Poetry and Music Blog at tumblr

http://theangryballerina.tumblr.com/.

My Fun Blog at tumblr

http://itsamysworld.tumblr.com/.

Ted Hughes…”Last Letter”

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid69900095001?bctid=627301073001

Jorge Luis Borges ‘Everything and Nothing’

Borges on Shakespeare

Everything and Nothing

 

THERE was no one in him; behind his face (which even through the bad paintings of those times resembles no other) and his words, which were copious, fantastic and stormy, there was only a bit of coldness, a dream dreamt by no one. At first he thought that all people were like him, but the astonishment of a friend to whom he had begun to speak of this emptiness showed him his error and made him feel always that an individual should not differ in outward appearance. Once he thought that in books he would find a cure for his ill and thus he learned the small Latin and less Greek a contemporary would speak of; later he considered that what he sought might well be found in an elemental rite of humanity, and let himself be initiated by Anne Hathaway one long June afternoon. At the age of twenty-odd years he went to London. Instinctively he had already become proficient in the habit of simulating that he was someone, so that others would not discover his condition as no one; in London he found the profession to which he was predestined, that of the actor, who on a stage plays at being another before a gathering of people who play at taking him for that other person. His histrionic tasks brought him a singular satisfaction, perhaps the first he had ever known; but once -the last verse had been acclaimed and the last dead man withdrawn from the stage, the hated flavour of unreality returned to him. He ceased to be Ferrex or Tamberlane and became no one again. Thus hounded, he took to imagining other heroes and other tragic fables. And so, while his flesh fulfilled its destiny as flesh in the taverns and brothels of London, the soul that inhabited him was Caesar, who disregards the augur’s admonition, and Juliet. who abhors the lark, and Macbeth, who converses on the plain with the witches who are also Fates. No one has ever been so many men as this man who like the Egyptian Proteus could exhaust all the guises of reality. At times he would leave a confession hidden away in some corner of his work, certain that it would not be deciphered; Richard affirms that in his person he plays the part of many and Iago claims with curious words ‘I am not what I am’. The fundamental identity of existing, dreaming and acting inspired famous passages of his.

For twenty years he persisted in that controlled hallucination, but one morning he was suddenly gripped by the tedium and the terror of being so many kings who die by the sword and so many suffering lovers who converge, diverge and melodiously expire. That very day he arranged to sell his theatre. Within.. a week he had returned to his native village, where he recovered the trees and rivers of his childhood and did not relate them to the others his muse had celebrated, illustrious with mythological allusions and Latin terms. He had to be ‘someone: he was a retired impresario who had made his fortune and concerned himself with loans, lawsuits and petty usury. It was in this character that he dictated the arid will and testament known to us, from which he deliberately excluded all traces of pathos or literature. His friends from London would visit his retreat and for them he would take up again his role as poet.

History adds that before or after dying he found himself in the presence of God and told Him: ‘I who have been so many men in vain want to be one and myself.’ The voice of the Lord answered from a whirlwind: ‘Neither am I anyone; I have dreamt the world as you dreamt your work, my Shakespeare, and among the forms in my dream are you, who like myself are many and no one.’

From Jorge Luis Borges Labyrinths (Penguin, 2000) Trans. J. E. Irby.

