Thursday, October 1, 2009

Behind the Seen


اینجا پشت پرده ی رندان


The Mahatma, Oct. 2, 1869 - 1948 - spiritual father of India and of the notion of non-violent civil disobedience…

“A ‘No’ uttered from the deepest conviction is better than a ‘Yes’ merely uttered to please, or worse, to avoid trouble.” - Gandhi


Wallace Stevens - Vice President of Hartford Accident and Indemnity Co. - was born Oct. 2, 1879 (d. 1955)

He wrote poetry in his spare time…

Gray Room (1917)

Although you sit in a room that is gray,
Except for the silver
Of the straw-paper,
And pick
At your pale white gown;
Or lift one of the green beads
Of your necklace,
To let it fall;
Or gaze at your green fan
Printed with the red branches of a red willow;
Or, with one finger,
Move the leaf in the bowl—
The leaf that has fallen from the branches of the forsythia
Beside you…
What is all this?
I know how furiously your heart is beating.

Photo by Walter Sanders, 1950


On Oct. 3, 1849 Edgar Allan Poe was found delirious in the gutter of a Baltimore street. He was taken to a hospital but died there on Oct. 7 without ever gaining enough consciousness and reason to account for what had happened to him, how he had lost his clothing, and how he had been misused…


Louis Aragon, Dadaist, Surrealist and leftist, was born Oct. 3, 1897 (d. 1982)

“Tout ce qui n’est pas moi est incomprehensible […] Tout ce qui est moi est incomprehensible” - Aragon in Littérature, no. 13, May 1920, p. 1-2.

Photo of Aragon at home in Paris, by Ralph Morse, 1946 - LIFE

Louis Aragon: Statue (Dada, no. 4/5, 15 May 1919, p. 10.)


In 1939 Louis Aragon married Russian-born author Elsa Triolet, the sister of Lilya Brik, a mistress and common-law wife of Russian poet Vladimir Mayakovsky. He had met her in 1928, and she became his muse starting in the 1940s. Aragon and Triolet collaborated in the left-wing French media before and during World War II, going underground for most of the Nazi occupation.

Aragon was mobilized in 1939, and awarded the Croix de guerre (War Cross) and the military medal for acts of bravery. After the May 1940 defeat, he took refuge in the Southern Zone. He was one of several poets, along with Robert Desnos, Paul Éluard, Jean Prévost, Jean-Pierre Rosnay, etc., to join the Resistance, both through literary activities and as an actual organiser of Resistance acts. (Wiki)

Photo of Aragon and Triolet, 1946 - Ralph Morse, LIFE

Here is his poem to Elsa Triolet, his wife for 31 years:

Les mains d’Elsa

Donne-moi tes mains pour l’inquiétude
Donne-moi tes mains dont j’ai tant rêvé
Dont j’ai tant rêvé dans ma solitude
Donne-moi tes mains que je sois sauvé
Lorsque je les prends à mon propre piège
De paume et de peur de hâte et d’émoi
Lorsque je les prends comme une eau de neige
Qui fuit de partout dans mes mains à moi
Sauras-tu jamais ce qui me traverse
Qui me bouleverse et qui m’envahit
Sauras-tu jamais ce qui me transperce
Ce que j’ai trahi quand j’ai tressailli
Ce que dit ainsi le profond langage
Ce parler muet de sens animaux
Sans bouche et sans yeux miroir sans image
Ce frémir d’aimer qui n’a pas de mots
Sauras-tu jamais ce que les doigts pensent
D’une proie entre eux un instant tenue
Sauras-tu jamais ce que leur silence
Un éclair aura connu d’inconnu
Donne-moi tes mains que mon coeur s’y forme
S’y taise le monde au moins un moment
Donne-moi tes mains que mon âme y dorme
Que mon âme y dorme éternellement.

After Elsa’s death, Aragon openly declared himself a bi-sexual and started appearing at gay pride events. He also returned to Surrealism, after several decades of more overtly political, anti-Fascist literary and journalistic activity.


Lost on Oct. 4:

Anne Sexton, at 45 - suicide/depression…

Love your self’s self where it lives.
There is no special God to refer to; or if there is,
why did I let you grow
in another place. You did not know my voice
when I came back to call. All the superlatives
of tomorrow’s white tree and mistletoe
will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.

- The Double Image

Anne Sexton's Scrapbook.
Images reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc. Copyright by Anne Sexton.


Amiri Baraka, formerly known as Leroi Jones, (born October 7, 1934) is a controversial American writer of poetry, drama, essays, and music criticism.

