Imagist poets--old Ez was one at one time and H.D., his lover, was one at one time; and so was cigar-smoking Amy Lowell, more famed for her cigar smoking than her poems at one time, at one time, too.
Amy Lowell, b. 1874; d. 1925
Here's a great Amy Lowell poem entitled: "Stravinsky's Three Pieces Grotesques, for String Quartet":
Stravinsky's Three Pieces "Grotesques", for String Quartet
Thin-voiced, nasal pipes
Drawing sound out and out
Until it is a screeching thread,
Sharp and cutting, sharp and cutting,
Bump! Bump! Tong-ti-bump!
There are drums here,
And wooden shoes beating the round, grey stones
Of the market-place.
Sabots slapping the worn, old stones,
And a shaking and cracking of dancing bones;
Clumsy and hard they are,
Losing half a beat
Because the stones are slippery.
Bump-e-ty-tong! Whee-e-e! Tong!
The thin Spring leaves
Shake to the banging of shoes.
Shoes beat, slap,
And the nasal pipes squeal with their pigs' voices,
Little pigs' voices
Weaving among the dancers,
A fine white thread
Linking up the dancers.
Bang! Bump! Tong!
Delirium flapping its thigh-bones;
Red, blue, yellow,
Drunkenness steaming in colours;
Red, yellow, blue,
Colours and flesh weaving together,
In and out, with the dance,
Coarse stuffs and hot flesh weaving together.
Pigs' cries white and tenuous,
White and painful,
White and --
Pale violin music whiffs across the moon,
A pale smoke of violin music blows over the moon,
Cherry petals fall and flutter,
And the white Pierrot,
Wreathed in the smoke of the violins,
Splashed with cherry petals falling, falling,
Claws a grave for himself in the fresh earth
With his finger-nails.
An organ growls in the heavy roof-groins of a church,
It wheezes and coughs.
The nave is blue with incense,
Snaking over the heads of the chanting priests.
'Requiem aeternam dona ei, Domine';
The priests whine their bastard Latin
And the censers swing and click.
The priests walk endlessly
Round and round,
Droning their Latin
Off the key.
The organ crashes out in a flaring chord,
And the priests hitch their chant up half a tone.
'Dies illa, dies irae,
Calamitatis et miseriae,
Dies magna et amara valde.'
A wind rattles the leaded windows.
The little pear-shaped candle flames leap and flutter,
'Dies illa, dies irae;'
The swaying smoke drifts over the altar,
'Calamitatis et miseriae;'
The shuffling priests sprinkle holy water,
'Dies magna et amara valde;'
And there is a stark stillness in the midst of them
Stretched upon a bier.
His ears are stone to the organ,
His eyes are flint to the candles,
His body is ice to the water.
Whine, shuffle, genuflect,
He will always be as rigid as he is now
Until he crumbles away in a dust heap.
'Lacrymosa dies illa,
Qua resurget ex favilla
Judicandus homo reus.'
Above the grey pillars the roof is in darkness.
From Men, Women and Ghosts By Amy Lowell
Hey, I rather like it--bumpy-tumpy-slippy-slappy--but does it follow:
Principles of Imagism
From an Imagist manifesto:"Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very essence of poetry." Interesting point of view--sounds like Ezra.
1. To use the language of common speech, but to employ the exact
word, not the nearly-exact, nor the merely decorative word.
2. We believe that the individuality of a poet may often be better
expressed in free verse than in conventional forms. In poetry, a new
cadence means a new idea.
3. Absolute freedom in the choice of subject.
4. To present an image. We are not a school of painters, but we
believe that poetry should render particulars exactly and not deal in
vague generalities, however magnificent and sonorous. It is for this
reason that we oppose the cosmic poet, who seems to us to shirk the real
difficulties of his art.
5. To produce a poetry that is hard and clear, never blurred nor
6. Finally, most of us believe that concentration is of the very
essence of poetry.
I once owned a copy of the little book called Spectra--it was a spoof of Imagism, and other poetry trends of that time, like Vorticism, published in 1916 by Witter Bynner and Arthur Davison Ficke under the pseudonyms Emanuel Morgan (Bynner) and Anne Knish (Ficke). Here's a headline from the NYTimes, 1917, Book Section:
Soulful Spectrum Nothing but a Hoax; Witter Bynner Tells How He and Arthur Davison Ficke Posed for a Year and a Half as "Emanuel Morgan" and "Anne Knish," Whose Poetry Awed Many Reviewers
I owned this little private-printed book at one time, when I lived in Santa Fe, New Mexico. At that time, Witter Bynner was still alive and my wife and his secretary became good friends and my wife actually spent an afternoon at Witter Bynner's house on the invitation of his secretary--unfortunately at the time, Witter was in the early throes of death--probably with Alzheimer's--and my wife came back from that visit very disappointed--"I don't ever want to go over there again. It's too creepy. He's lying there like a vegetable; his secretary reads poetry to him and he seems to enjoy it--though how do you know, his face remains alive-looking but expressionless the whole time...like I looked in his eyes once and I don't think he saw me." Another friend of mine, and a close friend of another Santa Fe poet at the time, Winfield Townley Scott, offered me $500 for the book (it was printed in a limited edition and was very rare) but when I went to get it out of my office, I couldn't find it. Someone had stolen it from me. That's the last I ever saw of it. I wrote about my loss to a woman bookstore owner in Chicago who was in love with me and for her to be on the lookout for it and she said she would but I never heard from her about it again--and when I first came to New York City and worked at Time-Life in Rockefeller Center, the Antiquarian Bookstore was in the Associated Press Building, which was also in Rockefeller Center, and I went in there several times a month and studied all the antiquarian book dealers's catalogs and auction listings and offerings but no copies of Spectra ever surfaced.