Amy’s A-List Must-Reads

  •  
  •  
  •  
  • Stories
  • Jhumpa Lahiri–Interpreter of Maladies; Unaccustomed Earth
  • Aimee Bender–The Girl in the Flammable Skirt; The Particular Sadness of Lemoncake
  • Belle Boggs–Mattaponi Queen: Stories
  • Patricia Hampl–I Could Tell You Some Stories: Sojourns in the Land of Memory
  • Daniyal Mueenuddin–In Other Rooms, Other Wonders
  • Eula Biss–The Balloonists
  • Charles D’Ambrosio–The Point and Other Stories
  • Robert Boswell–The Heyday of the Insensitive Bastards
  • Anthony Doerr–The Shell Collector; Memory Wall
  • Antonya Nelson–Nothing Right; Female Troubles: Stories
  • Karen Russell–St. Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves
  • Lydia Millett–Love in Infant Monkeys
  • Wells Tower–Everything Ravaged, Everything Burned: Stories
  • Bernard Cooper–Guess Again: Short Stories
  • Jean Thompson–Who Do You Love: Stories
  • Barb Johnson–More of This World or Maybe Another
  • Charles Baxter–Believers: A Novella and Other Stories; A Relative Stanger: Stories
  • Lydia Davis–Break It Down: Stories; Almost No Memory: Stories
  • Steve Almond–Do Me: Sex Tales from Tin House
  • Gina Frangello–Slut Lullabies
  • David Eggers–Best American Nonrequired Reading
  • Tatyana Tolstaia–White Walls: Collected Stories
  • Mary Otis–Yes, Yes, Cherries: Stories
  • Lee Montgomery–Whose World is This?
  • Anis Shivani–Anatolia and Other Stories
  • Jane Avrich–The Winter Without Milk: Stories
  • Nadine Gordimer–Loot
  • Shelley Jackson–The Melancholy of Anatomy: Stories
  • Gotham Writers’ Workshop: Fiction Gallery
  • The Art of the Tale: An International Anthology of Short Stories–Daniel Halpern
  • ZZ Packer–Drinking Coffee Elsewhere
  • Joy Williams–Honored Guest: Stories; Escapes
  • Lorrie Moore–I Know Some Things: Stories about Childhood by Contemporary Writers
  • Randall Jarrell–Randall Jarell’s Book of Stories
  • Thom Jones–The Pugilist at Rest: Stories
  • Alice Munro–Open Secrets: Stories
  • Mary Gaitskill–Bad Behavior: Stories

        

Essays

  • Joan Didion–The White Album; Slouching Towards Bethlehem: Essays
  • Anne Carson–Plainwater: Essays and Poetry; Eros the Bittersweet
  • Lia Purpura–On Looking: Essays
  • Joy Williams–Ill Nature
  • Mary Paumier Jones–In Brief: Short Takes on the Personal
  • Phillip Lopate–Getting Personal: Selected Essays
  • NYT’s–Writers on Writing: Collected Essays from NYTs 1 & 2
  • Carole Maso–Breaking Every Rule: Essays on Language, Longing, and Moments of Desire
  • John D’Agata–Halls of Fame
  • Joseph Epstein–The Norton Book of Personal Essays
  • Joyce Carol Oates–Best American Essays of the Century
  • Virginia Woolf–Moment and Other Essays
  • Bernard Cooper–Maps to Anywhere
  • Milan Kundera–The Curtain: An Essay in 7 Parts
  • Susan Sontag–Against Interpretation: And other Essays
  • Richard Hugo–The Triggering Town: Lectures and Essays on Poetry and Writing
  • Albert Goldbarth–Dark Waves and Light Matter: Essays
  • James Wood–Broken Estate: Essays on Literature and Belief
  • Brenda Miller–Seasons of the Body
  • Edward Hoagland–The Courage of Turtles: 15 Essays…
  • Eula Biss–Notes from No Man’s Land: American Essays
  • David Rakoff–Fraud: Essays
  • Zadie Smith–Changing My Mind: Occassional Essays
  • Charles BAxter–Burning Down the House: Essays on Fiction
  • Randall Jarrell–No Other Book: Selected essays
  • Charles D’Ambrosio–Orphans
  • Jenny Boully–The Body: An Essay; The Book of Beginnings and Endings

 

