Thursday, May 13, 2010

"Poetry, a Natural Thing" by Robert Duncan


       Neither our vices nor our virtues
further the poem.  “They came up
       and died
just like they do every year
       on the rocks.”

       The poem
feeds upon thought, feeling, impulse,
       to breed    itself,
a spiritual urgency at the dark ladders leaping.

This beauty is an inner persistence
       toward the source
striving against ( within ) down-rushet of the river,
       a call we heard and answer
in the lateness of the world
       primordial bellowings
from which the youngest world might spring,

salmon not in the well where the
       hazelnut falls
but at the falls battling, inarticulate,
       blindly making it.

This is one picture apt for the mind.

A second: a moose painted by Stubbs,
where last year’s extravagant antlers
       lie on the ground.
The forlorn moosey-faced poem wears
       new antler-buds,
       the same,
“a little heavy, a little contrived”,

his only beauty to be
       all moose.

Source of the text - Robert Duncan, The Opening of the Field [revised edition].  New York: New Directions Publishing Corp., 1973, p. 50.

TJB: The poem makes a startling poem-as-salmon metaphor, then an even more startling because so understated metaphor of poem, painting, & moose.

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