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Tuesday, 17 December 2013

Ted Berrigan: Sonnet #2 ("old come-all-ye's streel into the streets")


With my mother and my Polaroid Swinger Camera, Fort Hamilton, Brooklyn, New York, 1967 or 1968: photo by Tom Riggle (asterisktom), posted 25 November 2010

Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m
dear Berrigan. He died
Back to books. I read
It's 8:30 p.m. in New York and I've been running around all day
old come-all-ye's streel into the streets. Yes, it is now,
How Much Longer Shall I Be Able To Inhabit the Divine
and the day a bright gray turning green
feminine marvelous and tough
watching the sun come up over the Navy Yard
to write scotch-tape body in a notebook
had 17 and 1/2 milligrams
Dear Margie, hello. It is 5:15 a.m.
fucked til 7 now she's late to work and I'm
18 so why are my hands shaking I should know better

Ted Berrigan (1934-1983): Sonnet #2, from The Sonnets (1964)

Girl looks out bus window at snowstorm, New York City
: photo by Erich Hartmann (1922-1999), 1967; image by RasMarley. 19 March 2013

Manhattan, New York, 1967 or 1968
: photo by Tom Riggle (asterisktom), posted 25 November 2010

Manhattan, New York, 1967 or 1968
: photo by Tom Riggle (asterisktom), posted 25 November 2010

Waverly Restaurant, 6th Avenue and Waverly Place, Manhattan, New York, 1970s
photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 17 February 2010

Sloan's Supermarket, 3rd Avenue, Manhattan, New York, 1970s
photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 17 February 2010

Suerken's Bar and Restaurant, Church Street and Park Place, Tribeca, New York City, 1970s
photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 17 February 2010

42nd Street marquees, Times Square, Manhattan, New York, 1978
: photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 21 August 2009

Washington Square Park arch, 5th Avenue, Greenwich Village, New York City, 1960s
photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 8 April 2010

Wollman Rink, Central Park, Manhattan, New York, 1960s
: photographer unknown; image by Christian Montone, 8 April 2010

Times Square in rain, Manhattan, New York City, 1965
: photographer unknown
(from 1965 New York State Vacantionalands brochure); image by Christian Montone, 15 August 2008

Times Square in rain, Manhattan, New York City, 1964
: photographer unknown
; image by Christian Montone, 15 August 2008

4th Avenue between 92nd and 93rd Streets, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn, New York, 1967 or 1968
: photo by Tom Riggle (asterisktom), posted 25 November 2010

125th Street and Lenox Avenue, Harlem, Manhattan, New York, 1968: photo by Tom Riggle (asterisktom), posted 25 November 2010


Ed Baker said...

oh my WOWOW ! that very automat... my favorite place to go when we went up to The City in the 50's....

a magical place... little windows/doors ... and the crowds .... mingling but never intruding in with anything like (conversation)..
then in late 60's and early 70's Fay and I used to frequent that bar & grill ( Suerken's) .... before I/we discovered The Ear Inn....

didn't much pay attention to The Poetry Scene in those days....(nor more-so now)
(one of these days I'll
jump into Ted Berrigan's 'bag'
and follow his "trip"....

that Sonnet (for me, anyway) a nice intro to his work.....

neat that at this advanced stage in my life... a writer's one poem can hook me !

there just might be some small hope for the future poetry culture beyond all of the crap being produced now via the computer-worlsd and piss-ant egos Credentialists ?

ACravan said...

I've loved this poem for so long now and it's great to see it ensconced in these surroundings. I haven't felt nostalgic about New York at all for the longest time, but seeing these photos changes that for today at least. It's amazing how many different specific and diffuse memories these words and pictures recall: Suerkens, the (pre-renovation) Wollman Rink, Times Square looking like that, even Bay Ridge (oddly, the neighborhood of a lease I'm working on now and where my brother-in-law lived after law school, which I regularly visited for several Christmases). This sonnet is where I learned the word "streel." Curtis



"feminine marvelous and tough"

great photos, that time & place
there, were you there then too?


And yes Curtis, "streel" -- one might think it made its first appearance here but the OED says no: "Chiefly Anglo-Irish. Also streal. [Cf. Irish straoillim, to trail, drag along , the ground] intr. To trail on the ground; to stream, float at length. Also of persons, to stroll, wander aimlessly." First appeared in 1839 in Carleton's Fardorough i.13 "It's on your knees you ought to be this same night . . .an' not grumblin' an' sthreelin' about the place." Also appeared in Thackeray's Vanity Fair, 1848 ("She had earrings like chandeliers; you might have lighted 'em up, by Jove -- and a yellow satin train that streeled after her like the tail of a comet." First US appearance in Harper's Magazine, 1884, "The streeling lines of flapping wings and their rasping bronchial note accorded well."

Wooden Boy said...

I love the time folding in here and the word streel shining like snow.

Great photos too.

ACravan said...

Stephen: Thank you. Now that online resources mean that I don't need to leave my desk to look up words, I finally consulted Webster's, rather than context and my impressions, for streel. But the OED is much better. (I have one of those microtype versions that originally belonged to my mother, but consulting it also involves leaving my desk for a magnifying glass, which is a hassle.) Streel is great, the poem is wonderful, and the visual field and context assembled for its presentation is masterful. It made me happy for Christmas, which was magnificent. Curtis

Be the BQE said...

