 years. without reference to them. whether a pair of sturdy shoes was worth all the plays of Shakespeare. Rather I think it was the general discourse fostered by the Party that discouraged young poets from going on. it may only be possible to imagine what it will be pitched against. from Nazi Germany to Iran to Kampuchea. One is the secularism. poetry ever written by a Latin American. such as Dos Passos and James T. right at this moment.Rukeyser.

or our own town tomorrow. it will be read.\I \ 1. as has been often said. tell us what we don't know. poetry has always traveled on its own Internet of underground channels from country to country. have brought extraordinary changes all over the world. Even the speakers and panelists all weekend here.I need hardly recite the list. only bad poetry is not subversive. And it must begin with us talking to each other. which seems more self-preoccupied than ever. Significantly. Meanwhile. maybe half a dozen Latin Americans. Only one contemporary Chinese poet has had books published in the U. So we need poets to challenge received notions. and Communism never saw. We are at a moment in history when it is a crime not t o talk about trees. The current poetry of 85% of humanity is represented in this country by a one-foot shelf of books. and sick in that it still excludes everyone else: Chinese-Americans and no Chinese. . that the revolution of the world requires many revolutions of the word.as long as we are able t o keep those means democratic. It would depend on a transition t o a global economy that is simultaneous t o a dismantling of the multinational corporations. Zbigniew Herbert has written that the fire in the poem is one thing. And the left. especially in the United States. Overpopulation. and wake us up t o both doom and Utopia. Mexican-Americans and no Mexicans. In a sense of course it's true. a few from the Caribbean. \l:\l<h'\ <'II1111( 1i er species. Poets. the rotting canisters of plutonium o n the ocean floor. but in another sense. with the new information technology.into the enormous events of history. which won't be easy. the nuclear weapons that are still very much with us. as you've probably noticed. revolutionaries are connoisseurs of the apocalypse and visionaries of the terrestrial paradise. such as it is. absolutely nothing is happening here.it will be individuals and small groups thousands of miles from each other and neighbors in cyberspace. ask the questions we can't answer.not the only way. And where are the poets in all this? First. one or two Africans. The 90's. listening t o each otherin ways that have never occurred before. The new generation of revolutionaries will not begin as a ragged band in the sierras. Only bad poetry talks t o itself. Americans. may be the last people to get the word that it's global time. have always excelled at both. or tells us what we already know. no matter how slowly it moves from reader to reader. Finally.many of them exhilarating. and was replaced by a citizen picked at random. n o Indians writing in Indian languages. the means are there. it is the fire in the poem that helps us t o see the town in flames. at this symposium o n an international theme. deforestation. African-Americans and no Africans. are a United Colors of strictly Americans..S. I think we have to assert. but for most of us here. though not lately in America. whether it is a town in history. Second. Poetry is a way. and out of monopolistic control. and the town in flames another.more important. A revolution against these demons would require the kind of Internationale that M a r x dreamed of. and many of them achieved without violence. our way. one Arab poet. Above all. and American poets specifically.a rising of the humans of the world. in Anno 14 of Reagan America. The revolution will not only be televised. These must multiply. and that poetry does indeed make something happen. We'd be better off if every member of the government resigned tomorrow. over and over. is obsessed with a new form of nationalism called multiculturalism-which is healthy insofar as it brings more Americans into the dialogue.1111 111 \ ' 0 1 1 ' 1 I O N . beginning as they did in 1989.

