Saturday, July 11, 2009

delmore schwartz d. july 11th 1966

In The Naked Bed, In Plato's Cave

In the naked bed, in Plato's cave,
Reflected headlights slowly slid the wall,
Carpenters hammered under the shaded window,
Wind troubled the window curtains all night long,
A fleet of trucks strained uphill, grinding,
Their freights covered, as usual.
The ceiling lightened again, the slanting diagram
Slid slowly forth.
Hearing the milkman's clop,
his striving up the stair, the bottle's chink,
I rose from bed, lit a cigarette,
And walked to the window. The stony street
Displayed the stillness in which buildings stand,
The street-lamp's vigil and the horse's patience.
The winter sky's pure capital
Turned me back to bed with exhausted eyes.

Strangeness grew in the motionless air. The loose
Film grayed. Shaking wagons, hooves' waterfalls,
Sounded far off, increasing, louder and nearer.
A car coughed, starting. Morning softly
Melting the air, lifted the half-covered chair
From underseas, kindled the looking-glass,
Distinguished the dresser and the white wall.
The bird called tentatively, whistled, called,
Bubbled and whistled, so! Perplexed, still wet
With sleep, affectionate, hungry and cold. So, so,
O son of man, the ignorant night, the travail
Of early morning, the mystery of the beginning
Again and again,
while history is unforgiven.

delmore died the day after bellow's birthday. as i recall the story, he died in some fleabag motel in nyc & lay unidentified for days in the morgue. bellow, the successful novelist, didn't know his brilliant mad friend had died until days after the glitter & toasts had died down from his birthday celebrations. if you don't believe in jewish guilt, just read bellow's humboldt's gift, a best seller back when big brainy books could still be best sellers in america. bellow knew that things had changed & that poets & "public intellectuals" were on the way out & some other rough beast was slouching in.

delmore's body of work is strong &, in the best work, his voice is powerful & clear. that's how the poets & "public intellectuals" spoke in the usa back then. now, there are no "public intellectuals" & the poets "flarf."

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