things were simple
and the ideas
inhering in things
unintruded upon by the lilies
how faithfully we rehearsed
the coming day meaning it to be
nothing more than the full enacting
of our rote learning and nothing less
oh how day was
but for the flash of lilies
and now how suddenly
it is that day was
REQUIEM FOR THE PLANTAGENET KINGS
For whom the possessed sea littered, on both shores,
Ruinous arms; being fired, and for good,
To sound the constitution of just wards,
Men, in their eloquent fashion, understood.
Relieved of soul, the dropping-back of dust,
Their usage, pride, admitted within doors;
At home, under caved chantries, set in trust,
With well-dressed alabaster and proved spurs
They lie; they lie; secure in the decay
Of blood, blood-marks, crowns hacked and coveted,
Before the scouring fires of trial-day
Alight on men; before sleeked groin, gored head,
Budge through the clay and gravel, and the sea
Across daubed rock evacuates its dead.
—Geoffrey Hill, 1955
Today, despite what is dead
staring out across America I see since
nursing fantasies of purity betrayed,
dreaming to restore
the glories of their blood and state
despite what is dead but lodged within us, hope
under the lustrous flooding moon
the White House is still
Whitman’s White House, its
full of reality, full of illusion
hope made wise by dread begins again
–Frank Bidart in Slate, 20 January 2009
Frank Bidart reading, links here.
ADVENT OF THE 13th SIGN
On January 13th 2011, Ozzy Osbourne’s
daily horoscope took a sudden turn:
This is your big day, truly your biggest yet.
That vague feeling you’ve always had–
that people have been ignoring you
(at least since 167 AD)–is suddenly affirmed
by a global burst of sub-cosmic recognition. The stars insist
this would be a perfect day for you to wear something
other than black, to court favor with people in really really high positions,
to gamble on adventure, to feed the serpents,
and to flirt with strangers. But you must take great care,
at all costs, to avoid accountants, firearms and transfats.
What a frigging ruckus. Well, I suppose it’s not every day the astrologers
add a sign to the zodiac. And this revision has implications.
Two and a half millennia of celestial symmetry now irrevocably
ruptured. Suddenly, one star sign matches everything or nothing.
Is that sign mine? The operators at e-Harmony are standing by
to take your calls all night long. And, oh yes, they are bothered.
OK, I’ll be the first to admit that, like Ozzy,
I too admire reality. Even so, I just can’t help feeling
that the advent of the 13th sign is just one more thing
bigger than ourselves. Just another looming otherly thing—
like big government, like grizzly moms, like Goldman Sachs,
like Glenn Beck, Wikileaks and nymphomaniacs–
merely the latest in a series of big-assed little things sent here to afflict us,
to inhabit us with no higher purpose than to Ophiuchus.