Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Behind the Seen


Robert Doisneau, Barbarian prisoner and Callipygian Venus, Versailles, 1966

Born on the 2nd of July, 1923 - Wisława Szymborska, Polish poet and Nobel Laureate (1996)…


Born on the 3rd of July, Franz Kafka, Czech-born Jewish-German writer (1883 - 1924), author of excellently absurdist short stories and novels…


July 4, 1865 was the publication date for Alice in Wonderland

Above: one of the plates for the 1st ed. - Sir John Tenniel, 1864 or 1865. The Cheshire Cat,


Born on the 5th of July, Jean Cocteau (1889 - 1963) - a French poet, novelist, dramatist, designer, boxing manager, playwright, artist and filmmaker.

Born on the 6th of July: Frida Kahlo (1907 - 1954), vibrant Mexican painter and activist…


Mervyn Peake (July 9, 1911 – 1968) was an English modernist writer, artist, poet and illustrator. He is best known for what are usually referred to as the Gormenghast books, a trilogy of strange surrealist and fantastic tales of a boy’s life in the huge castle of Gormenghast. Peake also ilustrated numerous books, showing a taste for the grotesque, painted, and wrote plays and (nonsense) poetry.


When Aunty Flo
Became a Crow
She had a bed put in a tree;
And there she lay
And read all day
Of ornithology.


Born on the 10th of July, 1951 -Abbas Saffari, Iranian poet


Marcel (right) and Robert Proust, c. 1880
Marcel (right) and Robert Proust, c. 1880

Birthday of the great rememberer, Marcel Proust, July 10, 1871 (d. 1922, pneumonia and a pulmonary abscess), author of the great novel sequence À la recherche du temps perdu

From Swann’s Way: “When from a long-distant past nothing subsists, after the people are dead, after the things are broken and scattered, still, alone, more fragile, but with more vitality, more unsubstantial, more persistent, more faithful, the smell and taste of things remain poised a long time, like souls, ready to remind us, waiting and hoping for their moment, amid the ruins of all the rest; and bear unfaltering, in the tiny and almost impalpable drop of their essence, the vast structure of recollection.”

From The Past Recaptured: “By art alone we are able to get outside ourselves, to know what another sees of this universe which for him is not ours, the landscapes of which would remain as unknown to us as those of the moon. Thanks to art, instead of seeing one world, our own, we see it multiplied and as many original artists as there are, so many worlds are at our disposal, differing more widely from each other than those which roll round the infinite and which, whether their name be Rembrandt or Ver Meer, send us their unique rays many centuries after the hearth from which they emanate is extinguished.”


There is a reason why we now have the pleasure of introducing 9 Surrealists…

European surrealists in 1930. Front row: Tristan Tzara, Salvador Dali, Paul Eluard, Max Ernst, Rene Crevel. Back row: Man Ray, Jean Arp, Yves Tanguy, Andre Breton

Submit posts on these and other Surrealist matters - via this link

The surrealist group in Paris, circa 1930. From left to right: Tristan Tzara, Paul Éluard, Andre Breton, Hans Arp, Salvador Dali, Yves Tanguy, Max Ernst, Rene Crevel, Man Ray. (Alternative take)

Breton, Dali, Crevel, Eluard - 1930


Pablo Neruda, Chilean poet and Nobel Laureate: July 12, 1904 - 1973…

Ode to Wine

Day-colored wine,
night-colored wine,
wine with purple feet
or wine with topaz blood,
starry child
of earth,
wine, smooth
as a golden sword,
as lascivious velvet,
wine, spiral-seashelled
and full of wonder,
never has one goblet contained you,
one song, one man,
you are choral, gregarious,
at the least, you must be shared.
At times
you feed on mortal
your wave carries us
from tomb to tomb,
stonecutter of icy sepulchers,
and we weep
transitory tears;
spring dress
is different,
blood rises through the shoots,
wind incites the day,
nothing is left
of your immutable soul.
stirs the spring, happiness
bursts through the earth like a plant,
walls crumble,
and rocky cliffs,
chasms close,
as song is born.
A jug of wine, and thou beside me
in the wilderness,
sang the ancient poet.
Let the wine pitcher
add to the kiss of love its own.

