Book: Descent of Winter



The Descent of Winter

by William Carlos Williams


" What are these elations I have


at my own underwear?



I touch it and it is strange


upon a strange thigh. "




*****



My bed is narrow


in a small room


at sea



The numbers are on


the wall


Arabic 1



Berth No. 2


was empty above me


the steward



took it apart


and removed


it



only the number


remains


.2.



on an oval disc


of celluloid


tacked



to the white-enameled


woodwork


with



two bright nails


like stars


beside



the moon



There are no perfect waves —


Your writings are a sea


full of misspellings and


faulty sentences. Level. Troubled.



A center distant from the land


touched by the wings


of nearly silent birds


that never seem to rest —



This is the sadness of the sea —


waves like words, all broken —


a sameness of lifting and falling mood.



I lean watching the detail


of brittle crest, the delicate


imperfect foam, yellow weed


one piece like another —



There is no hope — if not a coral


island slowly forming


to wait for birds to drop


the seeds will make it habitable



and there's a little blackboy


in a doorway


scratching his wrists



The cap on his head


is red and blue


with a broad peak to it



and his mouth


is open, his tongue


between his teeth —



Monday


the canna flaunts


its crimson head



crimson lying folded


crisply down upon



the invisible



darkly crimson heart


of this poor yard



the grass is long




October tenth




1927


a beard . . . not of stone but particular hairs purpleblack . . . lies upon his stale breast



In the dead weeds a rubbish heap


aflame: the orange flames


stream horizontal, windblown


they parallel the ground


waving up and down


the flamepoints alternating


the body streaked with loops


and purple stains while


the pale smoke, above


steadily continues eastward —



What chance have the old?


There are no duties for them


no places where they may sit


their knowledge is laughed at


they cannot see, they cannot hear.


A small bundle on the shoulders


weighs them down


one hand is put back under it


to hold it steady.


Their feet hurt, they are weak


they should not have to suffer


as younger people must and do


there should be a truce for them



that brilliant field


of rainwet orange


blanketed



by the red grass


and oilgreen bayberry



the last yarrow


on the gutter


white by the sandy


rainwater



and a white birch


with yellow leaves


and few


and loosely hung



and a young dog


jumped out


of the old barrel


I will make a big, serious portrait of my time. The brown and creamwhite block of Mexican onyx has a poorly executed replica of the Aztec calendar on one of its dicefacets the central circle being a broad-nosed face with projected hanging tongue the sun perhaps though why the tongue is out I do not know unless to taste or gasp in the heat, its own heat, to say it's hot and is the sun. Puebla, Mexico, Calendario Azteca, four words are roughly engraved in the four corners where the circle leaves spaces on the square diceface this is America some years after the original, the art of writing is to do work so excellent that by its excellence it repels all idiots but idiots are like leaves and excellence of any sort is a tree when the leaves fall the tree is naked and the wind thrashes it till it howls it cannot get a book published it can only get poems into certain magazines that are suppressed because because waving waving waving waving waving waving tic tack tic tock tadick there is not excellence without the vibrant rhythm of a poem and poems are small and tied and gasping, they eat gasoline, they all ate gasoline and died, they died of — there is a hole in the wood and all I say brings to mind the rock shingles of Cherbourg, on the new houses they have put cheap tile which overlaps but the old roofs had flat stone sides steep but of stones fitted together and that is love there is no portrait without that has not turned to prose love is my hero who does not live, a man, but speaks of it every day



1. continued (the great law)



What is he saying? That love was never made for man and woman to crack between them and so he loves and loves his sons and loves as he pleases. But there is a great law over him which — is as it is. The wind blowing, the mud spots on the polished surface, the face reflected in the glass which as you advance the features disappear leaving only the hat and as you draw back the features return, the tip of the nose, the projection over the eyebrows, the cheek bones and the bulge of the lips the chin last.



