from Dante Études, Book One: We Will Endeavor

By Robert Duncan 1919–1988 Robert Duncan
[De Vulgari Eloquentia, I,I]

                            “We will endeavor,
the word aiding us from Heaven,
    to be of service
to the vernacular speech”

        —from “Heaven” these

“draughts of the sweetest   honey-milk”,

       si dolcemente
from the language we first heard

    endearments    whisperings

                infant song and revery

a world we wanted    to go out into,

     to come to ourselves     into,

     organizations in the sound of them
     verging upon meaning,
                                        upon “Heaven”,
     hermetic talk
     into which my range of understandings
     was to grow    for love of it


     and adults expounding
         controversial doctrines, personal
         science fictions and
                            rules of order,

but our own

“is that which we acquire without
any rule”    for love of it

                 “imitating our nurses”

Robert Duncan, “from Dante Études, Book One: We Will Endeavor” from Ground Work: Before the War / In the Dark. Copyright © 1984 by Robert Duncan. Reprinted by permission of New Directions Publishing Corporation.

Source: Ground Work: Before the War / In the Dark (New Directions Publishing Corporation, 1984)


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Poet Robert Duncan 1919–1988


SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Activities, School & Learning, Religion, Arts & Sciences