Nothing is on fire I really
LIKED THIS COLLECTION AND CONTINUES LOWELL this collection and continues Lowell confessional writings Read this the other day while Truthfully only the eponymous poem warrants these two stars the rest though with an occasional shining line is so dated as to feel like its from another century of pure fuddy duddy recitation in drawing room cambric This is a man who is a contemporary of Jack SpicerBerryman this collection is from 64 5 years after Spicer s After Lorca the same year as the first book of The Dream Songs and nearly ten years after Howl for some points of relative reference and it seems Lowell really can t take a hint even when it s a scream everyone else has umped ship FOR CONTEMPORARY AND RELEVANT AESTHETICS WHILE LOWELL DODDERS BEHIND contemporary and relevant aesthetics while Lowell dodders behind stilted rhymes Amazing he has any reputation at all These are poems that make me feel so close to their author that I find myself uite taken aback when I m forced to remember Robert Lowell is dead I love the sense of horror and wonder in his poems Lowell sees a world rife with trouble and pain and yet replete with beauty and wonder Spiders are mentioned several times in the book and yet they feel like omnipresent companions reminders that nature permeates our lives and watches immutable My first true exposure to Lowell Enjoyed this uite a bit especially Jonathan Edwards in Western Massachusetts A tad problematic in parts but it s still sort of Robert Lowell using his powers for good Shed skin will never fit another wearerIn For the Union Dead Lowell balances the historical allusions and symbolism of modernism with the conversational intimacy and confessional style popular in the late 1950s and early 1960s Highlights include the title poem Beyond the Alps The Old Flame and Caligula This was my first reading of a book of poetry by Robert Lowell I d been familiar with his name for years and his books were often recommended to me In this collection Lowell covers a broad range of topics across these poems namely social issues and historical subjects while still a few other poems are of a confessional nature I m glad that I took the time to finally reuest one of his many poetry collections from the library I ve now read it through than a few times and have come to appreciate it with each reading There are several poems which stood out for me in this book three in particular The Drinker Hawthorne a The tag next to Robert Lowell s corpus in the museum of literary history designates him the most influential American poet of the 20th century s second half less the founder of a school Confessional Poetry than an author the gravity of whose work legitimated anyone who followed him in abandoning the modernist impersonality extolled by Eliot and exploring instead the uncharted paths among personal experience poetic form and historyLowell s contemporaries and successors could have gotten this from say Ginsberg or other Beats the raw poets Lowell himself praised but I wonder if they needed to hear it from a writer with Lowell s command of traditional verse form and dare I say Boston Brahmin pedigree And this scion of Puritans and Transcendentalists temporary Catholic convert though he was hence Confessional perhaps reminds us that suffering inwardness and commitment to self expression defined American literature from the start From one of my favorite poems in For the Union Dead Jonathan Edwards in Western MassachusettsAs a boy you built a boothin a swamp for prayer lying on your backyou saw the spiders flybasking at their easeswimming from tree to tree so high they seemed tacked to the skyYou knew they would diePoor country Berkeley at Yaleyou saw the world was soulthe soul of God The soulof Sarah PierrepontLowell does Hawthorne tooLeave him alone for a moment or twoand you ll see him with his headbent down brooding broodingeyes fixed on some chipsome stone some common plantthe commonest thingas if it were the clueThese two poems on historical predecessors in second and third person respectively confess only at a distance vicariously They set the tone formally and affectively for the poetry of their time in part still our timeFormally note the or less free verse structured not by strict rhyming or metrical schemes but by a consistent weave of consonance assonance and slant rhyme binding the poem internally sans line ending rivets Lowell was internationally renowned too and Heaney and Walcott might have done it better but they credited Lowell s influenceAffectively note the distanced ironized pity ultimately self pity for the marginal poet intellectual observing the world soul in common things with furrowed brow even though the world doesn t heed or understand Lowell dramatizes and elegizes the position of the postmodern poet so concerned for us all and yet so bereft of any power to transform even himself let alone societyLowell s poetry is as political as it is personal it is a thinking through of how history is refracted in his individual experience but its way of being political reifies and reinforces its own social isolation The poet s doleful th. For the Union Dead is a well known 1964 poem by Robert Lowell published in a book of the same name and originally written for the Boston Arts Festival in 1960 where Lowell first read it in publicThe title references Allen Tate's 1928 poem Ode to the Confederate DeadThe setting of the poem is the Boston Common near the well known Robert Gould Shaw Memorial In the poem Lowell's visit to the park leads to a series of associations that the dug up park con. ,
FREE DOWNLOAD Ç E-book, or Kindle E-pub ê Robert Lowell,
