And Me Happiest When I Read Poems

It seemed to me that I hadn’t really sought out poetry since Irving Layton died.

I realize now that’s not entirely true.  There was that late night bacchanal wherein I was moved to recite:

Her lips were round and full
And to his lap she bent;
He saw no car ahead
And when he came he went.


I placed
my hand
her thigh.

By the way
she moved
I could see
her devotion
to literature
was not

In any case, poetry has found me repeatedly this week – despite an inauspicious beginning poetry-wise as I read, “To write poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric.”

But subsequent to that, my newly formed CBC Radio One habit led me to –

How happy is the little Stone
That rambles in the Road alone,
And doesn’t care about Careers
And Exigencies never fears —
Whose Coat of elemental Brown
A passing Universe put on,
And independent as the Sun
Associates or glows alone,
Fulfilling absolute Decree
In casual simplicity —

(Only the rhyme keeps me from dispairing about my new enthusiasm for things administrative.)

Moving on.  This morn I learned that P.K. Page has died.

That took me back to all that Canlit I sometimes suffered, more often really dug as an undergrad.  Among the latter, this:

The Stenographers

After the brief bivouac of Sunday,
their eyes, in the forced march of Monday to Saturday,
hoist the white flag, flutter in the snow-storm of paper,
haul it down and crack in the mid-sun of temper.

In the pause between the first draft and the carbon
they glimpse the smooth hours when they were children–
the ride in the ice-cart, the ice-man’s name,
the end of the route and the long walk home;

remember the sea where floats at high tide
were sea marrows growing on the scatter-green vine
or spools of grey toffee, or wasps’ nests on water;
remember the sand and the leaves of the country.

Bells ring and they go and the voice draws their pencil
like a sled across snow; when its runners are frozen
rope snaps and the voice then is pulling no burden
but runs like a dog on the winter of paper.

Their climages are winter and summer–no wind
for the kites of their hearts–no wind for a flight;
a breeze at the most, to tumble them over
and leave them like rubbish–the boy-friends of blood.

In the inch of the noon as they move they are stagnant.
The terrible calm of the noon is their anguish;
the lip of the counter, the shapes of the straws
like icicles breaking their tongues, are invaders.

Their beds are their oceans–salt water of weeping
the waves that they know–the tide before sleep;
and fighting to drown they assemble their sheep
in colums and watch them leap desks for their fences
and stare at them with their own mirror-worn faces.

In the felt of the morning the calico-minded,
sufficiently starched, insert papers, hit keys,
efficient and sure as their adding machines;
yet they weep in the vault, they are taut as new curtains
stretched upon frames.  In their eyes I have seen
the pin men of madness in marathon trim
race round the track of the stadium pupil.

I wonder how many of my students are exposed to such stuff these days.  Certainly I know they don’t live enough with better language and noted with dismay in my night class Wednesday that not a half minute went by after I called the break before virtually every one of my +30 students commenced to texting.   And today I find that Page expressed better my thoughts on this.

From The Victoria Times Colonist:

She had strong opinions on language, worrying about its future: “It’s becoming computer language and I think we are either going to be capable of telepathy in the future, and not need language at all, or our language will turn into a series of snorts and grunts.”

Ok, time to head to the far side of town in search of a new suit, deluding myself my new suitness be overcome with a tasteful purchase.  If the shops’ offerings don’t meet the need, new shirts and ties will suffice to feed the longing.  Mmmm, New Dawn Drapery.

And the song I can’t get out of my head is Chunk Chuchunk Chunk Chunk Chunk by The Selectrics.  I wanna be a Mad Man.  A Roger and a Dick.

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