My darling, suddenly
the line of your hip
becomes the brimming curve
of the wine goblet,
your breast is the grape cluster,
your nipples are the grapes,
the gleam of spirits lights your hair,
and your navel is a chaste seal
stamped on the vessel of your belly,
your love an inexhaustible
cascade of wine,
light that illuminates my senses,
the earthly splendor of life.

But you are more than love,
the fiery kiss,
the heat of fire,
more than the wine of life;
you are
the community of man,
chorus of discipline,
abundance of flowers.
I like on the table,
when we’re speaking,
the light of a bottle
of intelligent wine.
Drink it,
and remember in every
drop of gold,
in every topaz glass,
in every purple ladle,
that autumn labored
to fill the vessel with wine;
and in the ritual of his office,
let the simple man remember
to think of the soil and of his duty,
to propagate the canticle of the wine.


Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920)
Amedeo Clemente Modigliani (July 12, 1884 – January 24, 1920)

A credo: “Hold sacred all which can exalt and excite your intelligence and seek to provoke … and to perpetuate … these fertile stimuli, because they can push the intelligence to its maximum creative power.”

Modigliani lies in Père Lachaise cemetery in Paris. Next to him lies his passionate beloved Jeanne Hébuterne who two days after Modigliani’s death from tubercular meningitis (exacerbated by alcoholism) through herself out a window, killing herself and her unborn baby (she was nine months pregnant with their second child). His epitaph reads: “Struck down by Death at the moment of glory.” Hers reads: “Devoted companion to the extreme sacrifice.”


Max Jacob (July 12, 1876 – March 5, 1944) was a French poet, painter, writer, and critic.

img: Max Jacob by Pablo Picasso, 1907 - Museum Ludwig, Köln

Max’s Moon Poem:

At night three mushrooms are the moon. Abruptly as a cuckoo clock striking, they rearrange themselves each month at midnight. In the garden are rare flowers, little men lying down, a hundred of them, reflec­tions in a mirror. In my dark room a luminescent censer is prowling, then two … phosphorescent air­ships, reflections in a mirror. In my head a bee is talk­ing. - Le cornet à dés


The body cold and stiff in the morgue of the world who will give its life back so it may leave?

The morgue mountain is on my body who will free its life so it may leave?

Eyes advance like a cloud of bees the eyes of Argus or the lamb of the Apocalypse.

The cloud has thawed my body’s morgue. A place, understand me, for the sweet coming of the Lord.

Finally, the body’s little more than a faint outline the eyes of the cloud gone too.

What’s left barely the size of a steak: a bloodstain, some bits of marble in memory of a lost name.

- Derniers poèmes

(William Kulik - translator)

And Max Jacob painted this portrait in words of his friend Amedeo (Dedo):

“Picasso said: ‘There’s only one man in Paris who knows how to dress and that is Modigliani.’ He didn’t say that as a joke. Modigliani, poor as he was, even to the extent of having to borrow three sous for the underground to go to the literary evenings at the Closerie des Lilas, was not only refined, but had an eclectic elegance. He was the first man in Paris to wear a shirt made of cretonne. God knows this fashion has got all over the world, and with what variations! He had colour harmonies in dressing that were all his own. And since I am talking about clothes, I’ll tell the tale of a corduroy coat. It belonged to Picasso, was as stiff as armour, and had a turned-down collar lined with woollen cloth, very Spanish in style, and it buttoned-if you could button it-right up. Picasso, having got a bit fatter, gave it to me. But I could never wear this hard shell and I made a present of it to Dedo, who wore it with his usual chic. We gummed inside it the story of this coat.