One night that summer. The memory of the rabbit's bloody mouth kept me staring out the window. The rabbit was all right. and my map told me that the shortest distance to where I was going was across the no-man'sland of the empty half-block. nothing more than the familiar sight of a large group in the semicornatose state of waiting. as sometimes happens in the wild. the rabbit stayed to niollify the children.MI' PET RABBIT had a pet rabbit that developed a dental problem. If left unattended. I crossed unhurriedly. An hour later I had to take a plane to another country. Tests showed that I was violently allergic to rabbits. I woke gasping. A tourist. and I periodically clipped with increasing expertise. years before. the first group had placed snipers o n the roof. a Siberian husky belonging t o a neighbor . the teeth will grow to such length that they curve back into the rabbit's skull a n d pierce the brain. The first time I tried. at a house in the country. and a Chinese painter for a visit to a provincial capital. Half. perhaps. I already knew the place. the asthma continued. ushered to the front of the immigration line. I assumed that the crowd was waiting for a demonstration march to pass by. Unalarmed. there was a lot of blood. because I was stumbling into what was to be the television picture. and I saw the brick wall near my head chip. I couldn't sleep. I thought. rusty mechanical device whose function no one has been able t o ascertain. a French poet. toward the crowd o n the other side. so while the others toured the cathedral. two people had been shot that day. not reacting with the "fight or flight" supposedly programmed in my genes. The next day I read that a student group was occupying the building. The next morning another limousine took rile. no agitation. The veterinarian told me to buy a pair of special podiatrist's scissors and regularly clip the teeth. in a suite on the fortieth floor. always held abroad. and taken in a limousine t o an elegant hotel. Then there was the crack of a shot. I had read in the local paper that the students had been protesting some university action. I went to find a junk store on the Street of Frogs where. People on either side began waving frantically. in the first asthma attack of my life. and they kept growing. apparently waiting for something. I was following a map. but did not run. in order. That night. to keep the sightlines clear for the cameras. I thought. a rival group was trying to take it from them. Its upper and lower incisors did not meet to grind each other down. Walking the colonial streets. Months later. I I had bought a small. Its teeth resumed growing. alone in a bed vast as that city. looking over the radiant expanse of a n endless city. barely registering the event. The teeth shattered. The crowd on either side had formed its own barriers. There were no police. I botched the job. I came across a crowd of a few hundred people and some television crews milling about. to attend one of those cultural conventions.of the block was deserted. where foreign governments treat otherwise obscure intellectuals to exorbitant hospitality. I quickened my pace. I was met at the airport by an official.

the easier t o squirm through their narrow tunnels. "Weinberger simply needs a freshman English class. its rump exposed t o the moon and predators. its tail dangling down. who digs a temporary hole t o the surface. male and female equally. with innumerable cul-de-sacs branching off." Never having had a freshman English class. a review of a book of mine that ended. They never surface. a mile or two long. I N . I abandoned the essay titled "My Pet Rabbit. The smallest among them are the diggers and food-gatherers who work through the night in a line. in an academic journal. When they come across . discouraged. it wasn't very clear. They have a caste system. mauled it t o death. large and small. until the last." NAKED MOLE-RATS [I9951 aked mole-rats have no fur. Their pinkish mottled skin is loose and hangs in folds. but a straight tunnel. Incisors protrude from their mouths like pincers. They live on the tuberous roots that grow towards them. tripartite like the Indian. Their world is not a labyrinth. moving a ton of dirt every month. the only feature of their undefined faces. I thought of my pet rabbit a few years later. kicks out the dirt. I decided to write an essay titled "My Pet Rabbit". like something that has lost a great deal of weight. But it was true that the various cruelties of the story. it seemed the thing to do. and then plugs the hole again. I sent it to a friend who sometimes teaches creative writing. root. This was not what I had intended and. after reading. the first gnawing the earth and kicking it back to the next who kicks it back. even portentous. by the fact of their isolation in my writing of it. They are blind. This connection had never occurred to me. and that if I was trying to draw a parallel between myself and the rabbit as victims. She thought the essay was vague and pointless.smashed through the small cage where the rabbit was living outdoors. and then couldn't get out. and certain larger chambers. As many as three hundred inhabit a colony. they chew off pieces to carry to the others. They have been under the earth for at least three million years. but their lips are hairy. deliberate and inadvertent. One naked mole-rat can fit across your fingers. become linked. had all.

