SARASVATI

There was one Goddess who comprehended it all, inspiration

And they comprehended it all together and lit the Agni Flame to call upon her, invocation

To explain her, today, we make a list

 

Long before philosophy, before science was

The Word

Before music was chanting and chanting

Verse

Created everything in the Vedas

It was all there, is all there

Song

Devas, devotion, communion, community

Sacred Flame

Carrying burning souls’ aspirations into Agni unto Sarasvati

So it was, it is in Homer, Apollo’s Delphi, in David’s

Psalms

It’s all there: wisdom, lex, lux, love, lifegiving inspiration, love giving life

Praise and supplication

 

And Babel specialized each species and genera, specious

So we have scientists, philosophers, musicians

Poetry

Alone, isolated, island unto itself, no word is an island,

Style

Isn’t sufficient to suffuse sapientia, Sophia, sophistry, silence

I live literature all allowed together, all awed

A lawless freedom of discipline

Makes

A discipline out of words

Alongside science, philosophy, music

And primal unity of what matters together

Breaks

Criticism: Wallace Stevens Wins the Day

Wallace Stevens, I believe, is the progenitor of contemporary verse.  Maybe Mallarme, before Stevens.  Mallarme’s poetry “evokes” meaning, rather than stating it.  His “Prelude a l’apres-midi d-un faune,” probably his most well-known poem made even more immortal due to Debussy’s musical setting of it, is a model example of his style.  Even in English translation, one can discern the flavor of his French evocations.  I put Wallace Stevens in his lineage as Stevens, also, evokes and does not declare in his poetry.

Contemporaries of Stevens–Eliot and Frost–differ in their treatment of language.  They make declarative sentences and they make points.  While they both employ the modern “objective correlative,” the imagery they employ is to make a point, or argument.  Their sentences connect subjects with objects.  When Robert Frost writes, “Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,” we know that Frost is using a New England stone wall to reflect on division between humans.  Wallace Stevens criticized Frost for this, saying, “The trouble with you, Robert, is that you write about–subjects.”  To which Frost replied, “The trouble with you, Wallace, is that you write about bric-a-brac.”

When one approaches a Stevens poem, one doesn’t ask what Stevens is writing about.  He doesn’t write about subjects.  He writes “about” language and word juxtapositions.  Some say he writes about human subjectivity or the creative process.  But I won’t even give him that.  His word situations defy meaning.  One enjoys the words themselves, not what he’s talking “about.”  Contemporary verse follows the style of Stevens.  He doesn’t write about subjects, but I’ll not say it’s bric-a-brac.

My complaint about Stevens and much contemporary poetry is I find it wanting in depth.  Having fun with words is fun, as far as it goes, but ultimately one wants to come away from a poem with more than a bare feeling evoked by words.  Nietzsche turned philosophy into literature.  Though his literary works are as vapid as Stevens at his worst.  Frost is a true embodiment of Emerson’s philosophical poet.  Frost was a philosopher, maybe even a mystic (he said he was).  And Frost made philosophy in verse.  I fear that contemporary styles of poetry are but a fad.  Everybody is writing in the school of Stevens, just like a generation ago everybody was writing sestinas because Pound reintroduced them into modern poetry.  What will last into time we cannot say today.  But we can say that for today, Stevens wins the day.

 

NOTE AND WORD

Notes did more than ride on rhythm

Pulsing through the unity that was the song, is the song

Uniting string, amp, voice, and ear

Hearing players sound together song

Dionysus dance energy and harmony

ALL HARMONIOUS

 

What text can never do, even if spoken

Written reference to literature speech and word

But there is the I AM

Logos

Being in existence and the regression into terms

Name and it’s gone

 

The harmonies that played together knit

Player, hearer, heart, and feet tapping

Nodding, dance, night-time, night-club

Night after night and us three

All harmonious over time

And a long time

 

Life vicissitudes over much time

The song sung together, composed of us three

Now and echo

To talk about together