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Wednesday, 5 September 2012

Robert Creeley: Generous Life


Ella: Gerhard Richter, 2007 (private collection)

Do you remember the way we used to sing
in church when we were young
and it was fun to bring your toys with you
and play with them while all the others sung?

My mind goes on its own particular way
and leaves my apparent body on its knees
to get up and walk as far as it can
if it still wants to and as it proves still able.

Sit down, says generous life, and stay awhile!
although it's irony that sets the table
and puts the meager food on broken dishes,
pours out the rancid wine, and walks away.

Betty: Gerhard Richter, 1991 (St. Louis Art Museum)

Robert Creeley: Generous Life from Yesterdays (2002)


Susan Kay Anderson said...

Generous life
poets notice
wraps around color
light like plants
green flash idea
just before dark.

More than this
generous life
is without balance
point being to find
homeostasis, nicht wahr?
Homo Sapien
rattling around somewhere
in a cage of bones
always locating the heart
with a fist here
no there. There.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Creeley the pirate
with lots of e's
flying. A long
generous tail.

Raven chases
down to the river
I picked the pears
and set them out
for your generous
inspection, Creeley.
Creeley at the river.

TC said...

Old age is a strange change for the variously bent and battered bone bag whomever it may belong to...

The opening line here keeps reminding me of a line in a well known song, which surely Bob knew:

"Do you remember when we used to sing?"

TC said...

Down by the banks
Of Forever River

Raven pecked
At a pair of prickly pears

Till he had picked
The eye out of one

So as to be seen
The more clearly

By the other in memory

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Do you remember the way we used to dance
to Jesus Christ Superstar
Tina in charge of the album
right before
The Crucifixion
Corine eating all the doughnuts

living room
a wide field
knee-walking superstars
each weekend
left our bodies
to that other
solar system.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Forever River
for the swim there
despite the
No Tresspassing
signs all around.

Thanks for letting me
hog the water
stir up the fine silt
lots of gold there
at the bottom
move aside salmon
skitter away
well no come back.

TC said...

The Crow

The crow in the cage in the dining-room
hates me, because I will not feed him.

And I have left nothing behind in leaving
because I killed him.

And because I hit him over the head with a stick
there is nothing I laugh at.

Sickness is the hatred of a repentance
knowing there is nothing he wants.

RC, from For Love, 1960

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The poet
does not play
at poetry

of life
and breath

find it
a wild
thing to do.

Wooden Boy said...

This reads a little like the shadow of Love Bade Me Welcome.

I can hear the steady tread of Irony tapping out the punchline on the parquet floor.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Wooden Boy--
Yes, I see and hear the dread there (of hurt?) that exists despite the "walks away" ending. A TEDIOUS expectation?

Susan Kay Anderson said...

The Smell Of It And The Taste Of It

Things won’t always be like this.
Willows and the cracklings of the fishes winter lives.
I’ve always known all along that the world is better
down there in winter. Cool, silent nothingness.
The smell of it. Clear ice cream with no flavor—
old glass. New movements with my tongue
like fresh raspberries. I taste the future, freedom,
and taste my body growing. My wool sweater and cap.
Maybe it is thirst. I taste them. They taste like sheep.
Licorice, clay vessels, straw, moist ferns.



"My mind goes on its own particular way
and leaves my apparent body on its knees. . ."


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
top of ridge, motion of shadowed branch
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

“cloud” suggests experience
of cloud, can “appear”

apparent, next-to-last exit,
what’s not being seen

grey white fog against invisible ridge,
cormorant flapping across toward point

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

"Do you remember when we used to sing?"

I sure do and still love hearing Van sing it.

TC said...

WB interesting, yes, to consider the Creeley together with this:

Love bade me welcome. Yet my soul drew back
Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-eyed Love, observing me grow slack
From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning,
If I lacked any thing.

A guest, I answered, worthy to be here:
Love said, You shall be he.
I the unkind, ungrateful? Ah my dear,
I cannot look on thee.
Love took my hand, and smiling did reply,
Who made the eyes but I?

Truth Lord, but I have marred them: let my shame
Go where it doth deserve.
And know you not, says Love, who bore the blame?
My dear, then I will serve.
You must sit down, says Love, and taste my meat:
So I did sit and eat.

-- George Herbert: Love (III)

TC said...

... also recalled the abundant and unmisgiving provision of Sister Life.

bill sherman said...

i heard him read this poem a decade ago to a mostly youngish audience at villanova university near philadelphia. sometimes it seems like just last week. his presence sadly missed. laughing, he commented that it was not a "very nice" poem. i think, however, it is a great poem. as i'm sure you know, it is the last poem in the last book of his - "If I Were Writing This" - published in his lifetime.

TC said...

Bill, thanks for the testimony. And here he is already missed. The ironic diplomacy in "not very nice", so true to character. Remembering that in his Dictionary Sam Johnson said of "nice": "It is often used to express a culpable delicacy". And of "niceness": "Superfluous delicacy or exactness". If anyone's poems were ever firm gates against verbal superfluity, certainly RC's must be in the shortlist.

Susan Kay Anderson said...

Sister Life,
I'll have that to go, please. Somewhere I read there was a choice between The Specials and Beat Happening.

Unknown said...

Creely was extremely generous with me in his final years. Reading at my boostore or just sitting out in the quad at Brown, laughing and talking it up and at times discussing light and shade in the poetry of tom clark. Creely taught me generosity of spirit. And again, we would laugh.

Not five minutes before I read this, I wrote in my journal.

I think the Old Testament was evident in my grandfather as he slept through the church services, but never any part of the service when children were involved and of course i woke him up for offering. At times moths flew from his wallet. But my grandfather lived the New Testament daily through his actions.

again generosity of spirit...

TC said...


That's beautiful testimony, the wallet moths.