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May You Rest in the Sun That Pins the Branches to the Sky

By Harriet Staff

David Bowie

David Bowie has died, impossibly. His idea of perfect happiness, according to his completed Proust Questionnaire? Reading. His most overused word? “Chthonic,” “miasma.” His hero? Elvis. He and Elvis shared a birthday, in fact, of January 8 (makes sense). “He was an Englishman who was sometimes afraid of Americans and fame but, on his final record, could sing “Look at me / I’m in heaven” as a way of describing where he wanted to end up, maybe, but definitely where Bowie—that outsider who made different kids feel like dancing in that difference, and who had a genius for friendship, too—had lived since we knew him,” writes Hilton Als.

Check out Bowie’s 100 favorite books. We spy some poetry: Blast by Wyndham Lewis, Tales of Beatnik Glory by Ed Sanders, Selected Poems by Frank O’Hara, The Bridge by Hart Crane, Silence: Lectures And Writing by John Cage, and well, The Waste Land by T. S. Eliot, are all included here (this list differs slightly from what’s been recently published in The Telegraph).

“Eight Line Poem,” from the album Hunky Dory, 1971:

The tactful cactus by your window
Surveys the prairie of your room
The mobile spins to its collision
Clara puts her head between her paws
They’ve opened shops down West side
Will all the cacti find a home
But the key to the city
Is in the sun that pins
the branches to the sky

And in case you’re wondering how Bowie constructed all those amazing lyrics, head to BBC News to see how he used the cut-up technique pioneered by Brion Gysin and Burroughs.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, January 11th, 2016 by Harriet Staff.