Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Happy Birthday Kenneth Patchen !

Kenneth Patchen
Today is the birthday of Kenneth Patchen, one of the 20th century’s leading poet and novelist. Patchen's ambitious body of work also foreshadowed literary art-forms ranging from reading poetry to jazz accompaniment to his late experiments with visual poetry (which he called his "picture poems"). On December 13, 1911, Kenneth Patchen was born in Niles. He wrote more than forty books of poetry, prose and drama, including Bury Them in God and First Will and Testament (both in 1939), The Journal of Albion Moonlight(1941), The Dark Kingdom (published in a limited edition of seventy-five copies with individually painted covers) and The Teeth of the Lion (both in 1942), Sleepers Awake (1946), To Say if You Love Someone (1948), Poemscapes (1958), and But Even So: Picture Poems (1968). According to him "It happens that very often my writing with pen is interrupted by my writing with brush, but I think of both as writing. In other words, I don’t consider myself a painter. I think of myself as someone who has used the medium of painting in an attempt to extend." In 1967, the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities presented Patchen with an award for a "life-long contribution to American letters." In last days of his life he moved to Palo Alto, where he continued to write and paint until his death. He left the body on January 8, 1972. Presenting some of his lovely poems : being poet.  

Creation

Wherever the dead are there they are and nothing more.
But you and I can expect
To see angels in the meadow grass that look
Like cows -
And wherever we are in paradise
in furnished room without bath and
six flights up
Is all God! We read
To one another, loving the sound of the s’s
Slipping up on the f’s and much is good
Enough to raise the hair on our heads, like Rilke and Wilfred Owen
Any person who loves another person,
Wherever in the world, is with us in this room -
Even though there are battlefields.

The Naked Land

A beast stands at my eye.
I cook my senses in a dark fire.
The old wombs rot and the new mother
Approaches with the footsteps of a world.
Who are the people of this unscaled heaven?
What beckons?
Whose blood hallows this grim land?
What slithers along the watershed of my human sleep?
The other side of knowing ...
Caress of unwaking delight ... O start
A sufficient love! O gently silent forms
Of the last spaces.

Fall of the Evening Star
       

Speak softly; sun going down
Out of sight. Come near me now.
Dear dying fall of wings as birds
complain against the gathering dark...
Exaggerate the green blood in grass;
the music of leaves scraping space;
Multiply the stillness by one sound;
by one syllable of your name...
And all that is little is soon giant,
all that is rare grows in common beauty
To rest with my mouth on your mouth
as somewhere a star falls
And the earth takes it softly, in natural love...
Exactly as we take each other...
and go to sleep...

In the footsteps of the walking air

In the footsteps of the walking air
Sky's prophetic chickens weave their cloth of awe
And hillsides lift green wings in somber journeying.
Night in his soft haste bumps on the shoulders of the abyss
And a single drop of dark blood covers the earth.
Now is the China of the spirit at walking
In my reaches.
A sable organ sounds in my gathered will
And love's inscrutable skeleton sings.
My seeing moves under a vegetable shroud
And dead forests stand where once Mary stood.
Sullen stone dogs wait in the groves of water ...
Though the wanderer drown, his welfare is as a fire
That burns at the bottom of the sea, warming
Unknown roads for sleep to walk upon.

Be Music, Night

Be music, night,
That her sleep may go
Where angels have their pale tall choirs
Be a hand, sea,
That her dreams may watch
Thy guidesman touching the green flesh of the world
Be a voice, sky,
That her beauties may be counted
And the stars will tilt their quiet faces
Into the mirror of her loveliness
Be a road, earth,
That her walking may take thee
Where the towns of heaven lift their breathing spires
O be a world and a throne, God,
That her living may find its weather
And the souls of ancient bells in a child's book
Shall lead her into Thy wondrous house

Do the Dead Know what Time It Is?

The old guy put down his beer.
Son, he said,
(and a girl came over to the table where we were:
asked us by Jack Christ to buy her a drink.)
Son, I am going to tell you something
The like of which nobody was ever told.
(and the girl said, I've got nothing on tonight;
how about you and me going to your place?)
I am going to tell you the story of my mother's
Meeting with God.
(and I whispered to the girl: I don't have a room,
but maybe...)
She walked up to where the top of the world is
And He came right up to her and said
So at last you've come home.
(but maybe what?
I thought I'd like to stay here and talk to you.)
My mother started to cry and God
Put His arms around her.
(about what?
Oh, just talk...we'll find something.)
She said it was like a fog coming over her face
And light was everywhere and a soft voice saying
You can stop crying now.
(what can we talk about that will take all night?
and I said that I didn't know.)
You can stop crying now.

The Artist's Duty

So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame

To extend all boundaries
To fog them in right over the plate
To kill only what is ridiculous
To establish problem
To ignore solutions
To listen to no one
To omit nothing
To contradict everything
To generate the free brain
To bear no cross
To take part in no crucifixion
To tinkle a warning when mankind strays
To explode upon all parties
To wound deeper than the soldier
To heal this poor obstinate monkey once and for all

To verify the irrational
To exaggerate all things
To inhibit everyone
To lubricate each proportion
To experience only experience

To set a flame in the high air
To exclaim at the commonplace alone
To cause the unseen eyes to open

To admire only the absurd
To be concerned with every profession save his own
To raise a fortuitous stink on the boulevards of truth and beauty
To desire an electrifiable intercourse with a female alligator
To lift the flesh above the suffering
To forgive the beautiful its disconsolate deceit

To flash his vengeful badge at every abyss

To HAPPEN

It is the artist’s duty to be alive
To drag people into glittering occupations

To blush perpetually in gaping innocence
To drift happily through the ruined race-intelligence
To burrow beneath the subconscious
To defend the unreal at the cost of his reason
To obey each outrageous impulse
To commit his company to all enchantments.