Dedo (in these days) had done little but sculpture and enormous drawings, vaguely coloured. These works denoted a knowledge of Oriental and Negro art. Everything in Dedo tended towards purity in art. His insupportable pride, his black ingratitude, his haughtiness, did not exclude familiarity. Yet all that was nothing but a need for crystalline purity, a trueness to himself in life as in art. He was cutting, but as fragile as glass; also as inhuman as glass, so to say. And that was very characteristic of the period, which talked of nothing but purity in art and strove for nothing else. Dedo was to the last degree a purist. His mania for purity went so far as to make him seek out Negroes, jail-birds, tramps, to record the purity of the lines in his drawings.

I think that Dedo was frightened of colour that was not pure. Chez Dedo this wasn’t to be in the fashion but a real need of his temperament.” - From: Pierre Sichel, Modigliani, New York (Dutton) 1976, p. 180

Photo of Max Jacob and Pablo Picasso by Jean Cocteau

Modigliani painted this portrait of his friend Max Jacob:

Portrait of Max Jacob, 1916 - Oil on canvas

Kunstsammlung Nordrhein-Westfalen, Dusseldorf


Jewish-Russian writer Isaac Babel was born July 13, 1894. He was murdered by the Soviet dictatorship in 1940 in one of its paranoid purges of artists who dared think differently and express it…

“No iron can stab the heart with such force as a period put just at the right place.”


Nigerian writer, poet and playwright, Wole Soyinka, was born July 13, 1934. He won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1986, the first African to be so honoured. His major play Death and the King’s Horseman is a sophisticated critique of both colonial arrogance and tribal conservatism…

In his Nobel Lecture Soyinka discussed what he ironically terms a ‘curious fact’:

“The pre-colonial history of African societies - and I refer to both Euro-Christian and Arab-Islamic colonization - indicates very clearly that African societies never at any time of their existence went to war with another over the issue of their religion. That is, at no time did the black race attempt to subjugate or forcibly convert others with any holier-than-thou evangelizing zeal. Economic and political motives, yes. But not religion. Perhaps this unnatural fact was responsible for the conclusions of Hegel - we do not know. Certainly, the bloody histories of the world’s major religions, localized skirmishes of which extend even to the present, lead to a sneaking suspicion that religion, as defined by these eminent philosophers, comes to self-knowledge only through the activity of war.” (Source)

Watch and hear Soyinka read his poem Lost Poems


By strange coincidence the two most penetrating 20th C. thinkers concerning the function of the archive and the fragment were both born on July 15:

Walter Benjamin & Jacques Derrida


Walter Benjamin (1892 - 1940, suicide), German-Jewish Marxist philosopher: At work in the library (Photo by Gisèle Freund)

“Of all the ways of acquiring books, writing them oneself is regarded as the most praiseworthy method. […] Writers are really people who write books not because they are poor, but because they are dissatisfied with the books which they could buy but do not like.” - Unpacking my Library: A Talk About Book Collecting (1931)

A Page of Benjamin’s Paris Address Book of the 1930s

A Page of Benjamin’s Paris Address Book of the 1930s


Jacques Derrida (July 15, 1930 - 2004), Jewish-French, Algerian-born philosopher and deconstructivist…

“I have tried to submit the singularity that is writing, signature, self-presentation, autobiographical engagement to the most rigorous-and necessary-philosophical questioning.”


Yevgeny Yevtushenko
b July 18, 1933

Poetry gives off smoke...