2



I remember, she said, we had little silver plaques with a chain on it to hang over the necks of the bottles, whiskey, brandy or whatever it was. And a box of some kind of wood, not for the kitchen but a pretty box. Inside it was lined with something like yes, pewter, all inside and there was a cover of metal too with a little knob on it, all inside the wooden box. You would open the outer cover and inside was the lid. When you would take that off you would see the tea with a silver spoon for taking it out. But now, here are the roses — three opening. Out of love. For she loves them and so they are there. They are not a picture. Holbein never saw pink thorns in such a light. Nor did Masaccio. The petals are delicate, it is a question if they will open at all and not drop, loosing at one edge and falling tomorrow all in a heap. All around the roses there is today, machinery leaning upon the stem, an aeroplane is upon one leaf where a worm lies curled. Soppy it seems and enormous, it seems to hold up the sky for it has no size at all. We eat beside it — beside the three roses that she loves. And an oak tree grows out of my shoulders. Its roots are my arms and my legs. The air is a field. Yellow and red grass are writing their signature everywhere.


And Coolidge said let there be imitation brass filigree fire fenders behind insured plateglass windows and yellow pine booths with the molasses-candygrain in the wood instead of the oldtime cake-like whitepine boards always cut thick their faces! the white porcelain trough is no doubt made of some certain blanched clay baked and glazed but how they do it, how they shape it soft and have it hold its shape for the oven I don't know nor how the cloth is woven, the grey and the black with the orange and green strips wound together diagonally across the grain artificial pneumothorax their faces! the stripe of shadow along the pavement edge, the brownstone steeple low among the office buildings dark windows with a white wooden cross upon them, lights like fuchsias, lights like bleeding hearts lights like columbines, cherry-red danger and applegreen safety. Any hat in this window $2.00 barred windows, wavy opaque glass, a block of brownstone at the edge of the sidewalk crudely stippled on top for a footstep to a carriage, lights with sharp bright spikes, stick out round them their faces! Stop in black letters surrounded by a red glow, letters with each bulb a seed in the shaft of the L of the A lights on the river streaking the restless water lights upon pools of rainwater by the roadside a great pool of light full of overhanging sparks into whose lower edge a house looms its center marked by one yellow window-bright their faces!


born, September 15, 1927, 2nd child, wt. 6 lbs. 2 ozs. The hero is Dolores Marie Pischak, the place Fairfield, in my own state, my own county, its largest city, my own time. This is her portrait: O future worlds, this is her portrait — order be God damned. Fairfield is the place where the October marigolds go over into the empty lot with dead grass like Polish children's hair and the nauseous, the stupefying monotony of decency is dead, unkindled even by art or anything — dead: by God because Fairfield is alive, coming strong. Oh blessed love you are here in this golden air, this honey and dew sunshine, ambering the houses to jewels. Order — is dead. Here a goose flaps his wings by a fence, a white goose, women talk from second-story windows to a neighbor on the ground, the tops of the straggling backyard poplars have been left with a tail of twigs and on the bare trunk a pulley with a line in it is tied. A cop whizzes by on his sidecar cycle, the bank to the river is cinders where dry leaves drift. The cinders are eating forward over the green grass below, closer and closer to the river bank, children are in the gutters violently at play over a dam of mud, old women with seamed faces lean on the crooked front gates. Where is Pischak's place? I don't know. I tink it's up there at the corner. What you want? —


Here one drinks good beer. Don't tell my husband. I stopped there yesterday, really good. I was practically alone, yes.


Some streets paved, some dirt down the center. A Jew has a clothing store and looks at you wondering what he can sell. And you feel he has these people sized up. A nasty feeling. Unattached. When he gets his he'll burn it up and clear out in a day. And they do not suspect how nicely he has measured them. They need stuff. He sells it. Who's that guy I wonder. Never seen him around here before. Looks like a doctor.


That's the feeling of Fairfield. An old farm house in long tangled trees, leaning over it. A dell with a pretty stream in it below the little garden and fifty feet beyond, the board fence of the Ajax Aniline Dye Works with red and purple refuse dribbling out ragged and oily under the lower fence boards. No house is like another. Small, wooden, a garden at the back, all ruined by the year. Man leaning smoking from a window. And the dirt, dry dust. No grass, or grass in patches, hedged with sticks and a line of cord or wire or grass, a jewel, a garden embanked, all in a twenty-foot square, crowded with incident, a small terrace of begonias, a sanded path, pinks, roses in a dozen rococo beds.


Knock and walk in: The bar. Not a soul. In the back room the kitchen. Immaculate, the enameled table featured. The mother nursing her from a nearly empty breast. She lies and sucks. Black hair, pencilled down the top flat and silky smooth, the palmsized face asleep, the mother at a point of vantage where under an inside window raised two inches she can govern the street entrance.