In Memory of Radio

Who has ever stopped to think of the divinity of Lamont Cranston?
(Only Jack Kerouac, that I know of: & me.
The rest of you probably had on WCBS and Kate Smith,
Or something equally unattractive.)

What can I say?
It is better to haved loved and lost
Than to put linoleum in your living rooms?

Am I a sage or something?
Mandrake’s hypnotic gesture of the week?
(Remember, I do not have the healing powers of Oral Roberts…
I cannot, like F. J. Sheen, tell you how to get saved & rich!
I cannot even order you to the gaschamber satori like Hitler or Goddy Knight)

& love is an evil word.
Turn it backwards/see, see what I mean?
An evol word. & besides
who understands it?
I certainly wouldn’t like to go out on that kind of limb.

Saturday mornings we listened to the Red Lantern & his undersea folk.
At 11, Let’s Pretend
& we did
& I, the poet, still do. Thank God!

What was it he used to say (after the transformation when he was safe
& invisible & the unbelievers couldn’t throw stones?) “Heh, heh, heh.
Who knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men? The Shadow knows.”

O, yes he does
O, yes he does
An evil word it is,
This Love.

Eugenio Montale (Oct. 12, 1896 - 1981), Italian poet and 1975 Nobel Literature Laureate…

Bring me the sunflower that I may transplant it

Bring me the sunflower that I may transplant it
in my saline burned ground,
and that it might display all day to the blue expanses
of the sky the anxiety of its pale yellow face.

Things that are dark long for brightness,
the bodies exhaust themselves in a flowing
of colours: these become music. To fade away
is therefore a chance among chances.

Bring me the plant which leads
to where the blonde transparencies appear
and where life dissolves like essence;
bring me the sunflower insane with light.

(Eugenio Montale, Ossi di Seppia
Translation by Katherine Jackson)


today is Edward Estlin Cummings (Oct. 14, 1894 – 1962), American poet of unique voice and use of typographical elements on the page… “kitty”. sixteen,5’1”,white,prostitute.

ducking always the touch of must and shall,
whose slippery body is Death’s littlest pal,

skilled in quick softness. Unspontaneous. cute.

the signal perfume of whose unrepute
focusses in the sweet slow animal
bottomless eyes importantly banal,

Kitty. a whore. Sixteen
you corking brute
amused from time to time by clever drolls
fearsomely who do keep their sunday flower.
The babybreasted broad “kitty” twice eight

—beer nothing,the lady’ll have a whiskey-sour—

whose least amazing smile is the most great
common divisor of unequal souls.

e.e. cummings was also an accomplished painter. He seems to have spent the better part of the WW II years hanging out in strip joints, painting the working girls.

E.E. Cummings: Dancing Nude on Stage, Feb. 25, 1945 - oil on cardboard

Can be had for a mere $5.500 from this site

love is more thicker than forget
more thinner than recall
more seldom than a wave is wet
more frequent than to fail

it is more mad and moonly
and less it shall unbe
than all the sea which only
is deeper than the sea

love is less always than to win
less never than alive
less bigger than the least begin
less littler than forgive

it is most sane and sunly
and more it cannot die
than all the sky which only
is higher than the sky


Italo Calvino (Oct. 15, 1923 – 1985)

“What Romantic terminology called genius or talent or inspiration is nothing other than finding the right road empirically, following one’s nose, taking shortcuts.”


Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche (October 15, 1844 – August 25, 1900)
“Men were thought of as free so that they could become guilty: consequently, every action had to be thought of as willed, the origin of every action as lying in the consciousness… …Today, when we have started to move in the reverse direction, when we immoralists especially are trying with all our might to remove the concept of guilt and the concept of punishment from the world and to purge psychology, history, nature, the social institutions and sanctions of them, there is in our eyes no more radical opposition than that of the theologians, who continue to infect the innocence of becoming with ‘punishment’ and ‘guilt’ by means of the concept of the ‘moral world-order’. Christianity is a hangman’s metaphysics.” Twilight of the Idols: The Four Great Errors


Dylan Thomas was born in Swansea, Wales on Oct. 27, 1914…

“You can tear a poem apart to see what makes it technically tick… You’re back with the mystery of having been moved by words. The best craftsmanship always leaves holes and gaps in the works of the poem so that something that is not in the poem can creep, crawl, flash, or thunder in. The joy and function of poetry is, and was, the celebration of man, which is also the celebration of God.”

- Poetic Manifesto


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