Tuesday, November 16, 2010

A Dog Named Ego, the Snowflakes as Kisses Fluttered

Because I helped Planet write an essay on a dreadful Hardy poem the Sunday night before the 123rd birthday of Marianne Moore; because when I posted a nod honoring Moore I mentioned she made me laugh, at first encounter, when others I encountered at the same time when first engaging poetry - Eliot, Crane, Schwartz - bored me, bored me, intimidated me; because a blogfriend commented that Schwartz is funny (as I grew to know); because I accidentally published a post before it was ready because I'm a dope and I needed an apt poem, because I remembered a Delmore Schwartz poem with a dog, and.... what a effing great poem, here, read it again:


Delmore Schwartz

Dogs are Shakespearean, children are strangers.
Let Freud and Wordsworth discuss the child,
Angels and Platonists shall judge the dog,
The running dog, who paused, distending nostrils,

Then barked and wailed; the boy who pinched his sister,
The little girl who sang the song from Twelfth Night,
As if she understood the wind and rain,
The dog who moaned, hearing the violins in concert.
—O I am sad when I see dogs or children!
For they are strangers, they are Shakespearean.

Tell us, Freud, can it be that lovely children
Have merely ugly dreams of natural functions?
And you, too, Wordsworth, are children truly
Clouded with glory, learned in dark Nature?
The dog in humble inquiry along the ground,
The child who credits dreams and fears the dark,
Know more and less than you: they know full well
Nor dream nor childhood answer questions well:
You too are strangers, children are Shakespearean.

Regard the child, regard the animal,

Welcome strangers, but study daily things,
Knowing that heaven and hell surround us,
But this, this which we say before we’re sorry,
This which we live behind our unseen faces,
Is neither dream, nor childhood, neither
Myth, nor landscape, final, nor finished,
For we are incomplete and know no future,
And we are howling or dancing out our souls
In beating syllables before the curtain:

We are Shakespearean, we are strangers.

...because of serendipity pushed along by my dopeness, I know who I'll be rereading the rest of November. Blessedly, because of serendipity pushed along by my dopeness, I remembered why I do this shitty blog and for whose amusement.

HEY! I've got access to an e-book of Delmore Schwartz's Summer Knowledge, and so do you if you want. I've got passwords if you email and say please. Actually, if you want, look here, and if there's any e-book you want access to send me an email and (if I like you) I'll give you the goods.


Delmore Schwartz

A dog named Ego, the snowflakes as kisses
Fluttered, ran, came with me in December,
Snuffing the chill air, changing, and halting,
There where I walked toward seven o'clock,
Sniffed at some interests hidden and open,
Whirled, descending, and stood still, attentive
Seeking their peace, the stranger, unknown,
With me, near me, kissed me, touched my wound,
My simple face, obsessed and pleasure bound.

"Not free, no liberty, rock that you carry,"
So spoke Ego in his cracked and harsh voice,
While snowflakes kissed me and satisfied minutes,
Falling from some place half believed and unknown,
"You will not be free, nor ever alone,"
So spoke Ego, "Mine is the kingdom,
Dynasty's bone: you will not be free,
Go, choose, run, you will not be alone."

"Come, come, come," sang the whirling snowflakes,
Evading the dog who barked at their smallness,
"Come!" sang the snowflakes, "Come here! and here!"
How soon at the sidewalk, melted, and done,
One kissed me, two kissed me! So many died!
While Ego barked at them, swallowed their touch,
Ran this way! And that way! While they slipped to the ground,
Leading him further and farther away,
While night collapsed amid the falling,
And left me no recourse, far from my home,
And left me no recourse, far from my home.


  1. All-around, an excellent entry. Especially the remark on define/deny.

    I love how I heard the Pavement line "I/they don't have no function" in my head when I read the link tag for the Corgan Squash... and then read the opening remarks at the linked page telling me what I just heard in my head.

