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Friday, 20 December 2013

I-glasses


.


from Breakfast Comix 1: Tom Raworth



Of this house I know the backwindow
lodges six housesparrows in the bricks

Under the sill, and they are the birds
scour these roofs all winter for warmth

Or whatever. Two are arguing now
for a few inches of position on a cornice.

How the mind moves out and lights on things
when the I is only a glass for seeing:

I stand at the window

Setting down each bird, roof, chimney
as the boundaries of the neighborhood they make.

I have on an old blue jersey.
Every two hours I wipe off my glasses.


(Newmarket Road, Cambridge, 1965)
 

11 comments:

Hazen said...

Beautiful, intricate, and funny. Happy Friday to us all.

ACravan said...

I am in full agreement with Hazen's comment and (though this is an obscure way of expressing what I'm thinking) "more." I love the Raworth comic and the poem runic qualities appeal to me very much and feel like the way my mind (for salient example) operates. I hope I've used "runic" correctly. Sometimes I mean "gnomic," but I don't think so here. Curtis

ACravan said...

And on the other hand, sometimes it's just delusions of grandeur & sociopathy that penetrate through the I-glasses. Curtis

Chris said...

Who is this "I"? Wittgenstein says that, in general, the word "I" refers to a person only in the sense that a roar of pain refers to the one who roars.

Poet Red Shuttleworth said...

Thank you: hour and place... sweet.

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

I agree
there's more here
than an icon

see

Wooden Boy said...

How the mind moves out and lights on things
when the I is only a glass for seeing:

I stand at the window

setting down each word

Missed the colon at first. This is the true way to look at things; before distinction becomes a legal matter.

Very lovely.

TC said...

There were entire decades in which it was for whatever obscure reason[s] impossible for me to use the first person pronoun in poetry (or for that matter anywhere else).

But of course that doesn't mean it wasn't lurking silently in there somewhere, unseen yet subtly exerting its unfortunate influence on things.

This curious I-phobia perhaps will seem a bit out-of-step with what was once termed the march of progress, now that self-aggrandizement has become a universal compulsion nay even a necessity (see: the grotesque selfie phenomenon, by which, perhaps, this particular phase in the Decline of the West will be remembered).

Ah well... Authorial subjectivity, such a tiresome indulgence at the best of times, in any case, und so weiter.

A poem I have long taken as a sort of touchstone, on this subject:

Bertolt Brecht: Why Should My Name Be Mentioned?

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom and Tom,

How the mind moves out and lights on things
when the I is only a glass for seeing:

I stand at the window. . .

what else to say, having said it all so well here.

TC said...

Thanks, Steve.

As I recall, this was an attempt to write an absolutely flat poem, with no dramatic element to be detected anywhere, whether with a fine-tooth comb, a microscope, or a sixth sense.

There was a tiny fire-escape platform outside the kitchen window of the flat. By clambering up over the sink, I could squeeze myself out onto that platform. And once there, spend hours at a time severely annotating the view out over the rooftops.

Then, the unflagging exploration of the phenomenology of perception seemed the essential aim, the ultimate goal for which one went on living.

And the discoveries made then have proved invaluable ever since...

Right.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

Yes, "an absolutely flat poem, with no dramatic element to be detected anywhere . . . the unflagging exploration of the phenomenology of perception. . ."

-- seems to be what I'm still trying to do, coupled with 'thoughts' on what it is (or means?) to do so, and photos to 'prove' it was all 'really happening'?

A beautiful poem.