Who's that?


A woman. Oh that old woman from next door.


The father, young, energetic, enormous. Unsmiling, big headed, a nervous twitch to his head and a momentary intense squint to his eyes. She watches the door. He is in shirt sleeves. Restless, goes in and out. Talks fast, manages the old woman begging help for a bruised hand. A man who might be a general or president of a corporation, or president of the states. Runs a bootleg saloon. Great!


This is the world. Here one breathes and the dignity of man holds on. " Here I shall live. Why not now? Why do I wait? "


Katharin, 9, sheepish, shy — adoring in response to gentleness so that her eyes almost weep for sentimental gratitude, has jaundice, leans on his knee. Follows him with her eyes. Her hair is straight and blond.


On the main river road, a grey board fence over which a grove of trees stick up. Oaks, maples, poplars and old fruit trees. Belmont Park, Magyar Home. For rent for picnics. Peace is here — rest, assurance, life hangs on.


Oh, blessed love, among insults, brawls, yelling, kicks, brutality — here the old dignity of life holds on — defying the law, defying monotony.


She lies in her mother's arms and sucks. The dream passes over her, dirt streets, a white goose flapping its wings and passes. Boys, wrestling, kicking a half-inflated football. A grey motheaten squirrel pauses at a picket fence where tomato vines, almost spent, hang on stakes.


Oh, blessed love — the dream engulfs her. She opens her eyes on the troubled bosom of the mother who is nursing the babe and watching the door. And watching the eye of the man. Talking English, a stream of Magyar, Polish what? to the tall man coming and going.


Oh, blessed love where are you there, pleasure driven out, order triumphant, one house like another, grass cut to pay lovelessly. Bored we turn to cars to take us to " the country " to " nature " to breathe her good air. Jesus Christ. To nature. It's about time, for most of us. She is holding the baby. Her eye under the window, watching. Her hair is bobbed halfshort. It stands straight down about her ears. You, you sit and have it waved and ordered. Fine. I'm glad of it. And nothing to do but play cards and whisper. Jesus Christ. Whisper of the high-school girl that had a baby and how smart her mama was to pretend in a flash of genius that it was hers. Jesus Christ. Or let us take a run up to the White Mountains or Lake Mohonk. Not Bethlehem (New Hampshire) any more, the Jews have ruined that like lice all over the lawns. Horrible to see. The dirty things. Eating everywhere. Parasites.


And so order, seclusion, the good of it all.


But in Fairfield men are peaceful and do as they please — and learn the necessity and the profit of order — and Dolores Marie Pischak was born.



On hot days


the sewing machine


whirling



in the next room


in the kitchen



and men at the bar


talking of the strike


and cash



a flash of juncos in the field of grey locust saplings with a white sun powdery upon them and a large rusty can wedged in the crotch of one of them, for the winter, human fruit, and on the polished straws of the dead grass a scroll of crimson paper — not yet rained on



in this strong light


the leafless beechtree


shines like a cloud


it seems to glow


of itself


with a soft stript light


of love


over the brittle


grass



But there are


on second look


a few yellow leaves


still shaking



far apart



just one here one there


trembling vividly


The justice of poverty


its shame its dirt


are one with the meanness


of love



its organ in a tarpaulin


the green birds


the fat sleepy horse


the old men



the grinder sourfaced


hat over eyes


the beggar smiling all open


the lantern out



and the popular tunes —


sold to the least bidder


for a nickel


two cents or



nothing at all or even


against the desire


forced on us



To freight cars in the air



all the slow


clank, clank


clank, clank


moving above the treetops



the


wha, wha


of the hoarse whistle


pah, pah, pah


pah, pah, pah, pah, pah



piece and piece


piece and piece


moving still trippingly


through the morningmist



long after the engine


has fought by


and disappeared



in silence


to the left



Introduction in almost all verse you read, mine or


anybody's else, the figures used and the general


impression of the things spoken of is vague " you


could say it better in prose " especially good prose,


say the prose of Hemingway. The truth of the


object is somehow hazed over, dulled. So nobody


would go to see a play in verse if



the salvias, the rusty hydrangeas, the ragged cannas there's too often no observation in it, in poetry. It is a soft second light of dreaming. The sagas were not like that they seem to have been made on the spot. The little Greek I have read — and in translation — is not like that. Marlowe, Chaucer, el Cid, Shakespeare where he is homely, uncultured, a shrewd guesser is not like that. Where he puts it over about some woman he knew or a prince or Falstaff. The good poetry is where the vividness comes up " true " like in prose but better. That's poetry. Dante was wrestling with Italian, his vividness comes from his escape from Latin. Don Quixote. I don't know about the Russians or the French.