Gorgeous poem and image poem for New York. The girl looking out the bus window in the Hartmann photo is inscribed in my heart. Thanks Tom!

TC said...

Streel is so lovely, who can say no to it later.

Thanks to Stephen for the good lexicography.

And to David and Curtis and Ed for the local knowledge.

I spent the frigid non-festive "holidays" of 1967 shivering in a one-room apartment at 14th & Ave. B. Ted was a regular nocturnal visitor. We combed the streets in search of what might be found, in most cases nothing... though there was the occasional surprise. That wounded pigeon in a paper sack, for instance, solemnly handed over to us in Tompkins Park at three in the morning by a fellow who said he could not care for it -- and his appearance made this plain.

And the ever ingenious Mr. Ted decided it would be a good idea to drop off that pigeon-in-a-bag in the lobby of Larry and Clarice Rivers' place.

This cunning plan was shaped just round the corner at the all night White Castle hamburger joint on 14th. (Five parchment thin burgers for a buck.)

Larry and Clarice would be better suited than we to the task of bringing that injured bird back up to prime fitness, Ted Reasoned. Something about Clarice being a health nut -- taking too much niacin -- turning red in her bath, or...

In any case, had Ted survived all these horrible intervening chasms of time, I expect he might have been amused to find that after all that inspired vagrancy (loitering with intent in poetry), he would end up ensconced as not only a member in good standing of a society to which his work wonderfully betrays a casual freebooter's attitude of nonchalant plunder, but an officially-approved cultural institution.

You could look it up.

Meanwhile, that little "time folding" trick, noted by Duncan, remains Ted's original contribution. In the Sonnets he seized a historical moment and accomplished, by means of that little trick, a unique marriage of expression and construction.

One was, back then, always able to detect Ted's several ill-concealed sources -- not to mention a few private and well-concealed sources, usually noticed only after the fact by the generous if sometimes unwitting donors. To return to the marriage metaphor, it seemed at times as though the groom wore a kingsize tux sporting a touchstone-line boutonnier in every redundant lapel -- the most obvious instances here in Sonnet #2 coming in lines six and eight, symbolic homages to the two New York poets Ted most admired, J.A. & F. O'H.

But that is to speak of the poems solely as constructions, when in fact what was being built was a mobile device for expression. A poet whose earliest (pre-New York) verses had possessed sincerity and truth of feeling as their most salient qualities was now learning to distance himself from personal feeling, while returning to it at decisive moments for expressive verisimilitude.

Coming only a few years after he'd been told by the sheriff to get out of his bride's redneck hometown before dark, that particular white wedding of the calculated and the intuitive was a conjunction that could have been devised, if not in the stars, then only in America.

That American kid in hornrims with his mom in the snow at Fort Hamilton made me think of Ted and this season and this poem.

David Grove said...

Does that "I'm 18" come from Jim Carroll? I don't have my copy of Living at the Movies to hand, but I believe "I'm 18" is in there--in a poem that mentions a hockey player dying in his dreams and poems laying waste in hs skull. Carroll would've been about 18 in '67, I think.


Thanks, Tom, for the 'memnoir' -- your life with Ted, back in the day. . .

andrei said...

Lovely reminiscence, Tom! You made me want to be in New York and hanging out with Ted, which might be the same thing. The "wounded pigeon" story brought Ted back so vividly, I startled myself laughing like I used to. These days not enough spontaneous what da hell laughing... Thanks and love to you and Angelica, Andrei

TC said...

Hey Steve, I inspected your beautiful black dawn tree thicket, and was moved to create a new genre. Can it be that memnoir is the best place (a dark shed out back of the barn) to store one's precious (if increasingly approximate) winter memories?

David, Nah, Jim was only 15 when Ted self-published his "C" Press edition of the Sonnets, and did not become Ted's devoted protegé till a few years after that. While granting that the C.B. school of interpretation has imposed a ban on poetry derived from actual life experience (in the C.B. School, of course, you're not expected, nay perhaps permitted, to have had any), and that Ted was an inveterate snatch 'n grab master in poetry, still it remains (strangely) true that it's the spirit of the man and not the pretty much faceless spirits of the various literary ghosts which give his work its juice. The ending of the poem is a transformation of personal autobiography, drawn from the ongoing corpus of Ted's lifelong narrative of being Ted.

TC said...

Cher Prince Andrei, Oh yes, indeed it is good to remember Ted and laugh, and if the memory of that laughter is all we have left to cling to, let us cling to it anyway, all the more fiercely, through the tears, ha ha! Put it On the Cuff, Mi Casa Su Casa, In One Minute!

De Villo Sloan said...

I read this entry with awe and wonder and with a sense of unworthiness - nothing like "Beyond the Pale" anywhere. As ever, thanks Tom.

TC said...

And thank you, Master DVS, always worthy, in my humble boke.

tpw said...

The Sonnets is unquestionably one of the great books of 20th-century poetry, in my opinion. And Ted loved a good come-all-ya. Great photos, too: they make me homesick for both New York and the past. Thank you, TC.

TC said...

Thank you, Terry. In my opinion, you are Ted's spiritual heir. Blest perhaps with one or two of the musical genes he may have lacked.

In truth I think there is more hope for you than for NYC or even the past, for that matter.

tpw said...

Tom---I will glide happily into 2014 on the strength of your comment.