Bullets & Flowers

Yevgeny Yevtushenko Poetry Archive

Yevgeny Yevtushenko poems translated by Alec Vagapov 1 2


Dissident Soviet poet Yeugeny Yevtushenko was born July 18, 1933. He is also a novelist, essayist, dramatist, screenwriter, actor, editor, and a director of several films - and a controversial figure in Russia where his true status as dissident is frequently questioned…

America has been quick to embrace him - even down to Tricky Dick himself posing with him in 1972…

A good poem:


The guide was quoting Verlaine to me:
in one gesture of easy fine feeling
he swept his hand over Paris,
under the rustle of the thin rain.
The verses are irrecoverable,
they ripple like water lit by stars.
‘The sound of it, sir, is beautiful.’
I nod, I say the sound is beautiful.
Paris forgets. Verlaine in vellum
standing as if by the decree of God
stiff on the book-shelf of the bourgeoisie.
How beautiful it is with gin and lime
in prospect of a good night of sleep,
that short, discreet reading aloud.
Proper to do some honour to Verlaine.
And beautiful?
But this
as I remember not as you remember
belongs to you and I return you it.
Verlaine afflicted you. I do not know you.
That misfit of your false pieties
inflamed with alcohol—wrong, you remarked.
Am I too hasty? You distort your faces.
It murdered him by inches.
He was assassinated. Jeers hit at him
from the street-corners. Your kind of
morality consumed him to ashes.
Oh tight drum-bellies drinking to Verlaine!
—these poet-murderers are poet-quoters.

Translated by Peter Levi and Robin Milner-Gulland


In his work Les poètes maudits, published in 1884, Paul Verlaine included the sickly Breton poet Tristan Corbière (July 18, 1845 - 1875). His only published verse in his lifetime appeared in Les amours jaunes, 1873. Corbière died of tuberculosis at the age of 29…

Je suis le fou de Pampelune,
J’ai peur du rire de la Lune,
Cafarde, avec son crêpe noir…
Horreur ! tout est donc sous un éteignoir.

— from Heures

A fool from Pamplona am I
Afraid of the moon in the sky
With his long black veil, smirking about
Horror! - Don’t you see? - He’ll snuff us all out!


The fascinating Soviet poet-hunk Vladimir Mayakovsky (July 19, 1893 - 1930) who never could reconcile his aesthetics (Futurist-Dadaist) with his politics (Leninist)…

From A Slap in the Face of Public Taste (1912), Mayakovky with Burliuk, Kruchenykh and Khlebnikov:

“We alone are the face of our Time. Through us the horn of time blows in the art of the world. The past is too tight. The Academy and Pushkin are less intelligible than hieroglyphics. Throw Pushkin, Dostoevsky, Tolstoy, etc., etc. overboard from the Ship of Modernity. He who does not forget his first love will not recognize his last.”

Photo of Mayakovsky in 1915…

Mayakovsky playing the brute in 1925…

But Could You?

I blurred at once the map of humdrum,
by splashing colours like a potion;
I showed upon the dish of jelly
the slanted cheekbones of the ocean.

Upon the scales of metal fishes
I read the new lips’ attitude.
But could you
perform a nocturne
Just playing on a drainpipe flute?

— 1913

Or, if you prefer:

So Could You?

At once I smeared all routine
by spilling paint in my place;
I took a plate of gelatin
and formed an ocean’s jagged face.
I picked the summons of fresh youth
off rusty glint of fish scale tin.
So could you
a drainpipe flute
and play a nocturne on a whim?

(English translation by Dina Belyayeva)


Swedish popular poet Erik Axel Karlfeldt was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature posthumously in 1931. He had previously refused the Prize in 1912, and was in fact the Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy which selects the Award winners…

Born on July 20, 1864, Karlfeldt was the author of the extremely popular ‘songs’ about the heroic Dalar-peasant Fridolin and many other lyrical poems: Fridolins visor (1898) [Fridolin’s Songs], Fridolins lustgård (1901)[Fridolin’s Pleasure Garden], Flora och Pomona (1906) [Flora and Pomona], Flora och Bellona (1918) [Flora and Bellona], and Hösthorn (1927) [The Horn of Autumn]. Selections of his poetry, translated into English by Charles Wharton Stork under the title Arcadia Borealis, were published in 1938.

Song After Harvest

Here dances Fridolin:

Oh, but he’s full of the sweet red wine

And his acres’ crops and his orchard’s fruit

And the whirl of the waltz divine.