and the late, high growing red rose


it is their time


of a small garden poetry should strive for nothing else, this vividness alone, per se , for itself. The realization of this has its own internal fire that is " like " nothing. Therefore the bastardy of the simile. That thing, the vividness which is poetry by itself, makes the poem. There is no need to explain or compare. Make it and it is a poem. This is modern, not the saga. There are no sagas — only trees now, animals, engines: There's that.


I won't have to powder my nose tonight 'cause Billie's gonna take me home in his car —



The moon, the dried weeds


and the Pleiades —



Seven feet tall


the dark, dried weedstalks


make a part of the night


a red lace


on the blue milky sky



Write —


by a small lamp



the Pleiades are almost


nameless



and the moon is tilted


and halfgone



And in runningpants and


with ecstatic, aesthetic faces


on the illumined


signboard are leaping


over printed hurdles and


" 1/4 of their energy comes from bread "



two


gigantic highschool boys


ten feet tall



Dahlias —


What a red


and yellow and white


mirror to the sun, round


and petaled


is this she holds?


with a red face


all in black


and grey hair


sticking out


from under the bonnet brim


Is this Washington Avenue Mr. please


or do I have to


cross the track?



A MORNING IMAGINATION OF RUSSIA



The earth and the sky were very close


When the sun rose it rose in his heart


It bathed the red cold world of


the dawn so that the chill was his own


The mists were sleep and sleep began


to fade from his eyes, below him in the


garden a few flowers were lying forward


on the intense green grass where


in the opalescent shadows oak leaves


were pressed hard down upon it in patches


by the night rain. There were no cities


between him and his desires


his hatreds and his loves were without walls


without rooms, without elevators


without files, delays of veiled murderers


muffled thieves, the tailings of


tedious, dead pavements, the walls


against desire save only for him who can pay


high, there were no cities — he was


without money —



Cities had faded richly


into foreign countries, stolen from Russia —


the richness of her cities —



Scattered wealth was close to his heart


he felt it uncertainly beating at


that moment in his wrists, scattered


wealth — but there was not much at hand



Cities are full of light, fine clothes


delicacies for the table, variety,


novelty — fashion: all spent for this.


Never to be like that again:


the frame that was. It tickled his


imagination. But it passed in a rising calm



Tan dar a dei! Tan dar a dei!



He was singing. Two miserable peasants


very lazy and foolish


seemed to have walked out from his own


feet and were walking away with wooden rakes


under the six nearly bare poplars, up the hill



There go my feet.


He stood still in the window forgetting


to shave —



The very old past was refound


redirected. It had wandered into himself


The world was himself, these were


his own eyes that were seeing, his own mind


that was straining to comprehend, his own


hands that would be touching other hands


They were his own!


His own, feeble, uncertain. He would go


out to pick herbs, he graduate of


the old university. He would go out


and ask that old woman, in the little


village by the lake, to show him wild


ginger. He himself would not know the plant.



A horse was stepping up the dirt road


under his window



He decided not to shave. Like those two


that he knew now, as he had never


known them formerly. A city, fashion


had been between —



Nothing between now.



He would go to the soviet unshaven. This


was the day — and listen. Listen. That


was all he did, listen to them, weigh


for them. He was turning into


a pair of scales, the scales in the


zodiac.



But closer, he was himself


the scales. The local soviet. They could


weigh. If it was not too late. He felt


uncertain many days. But all were uncertain


together and he must weigh for them out


of himself.



He took a small pair of scissors


from the shelf and clipped his nails


carefully. He himself served the fire.



We have cut out the cancer but


who knows? perhaps the patient will die.


