Friday, January 16, 2009

(in my dreams)

The Inaugural Poem

Now here, now there, the roving Fancy flies. Great is Liberty! great is Equality! A vast similitude interlocks all. The brain is wider than the sky. Gitche Manito, the mighty, smoked the calumet, the Peace-Pipe, as a signal to the nations. The rocks are ringing, the rocks are ringing.

Rose is a rose is a rose is a rose. The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream. Now the grass, tomorrow the stiff curl of wildcarrot leaf.

The mind is an enchanting thing is an enchanted thing like the glaze on a katydid-wing subdivided by sun till the nettings are legion. The mermaids have come to the desert. Suddenly I saw at my feet, spread on the floor of night, ingots of quivering phosphorescence. What does not change / is the will to change.

My motto, as I live and learn, is: dig and be dug in return. Holy the supernatural extra brilliant intelligent kindness of the soul! Ashahh harr marrr gahroo yahr aye-howw tanthor rahrr.

The particular, the particular. As for we who “love to be astonished,” so do all relationships move. Now prime necessity calls for auroral intensity. Sometimes all it takes is a solid mass of sunrise to make the marigolds bloom into boisterous toccatas.

End note: By request, from an anonymous commenter, I present below the source/annotations, with year of first publication, for each sentence of “(in my dreams) The Inaugural Poem.” The sources are set out in the same order, and arranged in the same paragraph format, as the sentences in the poem. (Further note: in a number of sentences, lineated verse was made into prose, with periods added; however, all words remain in the order written):

Phyllis Wheatley, “On Imagination” (1773). Walt Whitman, “Great Are The Myths” (1855). Walt Whitman, “On the Beach at Night, Alone” (1867 revision). Emily Dickinson, “The brain is wider than the sky...” (circa 1862). Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Song of Hiawatha” (1855). Anonymous Paiute, “ Ghostdance Chant” (circa 1890).

Gertrude Stein, “Sacred Emily” (1913). Wallace Stevens, “The Emperor of Ice-Cream” (1922). William Carlos Williams, “Spring and All” [
“On the road to the contagious hospital . . . ”] (1923).

Marianne Moore, “The Mind Is An Enchanting Thing” (1943). Philip Lamantia, “Touch of the Marvelous
(1944). Kenneth Rexroth, “The Signature of All Things (part III) (1949). Charles Olson, “The Kingfishers” (1949).

Langston Hughes, “Motto” (1952). Allen Ginsberg, “Footnote to Howl” (1956). Michael McClure, “Ghost Tantra # 73” (1964).

Ron Silliman, “Ketjak” (1978). Lyn Hejinian, “My Life” (1980). Will Alexander, “The Stratospheric Canticles”(1995). John Olson, “Ball of Limbs” (2003).


Anonymous said...

I would love to see this annotated. I recognize some lines, not all.

Steven Fama said...

Hi Anonymous,

Thanks for stopping by. I'm happy to annotate, but somehow feel it'd be more appropriate sometime after the actual inauguration. So I'll do so in a comment here, or otherwise, at some point after 1/20 and before my next main post.

Steven Fama said...

Changed my mind: the annotation is up in the main post now. Enjoy!

Anonymous said...

Thank you, Steve. The annotation is very helpful. Saved me a lot of time tracking these lines down. Love the pastiche. Wish it could be true. Wish it could be set to music by Philip Glass and turned into our national anthem. Got to be easier to sing than the Star-Spangled Banner. Especially "Ashahh harr marrr gahroo yahr aye-howw tanthor rahrr." I'd like to hear Christine Aguilera wrap her voice around that.

Steven Fama said...

You're welcome again, Anonymous.

I must quibble with teh term "pastiche," since it isn't the motifs or styles I borrowed, but actual lines; so: a collage, or a cut and paste-up.

Anonymous said...

You're right. I meant pastiche in the sense of a hodgepodge, Greek Pastitsio (παστίτσιο)[paˈsti.tsi.o]) which is a Greek baked pasta dish. Multiple ingredients. So, not so much a "paste-up" as a "pasta-up."

Anon E. Mous