Monday, December 15, 2008

James Wright: A Prayer To Escape From The Market Place




The Branch Will Not Break
by James Wright is one of the greatest volumes of poetry of the twentieth century. This was brought home to me again as I perused Wright's Selected Poems for a review I'm preparing of a new collection of poems in his memory. Some of the poems simply jump off the page and throttle, all the more amazing since they askew the easy modern method of engagement that is direct address, which many a modern poet uses like cheap whiskey to get there fast, only truly arriving the following morning.

Here is the first poem of a few I hope to feature in the coming weeks.




-------------------------------------------------------------


A Prayer To Escape From The Market Place

I renounce the blindness of the magazines.
I want to lie down under a tree.
This is the only duty that is not death.
This is the everlasting happiness
Of small winds.
Suddenly,
A pheasant flutters, and I turn
Only to see him vanishing at the damp edge
Of the road.
James Wright


-------------------------------------------------------------

Notice the haiku-like, epiphanic moment, beginning "Suddenly ...," which echoes a similar moment at the conclusion of perhaps the most famous poem from The Branch Will Not Break, "A Blessing":




Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
into blossom.




And, yes, we do know what type of magazines he was referring to, eh?



best,
Don


PS While typing this I discovered by serendipity that last week was the anniversary of Wright's birthday.

18 comments:

Lisa said...

I just added the book to my Wish List at Powell's. I love both of these poems...thank you.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've read and enjoyed quite a bit of WRight's poetry but I don't have this book. Gonna have to look for it.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Lisa, rarely do I go out on a limb, but you won't be disappointed ...

Charles, this is the Wright volume to have.

Ed, the link in the original post is to the entire poem, A Blessing.

The other poem you are thinking about is Lying in a Hammock at William Duffy's Farm in Pine Island, Minnesota, which ends "I have wasted my life:" I plan on posting it in its entirety sometime soon.

Don

Don

JforJames said...

This is the book that made me want to be a poet. Just seeing that cover gives me shivers.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

J:

Yes, this may be the one poetry book, certainly of the 2nd half of the 20th century.

best,
Don

Curtis Faville said...

JforJames:

What you probably meant to say is that this is the book that made you want to be yourself.

Or hopefully.

That's the best emulation.

Wright's tendency to speak in terms of transcendence informs nearly all his middle and late work. He wants so badly to "be" on the other side of death, rather than just in a state of longing and fear.

I like the one about seeing an ant's shadow on a fence rail.

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Curtis:

You have precisely nailed it. The ant shadow poem is on a previous post (for those who missed it):

"Depressed By A Book Of Bad Poetry ..."

Don

Anonymous said...

Suddenly I realize
That if I stepped out of my body I would break
into blossom. This is not by James Wright


This is a haiku of ISSA's.

If I
stepped
out
of my body
I
would
break
into
blossoms

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Dear Anon: Hmn. Don

Ed Baker said...

double-double
hmmmm
toile and trouble
hmmmm

now that the private has be
-come the public
have "we-all" merely become
how we behave?

we run the risk of
becoming what we pretend
o be..

Anon, is this the 'rode' at the fork that "we" want to take?

talk about Wright, Nemerov, Duncan, Pound, Issa, Purdy, Ths Wyatt the Elder, Stafford, Corman, Olson, Rakosi, etc etc etc



HEY SOMEBODY IS POSTING AS ME!!!

I DON"T FUCKING USE THAT PHOTO!!!
AM THE ONE WITH THE BEARD

THAT PHOTO WAS TAKEN ABOUT !) YEARS AGO BY MY DAUGHTER!!


WHAT THE FUCK IS GOING ON!!!

ALSO NOTICE THAT EVERY WORD IS CORRECTLY SPELLED and every sentence is 'straightahead' ?

anybody 'out there' wanna communicate with me..

E MAIL ME. cal me on the phone or

COME VISIT ME.

I have NEVER read this book OR this poem

and have only VERY INFREQUENTLY glanced at much of Jame Wrights "stuff'

ciaoo,
The Ed Baker

Ed Baker said...

Those posts with that 10 year old photo are not from me

my previous reply did not go through

whAt the fuck is going on

I have NEVER read this Wright poem

and
have neveer done much more that glance at his "stuff"
nor do I use that photo.

Ed Baker said...

I wrote coherently
like those posts
in 2008?
jeesh

I wrote thise posts?

jeesh... pretty good "stuff"

I best start, in this, my olde age,
smoking
some "good" shit..

I STILL SAY and firmly
that "that ain't me!"


a decent James Wright poem, now that my Blood Pressure is down to 198/92!
140/90 is my normal

Ed Baker said...

WOW!

sooo..

leave the posts from 2008 UP..

now that things are cleared up clearity thy name is sanct
and
I am re:leived to find out that I am, and was,
snae... sane as rein in Spain!

maybe I should call a doctore?
go in for my &0-year-old check up?
change the oil?
lubricate the gears"

BOY, this net sure is phun.
thanks Don
and

what SHOULD we call this novel:

a friend, in 1967 sufggested:

"The World According to Eddie Baker"

I am leaning towards:

The Confessions of an Old Phart"

Ed Baker said...

HEY those posts with my old photo are now gonwe..
noboddhi gonna know what the hell I'm talking about...
no real context!

is this
an haiku moment
or what

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

It's amazing how this stuff stays up on the net forever. Well, now its supposedly gone forever.

Who'd a thunk?

Ed Baker said...

which just last night led me
to Howard Nemerov's piece:
To Lu Chi

which is in his 1960
1 9 6 0 !

new and selected poems

then I moved over to (in same volume) his:
Absent-Minded Professor

should have read & paid attention to his works...

wayyyy back when;

yeah done:

full moon
here today
gone tomorrow


ciaoo.

pee est. just came across the word new to me:
"netequette"

is there a book on't?

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Ed, of course there is, right here:

http://snipurl.com/10t7u0

Ed Baker said...

I thought and yes, sometimes I DO
think...for myself

that this neteket "stuff" was well
a joke or a ploy
of some sortz!

imagine.. teaching kndergarten kids how to cruise the net...

whow gonna need Playboy Magazine
when they got a farm in France!

and NOW
the Pentagon/NSA is gonna
"protect us?

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/08/25/AR2010082505962.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

and
who the hell is Ben Quayle?
what's his name's strupid
son getting in to....

I bet that this guy can't sprl nothing... either.

Netequeete I gotta chck out one of these manuals;;;;

there one called:

Nettequette for Idiots!?