And over his elbows his coat-tail flops

As with each fair damsel in turn he hops,

Till spent on his bosom and blissfully mute,

Like a drooping poppy she drops.

And here dances Fridolin:

Nay, but he’s full of old memories’ wine,

For his sire and his grandsire were cheered of old

By the hum of that scraped violin.

But ye slumber, ye ancients, this festal night,

And numbed is the hand of your fiddler-wight,

And your lives and your times are a tale that is told

In music now sad, now bright.

But here dances Fridolin!

Look at your son, how strong, how fine!

He can talk with the yokel in yokel phrase,

With the learned quote line for line.

Thro’ the new field swishes his scythe in June,

Like you he is glad for the harvest’s boon,

And he lifts up his girl like a man of your race

To the bowl of the simmering moon.


David Burliuk (July 21, 1882 – 1967) was an one-eyed Ukrainian avant-garde artist, book illustrator, publicist, and author associated with Russian Futurism. In the words of his publisher Maryussia Burliuk, David Burliuk was the father of “Soviet Russian Futurism.”

Image: David Burliuk posing for a photograph in New York (c. 1920) - Collection of Mary Holt Burliuk. Courtesy The Ukranian Museum

From Burliuk’s ‘manifesto’, Radio Style - Universal Camp of Radio-Modernists:

“The Radio-Epoch - is the epoch of Cosmopolitanism. The voice of a song sung in Chicago is now heard in Australia and in the Steppes of Russia. The moment is not far distant when all inhabitants of the earth will listen all at once to the declamations of the GREAT.

The President of ESTHETICS of all the world has already been elected. But he himself is not yet aware of it. Perhaps - it is you - you who are reading these lines? A palace of transcendant beauty is already prepared for you.

Life has no meaning when one lives only for the sake of meat cutlets and the meager rewards of material success. Life assumes a meaning then, and only then, when the soul enters into the possiblity of new art.

The kinetic phase destroys the static forms.

The preceeding epoch - now finished - the epoch of electricity - was the Apocalypse of this - the dynamic age.

As in nature this in life the idea of form is continually destroyed by motion - Time - the very process of life.

Music depicts Time through the images of sound.

Painting is nothing but colored Space.

To listen to music we need Time.

To see a painting - frequently only a moment is sufficient.”


A little Hemingway sequence to celebrate the 110th birthday of a great American prose artist…

Ernest Hemingway aboard ship on his way to a Michigan fishing trip, 1915.

“All things truly wicked start from innocence.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

November 1946 Ernest Hemingway and sons Patrick (left) and Gregory, with cats Good Will, Princessa, and Boise. Finca Vigia (Hemingway home), San Francisco de Paula, Cuba.

“To be a successful father… there’s one absolute rule: when you have a kid, don’t look at it for the first two years.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

Ernest Hemingway with Ilya Ehrenburg and Gustav Regler during the Spanish Civil War, not dated, circa 1937.

“There are events which are so great that if a writer has participated in them his obligation is to write truly rather than assume the presumption of altering them with invention.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

Ernest Hemingway on safari, Africa. January, 1934.

“There is no hunting like the hunting of man, and those who have hunted armed men long enough and liked it, never care for anything else thereafter.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

Ernest Hemingway, Paris, circa 1924.

“If you are lucky enough to have lived in Paris as a young man, then wherever you go for the rest of your life it stays with you, for Paris is a moveable feast.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum, Boston.)

Ernest Hemingway in an American Red Cross Ambulance in Italy, 1918

“I know war as few other men now living know it, and nothing to me is more revolting. I have long advocated its complete abolition, as its very destructiveness on both friend and foe has rendered it useless as a method of settling international disputes.” - E.H. (July 21, 1899 — July 2, 1961)

(Photograph in the Ernest Hemingway Photograph Collection, John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum.)


