on Adrienne

from Hugh MacDiarmid’s manifesto “The Kind of Poetry I Want,” quoted by Adrienne in her speech/essay “Poetry and Commitment.”

A poetry the quality of which
Is a stand made against intellectual apathy,
Its material founded, like Gray’s, on difficult knowledge
And its metres those of a poet
Who has studied Pindar and Welsh poetry,
But, more than that, its words coming from a mind
Which has experienced the sifted layers on layers
Of human lives—aware of the innumerable dead
And the innumerable to-be-born…

A speech, a poetry, to bring to bear upon life
The concentrated strength of all our being…

Poetry of such an integration as cannot be effected
Until a new and conscious organization of society
Generates a new view
Of the world as a whole…

—A learned poetry wholly free
of the brutal love of ignorance;
And the poetry of a poet with no use
For any of the simpler forms of personal success

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March 28th 2012

If you really know me, you’ll know
that I could quite possibly sing sections of “Sources”
to that three-finger-picked high melody soaring up Foggy Mountain.

On days like this I know what Adrienne meant
by “split at the root,” I know, because she taught me to know,
that everything that lies stored in us
is the source of our strength and that
the horrible place that opens in our center
when we are so split
is where poetry
grows in that most uncomfortable
most quickening
womb.

Poets on Poets

Vladimir Khodasevich writing about Marina Tsvetaeva:

Poets are not born in a country. Poets are born in childhood.
What, then, is Russian about Marina Tsvetaeva?

Tsvetaeva understood audial and linguistic work that play such an enormous role in folk song. Folk song is for the most part a litany, joyful or grieving. There is an element of lamentation, an element of tongue-twister and pun, there are echoes of spell, incantation, even exorcism in a folk song—there is a pure play of sounds—it is always partly hysterical, near the fall into tears or laughter, and partly zaum (refers to the pure play of language, “beyonsense” ).