“How like a well-kept garden is your soul.” “How like a well-kept garden is your soul.” The quotation is from Gray’s translation of Paul Verlaine’s “Clair de lune,” from Gray’s book Silverpoints (1893).
John Gray’s translation of Verlaine John Gray’s translation of Verlaine The quotation is from Gray’s translation of Paul Verlaine’s “Clair de lune,” from Gray’s book Silverpoints (1893).
shorted him four centimes
on a pound of tripe.tripe Cow’s stomach, prepared for human consumption
He thought himself a clever man
and, wiping the calves’ blood from his beefy hands,
gazed briefly at what Tennyson called at what Tennyson called Not an actual phrase by Tennyson. Possibly a play on “Hateful is the dark-blue sky”, from Tennyson’s “The Lotos-eaters”
“the sweet blue sky.”
It was a warm day.
What clouds there were
were made of sugar tinged with blood.
They shed, faintly, amid the clatter of carriages
new settings of the songs
Moravian Moravian Could refer to either a person from Moravia, a region of the Czech Republic, or a member of the Moravian Church. virgins sang on wedding days.
The poet is a monarch of the clouds The poet is a monarch of the clouds Translation from Charles Baudelaire’s “L’Albatros”: “Le Poëte est semblable au prince des nuées” (line 13)
& Swinburne Swinburne [...] “trod,” he actually wrote, “by no tropic foot,” A slight variant, from Swinburne’s elegy for Baudelaire, “Ave Atque Vale” : “trod by no tropic feet”.
on his northern coast
“trod,” he actually wrote, “by no tropic foot,” Swinburne [...] “trod,” he actually wrote, “by no tropic foot,” A slight variant, from Swinburne’s elegy for Baudelaire, “Ave Atque Vale”: “trod by no tropic feet”.
composed that lovely elegy elegy A melancholy poem that laments a person’s death but ends in consolation. See more in the Glossary of Poetic Terms.
and then found out Baudelaire was still alive found out Baudelaire was still alive Baudelaire died August 31, 1867, but his death was erroneously reported four months earlier, in April of 1867. According to Swinburne biographer Edmund Gosse, “Baudelaire came to life again, and Swinburne was on the point of tearing up his elegy. However, Baudelaire died some months later, and, after a delay of eleven years, “Ave atque Vale” was at length included in the volume of 1878.” Read “Ave Atque Vale” here.
whom he had lodged dreamily
in a “deep division of prodigious breasts.” “deep division of prodigious breasts.” A direct quotation from Swinburne’s poem “Ave Atque Vale”
Surely the poet is monarch of the clouds.
He hovers, like a lemon-colored kite, He hovers, like a lemon-colored kite, An allusion to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ poem “The Windhover”
over spring afternoons in the nineteenth century
while Marx in the library while Marx in the library Karl Marx (1818-1883), political economist, researched works in the reading room of the British Museum in London for his major publication, Das Kapital gloom
studies the birth rate of the weavers of Tilsit Tilsit A town in what was East Prussia, now named Sovetsk, Russia. Marx mentions the 1807 Peace Treaties of Tilsit in his 1870 correspondence with Friedrich Engels.
and that gentle man BakuninBakunin Mikhail Bakunin (1814-1876) was a Russian anarchist who participated in the Czech Rebellion of 1848. Bakunin met Karl Marx in Paris, and later Bakunin’s anarchist faction would clash with Marx’s socialist faction at a congress of the International Working Men’s Association, and Marx’s leadership prevailed and Bakunin and his men were expelled from the association. Bakunin had stood for violent overthrow, while Marx believed that existing political systems should be reformed into socialism. Compare to these lines from Larry Levis’ poem “At the Grave of My Guardian Angel: St. Louis Cemetery, New Orleans”: “And without beauty, Bakunin will go on making his forlorn & unreliable little bombs in the cold”
home after fingerfucking the countess,
applies his numb hands
to the making of bombs.
Robert Hass, “The Nineteenth Century as a Song” from Field Guide. Copyright © 1973 by Robert Hass. Reprinted with the permission of Yale University Press, http://www.yale.edu/yup/.
Source: Field Guide