Structure of Rime XXVIII: In Memoriam Wallace Stevens

By Robert Duncan 1919–1988 Robert Duncan

“That God is colouring Newton doth shew”William Blake

          Erecting beyond the boundaries of all government his grand Station and Customs, I find what I have made there a Gate, a staking out of his art in Inconsequence.  I have in mind a poetry that will frame the willingness of the heart and deliver it over to the arrest of Time, a sentence  as if there could stand some solidity  most spacial in its intent against the drifts and appearances that arise and fall away in time from the crude events of physical space.  The Mind alone holds the consequence of the erection to be true, so that Desire and Imagination usurp the place of the Invisible Throne.

          It is an angel then, weeping and yet ever attending the betrayal of the Word I mean to come to in the end.  For my sake, the blood must be somewhere in time and in its own naming of place actual, and death must be  as my own awaits me  immediate to undo from its reality the physical body, all there is of the matter of me that is mine from me.  The would-be dialecticians—Inquisitors of the New Dispensation in Poetry and Historians of Opprobrium, the Realists and Materialists—come forward to hold the party line against his ideality.  There are too many listeners.  There are too many voices in the one line.  They must enter the Ideal to do so, for he has changed his mind, as if the Eternal existed only momentarily and went out with him.  The Chairman of the Politbureau gets his number  and moves to isolate his heresy.  The number is no longer the same.  He has gone back into the exchange of numbers.  The phone continues ringing in the pattern of the message they strive to listen  to report to the Bureau of Poetic Numbers and Approved Measures.

          This is to say to the month of April and the rainbow dancer, I am with you.  I belong to the company without number.  I shall live one hundred years and then be gone.  Here and now  only I from this life can come forward to impersonate the necessity of his being here.  His, the horizon.  His, the perspectives and outlines.  His, the regulation of the relevant.  I will willingly assume his numbers among my own.

          The rest is all Asia, the astral miasma, the Undoing we came from, my version of Who-He-Is-In-Reality, the domain of colouring invading the Responsible.

Robert Duncan, “Structure of Rime XXVIII: In Memoriam Wallace Stevens” from Ground Work: Before the War / In the Dark. Copyright © 1964 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

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

Subjects Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

 Robert  Duncan

Biography

Described by Kenneth Rexroth as “one of the most accomplished, one of the most influential” of the postwar American poets, Robert Duncan was an important part of both the Black Mountain school of poetry, led by Charles Olson, and the San Francisco Renaissance, whose other members included poets Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser. A distinctive voice in American poetry, Duncan’s idiosyncratic poetics drew on myth, occultism, . . .

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Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Arts & Sciences, Reading & Books, Poetry & Poets, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Western

SCHOOL / PERIOD Black Mountain

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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