Tuesday, October 18, 2005


JH: When writing the poem I thought of Blake's "Introduction" to "Songs of Innocence":

Piping down the valleys wild,
Piping songs of pleasant glee,
On a cloud I saw a child,
And he laughing said to me:

'Pipe a song about a Lamb!'
So I piped with merry cheer.
'Piper, pipe that song again.'
So I piped: he wept to hear.

'Drop thy pipe, thy happy pipe;
Sing thy songs of happy cheer!'
So I sung the same again,
While he wept with joy to hear.

'Piper, sit thee down and write
In a book, that all may read.'
So he vanished from my sight;
And I plucked a hollow reed,

And I made a rural pen,
And I stained the water clear,
And I wrote my happy songs
Every child may joy to hear.

The piping and the reference to water in both poems struck me, so I combined the two Blake lines for my title. "The Echoing Green" is just one poem over (I couldn't just close the book, and spent a few hours reading Blake poems), and it was in keeping with the echoing of our words. There's also a Tennyson reference - "volleying and / thundering" echoing "Cannon to right of them, / Cannon to left of them, / Cannon in front of them / Volley'd and thunder'd" from ""The Charge of the Light Brigade". Light Brigade

The lines came to mind when I introduced the calvary in the poem. Allusion in this poem goes with the theme, as does the fact that the two poets alluded to are very disparate.

The syntax shows that it is the dove that is a live sign, and that either the dove or its cruel loves (the "cruel loves" could float free of previous reference, or could refer to motives in dropping the seed, if indeed the drop was intentional - such extra-literary speculations have a place in poetry, for why should all the narration be the poet's?) is a calvary. That the "another's" in "another's, greensward, dream" refers, by syntax, to the drowning man is debatable, but it was my intention. The drowning man dreams of dry land, the greensward. A seed ideally, Nature's ideal, is to fall on dry land, but here it falls, accidentally or by design, next or upon a drowning man -- "with a show so vast is a green charm assured / only to the green eye?". But with that last sentence I'm straying past a syntax toward explication. The "greensward" is an interpolation that could have been put more syntactically proper - something like ""thundering into another's dream of the greensward" (yet with this example much of the meaning is lost). The jolt of "greensward" in this poem may be that it seems like a word out of nowhere inserted into the poem, yet it does fit with the content. The Parenthetical As Blip, or, The Parenthetical As Not-Parenthetical, or, The Paratax That Ne'er Was. Let's talk about your "Contents Of Lenin Trial".

Contents of Lenin Trial

This is an excellent sequence! Characters include Aristotle, Hegel, James Bond, John Ashbery, Bond girls, Gertrude Stein, George W Bush, and Lenin. And these are characters, not references! Please say something about this poem, which I think is one of your best.

AHB: 1st let me self-correct. On the album of Ginsberg's renderings of Blake's poems into songs, it is “The Grey Monk” that has Elvin Jones (and Don Cherry) providing such wonder. Your explication is fascinating. You are much more conscious of your poetic process than I am. I write from a state of thoughtlessness. When I read poetry, I do so in perhaps an unintellectual way. I ride the feeling. Which is not to say that you don't, but I don't puzzle. I am content within the mystery, if strongly felt. I write the same way. I don't know if I should puzzle more. I can and do break poems down, not my own, to see how the elements work, just as when one listens to music carefully one one tries to hear each instrument and each part of the whole. The Lenin poems are a confluence. We went to visit Beth's mother on the Jersey shore. I brought for reading matter Hegel, Aristotle, Ashbery (Flow Chart) and Lenin. Erin immersed himself in a James Bond Week on tv, so I absorbed that. And the shore itself, which I visited several times a day. All these elements as tributaries into the poem. Very much as if I were conduit. But I would remember to return to Lenin or Bond, to maintain that sense of texture. I am conscious as I write. I think your process and mine are similar in the way we, as writers, try to create and maintain a poetic gravity around which (am I forcing this metaphor?) the poem forms. Your process is thoughtful and mine thoughtless. Your thoughtfulness does not preclude the inchoate mysteries of the imagination, nor does my thoughtlessness preclude a dynamic thinking. In both our cases, a meeting of the Apollonian and Dionysian. Do you think so?


Post a Comment

<< Home