Image-Nation 9 (half and half

By Robin Blaser 1925–2009 Robin Blaser

for Dennis Wheeler

there are shining masters
when I tell you what they
look like    some of it is
nearly false   their blue hair

but they are not ourselves   they
are equivalents   of action    they
compose forms,    which we hear

sound within a context
as if that action we are
images of    used us
the body becomes an instrument

sometimes the harp pierces the body
and a man only hangs on the strings

I hear the airborne-fire, the dead rebels’
second speech, which follows their live words,
and the rice, and the motorcycles

but public life has fallen asleep
like a secret name    the wrong-reader
will say he has pity for others
where the thought is born in hatred
of pity, which is only feeling    the action
we are only images of    hates pity
and its reduction of horror to sentiment

wordlessness   no thing is so simply
personal    I put my hand out to catch
beauty in the act of    I know no beauty
which is not permanent    not invoked
in splendour     the words are meaningless
until they emerge in the action     they are
images of

I was once a youth,   and I was
a maiden,     a bush, a bird, a fish
with scales that gleam in the ocean

they come from the dark    under
many names    the blue    wind
they are not ourselves,    not even
the moon drawn down     into our
breasts    that we may strike others
with eros                                      the
body gleamed so                           wind
master                a bone, a ball, a top
an apple, a mirror, a skein of wool

wind   —   words      wind   —  hair    we

have dismembered the earth    and
are born lifeless on the moon     mouths
to the wind

unthought the many mountains, the many
cities,   the many houses

I was once    another man’s heart
an eagle, a wolf    cloud, smoke,
splash
           psychron    (cold, refreshing
anapsychsai   (to be refreshed from evil

we have eaten ourselves   luxurious and
careless    I must bathe at the
gates of the city    I must tell you
they have been blue in the heart,
in the wind
                          I have opened my mouth
they have come from the black-fire
                                                   we have stiffened
the terror of earth,     as if terror were the only unearthly
thing in our hearts
                          we have given her rivers
of our own salt    earth then remains uncanny,
sublime    water is fear’s movement    grief cries
in the air like birds    fire is hidden in the imageless
self
            the blue hair    the face of gold    the clothes
like snow    the blood
                                       is light

                                                           zero
enacts it

            Jack Clarke’s ‘we are under image’
rythmos    (form’s movement)   to walk into    ‘the
primordial always exists’    face to face    always outside
ourselves    the astonishment is
                                     that it is kosmos
playing out with one man   entheos
                                                 they are
the flowing boundary    taking birth    taking leave
at the point of the heart              a continual
division of halves

Robin Blaser, “Image-Nation 9 (half and half” from The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser. Copyright © 2006 by Robin Blaser.  Reprinted by permission of University of California Press.

Source: The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser (University of California Press, 2006)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Robin Blaser 1925–2009

POET’S REGION Canada

Subjects Nature, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

 Robin  Blaser

Biography

Born in Denver and raised in Twin Falls, Idaho, poet, editor, and essayist Robin Blaser was educated at the University of California-Berkeley. With poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer, he helped spark the Berkeley Poetry Renaissance in the 1940s that preceded the San Francisco poetry renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s. In 1965, Blaser met Robert Creeley and Charles Olson, with whom he later worked closely. Miriam Nichols, editor . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Nature, Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Social Commentaries, History & Politics

POET’S REGION Canada

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.