Distribution Automatique

Sunday, August 8

Hard to take a train to Union Square
and not take a turn in the Strand bookshop,
if you have a little time, which we did.
Found two books, one by Karl Shapiro,
a first edition of his *Trial of a Poet*,
hardback, Reynal & Hitchcock,
1947, $10. Couldn't resist after
reading these lines:

"We waged a war within a war,
A cause within a cause;
The glory of it was withheld
In keeping with the laws
Whereby the public need not know
The pitfalls of the status quo.

Love was the reason for the blood
The black men of our land
Were seen to walk with pure white girls
Lauging and hand in hand.
This most unreasonable state
No feeling White would tolerate."

Shapiro's sharp anti-war irony, reminscent for
me of A.E. Housman's *A Shropshire Lad*
can be further seen in the following passage
from the same work:

""Doctor, doctor, a little of your love
And a little of your skill,
I can no longer sight my gun,
No longer can I kill.'

"Soldier, soldier, I cannot find the cause
And I will not set you free,
But take this pill and go your way
To your own company."

"Chaplain, chaplain, a little of your love
And a little of your grace,
I can no longer think my thoughts
Nor bear the demon's face."

"My son, my son, I cannot find the cause
And I will not set your free,
But take this book and go your way
To your own company."

I also bought another translation
(my third) of The Poems of
Sextus Propertius. Riding back
home from visiting our friends
Elaine Equi and Jerome Sala
I read:

"Lovers that part I can unite again,
And open doors when suitors knock in vain;
And cure another's fresh-contracted smart
With words that hold a potent healing art.
I know how lovers should and should not woo:
This Cynthia taught me: Love did something too.
Don't be contentious when your girl's annoyed:
Don't use bold speech, nor silence unalloyed.
Refuse her nothing: give without a frown:
Let no kind word fall unregarded down.
If when she comes she's chafing at some slight,
And bent on scolding to assert her right,
You must be meek, and bow as love requires,
So may the outcome answer your desires.
None can live happy with one girl but he
Who's never whole of heart and fancy-free."

(translation by A. E. Watts,
Centaur Press, 1961)

In 1995, Sun and Moon published
Vincent Katz's translation of
Propertius, that he titled *Charm*

My other edition, a Penguin book,
seems to have eluded me at the moment,
Cynthia style.