“Herman Melville” — Jorge Luis Borges

“Herman Melville”

by

Jorge Luis Borges


 

He was always surrounded by the sea of his elders,

The Saxons, who named the ocean

The Whale-Road, thereby uniting

The two immense things, the whale

And the seas it endlessly ploughs.

The sea was always his. By the time his eyes

First took in the great waters of the high seas

He had already longed for and possessed it

On that other ocean, which is Writing,

And in the outline of the archetypes.

A man, he gave himself to the earth’s oceans

And to the exhausting days at sea

And he came to know the harpoon reddened

By Leviathan and he rippled sand

And the smells of nights and mornings

And chance on the horizon waiting in ambush

And the happiness of being brave

And the pleasure, at last, of spying Ithaca.

The ocean’s conqueror, he strode the solid

Earth out of which mountains grow

And on which he charts an imprecise course

As with a sleeping compass, motionless in time.

In the inherited shadows of the gardens

Melville moves through New England evenings,

But the sea possesses him. It is the shame

Of the Pequod’s mutilated captain,

The unreadable ocean with its furious squalls

And the abomination of the whiteness.

It is the great book. It is blue Proteus.

(English translation by Stephen Kessler)

Three Books

img_3214

A Test of Poetry by Louis Zukofsky. Trade paperback (cardstock cover) by Jargon/Corinth, 1964. A Test of Poetry is a fun companion piece to Ezra Pound’s ABC of Reading.

I don’t usually post the back covers when I do these Three Books posts, but:

img_3215

The cover design is by Jargon Society poet/publisher Jonathan Williams. The book includes this note:

img_3218

img_3216

Symbols of Transformation: Volume 1–An Analysis of the Prelude to a Case of Schizophrenia by C.G. Jung. English translation by Beatrice M. Hinkle. Harper Torchbook, cardstock, 1962. Cover design by Anita Walker. I read this book in 2004 or 2005. It is not really a book about psychoanalysis; it’s about interpretive mythology, I suppose. Or better yet, a poem with pictures.

img_3217-1

Composers of Tomorrow’s Music by David Ewen. Dodd, Mead & Company/Apollo Editions, 1971. No designer/illustrator credited. I bought this maybe 15 years ago from a guy selling books off a card table somewhere in the Garden District in New Orleans. Chapters on the usual suspects—Cage, Xenakis, Boulez, etc. Charles Ives.

“Exits” — Langston Hughes

Screenshot 2016-07-09 at 12

“Suicide’s Note” — Langston Hughes

Screenshot 2016-06-02 at 3

“Pain has an element of blank” — Emily Dickinson

Screenshot 2016-05-31 at 8.55.21 PM

“Karma” — Tom Clark

karma

“God to Hungry Child” — Langston Hughes

god to hungry child

“In the reading room of Hell” — Roberto Bolaño

img_2118-1

April comes like an idiot, babbling and strewing flowers (Edna St. Vincent Millay)

spring

“Small Oak Place” — W.S. Merwin

merwin

“Today” — Frank O’Hara

today

“For a Coming Extinction” — W.S. Merwin

“For a Coming Extinction”
by
W.S. Merwin

Gray whale
Now that we are sending you to The End
That great god
Tell him
That we who follow you invented forgiveness
And forgive nothing

 

I write as though you could understand
And I could say it
One must always pretend something
Among the dying
When you have left the seas nodding on their stalks
Empty of you
Tell him that we were made
On another day

 

The bewilderment will diminish like an echo
Winding along your inner mountains
Unheard by us
And find its way out
Leaving behind it the future
Dead
And ours

 

When you will not see again
The whale calves trying the light
Consider what you will find in the black garden
And its court
The sea cows the Great Auks the gorillas
The irreplaceable hosts ranged countless
And fore-ordaining as stars
Our sacrifices

 

Join your word to theirs
Tell him
That it is we who are important

The Hatred of Music / The Hatred of Poetry

The Hatred of Music The Hatred of Poetry

The Hatred of Music by Pascal Quignard, translated by Matthew Amos and Fredrik Rönnbäck, Yale Margellos World Republic of Letters (Yale University Press). Published March 2016.

The Hatred of Poetry by Ben Lerner, FSG. Out June 7, 2016. Read an excerpt in the April 2016 issue of Poetry magazine (not yet online, but will eventually be here).

“Suicide” — Langston Hughes

Capture

Robert Creeley reads his poem “The Ballad of the Despairing Husband”

“Beehive” — Jean Toomer

beehive

“First Fig” and “Second Fig” — Edna St. Vincent Millay

Capture