i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
                                  i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

_______________
Ally thinks:
My dear friend Summer sent this poem to me this week. Not in written form, but better: an mp3 recording of her reciting it. She said she’d recently read the poem aloud at her  brother-in-law’s wedding, and that was the first time she had thought of this poem being about romantic love. Before that, she’d always thought of her relationship with her sister when she read this poem.
*
I love that: the versatility of application. You could change up the poem a little and recite it to sweet children at bedtime; you could sing it at a wedding; you could whisper it into the ear of your lover.
*
I’ve admitted to you before, Amy, that I am thrown off by ee cummings’ lack of punctuation. I find it distracting. For me, it’s like having a conversation with someone whose bangs are too long: I spend the whole time mentally giving them a trim. Reading Cummings’ poems, I spend a significant amount of energy trying to find the rhythm, mentally inserting commas and semi-colons, dashes and periods. Obviously this says much more about me and my need for structure and predictability and rules than it says about Cummings.
*
It seems that I’m in love with the moon and the sun. Because I love seeing them in poetry. I think the line “you are whatever a moon has always meant” is both comical and profound. Comical because it seems like Cummings was aiming for something else, like timelessness or beauty, but couldn’t pin-point the meaning of the moon and decided to punt to “whatever it’s always meant.” But it’s profound because who really knows the meaning of the moon? It hangs there in the night sky, wise and mysterious, beckoning poets and lovers to capture its meaning. To reduce it to a specific word or metaphor would be trite; to write “whatever a moon has always meant” seems, well… honest and lovely.
*
Then, the sun: Cummings has it “singing to you.” Not warming you with yellow softness; not growing your food; not lighting your path… but singing to you. This is perfect to me.
*
The second time I read this poem (or maybe it was the third), I left out the parathesis, and here’s what it looks like:
___
i carry your heart with me
i fear
no fate
i want
no world
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you
here is the deepest secret nobody knows
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart
i carry your heart
____
I think that version is just as lovely! I especially like,
i fear
no fate
i want
no world
*
Lastly, Amy, I just had a little pang of fear that we actually already read this poem or covered it in our sweet little Wednesday Brief case file? It’s at home and I can’t check it. Accept my apologies in advance if it’s so. And I promise I’ll look tonight and then add our old comments to this brief if we already covered it. Maybe it’ll be interesting to see how our opinions have changed. Or how much more rambly I am now that I’m typing rather than writing by hand!
Advertisements

Milky Chewy Goodness

I met a genius on the train

today

about 6 years old,

he sat beside me

and as the train

ran down along the coast

we came to the ocean

and then he looked at me

and said,

it’s not pretty.

Charles Bukowski

Amy thoughts: This is another one of those poems, Ally, where it’s like: What makes it a poem? It could be called a very short story. I don’t know what makes a poem a poem but I know if I like it or not. I do like this. There’s simple thought and discovery in it. And who doesn’t hear some statement like this from a kid in their life? I got a few of these kind of jaw-dropping, eye-opening statements a few times a day when I was baby-sitting five-year-olds earlier this year. More than that even. Every sentence they said was basic and shockingly true. It just goes to show how brain washed we adults are; how much we follow the status quo. Of course the ocean is pretty. It always has been, according to everyone.

I was introduced to Bukowski by you and Jeff and I’m glad I was because I think he’s someone I may not have fully appreciated without having someone I know and love vouch for him. One thing I love about having discovered someone or something new: once you know about them you then hear about them everywhere, and wonder how it was possible you didn’t know about them. I also like (and hate) how I get sucked into the internet and go from one subject to the next to the next. This is how I re-discovered Bukowski — I went from looking up a dinner recipe to song lyrics to Sean Penn to Bukowski. This is what Sean Penn had to say about him (he’s met and interviewed him and they’ve become friends): “I think the thing that impressed me the most about him was…He was not irreverent. He was without reverence. He was us after a hard night of sex and drinking. He was us before the shower, on the toilet, sick, tired, broken-hearted and on the way to work. He found poetry where there was no—nothing was necessary to heighten. You didn’t have to create a world that started with overture. There was drama in—and poetry in—people’s lives as (they) lived them…” This interview is great: http://bukowski.net/poems/int2.php

And if you don’t have time to read that here’s a good quote out of it: Bukowski: “I always remember the schoolyards in grammar school, when the word “poet” or “poetry” came up, all the little guys would laugh and mock it. I can see why, because it’s a fake product. It’s been fake and snobbish and inbred for centuries. It’s over-delicate. It’s over-precious. It’s a bunch of trash. Poetry for the centuries is almost total trash. It’s a con, a fake…What I’ve tried to do, if you’ll pardon me, is bring in the factory-workers aspect of life…the screaming wife when he comes home from work. The basic realities of the everyman existence…something seldom mentioned in the poetry of the centuries. Just put me down as saying that the poetry of the centuries is shit. It’s shameful.” And: he thinks Shakespeare is shit too.

P.s. He’s so Updike-ish.

Ally thoughts:

Amy, I’m happy you chose Bukowski today! I admit I got a little overdosed on Bukowski last year, and I haven’t read him for a while. I have to be in a certain mood to love Bukowski, feeling a little cynical and hard. Then he hits the spot, since I always end up feeling soft and lovey in comparison to his grit. He’s really sharp, and negative, and truth-telling.

This poem made me laugh. Out loud. Though I eschew the abbreviated version of said action. But really? The kid gets to the ocean and says, “it’s not pretty?” That is so like a 6-year-old. For one, you’re right, Amy, that kids tell it like it is. So maybe this was a particularly non-impressive piece of the ocean.  Like the gulf after the oil leak. But maybe– and this seems more likely– it had just been built up to be this *amazing* thing by all the grown-ups in this kid’s life, and then he looked at it and thought, ‘well, it’s just not all that.’ Who knows? But only Bukowski would not only *agree* that the ocean isn’t pretty, but call this kid a genius for saying so.

The strange thing about this poem, as you mentioned, Amy, is that it doesn’t feel very poetic. You’re right that it feels like a tiny little story instead. But also, it lacks any imagery or flowery/creative language. Don’t you think the train could have jolted down the coast, and couldn’t the kid have plopped beside him? And what did the kid’s face look like when he announced the ocean isn’t pretty? The poem leaves me wanting more in terms of word-choice, and also in terms of meaning. But that’s just exactly what Bukowski refuses to deliver. ‘If you want metaphor, go read that shitty poetry of the centuries,’ he’d likely say. And sometimes– though it pains me to admit it– he’d be right.

PS

Updike would have chosen more descriptive words. And he would have described the kid’s face, in detail.