batting. when they find food. If she dies there is chaos. They clean their feet with their teeth. when they can't find food. bracing themselves by holding their front legs against the walls of the tunnel. ignored by the others until she dies. Naked mole-rats make a t least seventeen sounds: soft chirps and loud chirps. rubbing noses. They yawn. nuzzling. Their hearing is acute. each naked mole-rat with its nose pressed against the anus and genitals of another. swiping. in the warm sunless earth. when they don't know it. They clean their teeth with their feet. when they're disturbed. the white-lipped snakes and the sand boas that sometimes find their way in. hisses. clanking teeth. only one female reproduces. wounded. Sometimes a naked mole-rat will suddenly stop. breathing rapidly into each other's open mouths. One dead-end branch of the tunnel is their toilet: they wallow there in the soaked earth so that all will smell alike. She has four or five litters a year of a dozen pups. Interbred so long. the female runs wildly through the tunnels. who are the breeders. They are continually cruel in small ways. At times the live ones are eaten too. grunts. screams. The babies have transparent skin through which their internal organs are clearly visible. They doze with their short legs splayed. initiated by her. The dead babies are eaten. Different sounds for when they bump into each other. They scratch themselves after they piss. who try to fend off the rufous-beaked snakes. they are virtually clones. biting. and they live long lives. its head pressed against the roof of the tunnel. male and female. Only a few survive. alarmed. mouth to anus. They scurry with eyes closed. Just before birth. when they shove each other. high-pitched and low. have sex. She is by far the longest and the fattest and the most aggressive in the colony. when they mate. When she becomes pregnant. pawing. They sleep in a packed heap in the nesting chamber. twitters. adjust the angle. and then shrink. pulling one another's baggy skin. stand on its hind-legs and remain motionless. staying warm. They change direction by somersaulting. They spend their time nuzzling her. sneezes. They find their way. But only the females who compete for the role of breeder inflict real harm. bychance. They attack with repeated tiny bites that are. their huge heads drooping. their warriors fight to the death. They bask near the surface. when they meet a foreigner such as a beetle. w h o d o nothing else. dart backwards. with the breeders on the top. two colonies of naked mole-rats tunnel into each other. the teats of every colony member. trills. These castes serve the largest. They double over. They shiver. dart forward again.V'I<II II S It1 A ( II O N The medium-sized are the warriors. reach their peak at the birth. by mounting her from behind for fifteen seconds. twenty years o r more. when they piss. Unique among mammals. the defeated female crouches shivering in the toilet. Above its head is the civil war in Somalia. tooth-grinding. The tunnels are never silent. t o eat their own shit. if the snake is small enough. mysteriously instantly fatal. shoving each other sometimes a yard down the tunnel. by darting forward till their nose bumps the wall. over and under each other. forwards or backwards at the same speed. She is attended by one to three males. except for their heads. the file snakes. When. When their tunnel is blocked they work from both sides and reconnect it perfectly. They are nearly always touching each other. . enlarge. and mainly failing. tongue-taps. Wounded.

188. 188 Bernardo Bertolucci 31 Wolf Biermann 169 John Birch Society 110 . Auden 80. 79.H. 84. 127 Paul Auster 80 Ayasoluk 22 Gaston Bachelard 43 Francis Bacon 31 Deirdre Bair 205 Bernardo de Balbuena 209 Amiri Baraka 77. 204-21 1 Ludwig von Beethoven 150 Bei Dao 173. 81. Ammons 187 Sascha Anderson 169. 31 Guillaume Apollinaire 76. 186. 76-78. 86. 174. 82. 184. 102. 18 1. 128. 84. 184 John Ashbery 32. 184 W. 63 Richard Aldington 80 Will Alexander 182-83 Allah 160 Donald Allen 62. 170 Bruce Andrews 84-86 David Antin 20. 86 Baucis 21 Charles Baudelaire 102. 59 Charles Bernstein 83. 94. 187 Anni Albers 58 Josef Albers 56-60.R. 81. 62. 95. 182 Louis Aragon 222 Reinaldo Arenas 217.INDEX Steve Abbott 39-41 Leonie Adams 188 Fleur Adcock 186. 128 A. 22 1 Ben Belitt 33. 220 The Beatles 137 Samuel Beckett 81.216. 125. 175 Michael Benedikt 20 Stephen Vincent Benet 184 William Rose Benet 184 Gwendolyn Bennett 187 Eric Bentley 56. 80.217 Mary Barnard 81 Willis Barnstone 33-36 Georges Bataille 43. 81. 128. 128. 130. 130. 89 Ted Berrigan 128 Faith Berry 177 John Berryrnan 127. 221 Rae Armantrout 86 Antonin Artaud 68. 182. 86. 187 Agni 100 Conrad Aiken 114. 130 Michelangelo Antonioni 28.

