Monday, January 05, 2009



Feodor brought this great work, by Conrad Aiken, to my attention. It fits my melancholy Monday mood -- with Dr. ER's and my 45th birthdays looming -- perfectly. ...


And to gird your loins against the settling in of melancholy:

(a reading of the poem by poet Charles Wright [no relation] can be found at

The Journey
by James Wright

Anghiari is medieval, a sleeve sloping down
A steep hill, suddenly sweeping out
To the edge of a cliff, and dwindling.
But far up the mountain, behind the town,
We too were swept out, out by the wind,
Alone with the Tuscan grass.

Wind had been blowing across the hills
For days, and everything now was graying gold
With dust, everything we saw, even
Some small children scampering along a road,
Twittering Italian to a small caged bird.

We sat beside them to rest in some brushwood,
And I leaned down to rinse the dust from my face.

I found the spider web there, whose hinges
Reeled heavily and crazily with the dust,
Whole mounds and cemeteries of it, sagging
And scattering shadows among shells and wings.
And then she stepped into the center of air
Slender and fastidious, the golden hair
Of daylight along her shoulders, she poised there,
While ruins crumbled on every side of her.
Free of the dust, as though a moment before
She had stepped inside the earth, to bathe herself.

I gazed, close to her, till at last she stepped
Away in her own good time.

Many men
Have searched all over Tuscany and never found
What I found there, the heart of the light
Itself shelled and leaved, balancing
On filaments themselves falling. The secret
Of this journey is to let the wind
Blow its dust all over your body,
To let it go on blowing, to step lightly, lightly
All the way through your ruins, and not to lose
Any sleep over the dead, who surely
Will bury their own, don't worry.
LOL That *is* a nice antidote.
The first is awesome! "The secret is not to lose any sleep over the dead" . . . Wow.

Thanks to both.

Much to ponder now. Poetry is good for that.
"Hear how it babbles!"

A muddle of metaphors and under developed negatives. A ramble of half thoughts

No, not my taste.
No story.
You curmudgeon! You probably don't much care for Lamentations or Psalms either, do ya?
Songs of Sorrowman?
Ode to a Grecian Formula?

Chipper up, man. It cannot be that bad.

BTW, I'd humbly submit "Thanatopsis" in this genre, if you want further dread.
Wow, when did this blog go all emo? Next thing we know, ER's going to grown his hair down over his eyes, wearing a beret, while drinking absinthe.

But if you're really going to go for it, ER, for pure melancholy nothing beats teenage girl poetry. There was a whole page of it in our local newspaper recently. I can only remember the first line of one of them: Darkness, why do you enfold me so?

That is, in my opinion, the platonic form of a first line of teenage girl poetry.
Does Alan keep everything at arm's length with humor?
Absinthe? Jagermeister is the new absinthe, I think. . .

I laughed at that whole "teenage girl poetry", especially your first, Platonic, line. How true. No one is more full of world-weariness than your garden variety teenager. Sad to say, I was EMO before emo was, it seems. . .
Compared to his contemporaries' poetry, Aiken went his own way into a cull-du-sac of language.

I honor him for his popularizing of Emily Dickinson.

Of course being white trash off of the Red River what would I know of true literary genius. I'm sure that many professorial lives have been dedicated to Aiken's words if not poetry. Whole university courses are still taught about him and he figures in any 20th Century poetry survey course.

He just ain't my cup o' tea.
ER said:"You probably don't much care for Lamentations or Psalms either, do ya?"

Come now, of course I do.
Now Obediah I could do without.
Absinthe came back for about a year or so, a couple years ago. Newly legal, and non-hallucinogenic, which I think, is why it only came back for a year or so.

"Does Alan keep everything at arm's length with humor?"

Who was being humorous? Have you ever *read* teenage girl poetry?

The New York Times covers absinthe in the dining section every quarter it seems. Just last week, in fact.

When, as Alan says, I think they declared it unhip. But Rye Whiskey is still hip.
I admit that not much else of Aiken moves me.

James Wright is a different matter.
I have bene known to partake of Jim Beam rye on occasion.
Nothing wrong with rye.

For our wedding, we received a set of lovely antique 1920's glass decanters, one for scotch and one for rye. The best homes would have had both as rye wasn't seen as a low class beverage back then. (Gin was optional because it was often seen as a beverage of the lower classes until prohibition.)

Rye is mine, scotch is his (as I think scotch tastes like whiskey that someone put a cigarette out in, particularly the smoky peaty things he drinks.

BTW, when I skimmed the original post the first time, I misread it as "Clay Aiken" which nearly resulted in a spit take.
Clay Aiken's had his moments. Right?

Yep. That's the problem with us, Alan. I like the peaty single malt northern Scotland stuff.

Or is it the fatal attraction?

Someone served Johnny Walker over the holidays and it tasted vilely medicinal to me.
Ah, well you'd like the Ardbeg 10 year I got B for Christmas then, but you'd have to arm wrestle him for it.
Islay... very nice.

I settle for the very occasional Guiness Extra Stout, or Leinenkugel's Red. Beyond that, I am a teetotaler.
Dickel. Rocks. Nothin' better.
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