The patient is anybody, anything


worthless that I desire, my hands


to have it — instead of the feeling


that there is a piece of glazed paper


between me and the paper — invisible


but tough running through the legal


processes of possession — a city, that


we could possess —



It's in art, it's in


the French school.



What we lacked was


everything. It is the middle of


everything. Not to have.



We have little now but


we have that. We are convalescents. Very


feeble. Our hands shake. We need a


transfusion. No one will give it to us,


they are afraid of infection. I do not


blame them. We have paid heavily. But we


have gotten — touch. The eyes and the ears


down on it. Close.


Russia is every country, here he must live, this for that, loss for gain. Dolores Marie Pischak. " New York is a blight on my heart, lost, a street full of lights fading to a bonfire — in order to see their hats of wool on their heads, their lips to open and a word to come out. To open my mouth and a word to come out, my word. Grown like grass, to be like a stone. I pick it. It is poor. It must be so. There are no rich. The richness is everywhere, belongs to everyone and it is hard to get. And loss, loss, loss. Cut off from my kind — if any exist. To get that, everything is lost. So he carries them and gets — himself and has nothing to do with himself. He also gets their lice.


Romance, decoration, fullness — are lost in touch, sight, a word, to bite an apple. Henry Ford has asked Chas. Sheeler to go to Detroit and photograph everything. Carte blanche. Sheeler! That's rich. Shakespeare had that mean ability to fuse himself with everyone which nobodies have, to be anything at any time, fluid, a nameless fellow whom nobody noticed — much, and that is what made him the great dramatist. Because he was nobody and was fluid and accessible. He took the print and reversed the film, as it went in so it came out. Certainly he never repeated himself since he did nothing but repeat what he heard and nobody ever hears the same words twice the same. Homekeeping youth had ever homely wit, Sheeler and Shakespeare should be on this Soviet. Mediaeval England, Soviet Russia.


It is a pure literary adjustment. The supremacy of England is purely a matter of style. Officially they are realists, such as the treaty with Italy to divide Abyssinia. Realists — it is the tactical spread of realism that is the Soviets. Imperial Russia was romanticist, strabismic, atavistic. Style. He does not blame the other countries. They fear what he sees. He sees tribes of lawyers tripping each other up entirely off the ground and falling on pillows full of softly jumbled words from goose backs.


I know a good print when I see it. I know when it is good and why it is good. It is the neck of a man, the nose of a woman. It is the same Shakespeare. It is a photograph by Sheeler. It is. It is the thing where it is. So. That's the mine out of which riches have always been drawn. The kings come and beg for it. But it is too simple. In the complexity, when we try to enrich ourselves — the richness is lost. Loss and gain go hand in hand. And hand in hand means my hand in a hand which is in it: a child's hand soft skinned, small, a little fist to hold gently, a woman's hand, a certain woman's hand, a man's hand. Thus hand in hand means several classes of things. But loss is one thing. It is lost. It is one big thing that is an orchestra playing. Time, that's what it buys. But the gain is scattered. It is everywhere but there is not much in any place. A city is merely a relocation of metals in a certain place. — He feels the richness, but a distressing feeling of loss is close upon it. He knows he must coordinate the villages for effectiveness in a flood, a famine.


The United States should be, in effect, a Soviet State. It is a Soviet State decayed away in a misconception of richness. The states, counties, cities, are anemic Soviets. As rabbits are cottontailed the office-workers in cotton running pants get in a hot car, ride in a hot tunnel and confine themselves in a hot office — to sell asphalt, the trade in tanned leather. The trade in everything. Things they've never seen, will never own and can never name. Not even an analogous name do they know. As a carter, knowing the parts of a wagon will know, know, touch, the parts of — a woman. Maybe typists have some special skill. The long legged down east boys make good stage dancers and acrobats. But when most of them are drunk nothing comes off but — " Nevada " had a line of cowboy songs.



We must listen. Before


she died she told them —


I always liked to be well dressed


I wanted to look nice —



So she asked them to dress


her well. They curled her hair . . .



Now she fought


She didn't want to go


She didn't want to!


The perfect type of the man of action is the suicide.



