Tuesday, July 7, 2009

The Stevens/Douglas connection

I got out a small Wallace Stevens book (Selected Poems. 1953. Faber and Faber Ltd.) yesterday and I've been reading that because I think he is the one from that era that I respect the most. I haven't been let down so far. He has some beautiful and, I think, varied music. Like he will have a line or two of really lovely rhyme that comes as a shock to the rest of the poem, but fits into the rhythm of it perfectly. He writes a kind of free verse that is incredibly controlled, so it seems almost form like. Maybe that is the definition of good free verse? The Worms at Heaven's Gate:
Here is an eye. And here are, one by one,
The lashes of that eye and its white lid.
Here is the cheek on which that lid declined,
And, finger after finger, here, the hand,
The genuis of that cheek. Here are the lips,
The bundle of the body and the feet.
That rhyme at the end of this section (and also the sound of the 'lid declined') is for me what makes this poem so special. It jumps out as a lovely piece of music, even though in a way he is describing quite a banal thing, using quite ordinary words. It's the syntax and the control that makes this so gorgeous.

And I wrote a found poem from the book I bought last week Completing the Circle by Roger Douglas. I'm not sure if it is working. I might show it to Damien etc and see what they think. Generally I don't like found poems. They have to be exceptional I think. I'm not sure this is. The most interesting thing about the book is that it is signed and he pressed so hard with the pen that you can see the indent of the signature all the way to page 9. Maybe I should write a poem about that? His solid grip or something?

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