novels

  • Lisa Shea–Hula
  • Michael Chabon–Gentlemen of the Road
  • Geoff Dyer–But Beautiful
  • Nadine Gordimer–The Pickup
  • Junot Diaz–Drown
  • Michael Cunningham–The Hours
  • Tatjana Soli0–The Lotus Eaters
  • Oscar Hijuelos–The Mambo Kings Play Songs of Love
  • Carolyn Forche–The country between us
  • Per Petterson–I Curse the River of Time
  • Michele Matheson–Saving Angelfish
  • Lorrie Moore–Self-Help
  • Salman Rushdie–Midnight’s Children
  • Gail Tsukiyama–The Samurai’s Garden
  • Jan vallone–Pieces of Someday
  • Tom Grimes–Mentor: A Memoir
  • Nabokov–Speak, Memory
  • Charles Lamb–The Essays of Elia
  • Ha Jin–Waiting
  • Jo Ann Beard–The Boys of My Youth
  • Zakes Mda–The Madonna of Excelsior
  • Ander Monson–Vanishing Point: Not a Memoir
  • Karen Lee Boren–Girls in Peril: A Novella
  • Richard Hoffman–Half the House
  • William Styron–Darkness Visible; Sophie’s Choice
  • Milan Kundera–The Unbearable Lightness of Being: A Novel
  • Edward P. Jones–The Known  World
  • Graham Robb–Parisians
  • Bernard Malamud–The Fixer
  • Anne Tyler–The Accidental Tourist; Breathing Lessons
  • Tatyana Tolstaia–The Slynx
  • Anne Carson–Nox
  • Neil White–In the Sanctuary of Outcasts
  • Emily Gray Tedrowe–Commuters: A Novel
  • Gayle Bramdies–Delta Girls: A Novel
  • Benjamin Alire Saenz–Carry Me Like Water
  • AS Byatt–Possession: A Romance
  • Charles Johnson–Middle Passage
  • Gina Frangello–My Sister’s Continent
  • Authenticity-Dierdre Madden
  • Hilary Mantel–Wolf Hall
  • William Trevor–Love and Summer: A Novel; Fools of Fortune
  • Manil Suri–The Age of Shiva
  • Ted Hughes–Winter Pollen: Occassional Prose
  • Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg: The Letters
  • Haruki Murakami–The WindUP Bird Chronicles
  • Adolfo Bioy–The Invention of Morel
  • Lauren Slater–Lying: A Metaphorical Memoir
  • Marlene Van Niekerk–Agaat
  • Christ Cleave–Little Bee
  • Susan Minot–Evening
  • Jane Hamilton–The Book of Ruth
  • Wally Lamb–She’s Come Undone; I know This Much is True
  • Jorge Luis Borges–On Writing; The Book of Sand and Shakespeare’s Memory
  • Christina Schwarz–Drowning Ruth: A Novel
  • Mary McGarry Morris–Songs in Ordinary Time
  • Virginia Woolf–Mrs. Dalloway
  • Tim O’Brien–In the Lake of the Woods
  • Margaret Atwood–Oryx and Crake
  • Alan Watts–The Book
  • Siri Hustvedt–The Blindfold: A Novel
  • Alaa Al Alwany–The Yacoubian Building
  • Per Petterson–Out Stealing Horses
  • Penelope Lively–Moon Tiger
  • Bonnie Jo Campbell–American Salvage

            

  Poetry          

  • D A Powell–Chronic
  • Czeslaw Milosz–A Book of Luminous Things
  • C D Wright–Rising, Falling, Hovering
  • Jane Hirschfield–Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry
  • Mary Jo Bang–Elegy: Poems
  • Randall Jarrell–Complete Poems
  • Robert Hass–Time and Materials: Poems
  • Ander Monson–The Available World
  • John Ashbery–Self Portrait in Convex Mirror
  • Anne Sexton–Complete Poems
  • Plath “”
  • Carolyne Forche–Blue Hour: Poems
  • W S Merwin–Migration: New and Selected Poems
  • Mark Doty–Fire to Fire: New and Selected Poems
  • Jean Valentine–Break the Glass

Child …by Silvia Plath

Your clear eye is the one absolutely beautiful thing.

I want to fill it with color and ducks,

the zoo of the new

Whose names you meditate–

April snowdrop, Indian pipe,

Little

Stalk without wrinkle,

Pool in which images

should be grand and classical

Not this troublous

wringing of hands, this dark

ceiling without a star.

Diane Di Prima, bio, poems

(from The Beats Page)

Diane Di Prima is one of the few female Beat writers to attain prominence and is certainly a writer who is worth investigating. 

She was born in New York City on August 6, 1934 and after attending Swathmore College, settled in Greenwich Village. It was at this location where she lived the “bohemian lifestyle” that typified the Beat movement. 

She published her first book of poetry, a collection called This Kind of Bird Flies Backward was published in 1958. In the early 1960’s, she collaborated with Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones) and started a monthly periodical that featured the work of themselves and many other notable Beats, including Jack Kerouac and William S. Burroughs

She also was the founder of two publishing houses which focused on the writing of innovative and avant-garde poets: The Poets Press and Eidolon Editions. She also began a career as a lecturer at the Naropa Institute in Colorado in 1974. 