R as the month wore onthe turtles roseand popped up dead on the stale scummedsurface limp wrinkled heads and legs withdrawnin pain What pain A turtle s nothing Nograce no cerebration less freedom willthan the mosuito I must kill nothings Turtles I rub my skullthat turtle shelland breathe their dying smellstill watch their crippled survivors passand hobble humpbacked through the grizzled grassThe personal the natural and the political all come together in the final titular poem one of Lowell s most famous his elegiac portrait of a modernizing Boston or America at large where automobiles have replaced marine vitality and segregation has displaced elegiac portrait of a modernizing Boston or America at large where automobiles have replaced marine vitality and segregation has displaced moral fanaticism that defeated the slave powerMy hand draws back I often sigh stillfor the dark downward and vegetating kingdomof the fish and reptile One morning last MarchI pressed against the new barbed and galvanizedfence on the Boston Common Behind their cageyellow dinosaur steamshovels were gruntingas they cropped up tons of mush and grassto gouge their underworld garageHe is out of bounds now He rejoices in man s lovelypeculiar power to choose life and die when he leads his black soldiers to deathhe cannot bend his backOn a thousand small town New England greensthe old white churches hold their airof sparse sincere rebellion frayed flagsuilt the graveyards of the Grand Army of the RepublicSome say the descendants of Lowell white American liberals are undergoing another moral awakening like that which preceded the Civil War And with my own brand of marginal and aestheticized bad faith radicalism forged in protest against the Bush administration s militarism ustified as it was with reference to progress and democracy I have been skeptical of some of our own recent Civil War kitsch and nostalgia Not I assure you from any sympathy with the Confederacy or the Taliban or the Ba ath Party but from a conviction that we should find some way to solve our problems without mass slaughterYet as a palpable habitable locus for this feeling of sublimity in the presence of a spirit like Robert Gould Shaw s For the Union Dead confesses about personal experience s union with history than any other discourse possibly could There are perhaps better poets I have named them above Heaney Walcott Bishop but Lowell s fractious and precarious persona albeit occasionally irritating makes him a superbly alert witness to his our times Now the midwinter grindis on me New Yorkdrills my nervesas I walkthe chewed up streetsAt forty fivewhat next what nextAt every cornerI meet my Fathermy age still aliveFather forgive memy injuriesas I forgivethose Ihave injuredYou never climbedMount Sion yet leftdinosaurdeath steps on the crustwhere I must walk Middle Age pg 7 I long for the black inkcuttlefish April Communistsand brothels of Florence everything even the Britishfairies who haunted the hillseven the chills and feverthat came once a monthand forced me to thinkThe apple was human there than herebut it took a long time for the blindinggolden rind to mellowHow vulnerable the horseshoe crabsdredging the bottom like flat ironsin their antiue armorwith their swordgrass blackbone tailsmade for a child to graband throw strangling ashoreOh Florence Florence patronessof the lovely tyranicidesWhere the tower of the Old Palacepierces the skylike a hypodermic needlePerseus David and Judithlords and ladies of the BloodGreek demi gods of the Crossrise sword in handabove the unshavenformless decapitationof the monsters tubs of gutsmortifying chunks for the packPity the monstersPity the monstersPerhaps one always took the wrong side Ah to have known to have lovedtoo many Davids and JudithsMy heart bleeds black blood for the monsterI have seen the GorgonThe erotic terrorof her helpless big bosomed bodylay like slopWall eyed staring the despot to stoneher served head swunglike a lantern in the victor s hand Florence for Mary McCarthy pg 13 14 Think of Leonidas perhaps and the hoplitesglittering with liberationas the combed one another s golden Botticellianhair at Thermopylae friends and loversthe bride and the bridegroom and moved into position to die Epigram for Hannah Arendt pg 23 This might be nature twenty stories hightwo water tanks tanned shingle corsettedby stapled pasture wire while bed to bedwe two one cell here liegazing into the ether s crystal ballsky and a sky and sky and sky till death my heart stops This might be heaven Years agowe aimed for less and settled fora picture out of style then and now inof seven daffodils We watched them blowbuttercup yellow were the flowers and greenthe stems as fresh paint over them the windthe blousy wooden branches of the elmshigh summer in the breath that overwhelms the termites digging in the underpinning Still over us still in parenthesisthis sack of hornets sopping up the flamestill over us our breathsawing and pumping to the terminaland down below we two two in one waterdropvitalised by a needle drop of bloodup up up up and upsoon shot soon slugged into the overflowthat sets the wooden workshoe working here below New York 1962 Fragment pg 65. E led Finally Lowell thinks of the then controversial civil rights movement and the images of the integration of black and white schoolchildren that Lowell had recently seen on televisionThe final lines of the poem which read The Auarium is gone Everywhere giant finned cars nose forward like fish; a savage servility slides by on grease are particularly well known for their rather dark description of the large American cars that were popular at the tim. Eatrical public despair as in the nuclear war lament Fall 1961 aestheticizes and therefore relishes itself in a gesture I ve also observed in the work of Lowell s contemporary Adrienne RichAll autumn the chafe and arof nuclear war we have talked our extinction to deathI swim like a minnowbehind my studio windowOur end drifts nearerthe moon liftsradiant with terrorThe stateis a diver under a glass bellA father s no shieldfor his childWe are like a lot of wildspiders crying
