all the delusions

My favorite sentences from A River Runs Through It by Norman Maclean: +++ The canyon was glorified by rhythms and colors. +++ My brother’s wet shirt made it easy to see his strength. +++ Rhythm was just as important as color and just as complicated. +++ His wet shirt bulged and came unbuttoned with his pivoting shoulder and hips. +++ Ranchers holding their intestines in their hands would ride in from the back country looking for “the RN” to sew them together again. +++ I was glad I didn’t have to drive — I had too many other things to…

As if I did not begin and end by loving you

Derrida mourning his mother is my favorite Derrida. +++ As if I loved only your memory and confession of me but who would I be, me, if I did not begin and end by loving you in my private language deprived of you, that very one, the untranslatable one, in which the jokes leave us floored… like the day on which a premeditation of love had dictated to me for immortality, no, for posterity, no, for the truth that you are, et lux tua veritas, et veritas tu, [And thy law is the truth, and thou are the truth] “don’t…

Where has your first dream vanished now? Your dream.

+++ Letters to a Stranger, by Thomas James, is one of my favorite books of poetry. It was James’ first and only collection, published in 1973. The poems in this book stun me, over and over again. James’s poems are filled with his singular turns of phrase (“whitely established”…”nest of rubble”) and odd but clear images (“your hands are gloved in shadow”…”sheeping coming unstuffed like ancient cushions”). I’m incredibly glad that Gray Wolf brought Letters to a Stranger back into print in 2008, but so many of my favorite poems are still impossible to find online. Here are my two absolute…

To teach the sea what it may do

+++ A VALEDICTION: OF WEEPING by John Donne  Let me pour forth My tears before thy face, whilst I stay here, For thy face coins them, and thy stamp they bear, And by this mintage they are something worth,          For thus they be          Pregnant of thee; Fruits of much grief they are, emblems of more, When a tear falls, that thou falls which it bore, So thou and I are nothing then, when on a diverse shore.          On a round ball A workman that hath copies by, can lay An Europe, Afric, and an Asia, And quickly make that, which…

He was a good trout.

+++ I got my rod that was leaning against the tree, took the bait-can and landing-net, and walked out onto the dam. It was built to provide a head of water for driving logs. The gate was up, and I sat on one of the squared timbers and watched the smooth apron of water before the river tumbled into the falls. In the white water at the foot of the dam it was deep. As I baited up, a trout shot up out of the white water into the falls and was carried down. Before I could finish baiting, another…

I shall call the world a school.

+++ From the Letters of John Keats To George and Georgiana Keats, Sunday, February 14th, Monday 3 May 1819 …The common cognomen of this world among the misguided and superstitious is ‘a vale of tears’ from which we are to be redeemed by a certain arbitary interposition of God and taken to Heaven-What a little circumscribed straightened notion! Call the world if you Please “The vale of Soul-making”. Then you will find out the use of the world (I am speaking now in the highest terms for human nature admitting it to be immortal which I will here take for granted…

Hast thou entered into the treasures of the snow?

+++ JOB 38 1 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said, 2 Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge? 3 Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and answer thou me. 4 Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? declare, if thou hast understanding. 5 Who hath laid the measures thereof, if thou knowest? or who hath stretched the line upon it? 6 Whereupon are the foundations thereof fastened? or who laid the corner stone thereof; 7 When the morning stars sang…

How is’t, my soul? Let’s talk; it is not day.

SCENE V. Capulet’s orchard. Enter ROMEO and JULIET above, at the window JULIET Wilt thou be gone? it is not yet near day:It was the nightingale, and not the lark,That pierced the fearful hollow of thine ear;Nightly she sings on yon pomegranate-tree:Believe me, love, it was the nightingale. ROMEO It was the lark, the herald of the morn,No nightingale: look, love, what envious streaksDo lace the severing clouds in yonder east:Night’s candles are burnt out, and jocund dayStands tiptoe on the misty mountain tops.I must be gone and live, or stay and die. JULIET Yon light is not day-light, I…

To say, "Where my spirit is I am."