Di Prima’s career may reflect a struggle with the political and social upheavals that occurred in the 1960’s and 1970’s however, her writing often focused on her personal life and relationships. Much of her later writing reflected an interest in alchemy, female archetypes and of course, Eastern philosophies. 

Some of her works include: Poems for Freddie (1966), Earthsong Poems 1957 – 1959 (1968) The Book of Hours (1970), Loba, Parts 1 – 8 (1978), and Pieces of a Song (1990).
She also authored a collection of short fictional stories, Dinners and Nightmares (1961) and an autobiographical book, Memoirs of a Beatnik released in 1969.

The Window   ( Top of Page )

you are my bread
and the hairline noise
of my bones
you are almost
the sea

you are not stone
or molten sound
I think
you have no hands

this kind of bird flies backwards
and this love
breaks on a windowpane
where no light talks

this is not the time
for crossing tongues
(the sand here
never shifts)

I think
tomorrow
turned you with his toe
and you will
shine
and shine
unspent and underground


Chronology
   ( Top of Page )

I loved you in October
when you hid behind your hair
and rode your shadow
in the corners of the house

and in November you invaded
filling the air
above my bed with dreams
cries for some kind of help
on my inner ear

in December I held your hands
one afternoon; the light failed
it came back on
in a dawn on the Scottish coast
you singing us ashore

now it is January, you are fading
into your double
jewels on his cape, your shadow on the snow,
you slide away on wind, the crystal air
carries your new songs in snatches thru the windows
of our sad, high, pretty rooms


First Snow, Kerhonkson – for Alan
   ( Top of Page )

This, then, is the gift the world has given me
(you have given me)
softly the snow
cupped in the hollows
lying on the surface of the pond
matching my long white candles
which stand at the window
which will burn at dusk while the snow
fills up our valley
this hollow
no friend will wander down
no one arriving brown from Mexico
from the sunfields of California, bearing pot
they are scattered now, dead or silent
or blasted to madness
by the howling brightness of our once common vision
and this gift of yours-
white silence filling the contours of my life.


Ode to Keats, 2, The Dream
   ( Top of Page )

Hedged about as we are with prayers
and with taboos
Yet the heart of the magic circle is covered with gray linoleum
Over my head fly demons of the past
Roi
Lori
Jimmy, they pass
With a whooshing sound
The only ghost who stands on the ground
(who stands his ground)
Is Freddie-
I rise a few inches above the circle, and turn somersaults
I want to go shopping, but all I see is my reflection
I look tired and sad. I wear red. I am looking for love.
On the sidewalk are lying the sick and the hungry:
I hear “Spencer’s Faerie Queen cost them all their lives.”
And Spencer? I ask, “What did this life buy?”
Through the door is the way out, Alan stands in the doorway
In an attitude of leaving, his head is turned
As if to say goodbye, but he’s standing still.

Hedged about with primroses
with promises
The magic words we said when we were praying
Have formed a mist about us… 

The Window   ( Top of Page )

you are my bread
and the hairline noise
of my bones
you are almost
the sea

you are not stone
or molten sound
I think
you have no hands

this kind of bird flies backwards
and this love
breaks on a windowpane
where no light talks

this is not the time
for crossing tongues
(the sand here
never shifts)

I think
tomorrow
turned you with his toe
and you will
shine
and shine
unspent and underground


Chronology
   ( Top of Page )

I loved you in October
when you hid behind your hair
and rode your shadow
in the corners of the house

and in November you invaded
filling the air
above my bed with dreams
cries for some kind of help
on my inner ear

in December I held your hands
one afternoon; the light failed
it came back on
in a dawn on the Scottish coast
you singing us ashore

now it is January, you are fading
into your double
jewels on his cape, your shadow on the snow,
you slide away on wind, the crystal air
carries your new songs in snatches thru the windows
of our sad, high, pretty rooms


First Snow, Kerhonkson – for Alan
   ( Top of Page )

This, then, is the gift the world has given me
(you have given me)
softly the snow
cupped in the hollows
lying on the surface of the pond
matching my long white candles
which stand at the window
which will burn at dusk while the snow
fills up our valley
this hollow
no friend will wander down
no one arriving brown from Mexico
from the sunfields of California, bearing pot
they are scattered now, dead or silent
or blasted to madness
by the howling brightness of our once common vision
and this gift of yours-
white silence filling the contours of my life.


