Saturday, January 31, 2015

The Circus Animals' Desertion By Yeats

The Circus Animals' Desertion
William Butler Yeats

I sought a theme and sought for it in vain,
I sought it daily for six weeks or so.
Maybe at last, being but a broken man,
I must be satisfied with my heart, although
Winter and summer till old age began
My circus animals were all on show,
Those stilted boys, that burnished chariot,
Lion and woman and the Lord knows what. 

What can I but enumerate old themes,
First that sea-rider Oisin led by the nose
Through three enchanted islands, allegorical dreams,
Vain gaiety, vain battle, vain repose,
Themes of the embittered heart, or so it seems,
That might adorn old songs or courtly shows;
But what cared I that set him on to ride,
I, starved for the bosom of his faery bride. 
And then a counter-truth filled out its play,
'The Countess Cathleen' was the name I gave it;
She, pity-crazed, had given her soul away,
But masterful Heaven had intervened to save it.
I thought my dear must her own soul destroy
So did fanaticism and hate enslave it,
And this brought forth a dream and soon enough
This dream itself had all my thought and love. 
And when the Fool and Blind Man stole the bread
Cuchulain fought the ungovernable sea;
Heart-mysteries there, and yet when all is said
It was the dream itself enchanted me:
Character isolated by a deed
To engross the present and dominate memory.
Players and painted stage took all my love,
And not those things that they were emblems of. 

Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart. 

Friday, January 30, 2015

Poet Rod McKuen Died

Rod McKuen died yesterday at age 81.  He was a bestselling poet in the 1970's and my muse during that decade.  My favorite books of his are "Lonesome Cities" and "In Someone's Shadow".  His title poems in both of those books are magical.  His love poems have no equal.

Rest in peace, gentle poet...

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Preface To a Twenty Volume Suicide Note By Imamu Amiri Baraka

Preface To a Twenty Volume Suicide Note
By Imamu Amiri Baraka

Lately, I've become accustomed to the way 
The ground opens up and envelopes me 
Each time I go out to walk the dog. 
Or the broad edged silly music the wind 
Makes when I run for a bus... 

Things have come to that. 

And now, each night I count the stars. 
And each night I get the same number. 
And when they will not come to be counted, 
I count the holes they leave. 

Nobody sings anymore. 

And then last night I tiptoed up 
To my daughter's room and heard her 
Talking to someone, and when I opened 
The door, there was no one there... 
Only she on her knees, peeking into 

Her own clasped hands