+++ SAILING AFTER LUNCH by Wallace Stevens It is the word pejorative that hurts.My old boat goes round on a crutchand doesn’t get underway.It’s the time of the yearAnd the time of the day. Perhaps it’s the lunch that we hadOr the lunch that we should have had.But I am, in any case,A most inappropriate manIn a most unpropitious place. Mon Dieu, hear the poet’s prayer.The romantic should be here.The romantic should be there.It ought to be everywhere.But the romantic must never remain, Mon Dieu, must never again return.The heavy historical sailThrough the mustiest blue of the lakeIn a really…

I would like to be sometime some in love with every one.

“I would like to be sometime some in love with every one. I will not be sometime some in love with every one. I would like certainly to be sometime in love some with every one, to have everyone one sometime in love with me and then I would be certain what way each one had loving being being in them. I really would like then some to have each one, every one, any one having loving being to my feeling and then I could have it in me to be certain what way any one, in which way each…

Ah, love, let us be true to one another.

—- DOVER BEACH by Matthew Arnold The sea is calm tonight, The tide is full, the moon lies fair Upon the straits; on the French coast the light Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand, Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay. Come to the window, sweet is the night air! Only, from the long line of sprayWhere the sea meets the moon-blanched land,Listen! you hear the grating roarOf pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,At their return, up the high strand,Begin, and cease, and then again begin,With tremulous cadence slow, and bringThe eternal note of…

‘The dejected King of Day’ — Fragments from Hyperion: A Fragment (Keats)

Fragments from ‘Hyperion: A Fragment’ by John Keats +++ Forest on forest hung above his head Like cloud on cloud. No stir of air was there +++ But oh! how unlike marble was that face: How beautiful, if sorrow had not made Sorrow more beautiful than beauty’s self +++ O aching time! O moments big as years! All as ye pass swell out the monstrous truth, And press it so upon our weary griefs That unbelief has not a space to breathe. Saturn, sleep on: — O thoughtless, why did I Thus violate thy slumbrous solitude? Why should I ope…

My Favorite ‘Dream Songs’

Sometimes the neurotic aesthetic of Berryman’s Dream Songs just feels migrainous to me; other times it’s sublime. That said, I think these two poems are two of the best poems there are. Period. Dream Song 145by John Berryman Also I love him: me he’s done no wrongfor going on forty years — forgiveness time —I touch now his despair,he felt as bad as Whitman on his towerbut he did not swim out with me or my brotheras he threatened — a powerful swimmer, to take one of us alongas company in the defeat sublime,freezing my helpless mother:he only, very early…

My Favorite ‘Dream Songs’

Sometimes the neurotic aesthetic of Berryman’s Dream Songs just feels migrainous to me; other times it’s sublime. That said, I think these two poems are two of the best poems there are. Period. Dream Song 145by John Berryman Also I love him: me he’s done no wrongfor going on forty years — forgiveness time —I touch now his despair,he felt as bad as Whitman on his towerbut he did not swim out with me or my brotheras he threatened — a powerful swimmer, to take one of us alongas company in the defeat sublime,freezing my helpless mother:he only, very early…

This article in today’s Times on Modernist meta-comicbook “Asterios Polyp”

This article in today’s Times on Modernist meta-comicbook “Asterios Polyp”

Must not miss

This article in Newsweek on the new “mad pride” movement: Why some mentally ill patients are rejecting their medication and making the case for ‘mad pride.’

Must not miss

This article in Newsweek on the new “mad pride” movement: Why some mentally ill patients are rejecting their medication and making the case for ‘mad pride.’

A poem I am loving

THE ADMISSIONby Marvin Bell If you love me,say so.Snow piles; bridges burnbehind me; Iimaginethat I am aloneand have notturned toward you sobefore. I forget openingsI had not thought ofturning toward,to tell you, and to tell youto tell me.The surroundings affect us;it is a causefor lovethat you call itsomething logical,taking pleasure inour findingourselves here.Tell me landscapesare frames of mind.I believe words have meaning.No gift will do.Tell me what it meansto you.

A poem I am loving

THE ADMISSIONby Marvin Bell If you love me,say so.Snow piles; bridges burnbehind me; Iimaginethat I am aloneand have notturned toward you sobefore. I forget openingsI had not thought ofturning toward,to tell you, and to tell youto tell me.The surroundings affect us;it is a causefor lovethat you call itsomething logical,taking pleasure inour findingourselves here.Tell me landscapesare frames of mind.I believe words have meaning.No gift will do.Tell me what it meansto you.