91. 176. 95. 39. 36. 78.e. 62. 94. 129 Dennis Donaghue 26. 61. 180 Alfred Corn 27 Gregory Corso 95 Hernan Cortes 67 Malcolm Cowley 8 1 Hart Crane 74. 81 Gwendolyn Brooks 184. 62. 56. 184. 80. 182.V.58. 184 Alan Bold 154 Frances Boldereff 1 19 Ilya Bolotowsky 56 Arna Bontemps 187 George Bowering 20 Paul Bowles 8 1 C. 24. 61 Roque Dalton 222.Sven Birkerts 76-78 Elizabeth Bishop 39.SO-52 Will~am Rurroughs 127 George Rush 103-7. 165. 81. 85 C. 32 Donatello 67 John Donne 53 Ed Dorn 20. 153 Charles Doughty 3 50. 81.K.W. Clavijcro 71 Bill & Hillary Clinton 219 Samuel Taylor Coleridge 89 Christopher Colun~bus 125. 197 Maurice Blanchot 80 Alexander Blok 152 Robert Bly 13-17. 85. Dixon 25 E. 185 Dido 21 Walt Disney 16 F. 171 Bertolt Brecht 158.184 Thomas Blake 67 William Blake 53.M.H. 102 Chiang Kai-shek 109 Chuang Tzu 173 John Ciardi 21 E. 39-41. 63. 144 Clark Coolidge 84 Seam~~s Cooney 176 Dennis Cooper 3 9 . 40. 181. 183. Day Lewis 8 1 Giorgio De Chirico 128 Jose deCreeft 56 Pieter de Hoogh 48 Elaine de Kooning 55. 79. 60. 81 Michael Davidson 83 Leonardo daVinci 4 7 Lydia Davis 8 1. 170. 187 Nancy Cunard 81 J. 37. 223 Kate Daniels 180 Dante Alighieri 125 Guy Davenport 20. 188. 121. M. 194 Aim6 CPsaire 80.L. 61. 56 Paul de Man 169 Francisco de Terrazas 21 1 Edgar DCgas 67 Sonia Delaunay 181. 8 1. 128. 76. 83. 81. 4 1 Cid Corman 79. 89. Fanny Calderbn de la Barca 68 Harry Callahan 56 Albert Camus 224 Roy Campbell 33-36. 187 Countee Cullen 187 e. 89. 129. 130. 81. Chesterton 81. Doctorow 116 Don Juan 120. 1. 174. 187 John Peale Bishop 8 1 Paul Rlackburn 20. 112. 109-1 1. 1. 95. 194 Delphic Oracle 125 Agnes deMille 56 Christopher Dewdney 88 Robert di Yanni 187-88 Bernal Diaz del Castillo 124 Salvador Diaz Miron 2 10 James Dickey 36 Emily Dickinson 82. 189 Johnny Carson 117 Jimmy Carter 104 Turner Cassity 2 1 Carlos Castaneda 141 Fidel Castro 106 Frederick Catherwood 68 Catullus 176 Paul Celan 85 Blaise Cendrars 103. 40. 20. 39. 129 Jennifer Dorn 39 John Dos Passos 81. 183. 119. Douglas 149. 224 Fyodor Dostoyevsky 149. 178 George Butterick 120. 56. 234 Andre Breton 43. Cunningham 81 Merce Cunningham 55. 56. 81 Ettore Caprioli 160 Michelangelo Caravaggio 48 Ernesto Cardenal 221 Alejo Carpentier 220 Leonora Carrington 68 Hayden Carruth 20. 77. 125. 206 Jonathan Chaves 80 Franqois Cheng 89 G. Cioran 43 John Clare 53 Tom Clark 39-41. 222 Chac 74 John Chamberlain . cummings 8 1. 56 Willem de Kooning 55. 77. 1 18-20 Paul Claudel 206 F. 153 .J. 8 1. 219. 155 Major C.56 RenP Char 76. 130. 206 Max Brod 120 Joseph Brodsky 178 David Bromige 20 William Bronk 79. 40. 67 Kamau Rrathwaite 170. 129. 188 Martin Buber 155 Buddha 134 Basil Bunting 20.57 Robert Burns 1. 187 Arthur Cravan 64 Robert Creeley 20. 80. 165. 1 76 Witter Bynner 81 Lord Byron 22 John Cage 55. Bowra 206 Mark Alexander Boyd 149 Kay Boyle 81 Anne Bradstreet 184 Brahma 192 Constantin Brancusi 32. 60 Edward Dahlberg 56 Salvador Dali 46.

