Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Robert Creeley: For J. D. (Hearts)


Hove Lawn panorama: sea view, dawn
: photo by Tom Raworth, 17 January 2011

Pass on by, love,
wait by that garden gate. 
Swing on, up
on heaven's gate.

The confounding, confronted 
pictures of world
brought to signs
of its persistent self

are here in all colors, sizes --
and hearts as big as all outdoors,
a weather of spaces,
intervals between silences.

 In My Eye, I Saw Creeley's: Jim Dine, 1996, for Robert Creeley's 70th Birthday Celebration

Robert Creeley: So There: Poems 1976-1983, cover by Jim Dine

Robert Creeley: For J. D., in Jim Dine/Five Themes, from Collected Essays, 1989

Creeley and I agreed to write to each other, to keep talking. I hadn't ever had such a dangerous friend before. By dangerous I mean the anger was bubbling up and kept at bay by austere and beautiful sculptures of American words, honed to almost nothing. The blade was very, very sharp.

-- Jim Dine on the beginnings (c. 1965) of his long friendship and working relationship with Robert Creeley, from the reminiscence I knew about Creeley


Moon and seagull: photo by Tom Raworth, 7 January 2010



Just as one's self will serve as constant in a world of otherwise shifting reference, a heart is sign that one can care, that there is a consistent presence of feeling. In a curious way this heart is neither inside nor outside oneself but, rather, exists in a hieratic determination of its own possibility, and so lives in a place that can be as powerfully singular and remote as the moon or as physically evident and contained as one's own hands, feet, and head.

This heart is an imagination, of course. One knows the actual heart looks not at all like those most familiar from the iconographic slogans of Valentine's Day -- which seems itself an invention from faint root except that there must be one day on which, unequivocally, hearts triumph. Have a heart  . . .

It would be an error, however, to presume that these specific hearts are either symbolic or ultimately abstract. They are far more like weather, a shifting presence that has faces but is not itself a fixed content. More apt then to call them, among other things, a ground or context which serves as means for feeling out the possibilities of what is going on.

The insistent echoes of this image must have been delight to an artist so remarkably open to language and its powers. One can trust the associations here of everything from 'A heart as big as all outdoors' to 'hardhearted' or 'broken-hearted' or, simply, 'The heart of the matter.' 

Robert Creeley: from Hearts, in Jim Dine/Five Themes, 1983




Thanks for all this, starting with --

Pass on by, love,
wait by that garden gate.
Swing on, up
on heaven's gate.

[leading to]

a weather of spaces,
intervals between silences.

And Jim Dine's sense of Creeley's "austere and beautiful sculptures of American words, honed to almost nothing. The blade . . . very, very sharp."

And his hearts, being "a ground or context which serves as means for feeling out the possibilities of what is going on." -- "the heart of the matter"

And Tom's two beautiful photos!


light coming into sky above still black
ridge, waning moon across from branches
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

window over there, same way
the day a fixed point

to turn the question around,
object, without which

cloudless blue sky reflected in channel,
line of 7 pelicans gliding toward point

Susan Kay Anderson said...

It must have been tiring to have only one eye, like having one heart but I guess the focus (teacher talk) can be intense.

TC said...

Well, where Ernest Hemingway came from, even the rivers were not only big but had two hearts.

Tom Raworth said...

Dear Tom,

Touching to see what I saw alongside Jim and Bob on a date my memory always flashes up D-Day. Thanks.

(for Robert Creeley and George Kimball)

peter falk, tex avery
each with but one eye to see

nelson, thurber, johnson too
shared a two dimensional view

gordon brown, jack elam
ry cooder, moshe dayan

hannibal, rex harrison
half in gaza, every one

TC said...

It was rumoured for some time that the Cosa Nostra was "run" out of a cigar stand in the Bronx managed by a character familiarly referred to as Un Occhio.

Though of course following hard upon the familiarities came the imbedding in sculpture in the East River.

Marcia said...


Just yesterday I read this poem, and today, I find it posted on your blog! It becomes even larger, richer than ever (if that is possible) accompanied by Raworth's photos, Dine's art, and Dine and Creeley's quotations.

TC said...


Many thanks.

To think that two people on the same planet are reading the same poem at the same time -- this possibly qualifies as a small miracle, any more.

Nin Andrews said...

I love the explanations--the blade so very sharp--
the beautiful sculpture of words.

And then the heart being like weather, a shifting presence.

Really beautiful.

TC said...

Ah thanks Nin.

"... -- the blade so very sharp --
the beautiful sculpture of words."

That enduring image of the sculptor-poet speaking of the poet- sculptor, and the thought of the words as something, then, in made form, enduring, carved with care -- and that, not at all easily -- but once and for all, certain, sure.

Thinking back, Jim's words remind me (I guess) of "where I came in" -- with these things -- and what made this kind of work so appealing, way back when, before poetry and art turned into networking and facebook and gossip ranking and prizes for getting along with the prevailing Powers That Be...

"And then the heart being like weather, a shifting presence..."

Anonymous said...

the eye of the heart...

edward ainsworth said...

when the storms of the heart hit with the semi irrugular frequency, i just recall the heart like weather...

TC said...


Great to hear your word/ When one's hearts are a strong suit, it's ok to wear them on the sleeve