Notes to the Poems
1. The idea of choosing at first
seems of paramount importance, but
soon we see a subtle kind of fatalism
emerging. This is hidden at first by
irony and later by intentional
clowning. Someone or something is
being ridiculed in this wild concatenation
of dates and times.
2. Phrases like "thirsty fortune"
and "fallen fables" have an
ambiguous pallor. They are meant
to confuse the initial direction
of the poem.
3. "A cloudy day." The poet's
memories of a cloudy day suggest
an unmentionable or perhaps a
partially forgotten loss.
4."Garlands." The poet has
occasion to refer to a particular
frieze observed during
a visit to Naples on a holiday.
5. "Satisfactions in loving."
A mood of calm and transcendent
satisfaction adds an enigmatic tone
to this elegaic fragment.
6. "November." Winter suggests final
sequences in most cases, but here perhaps
we may infer a more mystical allusion.
Things have come apart, yes, but what
is suggested is that meaning can be
inferred by the way the parts imply a
puzzle in the manner that their reconstruction
has already been suggested. In fact,
reconstruction may have already
taken place if we examine the "fault
lines." Why this particular month, for
example and not "December" or "January."
First, is it a beginning also, in the fact
that winter has just begun?
7. Again and again the poet
is obssessed with fragments. A
majestic beauty is found in these
"poor pathetic pieces" which have
arranged themselves mysteriously on
"times narrow strip of sand."
"Things, places, meanings,
hopes, sorrows, joys" are dropped,
picked up again and rearranged by
experience and are forgotten and
remembered again with each interpretation
and reinterpretation. Something is
rediscovered but we are never
quite certain what it is because
just as we recognize its shape on
"time's horizon" again it disappears
"in a cycle of sunsets and days."
8. "Questions." With this rapturous
outburst on the subject of questions
is the poet casting doubt on the
possibility of certainty or the
certainty of possibility? We cannot
be sure if what is being said is
meant to b e serious or if the
poet is secretly ridiculing the
subject under scrutiny. This can
be partly determined by a repeated
reference to "hope." It is difficult
to imagine sarcasm where hope is being
9. "Secrets." In
many of this poet's lines the
subject of secrets implies a constant
displacement of meanings. There is
a voluptuous shape to secrets in
poems which isn't quotable. If the
quotation suggests particular times
and places is a secret being finally
divulged? What is sometimes meant by
suggestions of divergence and
an aura of secrecy are wishes
on the part of the poet to conceal
certain vulnerabilities and
embarassments. On the other hand,
the very existence of the poem
10. "You didn't contact us and
I don't understand. How can
friends be loved and no longer be
friends?" This line,
which seems perfectly clear is
broken off from the main body of
the poem and appears like an
"exclamation out of nowhere." Then
the poet reminds us tht poems
themselves appear as such exclamations.
11. "Secondary." The poet needs
a jumping off place and doesn't
want that place to be the
concept of the whole because then
the direction would be oblivion.
This is the meaning of "secondary"
because here the poet is seeking
a "secondary" not a primary
place to start out from. This is
not a move towards secrecy but
it does reveal a wish for
embeddedness. The fact of
a current occasion for this is seen not only
as a potential triviality but
actually as an impossibility. Suggestion
must lead to further suggestion, not
Now I remember what water
means- it means to remember
there is enough of everything, or
even more: it overflows, it continues.
Ths Shaman needs to know only
one thing. When to be still and
Just because the dead don't keep
in touch, it doesn't mean they don't think about us.
Publishers are sleepwalkers.
The irritant takes time away from movement
But is counter-movement
Can't find the cotton swab
Because it's there (as a
reason for selecting a particular piece)
But first: findings as compared to "public documents"
things you notice-things you find
(relevance to others- is a developing
The art of it- at a certain
vantage point- everything (each
piece) seems applicable and
"Make no mistake- abstract art is
a form of mysticism"
Trust to the guiding and influencing hand
"Oh do not ask what is it
Let us go and make our visit."
(Simply) trying to find a
situation in which everything
boundaries- overflowing and also creating
Only certain feelings will allow the
gates of beauty to open
fuzzy area of exactitude
later: 12:02 (8/26)
The collages are like people.
At first they seem strange-certain
facets stand out. They are not
yet recognizable. Certain kinds
of music is like this- particularly
that of Chopin and Debussy (for
me-obviously, other composers for
others). After awhile, the collages
become more recognizable and
only *then* the liking comes. At
first there is no liking, but
only strangeness. So I would
say not "make it new" but
"make it strange."