Here's one of Anne Knish's poems from Spectra:
- I WOULD not in the early morning
- Start my mind on its inevitable journey
- Toward the East.
- There are white domes somewhere
- Under that blue enameled sky, white domes, white domes,
- Therefore even the cream
- Is safest yellow.
- Cream is better than lemon
- In tea at breakfast.
- I think of tigers as eating lemons.
- Thank God this tea comes from the green grocer,
- Not from Ceylon.
- Anne Knish
(Arthur Davison Ficke)
For comparison with Anne's Opus 67, here's a poem by Alfred Kreymborg--he was a "Borg" don't forget.
by: Alfred Kreymborg (1883-1966)
- HAT animal you are
- or whether you are
- an animal, I
- am too dumb to tell.
- Some moments,
- I feel you've come out of the earth,
- out of some cool white stone
- deep down in the earth.
- Or there brushes past
- and lurks in a corner
- the thought
- that you slipped from a tree
- when the earth stopped spinning,
- that a blue shell brought you
- when the sea tired waltzing.
- You might be a mouse,
- the dryad of a woodpecker,
- or a pure tiny fish dream;
- you might be something dropped from the sky,
- not a god-child--
- I wouldn't have you that--
- nor a cloud--
- though I love clouds.
- You're something not a bird,
- I can tell.
- If I could find you somewhere
- of me, I might tell--
- but inside?
Well, what do you think? Remember what Ez said, concentrate when writing or reading poetry. Kreymborg's is cool, but I like Anne's better--Tigers do eat lemons, don't they?
Just piddling around today--hey, it's Sunday and I'm normally growling against the hot-air winds of politicians and the politics they are trying to bamboozle us with. You see, womantrumpetplayer, you've had an influence on me--me who doesn't exist--me who is himself an imagiste.
for The Sunday Daily Growler
Heard in the Whoosie The Daily Growler Men's Room
"The Super Bowl? Wha'z that?"
The Duh Brothers are betting on the Giants. Wow, what a bunch of whoosies.
I hate football--it's a really dumb sport. Harry Carson revealed today on The Tim McCarver Show that he had played with concussions--and he might have more than one a game--and he'd just shake them off and go on playing--he said he might go blank for a few seconds--or he might get whoozy or his head might be full of stars for a minute or two--and he would just shake them off and keep on playing--he was a middle linebacker, too, so he led with his head first on many a tackle--helmet first--and now he says he's suffering from all those concussions, not physique-wise but neurologically. Then he referred to a bunch of the older great football players of the past who are now suffering from Alzheimers, which he says he now thinks is due to their suffering concussions while playing football. Carson said he had 30 or so concussions during his pro career alone. So football, like boxing, is a stupid sport. Baseball is the most intelligent sport and it's coming up soon and it's going to be a great season--I'm down here in Florida now ready for the pitchers to arrive around the middle of the month--it is February 1st, folks--and, yes, time doth fly! And how cool was Joe Torre's book? Badmouthing A-Rod--yeah, saying everybody referred to him as A-Fraud--and then saying how he, Joe, was insulted by the filthy rich Steinbrenners offering him, the greatest baseball manager currently in baseball--and a manager that never missed a postseason game with the Yanks and won 5 World Series for them--and the worthless George Steinbrenner and his even more worthless son, Hank, offered him a new contract but with a serious salary cut. "Fuck you," said Joe, packed his bags, and ended up with the Los Angeles Dodgers, who all New Yorkers hate now, including myself, so what an insult to the postseasonless Yankees this year as Joe went to LA and took the Dodgers all the way to the National League Championship where, OK, they lost, but not after some great games--and they lost to the lucky Phillies, no fault of Joe's.
Anyway, hating football doesn't keep me from predicting the winner of this year's Super Bowl:
the winner will be: Who cares? I mean, come on, I'm a New Yorker, the greatest teevee market in the world--what do I give a crap about Pittsburgh and, oh my God, the Arizona Cardinals--the old Chicago Cardinals--first time they've been to a championship since they won the NFL in the late 1940s or maybe early 50s.
What the hell, here I go: Arizona 26-Pittsburgh 23. Take the over and under.
an exclusive for The Daily Growler
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