61. 101. Eisenhower 82. Graham 20 Clement Greenberg 56 Balcomb Greene 56 Graham Greene 68 Jonathan Greene 79 Horace Gregory 79 Marcel Griaule 52 Christopher Grieve 148-159 Michael Grieve 148. 60 Lee Harwood 81 Robert Hass 187 Rohert Hayden 188 Sen. 121. 128 Leon Edel 120 Larry Eigner 20.D. 83. 128. 223 Lionel Feininger 56 Robert Fergusson 150 Lawrence Ferlinghetti 81. 127. 79 Hans hlagnus Enzensherger 129 Federico Garcia Lorca 125. 191 Robert Gluck 85 God 25. 140 Elaine 29.200 Queen Elizabeth I 149 Duke Ellington 177 Richard Ellman 186. 130. 175. 80. 153 Jonathan Griffin 23-25. 129. 83. 81 Tirn Griffin 21 6 Walter Gropius 56 Grucci family 116 Gu Cheng 172-74 Barbara Guest 128 Che Guevara 3 1. 80. 170 William Everson 184 Marianne Faithfull 127 Rev. 119 Michael Hamburger 129 Thomas Hardy 81. 176. Frazer 43 Stuart Freibert 187 Sigmund Freud 102 Robert Frost 176. 221 Nicolas Guillen 220 Gunga Din 106 Thom Gunn 21 H. 62. 187. 81 Anselm Hollo 20. 178 Marry Emma Harris 55 Lou Harrison 56. 187.Gawin Douglas 149 Lynne Dreyer 86 Norman Duhie 23 Marcel Duchamp 128. Housman 81 . 79. 39. 176. 59 Max-Pol Fouchet 206 Charles Fourier 99 Francisco Franco 222 Waldo Frank 81 Dr. 83. 160. 40. Graham 80 W. 188 Dana Gioia 87 Duncan Glen 155 Louise Gliick 189. 99. 130. 62. 80 Dwight D. 127 Theodore Enslin 20. 171. 41. 152. 201 'P. 18. 52. 110. 20 1 Alan Dugan 184 Harold Dull 20 Georges Dumezil 43 Paul Lawrence Dunbar 187 William Dunhar 149. 80. 100. 110 Hermann Goring 49 Maxim Gorki 218 Jose Gorostiza 206 Adolph Gottlieb 71 A. 89. 222 Empedocles 21 William Empson 81. 96. 154. 185. 189 Paul Eluard 220. 151 Rohert Duncan 20.S.223 Daryl Hine 18-22 Zinaida Hippius 152 Friedrich Holderlin 82 John Hollander 20. 79. 94. 89. Jesse Helms 178 Rohert Henrysoun 149 George Herbert 25 Zbigniew Herbert 227 Nazim Hikmet 158. 91. 42.200 Duo Duo 172 Rachel Blau Duplessis 79. 77. 97. 40. 185. 83. 193. 187 Marilyn Hacker 187 Donald Hall 81 Frans Hals 48 Linda Hamalian 118. 208 Enrique Gonzalez Martinez 210 Paul Goodman 56 Mikhail Gorbachev 109. Frankenstein 73 James G. 184. 129. 206 Newt Gingrich 2 18 Allen Ginsberg 39. 81 Paul Hoover 189 Gerard hlanley Hopkins 25.S. 95 Denis Dutton 45 Clayton Eshleman 20. 188 Buckminster Fuller 55. 176. 60 Gabriel 160 Thomas Gage 68 Ganesh 100 Greta Garho 49 Richard Eberhart 178 Meister Eckhart 60 George Economou 81.220 Alonso Garcia Bravo 145 David Gascoyne 8 1 Henri Gaudier-Brzeska 65 Alberto Giacometti 63. 129. 94. 114.E. 63. Scott Fitzgerald 81 Frances Fitzgerald 116 Ford Maddox Ford 81 Henry Ford 57 Clark Foreman 56. 81. 115. 95 Vincent Ferrini 122 Donald Finkel 172 Karen Finley 114 Roy Fisher 80 F. 30 Mircea Eliade 42-44. 81. 174. 112. 80. 184. 122.208 Jean-Luc Godard 134 Godot 205. Jerry Falwell 178 James T. 56.C. 177. 79. 177. Farrell 224 Kenneth Fearing 77. 81.219. 185. Eliot 15. 160. 95. A.

