Walt Whitman and Wallace Stevens on Space

Image result for image of a hill

A Noiseless Patient Spider

A noiseless patient spider,
I mark’d where on a little promontory it stood isolated,
Mark’d how to explore the vacant vast surrounding,
It launch’d forth filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

And you O my soul where you stand,
Surrounded, detached, in measureless oceans of space,
Ceaselessly musing, venturing, throwing, seeking the spheres to connect them,
Till the bridge you will need be form’d, till the ductile anchor hold,
Till the gossamer thread you fling catch somewhere, O my soul.

~Walt Whitman

 

Anecdote of the Jar

I placed a jar in Tennessee,
And round it was, upon a hill.
It made the slovenly wilderness
Surround that hill.

The wilderness rose up to it,
And sprawled around, no longer wild.
The jar was round upon the ground
And tall and of a port in air.

It took dominion everywhere.
The jar was gray and bare.
It did not give of bird or bush,
Like nothing else in Tennessee.

~Wallace Stevens

Marina Tsvetaeva and T.S. Eliot on Parties

 

Elizabeth Myhr

 

A small study in the poetry of two passionate poets – one quietly desperate, the other stridently disgusted –  on feeling socially isolated at parties. Eliot, young and English, Tsvetaeva, young and Russian.

 

From Eliot’s The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock written in 1910:

… And I have known the arms already, known them all—
Arms that are braceleted and white and bare
(But in the lamplight, downed with light brown hair!)
Is it perfume from a dress
That makes me so digress?
Arms that lie along a table, or wrap about a shawl.
               And should I then presume?
               And how should I begin?

~Eliot

 

From Marina Tsevtaeva’s Poem of the End, written in 1924:

 

… A blonde mist, a wave of
gauze ruffles, of human
breathing, smoky exhalations
endless talk      the smell of
what? of haste and filth
connivance       shabby acts          all
the secrets of business  men
     and ballroom powder.
 

~Tsvetaeva  (Feinstein trans.)

My work in WA129

State Poet Laureate Tod Marshall kindly chose one of the poems from my manuscript the practice of devotion for inclusion in WA129, an anthology of award-winning Washington State writers and poets. The anthology is now available from Sage Hill Press.

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when we first met

you opened me like a letter

 

who can speak of what the peony gives out

when it’s bowed down to the ground with rain