Ode to Keats, 2, The Dream
   ( Top of Page )

Hedged about as we are with prayers
and with taboos
Yet the heart of the magic circle is covered with gray linoleum
Over my head fly demons of the past
Roi
Lori
Jimmy, they pass
With a whooshing sound
The only ghost who stands on the ground
(who stands his ground)
Is Freddie-
I rise a few inches above the circle, and turn somersaults
I want to go shopping, but all I see is my reflection
I look tired and sad. I wear red. I am looking for love.
On the sidewalk are lying the sick and the hungry:
I hear “Spencer’s Faerie Queen cost them all their lives.”
And Spencer? I ask, “What did this life buy?”
Through the door is the way out, Alan stands in the doorway
In an attitude of leaving, his head is turned
As if to say goodbye, but he’s standing still.

Hedged about with primroses
with promises
The magic words we said when we were praying
Have formed a mist about us…

EmilyDickinson’s Much Madness

Much Madness is divinest Sense –

 

Much Madness is divinest Sense —

To a discerning Eye —

Much Sense — the starkest Madness —

’Tis the Majority

In this, as All, prevail —

Assent — and you are sane —

Demur — you’re straightway dangerous —

And handled with a Chain —

The Double Image by Anne Sexton

 1.

I am thirty this November.

You are still small, in your fourth year.

We stand watching the yellow leaves go queer,

flapping in the winter rain,

falling flat and washed. And I remember

mostly the three autumns you did not live here.

They said I’d never get you back again.

I tell you what you’ll never really know:

all the medical hypothesis

that explained my brain will never be as true as these

struck leaves letting go.

I, who chose two times

to kill myself, had said your nickname

the mewling months when you first came;

until a fever rattled

in your throat and I moved like a pantomime

above your head. Ugly angels spoke to me. The blame,

I heard them say, was mine. They tattled

like green witches in my head, letting doom

leak like a broken faucet;

as if doom had flooded my belly and filled your bassinet,

an old debt I must assume.

Death was simpler than I’d thought.

The day life made you well and whole

I let the witches take away my guilty soul.

I pretended I was dead

until the white men pumped the poison out,

putting me armless and washed through the rigamarole

of talking boxes and the electric bed.

I laughed to see the private iron in that hotel.

Today the yellow leaves

go queer. You ask me where they go. I say today believed

in itself, or else it fell.

Today, my small child, Joyce,

love your self’s self where it lives.

There is no special God to refer to; or if there is,

why did I let you grow

in another place. You did not know my voice

when I came back to call. All the superlatives

of tomorrow’s white tree and mistletoe

will not help you know the holidays you had to miss.

The time I did not love

myself, I visited your shoveled walks; you held my glove.

There was new snow after this.

2.

They sent me letters with news

of you and I made moccasins that I would never use.

When I grew well enough to tolerate

myself, I lived with my mother. Too late,

too late, to live with your mother, the witches said.

But I didn’t leave. I had my portrait

done instead.

Part way back from Bedlam

I came to my mother’s house in Gloucester,

Massachusetts. And this is how I came

to catch at her; and this is how I lost her.

I cannot forgive your suicide, my mother said.

And she never could. She had my portrait

done instead.

I lived like an angry guest,

like a partly mended thing, an outgrown child.

I remember my mother did her best.

She took me to Boston and had my hair restyled.

Your smile is like your mother’s, the artist said.

I didn’t seem to care. I had my portrait

done instead.

There was a church where I grew up

with its white cupboards where they locked us up,

row by row, like puritans or shipmates

singing together. My father passed the plate.

Too late to be forgiven now, the witches said.

I wasn’t exactly forgiven. They had my portrait

done instead.

3.

All that summer sprinklers arched

over the seaside grass.

We talked of drought

while the salt-parched

field grew sweet again. To help time pass

I tried to mow the lawn

and in the morning I had my portrait done,

holding my smile in place, till it grew formal.