194 . 177. Walton Litz 176 David Livingstone 194 Ron Loewinsohn 20 John Logan 184 Christopher Logue 81 Henry Wadsworth Longfellow 79. 94. 127. 222 Christopher MacGowan 176 Nathaniel Mackey 170 Sorley Maclean 154 Archibald MacLeish 187 Jackson MacLow 80. Kennedy 184 Jack Kerouac 135 Myung Mi Kim 180 Galway Kinnell 187 Rudyard Kipling 81 Mark Kirschen 79.57 T. 179. 177. Lawrence 4 2 Gregory Lee 172 Ma be1 Lee 172 Michel Leiris 86 Brad Leithauser 8 7 V. 81. 85.E.217 Louis MacNeice 8 1 Madonna 136. 221 Li Ch'ing-ch'ao 165 Vachel Lindsav 187 Richard Lippold 55. Lawrence 16. 21 0 Amy Lowell 21. 68. 88 Joseph Mc(:arthy 6 1 .V/lalcolnl I. 80. 46 Karl Kraus 178 Ernst Krenek 56 Maxine Kumin 184 Valery Larbaud 76 Else Lasker-Schiiler 152 James Laughlin 81 Comte de Lautriamont 184 D. 183. 91.208. 155. 194 Man Ray 206 Osip Mandelstam 28. 226 Peter Math iessen 116 Alfred Maudslay 68 Christopher Maurer 175 Vladirnir Mayakovsky 1. 187 Robinson Jeffers 187 Jesus 50. Queen Juliana 48 C ~ r Jlu n g 4 3 Donald Justice 187 Stanley Kun~tz 8 1 Joanne Kyger 39 Mina Loy 79. 2 1 . Lenin 149. 128. 158. Il~galls 8 9 Eugene Ionesco 4 3 Kenneth Irby 2 0 Itzp'ipalotl 71 Roderick lverson 168 Edrnond Jahes 80. 26. 106 Robert Kennedy 3 1 William Kennedy 116 X. 148-159.owrv 70. 190. 62. 93. 1. 79. 182. 21 9 Bernadette Maver 85 Jerome M a z z ~ r o26 Steve McC:atfei-y 86. 80 Henry Kissinger 106 Carolyn Kizer 172. 157 Matthew Josephson 81 James Joyce 81. 118. 188 Ted Hughes 81 Rlchard Hugo 184 V~cente u ~ d o b r o 80. Johnson 185 Davrd Jones 24. 80 Thomas H. 129.58. 56. 187 Claude Levi-Strauss 52 Walter Lew 2 17 Josk Lezama Lima 86. 121. 150. 60 Katherine Litz 56 A. 10 1. 128 John Kennedy 31. 86. 180 Enver Hoxha 181 Emperor Huang-tr 144 Langston I-lughes 77.H. 80. 137 Mahavira 134 Norman Mailer 116 klalcoln~ 158 X Stephane Mallarmi 182. 219.H.I. 86. 85 Philippe Jaccottet 80 Max Jacob 76 Mick Jagger 127 James VI (James I) 149 John Jamieson 151 Randall Jarrell 21. 86. i Hugh MacDiarmid 53. 8 1. 154. 30. 86. 184 Henry Luce 109 L~lfkin 122 Henrik lbsen 58 Hrtoshi Igarash~ 161 David lgnatow 81 Daniel H. 222 Thomas Mann 155 Guy Levis Mano 206 M a o Zedong 31. 222. 188 Rohert Lowell 24. 80 Denise Levertov 20. 95. 81. 79. 113 Ronald Johnson 20. 89. 121. 8 1 . 1 9 3 H Dav~d Hume 150 Dorrs Humphrey 56 Erlca Hunt 21 6 Aldous Huwlev 68 Lyndon Johnson 15. 184 Susan Howe 79. 80. 154. 75. 62.Richard Howard 20.J. 84. 80. 86. 218 Karin Lessing 33. 81. 26. 185 Ramcin L6pez Velarde 207. 134 James Weldon J O ~ J I S O185-1 8 7 II Franz Kafkd 120 Eric Kahler 56 Alfred Kazin 56 Buster Keaton 5 7 Robert Kelly 53. 153. 82. 129. 220 Robert Mapplethorpe 1 12 Marcus Aurelius 66 Karl Marx 2 19. 184 Paul Klee 71 hug~lst Kleinzahler 79 Franz Kline 56 Kenneth Koch 128 Wayne Koestenbaum 114 Jerzy Kosinski 45.


