Robert Duncan

By Robin Blaser 1925–2009 Robin Blaser
the absence was there before the meeting    the radical of
presence    and absence does not return with death’s chance-
encounter, as in the old duality, life or death, wherein
the transcendence of the one translates the other into an everness
we do not meet in heaven, that outward of hell and death’s
beauty    it is a bright and terrible disk
                                                  where Jack is, where
Charles is, where James is, where Berg is  is here in the continuous
carmen    O, some things—di—breathe into—aspirate—and lead away—
deducite!    for the soul is a thing among many
                           Berkeley shimmers and shakes
in my mind    most lost    the absence preceded the place
and the friendships    Lady Rosario among us    of Spanish and Greek rushes
from the hedges around the gas station,
                swirled with Lawrence’s medlars and
is it reminds us of white gods
as if with sweat    the delicious rottenness that teems with
the life of the mind’s heart    κρατἡρ of an agreement, a mixing vessel,
a chasm, a threshold—Βάθρον—a stair of
brazen steps, hollow wild pear tree—κοίλεο τάχἐρδον
—between    among
sat down
                                I am only leonine in the
breath of night    awakening blurred neighbours    as your
faces move    Jack writing the Italian underground    we
are too tired to live like lions    on john walls    and gay-bars
didn’t laugh at the Red Lizard or the Black Cat    as your
faces move beyond me    suddenly Zukofsky joins the language,
now become larger, sharper, more gathering than the lingo
wherein Berkeley began    the movement
                                                             the first of your poems
I read: Among my friends love is a great sorrow (brought to me
in typescript by Jack, 1946, that we three should meet)—no voice
like it    turns, turns    in the body of thought     Among
my friends love is a wage/that one might have for an honest living
    turns, turns
                     in thought’s body    becomes
    O Lovers, I am only one of you!
    We, convivial in what is ours!
                                                          this ringing
with Dante’s voice before the comedy

sorrow    and guide-dance    the courage of the work    the language
is a lion    sentinels are owls    of work’s body    glamouring passages
the poem WHOSE alongside James Hillman’s thought of the heart
Jess tells me you just went, having the heart to    whose
heart?    I wish to say mine    impertinence    yours    that too
is impertinence    nevertheless, always against the heart
failures: cowardice, nostalgia, sentimentalism, aestheticizing, doubt,
vanity, withdrawal, trepidation
                                                                  fierce, you
    name many times this uprising
—political, mental, sexual, social—you name it—mounting rung by

    this climax to what overview

            under the double ax

                                               whose heart

the lilies    burn rose-orange and yellow    buds about to,
with a touch of blood    near imagination of Blake’s Eternity,
except one would be among them    flaming into one another,
not looking out there at the table, the vase, the tall, leafy stems
                    stopped over the ‘Instant Mythology,’ knowing
an old language from you    one-inch capsules in the hot water
break at both ends, then burst    purple, green, red, blue,
‘pour enfants ages 5 ans et plus, pas comestible, chaque
capsule peut contenir: Centaure, Dragon, Pégase, Licorne,
Sirène—calling—mettez la capsule dans l’eau tiede/chaude
et regardez un caractère mythologique apparaîte’    techo-myth
translates out of the real book into the way language
works    regardez!
                            the travois of the poetic mind,
the drag-load harnessed to the body,    firely, through
the glowing flowers    warm and hot, the watery spell of
any reel of language    poluphloisboíous sea-coast

    window-rain is Heimat    sunlight travels the fingers
come subito lampo    a sudden lamp in the room outside
strikes the fir tree    horizon of eyes through passages,
sublime envelopes, and the lives raging within life

There is no exstacy of Beauty in which I will not remember Man’s misery,
compounded by what we have done    sighted in ruins, neither old
  nor discontinuous
                        (I smile    it is the thought of you    a happiness
that could not be without your having been
            the permanent wall of our shape  the languages
burn and muse    the alpha-beta, like the yellow birds
(Dendoica petechia—Parulidae) disappear among spring yellowing leaves,
pricklings, of the holly as its tree renews toward winter robins
and staerlinc    wait for red berries where the inkberry is
eastern    the cherries are white among the greens, this side
of glass towers with bicycles on the balconies  almost rented the bicycle
on the 37th floor    and figs like testicles on the branches enjoy
the sexual sun
    I remember the quarrel over experience—on Greene Street—
and still think you spoke too soon of a sacred cut-out    it was the process
of the actual we were both about
    what exactly do we experience in poēsis
over the neat ‘I’ that thinks itself a unity of things or disunity des-
perately untrue to whatever we are tied to—like one’s grief or the smother-
ing domestic realism, or the I-feel, so deep and steeply, no one wants to
listen without a drumhead    positivisms of the self
that die into an urn    yet, O gratefully / I take the gift of my daily life!
the accusations were: ‘fatuous,’ ‘rhetorical,’ ‘pretentious,’ ‘bourgeois
interior decorator’ (of Pound), continuous writing of the ironing board,
the kitchen, recipes, the jam pots textures, tones, tastes of the world
they are not glabrous, nor is the skin, riding the earth / round into the
sunlight again    one wishes the positivities were falling into that Nature
of Me / that includes the cosmos it believes in    how curious, not sad, of
all animals, not merely

                                    you came here in 1982 to read Ground Work
up to that point    no one could leave the room    of cat’s fur, black
stone, and its electric familiar    What Is
mind-store    mind-change    mindful    mind-life    Eternal
Mind    the smile
                              the burn
                                              not to
want any longer to wait for the thematic release

thinking of you thinking of James Hillman thinking of Corbin—
           the idea of a unified experiencing subject vis-à-vis a world
           that is multiple, disunited, chaotic. The first person
           singular, that little devil of an I—who, as psychoanalysis
           long ago has seen is neither first, nor a person, nor
           singular—is the confessional voice, imagining itself
           to be the unifier of experience. But experience can only
           be unified by the style in which it is enacted, by the images
           which formed it, by its repetitive thematics, and by the
           relations amid which it unfolds. It does not have to be
           owned to be held. The heart in the breast is not your
           heart only: it is a microcosmic sun, a cosmos of all
           possible experiences that no one can own

                                                                        against heart

I gather as I must images of independent realities     I,
subjected to the gaze of things, as I think of you

as you say the etymology is false,
                                                     bringing the core,
care—κἡρ—κἡρ    together the heart and the goddess, who
is κἡρες plural among things    thinking of you thinking of
Hillman thinking again, Beauty is an epistemological necessity thinking of
a sudden call    to climb the ladder of    which you
did not mean    because it does not mean, though
it is recited    ‘Never’ being the name of what is infinite

        of cross-ways

                                   of brazen


Robin Blaser, “Robert Duncan” 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)

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Poet Robin Blaser 1925–2009


Subjects Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Reading & Books, Poetry & Poets

 Robin  Blaser


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 . . .

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SUBJECT Relationships, Friends & Enemies, Arts & Sciences, Philosophy, Reading & Books, Poetry & Poets


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