Friday, January 7, 2011

"RE:Definition" by Talib Kweli and Mos Def


One two three, Mos Def and Talib Kweli
We came to rock it on to the tip-top
Best alliance in hip-hop, wayohh
I said, one, two, three, Black Star shine eternally
We came to rock it on to the tip-top
And Hi-Tek make the beat drop, wayohh

[Talib Kweli]
RE:DEFinition, turning your play into a tragedy
Exhibit level degree on the mic, passionately
Niggas is sweet, so I bet if I bit I'd get a cavity
Livin to get high, you ain't flyer than gravity
We Die Hard like the battery done in the back of me by the mad MC
Who think imitation is the highest form of flattery, actually
Don't be mad at me, I had to be the one to break it to you
You get kicked into obscurity like judo--no, Menudo
'Cause you pseudo, tryin to compete with reality like Xerox
Towards destruction you spiraling like hairlocks, wipe them teardrops
Chasing stars in your eyes, playing games with your lives
Now the wives is widows soakin up pillows, weepin like willows
Still mo' blacks is dyin, kids ain't livin, they tryin
"How to Make a Slave" by Willie Lynch is still applyin
Regardless, the Mos is one of my closest partners
Rockin ever since before Prince was called The Artist
Rockin before Funkmaster Flex was rockin Starter
When 'Pac and Biggie was still cool, before they was martyrs
Life or death, if I'm choosin, with every breath I'm enhancin
Stop, there comes a time when you can't run

[Mos Def]
What, lyrically handsome, call collect a king's ransom
Jams I write soon become the ghetto anthem
Way out like Bruce Wayne's mansion, move like a phantom
You'll talk about me to your grandsons
Cats who claimin they hard be mad fag
So I run through 'em like flood water through sandbags
Competition is mad, what I got, they can't have
Sinkin they ship like Moby Dick did Ahab
Son, I'm way past the minimum, enter a millennium
Where rap stars hold a gat to your back like Palestinians
Ancient Abyssinia, shorn a horn of Gideon
Official b-boy gentlemen won't turn off at the interim
Born inside the winter wind, day after December 10
These simpletons, they mentionin the synonym for feminine
Sweeter than some cinnamon in Danish rings by Entenmann's
Rush up on adrenaline, they get they asses sent to them
(Gentlemen) you got a tenement, well then assemble it
Leave your unit tremblin like herds of movin elephant
Intelligent embellishment, follow for your element
From Flatbush settlement, skin posseses melanin
Hotter than tales of crack peddlin, makin 'em WOOP
Like blue gelatin, swing like Duke Ellington
Broader than Barrington Levy, believe me
The hot Apache red who burnt down your chief teepee
You see me?

One two three, Mos Def and Talib Kweli
We came to rock it on to the tip-top
Best alliance in hip-hop, wayohh
I said, one, two, three, Black Star shine eternally
We came to rock it on to the tip-top
Because we rulin hip-hop, yes we is rulin hip-hop
Talib Kweli is rulin hip-hop
Say we Black Star we rule hip-hop-ah-ahh-ah-ahh-ahh

Source of the text - The Anthology of Rap, edited by Adam Bradley and Andrew DuBois.  New Haven: Yale University Press, 2010, pp. 661-663.

Bourguignomicon: Juicy assonance. A few unspeakably great lines [flood water through sandbags! intelligent embellishment!] lay on a bed of self-introduction.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

from "STUDYING HUNGER" by Bernadette Mayer

Bourguignomicon: This syncopated Sapphic-sonic aria cleaves a fine line between wholeness & division in love, & between true thought & artifice of thought.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