8. 174. 199 Richard Siehurth 82 Ron Silli~nan 20. 9 5 Philippe Soupaulr 76. 158. 88 . 191 Comte de Volncv 7 1 Mar~e-Lou~se n Franz 56 to hurt Vonnegut 1 16 Rl~hard Wagner 32. 233 Carl Sandburg 118792 Luis de Sandoval y Zapata 210 George Santayana 8 1 Enrico Mario Santi 7 9 0 Sappho 46 Aram Saroyan 20 Jcan-Paul Sartre 85 Satan 105. John of the Crosc) 33-35. 84. 129. 88. 188 Sir John Soane 73 Gustaf Sobin 79.210 David Roessel 177 Theodore Roethke 188 Henry Roth 224 Jerome Rothenberg 79. 94. 187 Ben Shahn 56 Wlilliam Shakespeare 47. 154 Lionel Trilling 90 Alexander l'roschi 127 Paul Valerv 1 52. 8 5 . 288.13 1 . 86. 1 17 May Swenson 184 Giuseppe T~lcci 195 David T'c~dor60 Ciael Turnbull 20. 187 Armand Schwerner 8 1 . 81. 176. 81. 86. Snodgrass 187 Gary Snyder 20. 8 1. 222. 206 Barry Spllcks 20 Lewis Spence 150 Stephen Spender 80. 81 Mark Twain 47 C:y Twombly 56 Jack T~vorkov56 William Tyndale 161 Tristan Tzara 65. 186. 124. 179. 185. 178 \X'illiarn S t y o n 116.Edrnond Rocher 152 Stephen Rodefer 39 Auguste Kodin 67 Edouard Roditi 81 Janet Rodney 52 Igancio Rodrigue~ Galvan 208. 184 \X'illialn St'jfford 20. 79. 80. 186 Anastasia Somoza 222 Sophocles 136 Gilbert Sorrentino 16. 224 Sylvester Stallone 178 Gertrude Stein 80. 140. 224 h l a ~ k a n Doten 20. 128 Winfield Townley Scott 20 Frederick Seidel 26-32 Roger Sessions 56 Anne Sexton 20. 128 Bernard Rudofsky 56 Muriel Rukeyser 20. 172. 53. 184 Irwin Shaw 58 Percy Bysshe Shelley 73 Leo Shestov 149 Shiva 116. 206 Nathaniel Tarn 51-53. 161 Maria Sabina 133. 180. 81. 161 Hiroaki Sato 80 Phyllis Schaflv 164 Rainer Schedlinski 168-170 Linda Schele 69 Artur Schnahel 22 lames Schuyler 128 Delrrlore Schwartz. 175 Douglas Rothhchild 21 7 Raymond Roussel 76. 83. 81. 187 James Tate 187 Sara Teasdale 184. 188 loseph Stalin 148. 86. 184 Wallace Stevens 77. 184. 160. 188 Dennis Tedlock 70 Roberto Tejada 132 Gerard Ter Borch 48 blagali Tercero 132 Margaret Thatcher 107 Dylan Thomas 8 1 James T h ~ ~ r b e1 9 r 'Mark Tobey 71 Charles Tomlinson 20. 79.5. 95.~ns van Mergeren 48-49 hfarro Vargas Llosa 139 Henry Vaughan 25 Helen Vendler 188. 81. 80. 127 lack Spicer 78. 89. 81 Robert Tomson 64 Jean Toomer 193 Joacluin Torres-Garcia 68 Jaime Torres-Bodet 205. 