    And the "P" in PBS is a cipher in its non-specificity, because it means: puerile, puffery, pedantic, pathetic, pus-filled, pandering, pushy, partisan, Panglossian.

  2. I suppose you hate Laurel, too.

    If there's a competition, I expect to see some blood. And none of that six buck popcorn either.

  3. Another productive morning ruined: that first link. Now I'll get nothing done...

    Okay, your post raises an interesting issue re: kids' schoolwork. We have a cousin who has one child. This parent participated in practically every school project the kid had; every homework assignment, studying for every test, research papers. Everything. Tirelessly. The kid got accepted to a top-five college (where said parent continued said parent's oversight of practically every assignment; they were on the phone 3-5 times per day).

    My own approach has been more laissez-faire: I would edit a paper for typos and grammar only (except a grammar test, obviously) and even type it for them up until 11th grade. I wanted the kids to rise or fall on the strength of their own effort, knowing full well they were competing with kids whose parents went overboard like our cousin. Have I been going about it all wrong? I've been pondering this for some time. Where's the line between helping, coaching, tutoring, and actually doing? I ask b/c I don't know.

  4. Funny about Corgan/Smashing Pumpkins - just last week a friend and I were talking about how it's like Smashing Pumpkins (and 10K Maniacs) never existed, especially considering how they were ALL THAT once.

    Hate Laurel? Laurel's good for one prostitution crack-down on john's on Route One at least once a month in YFWP.

    Usually with Planet I'm just an editor/proof-reader, but when she's genuinely stuck I'll volunteer ideas for her consideration, though I try not to lead her to conclusions I already have. Works mostly.

    And yes, I'll need to work through speedism, boxism, markism at least a couple more times.

  5. Jim H -- I can testify that a person can go very far on Traditional Career Paths with absolutely no homework assistance from a scholastically inept single parent. There's a risk, however: if the child isn't constantly coached, prompted and corrected by the academically inclined Vicarious Accomplishment parent, then later in life the child will reject completely the Traditional Career Paths and become a provocateur on the Toobz with a very low-paying job requiring a hand-to-mouth existence well out of step with Nice American Consumerist/Materialist Values.

  6. I see elementary school kids loaded down with backpacks like they're sherpas ascending Mt. Rumdoodle. Does a first grader really need to haul 3 cubic feet of stuff back and forth to school everyday?

  7. An example of Delmore Schwartz's humor? In Republic of Dreams Greenwich Village:The American Bohemia, 1910-1960, Ross Wetzsteon writes that "[Schwartz] urged him [James Laughlin, publisher of IDBR] to send the book to W.H. Auden without its jacket, on which Delmore was labeled 'the American Auden.' 'He won't be pleased,' Delmore noted wryly, 'to see that he is the English Schwartz.'" (p. 492)

  8. Thanks, Frances, and welcome.

    Funny how serendipity works - when I was rereading some of Berryman's Dream Songs a month or two ago I came across some of the ones where Berryman was mourning Schwartz's death (and sad end of life). Meant to begin rereading Schwartz then but got distracted. Meant to be rereading Schwartz last year when I was working my way through Spicer's. In any case, I'm rereading now.

  9. God bless ya, darling. I was just rereading Thyraphobia over at WoW. It was that Low-Shame Youtube you posted made me report there like a Pavlovian dog. It's an impressive series: reads like a responsible dream.

  10. P.S. They nailed Charlie Rangel. 11 out of 13 counts.

  11. I don't want my place of employment to hire those urchins who were helped by their parents. I can imagine them leaving meetings and presentations so that they can get suggestions about what to do next. (Insert eyeroll here) They'd be almost as bad as the home-schooled who want to be praised for managing to get refuse in the waste basket.

    The best thing you can teach your kids are independence. If you can manage to do that without killing their compassion and intellectual curiosity that's a class A win.

  12. Went by Needwood last week and the north end looked like a mud flat.

  13. I like how both of those are fugues... so nice