"TOGETHERBUT WITHOUT TEARSWITH LOWELL AND WITH "without tearsWith Lowell and with you get the feeling that These Ostensible Radicals Enjoy ostensible radicals enjoy conditions they decry as an occasion for their elaborate performances of sorrow and anger And I object not to the enjoyment I m not a moralist I expect only perversity from people it s the bad faith posture of self pitying and lonely enlightenment which was not always the only tone literary artists could strike in public but which now is for which Lowell must share some blameContrast for instance Lowell s friend and correspondent Elizabeth Bishop with her much thorough and self implicating verbal irony her poems are often self cancelling metafictional artifacts wedded to the sometimes distastefully if wryly ocular laying down the law swagger you find only in the very best poets Somebody loves us all In short my argument is Nietzsche not Marx better the open proclamation than the dissimulation of power and how it gets that way whether aesthetic or politicalTake the remarkable conclusion to Lowell s Florence a tribute to the city that ends with the speaker s declaration of allegiance to the villains of Classical and Biblical historyOh Florence Florence patronessof the lovely tyranicidesWhere the tower of the Old Palacepierces the skylike a hypodermic needlePerseus David and Judithlords and ladies of the BloodGreek demi gods of the Crossrise sword in handabove the unshavenformless decapitationof the monsters tubs of gutsmortifying chunks for the packPity the monstersPity the monstersPerhaps one always took the wrong side Ah to have known to have lovedtoo many David and JudithsMy heart bleeds for the monsterI have seen the GorgonThe erotic terrorof her helpless big bosomed bodylay like slopWall eyed staring the despot to stoneher severed head swunglike a lantern in the victor s handI recently read an interview with a young writer Her interlocutor asked her who her favorite villain was and she refused the premise of the uestion by arguing that villains have been assigned that role by the powers that be and were probably ust misunderstood Here we see what for Lowell at midcentury was a striking poetic insight see also Bishop s extraordinary Man Moth curdle to our contemporary doxaIdentification with monsters is now the ideology of mom and dad as they approach their soft middle age hence the current moral panic about the arrival of real monsters restive youth choosing communism fascism left or right identitarianism left or right libertarianism trad Catholicism or any other ideology that rejects this now complacent compulsory transgression unconvincingly proposed by the buttoned up professionals hardly the outcast villains of an increasingly centralized and ideologically monocultural literary academic worldModern art is reactive which is why it is revolutionary The embourgeoisement of marginality s signifiers of the nose ring the tattoo the blue dyed hair the superhero comics and the horror movies and the aesthetics of ueerness and blackness in general is the ideological crisis of our age Whatever was once fresh and vital in a range of rebellious midcentury writing from Lowell and Bishop to Ginsberg and Kerouac to Baldwin and O Connor to Le Guin and Delany to Shirley Jackson and early Marvel Comics has now along with Marvel s intellectual property itself become boring middlebrow middle class suburban and profitable to the present power structure Aesthetes and almost all political radicals whatever their politics are aesthetes in denial won t be bored if necessary they won t be bored to death And people wonder why the new avant gardes like the old ones are illiberalLowell is elouent but has too little conceptual or verbal power in his poetry though he was radical enough in his life willing to be ailed for his convictions to resist this hijacking by smug boredom of his worldview Someone Hayden Carruth perhaps once said that poets can never be liberal or conservative but only revolutionary or reactionaryBut Lowell undeniably produces some magnificent poetry These poems vein of nature imagery especially stands out and is also no less historico political surely someone has done Reading Lowell in the Anthropocene by now The non cuddly denizens of the non human world persistently catch Lowell s interest if the spiders come from Jonathan Edwards do the turtles come from D H Lawrence and offer a persuasive corollary than mere monsters for all that the oppressively civilized world including poetry represented by the Keatsian urn below abjectsOh neo classical white urn Oh nymphOh lute The boy was pitiless who strummedtheir elegyfo. Jures First watching the construction of the underground parking garage beneath the Common makes him think about his childhood and how Boston had changed; in particular the South Boston Auarium that he'd visited as a child had recently been demolished in 1954This leads him to think about the Robert Gould Shaw memorial and the history associated with the memorial including Robert Gould Shaw and the all black 54th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry that .