Once I mailed you a picture of a rabbit

and a postcard of Motif number one,

as if it were normal

to be a mother and be gone.

They hung my portrait in the chill

north light, matching

me to keep me well.

Only my mother grew ill.

She turned from me, as if death were catching,

as if death transferred,

as if my dying had eaten inside of her.

That August you were two, but I timed my days with doubt.

On the first of September she looked at me

and said I gave her cancer.

They carved her sweet hills out

and still I couldn’t answer.

4.

That winter she came

part way back

from her sterile suite

of doctors, the seasick

cruise of the X-ray,

the cells’ arithmetic

gone wild. Surgery incomplete,

the fat arm, the prognosis poor, I heard

them say.

During the sea blizzards

she had here

own portrait painted.

A cave of mirror

placed on the south wall;

matching smile, matching contour.

And you resembled me; unacquainted

with my face, you wore it. But you were mine

after all.

I wintered in Boston,

childless bride,

nothing sweet to spare

with witches at my side.

I missed your babyhood,

tried a second suicide,

tried the sealed hotel a second year.

On April Fool you fooled me. We laughed and this

was good.

5.

I checked out for the last time

on the first of May;

graduate of the mental cases,

with my analyst’s okay,

my complete book of rhymes,

my typewriter and my suitcases.

All that summer I learned life

back into my own

seven rooms, visited the swan boats,

the market, answered the phone,

served cocktails as a wife

should, made love among my petticoats

and August tan. And you came each

weekend. But I lie.

You seldom came. I just pretended

you, small piglet, butterfly

girl with jelly bean cheeks,

disobedient three, my splendid

stranger. And I had to learn

why I would rather

die than love, how your innocence

would hurt and how I gather

guilt like a young intern

his symptons, his certain evidence.

That October day we went

to Gloucester the red hills

reminded me of the dry red fur fox

coat I played in as a child; stock-still

like a bear or a tent,

like a great cave laughing or a red fur fox.

We drove past the hatchery,

the hut that sells bait,

past Pigeon Cove, past the Yacht Club, past Squall’s

Hill, to the house that waits

still, on the top of the sea,

and two portraits hung on the opposite walls.

6.

In north light, my smile is held in place,

the shadow marks my bone.

What could I have been dreaming as I sat there,

all of me waiting in the eyes, the zone

of the smile, the young face,

the foxes’ snare.

In south light, her smile is held in place,

her cheeks wilting like a dry

orchid; my mocking mirror, my overthrown

love, my first image. She eyes me from that face,

that stony head of death

I had outgrown.

The artist caught us at the turning;

we smiled in our canvas home

before we chose our foreknown separate ways.

The dry red fur fox coat was made for burning.

I rot on the wall, my own

Dorian Gray.

And this was the cave of the mirror,

that double woman who stares

at herself, as if she were petrified

in time — two ladies sitting in umber chairs.

You kissed your grandmother

and she cried.

7.

I could not get you back

except for weekends. You came

each time, clutching the picture of a rabbit

that I had sent you. For the last time I unpack

your things. We touch from habit.

The first visit you asked my name.

Now you stay for good. I will forget

how we bumped away from each other like marionettes

on strings. It wasn’t the same

as love, letting weekends contain

us. You scrape your knee. You learn my name,

wobbling up the sidewalk, calling and crying.

You call me mother and I remember my mother again,

somewhere in greater Boston, dying.

I remember we named you Joyce

so we could call you Joy.

You came like an awkward guest

that first time, all wrapped and moist

and strange at my heavy breast.

I needed you. I didn’t want a boy,

only a girl, a small milky mouse

of a girl, already loved, already loud in the house

of herself. We named you Joy.

I, who was never quite sure

about being a girl, needed another

life, another image to remind me.

And this was my worst guilt; you could not cure

nor soothe it. I made you to find me.

Anne Sexton, “The Double Image” from The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton, published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt. Copyright © 1981 by Linda Gray Sexton and Loring Conant, Jr. Reprinted with the permission of Sll/Sterling Lord Literistic, Inc.

Source: The Complete Poems of Anne Sexton (Houghton Mifflin, 1981)