Tuesday, September 16, 2008

"If I Water"

Here's a poem I've recently written & revised this last Sunday in a poetry workshop here in San Jose CA where it wasn't very much appreciated by the 2 convening young academics (one of whom went to the Iowa Wokshops) because it lacked suff. illustrative imagery (it only has 2 images, in the 1st-line: plant &: water), which I intended, because it's predominantly a thought-poem, not an image-poem, as you can see (below.)

I explained: "It's not image-predominant, it's almost all fully-explicit subtext, written as though 20th-cent.Imagism...just hadn't happened." This wasn't appreciated either, & I was quickly told that Shakespeare was an imagist. Well, despite his secretive sonnets, I doubt he'd quite be able to grasp what an image has finally come to mean post-Pound & Co. Shakespeare/Marlowe always had lots of dangerous things to say & truly dangerous political ideas to embody, despite/because of the Tudor-Stuart police-state & its ubiquitous spies, courts, & punishments (secret torture & public death.) Overly gay Marlowe was allegedly murdered (for being an R.C. spy), but it's also alleged that he instead fled to Italy where he wrote what we have come to think of as Shakespeare's 'Italian' comedies & tragedies, e.g., "Romeo & Juliet", etc.) which Italian escape, etc. Pound would obviously have surely wanted to have duplicated - but only if Il Duce ('The Boss' -E.P.) had lived & prevailed.

Anyway, I made up the compound-term: what-lives (stanza 1, line 4, end), in French "qui vive* which in British English carries other (hunting/joyous) connotations; 'on the qui vive' once meant 'going out for a good time on the town.' This poem is more Japanese than western-European, based on the mode the Japanese call 'mourning/regretting the passing-away of things' (mono no aware).which the French would translate as "la tristesse pour cela qui se passe" (sorrow over that which passes-away.)

“If I Water”

If every plant I water
depends upon me, even briefly,
how important am I to it?
Or am I just tending what-lives?
When I die, who’ll tend it?

Or am I temporarily necessary,
my effect, only sporadic, or
am I minimizing my effect?
Just how lasting is any of this?
Maybe I’m just better off writing.

(10 AUG 08 Santa Clara CA - 14 SEP 08, San Jose CA)

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