Saturday, February 14, 2009

Robert Creeley's "Nothing New"


Below is a paragraph from Robert Creeley's Nothing New.
Creeley quotes Olson translating Rimbaud: "Can you afford not to make the magical study which happiness is?"

You can read the full essay here.

"Mine eyes have seen the glory?" Enough to stay open, certainly, but it had little to do with qualified "great moments". Somehow our elegantly secure cat Aphrodite having her kittens just as the first human stepped out on the first moon ever to be walked on is something I'll remember most specifically of that event, like they say. Is it that the so-called "personal" keeps drifting back into "self," wants the home of its own habits, recognizes even in vastness its own familiar hat and coat? I don't really know, and I is fading, intermittent signal, batteries running down. "Oh build your ship of death, for you will need it..." D.H. Lawrence got to me, he made sense, he made clear that feeling, touching, holding, seeing, being with other people in every sense, was the fact of life, what it was, literally. You could think anything you wanted to or could. Still you wouldn't, and couldn't, go far.

There's whole lot more to read from Robert Creeley here.

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Tuesday, December 02, 2008

from S. T. Coleridge's "Frost at Midnight" (1798)

Only that film, which fluttered on the grate,
Still flutters there, the sole unquiet thing.
Methinks, its motion in this hush of nature
Gives it dim sympathies with me who live,
Making it a companionable form,
Whose puny flaps and freaks the idling Spirit
By its own moods interprets, every where
Echo or mirror seeking of itself,
And makes a toy of Thought.

Coleridge lived between 1772-1834. How did he describe so wonderfully a medium that was yet to be created? Film "makes a toy of Thought."? Shiveringly well-said.

Of course he was not talking about cinema. According to this website, where you can read the whole poem, " In all parts of the kingdom these films are called strangers and supposed to portend the arrival of some absent friend. " So, basically, he was referring to something like a flag.

"Film", in English, means something thin. The word, according to Merriam-Webster, comes from the Old English word for skin, "fell". In Old Greek, "pelma" meant the sole of foot.

Re-read the poem. I think Coleridge is talking about Ernie Gehr's films... except that film flutters on the gate and not the grate. I guess it was a spelling mistake on Coleridge's part.

And by the way, I encountered this part of the poem in Robert Creeley's Just in Time. So a short one from Creeley:

WEIGH

Rippled refractive
surface leaves
light lights.

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