American poet, Hart Crane, was born on July 21, 1899 (d. 1932, suicide by drowning)

“Crane was gay and associated his sexuality with his vocation as a poet. Raised in the Christian Science tradition of his mother, he never ceased to view himself as a pariah in relation to society. However, as poems such as “Repose of Rivers” make clear, he felt that this sense of alienation was necessary in order for him to attain the visionary insight that formed the basis for his poetic work. Just before noon on 27 April 1932, while onboard the steamship SS Orizaba heading back to New York from Mexico - right after he was beaten up for making sexual advances to a male crew member, which may have appeared to confirm his idea that one could not be happy as a homosexual - he committed suicide by jumping into the Gulf of Mexico. Although he had been drinking heavily and left no suicide note, witnesses believed Crane’s intentions to be suicidal, as several reported that he exclaimed “Goodbye, everybody!” before throwing himself overboard.” (Wiki)

Hart Crane: At Melville’s Tomb

Often beneath the wave, wide from this ledge
The dice of drowned men’s bones he saw bequeath
An embassy. Their numbers as he watched,
Beat on the dusty shore and were obscured.

And wrecks passed without sound of bells,
The calyx of death’s bounty giving back
A scattered chapter, livid hieroglyph,
The portent wound in corridors of shells.

Then in the circuit calm of one vast coil,
Its lashings charmed and malice reconciled,
Frosted eyes there were that lifted altars;
And silent answers crept across the stars.

Compass, quadrant and sextant contrive
No farther tides … High in the azure steeps
Monody shall not wake the mariner.
This fabulous shadow only the sea keeps.


From The Complete Poems and Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane by Hart Crane, edited with an introduction and notes by Brom Weber. Used with the permission of Liveright Publishing Corporation. Copyright © 1933, 1958, 1966 by Liveright Publishing Corporation.


Born on the 23rd of July, 1959 -Azar Kiani, Iranian poet


Ahmad Shamlou (Persian: احمد شاملو) (December 12, 1925 — July 24, 2000) a Iranian poet, writer, and journalist.

Robert Graves (July 24, 1895 - 1985), English poet:

“A perfect poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end.”


Dudes in history…

George Berhard Shaw as surfer dude… GBS was born July 26, 1856.

George Berhard Shaw, the eminent Irish playwright, is the only person to have been awarded both the Nobel Prize for Literature (1925) and an Oscar (1938), for his contributions to literature and for his work on the film Pygmalion, respectively. Shaw wanted to refuse his Nobel Prize outright because he had no desire for public honors, but accepted it at his wife’s behest: she considered it a tribute to Ireland. He did reject the monetary award, requesting it be used to finance translation of Swedish books to English


Antonio Machado, Spanish poet (July 26, 1975 - 1939) and one of the leading figures of the Spanish literary movement known as the Generation of ‘98, is known for one poem in particular, The Wanderer (Caminante)

The famous line: “Wanderer, the road does not exist; it is made by your steps alone…”


Merce Cunningham

April 16, 1919- July 26, 2009

Carl Gustav Jung (July 26, 1875 – 1961) was a Swiss psychiatrist, an influential thinker and the founder of analytical psychology…

“This whole creation is essentially subjective, and the dream is the theater where the dreamer is at once scene, actor, prompter, stage manager, author, audience, and critic.” - General Aspects of Dream Psychology (1928)

Photo of Jung at Bollingen, where he kept a Tower which he began building in 1922 and added to over many years…


Aldous Huxley, English novelist and essayist, was born July 26, 1894 (d. 1963). Huxley’s modern fame rests on his dystopian novel Brave New World (Shakespeare quote, natch) and on his acid dropping account The Doors of Perception

Much like J.D. Salinger, Huxley was an adherent of Vedantic faith. In fact, together with Gerald Heard, Christopher Isherwood, and other followers he was initiated by the Swami Prabhavananda and was taught meditation and spiritual practices.