"Invocation" by Ann Lauterbach


Speak, Mistress Quaker, a parable waits from which
blessings issue, conditionally, as in a hunt, a possible hearing
wherein the manifest flirts, beguiling, almost at home.
Speak on, Troubled Specter, as in a calm
carefree silence whose message embraces its
quick.  Seed that, so
the trail is viable, literal, glad
as in love's timing: tick-tock luck.
A siege of incipient cures! A brevity so enhanced
the Pilgrim finds her way along the path of red berries
through the wild into the dilated Spot where following ends and begins
and ends again.  You were in a tale, a choice you had not made,
whose dim constellation gathers dew on the sleeve of hours,
the iteration of just cause, saving one against the others, as in a court.
Be kind, Mistress of Woes, Hooligan of Ages.  Be a Treaty we sign.
Chafe against brittle nudity, swallow the excellent potion, remain among thieves.
Remain among thieves, steal Advent from avarice, dark from idiot sight.

                                                                         to Bernadette Mayer

Source of the text - Lauterbach, Ann.  On a Stair.  New York: Penguin Books, 1997, p. 85.

Bourguignomicon: As if spoken by high priestess to goddess commissioning new work from a sacred Spot, the poem commands truth then peace then Christlikeness.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

"Truth" by Geoffrey Chaucer


Or “Balade de bon conseyl”1

Flee fro the prees,° and dwelle with soothfastnesse,°                crowd / truthfulness
Suffyse unto thy thing,2 though it be smal;
For hord hath hate, and climbing tikelnesse,3
Prees hath envye, and wele blent° overal;                                      prosperity blinds
Savour no more than thee bihove shal;°                                            is good for you
Rule wel thyself, that other folk canst rede;°                                                   advise
And trouthe shal delivere,° it is no drede.°                                 set (you) free / fear

Tempest thee° nought al crooked to redresse,°       Trouble yourself / put to rights
In trust of hir that turneth as a bal.4
Moche wele stant° in litel besynesse;°                    Great well-being rests / activity
Bewar therfore to sporne° ageyns an al;°                   kick / an awl (a pointed tool)
Stryve nat, as doth the crokke° with the wal.             piece of (breakable) crockery
Daunte° thyself, that dauntest otheres dede;°              Control / the deeds of others
And trouthe shal delivere, it is no drede.

That thee° is sent, receyve in buxumnesse,°                 That which to you / humility
The wrastling for this world axeth° a fal.                                                      asks for
Here is noon hoom,° her nis° but wildernesse.              not (your) home / is nothing
Forth, pilgrim, forth! Forth, beste,° out of thy stal!                                           beast
Know thy contree, look up, thank God of al;°                                    for everything
Hold the hye° wey, and lat thy gost° thee lede,                             high, main / spirit
And trouthe shal delivere, it is no drede.


Therfore, thou Vache,6 leve° thyn old wrecchednesse;°                      cease / misery
Unto the world leve now to be thral;°                                                               slave
Crye him mercy,° that of his hye goodnesse              for mercy from him (i.e., God)
Made thee of nought,° and in especial                                                  from nothing
Draw unto him, and prey in general
For thee, and eek for other,° hevenlich mede;°    also for others / heavenly reward
And trouthe shal delivere, it is no drede.

1. “Ballad of good counsel”
2. Let your own possessions be enough for you. (This was a literary and philosophical commonplace.)
3. For hoarding (greed) brings about hate, and advancement (social and professional ambition causes) insecurity.
4. In trust of her who turns like a sphere. (The allusion is to the goddess Fortune and her revolving wheel.)
5. The “envoy” (in French, “a thing sent,” i.e., a letter) is a coda to the poem that traditionally sends it off to a prince . . . or alternatively to a lady.
6. Sir Philip de la Vache was a friend and associate of Chaucer’s who was temporarily out of favor during the late 1380s, at the time Chaucer may have written a version of this poem: the word “vache” also means “cow” in French, linking the envoy to the pattern of reference in line 18.

Source of the text – Chaucer, Geoffrey. Dream Visions and Other Poems, edited by Kathryn L. Lynch. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2007, pp. 219-220.

TJB: Deadpan epigram. In aphorisms & tightly-locked rime royal, this epistle, from a wealthy civil servant, counsels patience, modesty, & prayer.

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