Saturday, July 21, 2007

Duke Altum's Poem of the Week #53

**Happy 4th birthday to C. E. L. tomorrow -- 7/22/07!**

I recently read a famous short story from Delmore Schwartz called "In Dreams Begin Responsibilities," and was very struck by it (highly recommended!!)... this got me reading up a little bit on him, and I found that he is most highly regarded for his short stories and, equally, his poems.

Schwartz, a lifelong New Yorker, used to hang out in the famous White Horse Tavern in Greenwich village, drinking with other dream-addled writers like Dylan Thomas and Jack Kerouac. Not bad drinking company there (well, perhaps they were actually, in retrospect!). Mutt and I, along with our two other brothers, shared a beer there once "among the living and the dead" (apologies to James Joyce).

Anyway, I read a few of his poems online and this one in particular -- a sonnet about New York City -- struck me as powerful and interesting. I thought it would make an interesting entry in the series. I especially like the first stanza -- that's evocative stuff!


Sonnet: O City, City

To live between terms, to live where death
has his loud picture in the subway ride,
Being amid six million souls, their breath
An empty song suppressed on every side,
Where the sliding auto's catastrophe
Is a gust past the curb, where numb and high
The office building rises to its tyranny,
Is our anguished diminution until we die.

Whence, if ever, shall come the actuality
Of a voice speaking the mind's knowing,
The sunlight bright on the green windowshade,
And the self articulate, affectionate, and flowing,
Ease, warmth, light, the utter showing,
When in the white bed all things are made.

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