189 Jan Vermeer 48-49 Esteban Vlcente 56 X ~ v ~V ~ l l a u r r u t206 rr ~~ V~shnu 190. 129.224 Salman Rushdie 106. 130. 182 Cesar Vnllelo 52. 92-95 Charles Sirliic 8 1 Marc Simon 176 Louis Simpson 184 Frank Sinatra 2 7 Aaron Siskind 56 John Skelton 89 Christopher Smart 5 3 Gregory Smith 150 W. 47 David Wagoner 71 I)~ancK'akosk~ 128 Derek W. 82-82.ilc~tt 17 1 Anne Waldm'~n 128 Rosrn'ir~eWaldrop 79. 8 1. 89. 224 Karl Shapiro 20. 127. 206 Thomas Traherne 25 Willard Trask 130 Vr~ldaTrrvlvn 1 3 . 81. 178 H. 141 Frank Sarnpcsri 20 San Juan de la Cruz (St. 130 Allcn Tatc 81. 160. 184 \ hlona Van Duyn 20.D. 188 Trumbull Stickney 188 Mark Strand 81.

223 Edmund Wilson 86 Sir James Wilson 151 Yvor Winters 184 Christa Wolf 169 Stefan Wolpe 56 William Wordsworth 14. 174 Yang Lian 173 \V. 81. Gordon Wasson 140. 28.R. 91. 6 3 .5. 188 Wendell Wilkie 180 Nancy \Yiillard 187 Jonathan Williams 61. 178. 8 0 . 187. 185. 176. 176. 1.Irving Wallace 49 Sylvia Townsend Warner 156 Robert Penn Warren 188 R. 79. 89 Evelyn W a ~ ~ g68 h Wei Hung 25 Alexis Weissenberg 47.50 Richard LVilbur 81. 6 2 . 73. 101. 83. 8 3 . 184. 223 Xie Ye 173. 157 . 171. 99 Charles Wright 187 James Wright 81. 77. 158 Benjamin Lee Whorf 89. 188 Eleanor Wylie 184. 89. 31.142 Vernon Watkins 20. 188 David Y o ~ ~ n187 g Vernon Young 27. 48 Phillip Whalen 20 Walt Whitrnan 1. 32 Ossip Zadkine 56 Marva Zaturenska 184 Louis Zukofsky 20. Yeats 2. 182. 53. 125. 80. 6 2 \Villiam Carlos Williams 15. 7 7 . 86. 186. 53. 1 16.5. 188. 8 1 Burton Watson 80 Rarrett Watten 85. 8.

and Xavier Villaurrutia's Nostalgia fov Death (Copper Canyon). with Octavio Paz. In 1992. Jorge Luis Borges's Seven Niiyhts ( N e w Directions). poetry. Vicente Huidobro's Altazav (Graywolf). His essays on Asia. and the editor of the recent anthology Amcvican Poetuy Since 1950: lnnouatovs & Outsidevs (Marsilio). Latin America. he was named the first recipient of the PENKolovakos Award for his work in promoting Hispanic literatuie in the United States. of 3 s t ~ ~ d y of Chinese poetry translation.ABOUT THE A U T H O R Eliot Weinberger is a noted essayist. and politics are collected in Wovks on Papev and Outside Stovies. Among his many translations of Latin America~i poetry and prose are the Collected Poenrs of Octauio Paz 19. both published hy New Directions. Nineteen Ways of Looking at Wang Wei (Moyer Bell). H e is the co-author. translator. .57-1 987 ( N e w Directions). and editor.

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