O river of my heart polluted


and defamed I have compared you


to that other lying in


the red November grass


beginning to be cleaned now


from factory pollution



Though at night a watchman


must still prowl lest some paid hand


open the waste sluices —


That river will be clean


before ever you will be


Out of her childhood she remembered, as one might remember Charlie Wordsworth's print shop in the rear of Bagellons, the hinged paperknife, the colored posters of horses (I'll bet it was for the races at Clifton where the High School now stands). Once Pop made a big kite, five feet tall maybe, with the horses' heads in the middle and it flew and I couldn't hold it without help. They fastened it to a post of the back porch at nightfall, real rope they had on it, and in the morning it was still there. She remembered the day the old man painted the mirror back of the bar: He took off his coat and laid the brushes and pans from his bag on one of the barroom tables. No one else was there but Jake who sat with his head in his hands except when someone came in for something or to telephone. Then he'd unlock the inside door and sit down again watching the old man. It was a big mirror. First he painted in a river coming in over from the door and curving down greenywhite nearly the whole length of it and very wide to fall in a falls into the edge of another river that ran all along the bottom all the way across, only a little of the water to be seen. Then he put in a blue sky all across the top with white clouds in it and under them a row of brown hills coming down to the upper river banks. Green trees he made with a big brush, just daubing it on, some of it even up top over the hills on the clouds, the trunks of the trees to be put in later. But down below, under the top river and all down the right side where it curved down to the falls he painted in the trunks first like narrow dark brown bottles. Then he drew in the houses, with white sides, three of them near the falls. " A good place to fish, " Jake said. The roofs were red. On the other side of the falls, between the two rivers, the houses were brown, two of them on brown hills with trees all among them. Then, after the paint of the rivers was dry, he began to paint in little boats, above and below — She never saw the work finished, for the saloon had been sold and they moved away. The last thing she saw him do was paint in the boats, " Look out that boat up there don't go over those falls, " Jake said. The rivers were painted flat on the glass, wonderful rivers where she wanted to be. Some day she wanted to go to that place and see it. Like the song she remembered in school and she always wanted them to sing when you could ask what song you wanted sung, " Come again soon and you shall hear sung the tale of those green little islands. " She always wanted to hear the rest of it but there was never any more. They moved away.



The shell flowers


the wax grapes and peaches


the fancy oak or mahogany tables


the highbacked baronial hall chairs



Or the girls' legs


agile stanchions


the breasts


the pinheads —



— Wore my bathing suit


wet


four hours after sundown.


That's how. Yea?


Easy to get


hard to get rid of.



Then unexpectedly


a small house with a soaring oak


leafless above it



Someone should summarize these things


in the interest of local


government or how


a spotted dog goes up a gutter —



and in chalk crudely


upon the railroad bridge support


a woman rampant


brandishing two rolling pins


A cat licking herself solves most of the problems of infection. We wash too much and finally it kills us.



SHAKESPEARE



By writing he escaped from the world into the natural world of his mind. The unemployable world of his fine head was unnaturally useless in the gross exterior of his day — or any day. By writing he made this active. He melted himself into that grossness, and colored it with his powers. The proof that he was right and they passing, being that he continues always and naturally while their artificiality destroyed them. A man unable to employ himself in his world.


Therefore his seriousness and his accuracies, because it was not his play but the drama of his life. It is his anonymity that is baffling to nitwits and so they want to find an involved explanation — to defeat the plainness of the evidence.


When he speaks of fools he is one; when of kings he is one, doubly so in misfortune.


He is a woman, a pimp, a prince Hal —


Such a man is a prime borrower and standardizer — No inventor. He lives because he sinks back, does not go forward, sinks back into the mass —


He is Hamlet plainer than a theory — and in everything.


You can't buy a life again after it's gone, that's the way I mean.


He drinks awful bad and he beat me up every single month while I was carrying this baby, pretty nearly every week.


(Shakespeare) a man stirred alive, all round not minus the intelligence but the intelligence subjugated — by misfortune in this case maybe — subjugated to the instinctive whole as it must be, but not minus it as in almost everything — not by cupidity that blights an island literature — but round, round, a round world E pur si muove . That has never sunk into literature as it has into geography, cosmology. Literature is still mediaeval, formal, dogmatic, the scholars, the obstinate rationalists —


These things are easy and obvious but it is not easy to formulate them, and it is still harder to put them down briefly. Yet it must be possible since I have done it here and there.