Photo: Portrait of English writer Aldous Huxley, Hollywood, CA, 1947 - Photographer: Gjon Mili


Today’s big art birthday: Marcel Duchamp, July 28, 1887 (d. 1968), French artist associated with Dada and Surrealism, and a huge enabler and influence for several generations of artists that followed. Duchamp moved the conception of art and its boundaries more than any other 20th C. figure…

“The creative act is not performed by the artist alone; the spectator brings the work in contact with the external world by deciphering and interpreting its inner qualifications and thus adds his contribution to the creative act.” - M.D.

Photograph of Marcel Duchamp and Eve Babitz posing for the photographer Julian Wasser during the Duchamp retrospective at the Pasadena Museum of Art, 1963

76 Duchamp items from The Israel Museum

The great Duchamp diary rescue - Previously by/on Duchamp on OF:


In poetry, today’s big birthday is John Ashbery, New York School poet and much, much more: Born July 28, 1927 - 82 today!

In the beginning there are those who don’t quite fit in
But are somehow okay. And then some morning
There are places that suddenly seem wonderful:
Weather and water seem wonderful,
And the peaceful night sky that arrives
In time to protect us, like a sword
Cutting the blue cloak of a prince.

— “A Snowball in Hell,” April Galleons

Photo of Ashbery on the roof, 1981 by Bill Hayward


Warped sonneteer par excellence: Gerard Manley Hopkins (July 28, 1844 - 1889)

AS kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies dráw fláme;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves—goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I do is me: for that I came.

Í say móre: the just man justices;
Kéeps gráce: thát keeps all his goings graces;
Acts in God’s eye what in God’s eye he is—
Chríst—for Christ plays in ten thousand places,
Lovely in limbs, and lovely in eyes not his
To the Father through the features of men’s faces.


Malcolm Lowry (July 28, 1909 – 1957) was a British poet and novelist who is best known for his Tequila-fueled novel, Under the Volcano.

I wrote: in the dark cavern of our birth.
The printer had it tavern, which seems better:
But herein lies the subject of our mirth,
Since on the next page death appears and dearth.
So it may be that God’s word was distraction,
Which to our strange type appears destruction,
Which is bitter.

(‘Strange Type’, from Selected Poems of Malcolm Lowry, 1962)


Stanley Kunitz was an American poet, twice Poet Laureate, born July 29, 1905. He died at the age of 100, in 2006. Kunitz’s poetry has won praise from all circles as being profound and well written. He continued to write and publish as late as 2005. Many believe his poetry’s symbolism is influenced significantly by the work of Carl Jung. Kunitz was an influence on many 20th century poets, including James Wright, Mark Doty, Louise Glück, and Carolyn Kizer. (Wiki)

Here is a little set of parables by Kunitz:

Three Small Parables for My Poet Friends

Certain saurian species, notably the skink, are capable of shedding their tails in self-defense when threatened. The detached appendage diverts attention to itself by taking on a life of its own and thrashing furiously about. As soon as the stalking wildcat pounces on the wriggler, snatching it up from the sand to bite and maul it, the free lizard scampers off. A new tail begins to grow in place of the one that has been sacrificed.


The larva of the tortoise beetle has the neat habit of collecting its droppings and exfoliated skin into a little packet that it carries over its back when it is out in the open. If it were not for this fecal shield, it would lie naked before its enemies.


Among the Bedouins, the beggar poets of the desert are held in contempt because of their greed, their thievery and venality. Everyone in the scattered encampments knows that poems of praise can be bought, even by the worst of scoundrels, for food or money. Furthermore, these wandering minstrels are notorious for stealing the ideas, lines, and even whole songs of others. Often the recitation is interrupted by the shouts of the squatters around the campfire: “Thou liest. Thou stolest it from So-and-so!” When the poet tries to defend himself, calling for witnesses to vouch for his probity or, in extremity, appealing to Allah, his hearers hoot him down, crying, “Kassad, kaddab! A poet is a liar.”

1985 (Source)


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