Such must be the future: penetrant and simple — minus the scaffolding of the academic, which is a " lie " in that it is inessential to the purpose as to the design.


This will do away with the stupidity of little children at school, which is the incubus of modern life — and the defense of the economists and modern rationalists of literature. To keep them drilled.


The difficulty of modern styles is made by the fragmentary stupidity of modern life, its lacunae of sense, loops, perversions of instinct, blankets, amputations, fulsomeness of instruction and multiplications of inanity. To avoid this, accuracy is driven to a hard road. To be plain is to be subverted since every term must be forged new, every word is tricked out of meaning, hanging with as many cheap traps as an altar.




The only human value of anything, writing included, is intense vision of the facts, add to that by saying the truth and action upon them, — clear into the machine of absurdity to a core that is covered.


God — Sure if it means sense. " God " is poetic for the unobtainable. Sense is hard to get but it can be got. Certainly that destroys " God, " it destroys everything that interferes with simple clarity of apprehension.


The art of writing is all but lost (not the science which comes afterward and depends completely on the first) it is to make the stores of the mind available to the pen — Wide! That which locks up the mind is vicious.


Mr. Seraphim: They hate me. Police Protection. She was a flaming type of stupidity and its resourceful manner under Police Protection — the only normal: a type. One of the few places where the truth (demeaned) clings on.



TRAVELLING IN FAST COMPANY



As the ferry came into the slip there was a pause then a young fellow on a motorcycle shot out of the exit, looked right and left, sighted the hill, opened her up and took the grade at top speed. Right behind him came three others bunched and went roaring by, and behind them was a youngster travelling in fast company his eyes fastened on the others, and behind him an older guy sitting firm and with a face on him like a piece of wood ripped by without a quiver. And that brings it all up — Shakespeare — plays.


. . . Its hands stuck up in the air like prongs. Just sticking up in the air, fingers spread


apart.



Goethe was a rotten dramatist . . .



Even idiots grow old


in a cap with the peak


over his right ear


cross-eyed


shamble-footed


minding the three goats


behind the firehouse


his face is deeper lined


than last year


and the rain comes down


in gusts suddenly



and hunters still return


even through the city


with their guns slung


openly from the shoulder


emptyhanded howbeit


for the most part


but aloof


as if from and truly from


another older world


If genius is profuse, never ending — stuck in the middle of a work is — the wrong track. Genius is the track, seen. Once seen it is impossible to keep from it. The superficial definitions, such as " genius is industry, genius is hard work, etc. " are nonsense. It is to see the track, to smell it out, to know it inevitable — sense sticking out all round feeling, feeling, seeing — hearing touching. The rest is pure gravity (the earth pull).


Creations: — they are situations of the soul (Lear, Harpagon, oedipus Rex, Electra) but so closely (subjectively) identified with life that they become people. They are offshoots of an intensely simple mind. It is no matter what we think, no matter what we are.


The drama is the identification of the character with the man himself (Shakespeare — and his sphere of knowledge, close to him). As it flares in himself the drama is completed and the back kick of it is the other characters, created as the reflex of the first, so the dramatist " lives, " himself in his world. A poem is a soliloquy without the " living " in the world. So the dramatist " lives " the character. But to labor over the " construction " over the " technique " is to defeat, to tie up the drama itself. One cannot live after a prearranged pattern, it is all simply dead.


This is the thing (obvious and simple) that except through genius makes the theater a corpse. To intensely realize identity makes it live (borrowing stealing the form by feeling it — as an uninformed man must). A play is this primary realization coming up to intensity and then fading (futilely) in self. This is the technique, the unlearnable, it is the natural drama, which can't imagine situations in any other way than in association with the flesh — till it becomes living, it is so personal to a nothing, a nobody.


The painfully scrupulous verisimilitude which honesty affects — drill, discipline defeats its own ends in —


To be nothing and unaffected by the results, to unlock, and to flow (They believe that when they have the mold of technique made perfect without a leak in it that the mind will be drilled to flow there whereas the mind is locked the more tightly the more perfect the technique is forged) (or it may flow, disencumbered by what it has learned, become unconscious, provided the technique becomes mechanical, goes out of the mind and so the mind (now it has been cut for life in this pattern)) can devote itself to that just as if it had learned it imitatively or not at all.


To be nothing and unaffected by the results, to unlock and flow, uncolored, smooth, carelessly — not cling to the unsolvable lumps of personality (yourself and your concessions, poems) concretions —



I make really very little money.


What of it?


I prefer the grass with the rain on it


the short grass before my headlights


when I am turning the car —


a degenerate trait, no doubt.


It would ruin England.


The first snow was a white sand that made the white rocks seem red.


The police are " the soldiers of the Duke. " The great old names: Gaynor, Healy —


Imagine a family of four grown men, one in bed with a sore throat, one with fresh plaster dust on his pants, one who played baseball all last summer and one holding the basin, four young men and no women but the mother with smallpox scars marring the bridge and the end of her nose and dinner on the table, oil and meat bits and cuts of green peppers, the range giving out a heat for coats on the backs of the chairs to dry in.


Fairfield: Peoples Loan and Service, Money to Loan: and a young man carrying a bowling ball in a khaki canvas case. The Midland and a fern in the window before the inner oak and cut-glass screen. House and sign painting in all its branches. Fairfield Bowling and Billiard Academy. Architect John Gabrone Architect, U.S. Post Office, Fairfield, N.J. Branch. Commercial Barber Shop. The New Cigarette Three Castles. Real Estate and Insurance. Motor Vehicle Agency. Commercial Lunch. Fairfield Home Laundry, soft water washing.



What an image in the face of Almighty God is she


her hands in her slicker pockets, head bowed,


Tam pulled down, flat-backed, lanky-legged,


loose feet kicking the pebbles as she goes


Here by the watertank and the stone, mottled granite, big as a rhinocerous head — cracked on one side — Damn families. My grandfather was a business man, you know. He kept the ice house in Mayaguez. They imported the ice. He kept it and sold it. My grandmother, my mother's mother, would make syrups, strawberry and like that. He would sell them also. But his half-brother Henriquez, there's plenty of that in my family, would go there, to the ice house, and drink all day long without paying anything, until the man my grandfather had there complained. " You know Henriquez comes and drinks five or six glasses of syrup and never pays anything. " He did that. Just drank, lived at the house, took anything he pleased. That's how, as my mother says, she came to know Manuel Henriquez, her half-cousin, better than she did her own brother who was away much of the time studying. Henriquez would never work, help or do anything until my grandfather had to tell him to stop. It was at about this time my grandfather died and this is how my mother came to distrust and hate the Germans. All my grandfather's friends were German, all but a few. " It was a man named Krug. I suppose he may have been father's partner anyhow he was his best friend, I don't know. When my father died, Krug came to my mother and asked her if she had anything because my father owed some money. She had an hacienda in the country that she had had since before she was married, her own. She gave that. Then Krug came and said it was all gone, that there was nothing left. After that, he turned his back on the family (The skunk). It was the Spanish druggist Mestre who lent my mother the money to buy a few things and sell them to make a little business. He was a Catalan — they can't say Pepe, like a Castilian but he would call his wife, Papeeta. My mother would send to Paris for a half dozen fine shirts, but fine, fine shirts and a few things like that. My brother was in Paris studying. When Krug told my mother she must send for him, that there was nothing left, she wrote. He answered her that he would sweep the streets of Paris rather than leave. She would send him money she made on her little business. Sometimes, he told us afterward, he would keep a sou in his pocket two weeks so as not to say he hadn't any money. The students helped each other. Barclay, an Englishman, was one of his best friends. He helped him. "


That's why my own mother's education ended abruptly. Sometimes she would copy out letters for my grandmother, child that she was, to send to Paris. When her brother returned a doctor he himself sent her to Paris to study painting. But he married and he began to have children and he never collected any money — he had a wife too. So finally he sent for my mother to go back to Santo Domingo where they were living then. Mother cried for three days then she had to go and leave it all. When she got there her brother told her about his friend, Blackwell. A fine fellow, the best in the world " pero no es musicante . " Blackwell was in the States at the time of my mother's return from Paris having his teeth fixed.


When a little child would be bothersome they would tell her to go ask the maid for a little piece of ten te aya .


When my brother was happy he would sing, walking up and down kicking out his feet: Si j' etais roi de Bayaussi-e, tu serais reine-e par ma foi! You made me think right away of him.




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