Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Let There Be Clean Linen for the Backs of Thieves

  • Someone put that in my head yesterday.
  • Silvia Federici, for those of you who do. I sent those I know who do either an email or a tweet since they don't stop by here anymore.
  • Edward Snowden and a bizarre concept of human rights.
  • Yes, it's about contemporary New Zealand politics (of which I am, in terms of players on which team if not at the two teams, resoundingly ignorant), but Culture of Amnesia in politics works everywhere.
  • I have in my hand a list. I know people on that list; a couple are friends. I talked with one yesterday; the campus newspaper contacted her for an interview, it's a lose/lose for her.
  • What privatization has done for Britain.
  • Martin O'Malley is not running for POTUS 16 (even if he runs in POTUS 16), Martin O'Malley is running for POTUS 24 (or promotion should President Hillary Inevitability die in office after naming O'Malley VPOTUS, which is what he is running for in 2016).
  • Poetry, e-Books, and John Ashbery.
  • Digitizing John Ashbery. Two or three years ago I needed to find my Collected Jack Gilbert and couldn't find - and haven't found, if you have it give it back - for a poem that had a line I needed for a particular post's title (see, that's how it works - I know you don't care - maybe half the time: a quarter of the time I know I want a particular poet but not a particular poem, an eighth of the time it's a particular word that leads to a discovered poem in a poetry archive, a sixteenth of the time I discovered the poem I was seeking either wasn't as rewarding in rereading as I remembered but another poem by the same poet I didn't appreciate before wows me over, and from here the point is made and the digressions are infinite...). So I bought the Gilbert online, it's on my iPad's Kindle, it reads fine, though Gilbert's lines don't break and skip and indent and blank in ways that make kindlazation of some poets' poems problematic.
  • Today's post's title, for instance, when I read that Peter Gutteridge died I was thinking of  posting the Overnight Planet Post - she had just sent me photos of the start of her latest art project - then remembered I am not posting the Overnight Planet Post, but since the Overnight Planet Post is anchored to a Richard Wilbur poem and since Peter Gutteridge was a member of The Clean and since Richard Wilbur's poem - probably his most known - Love Calls Us to the Things of the World has the line "Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves...." 
  • If you type The Clean into this shitty blog's search box you can pull up a bunch more songs.
  • Anne Sexton writes to Tony Hecht.
  • Rest in Peace Peter Gutteridge:


Richard Wilbur

The eyes open to a cry of pulleys,
And spirited from sleep, the astounded soul   
Hangs for a moment bodiless and simple   
As false dawn.
                     Outside the open window   
The morning air is all awash with angels.

    Some are in bed-sheets, some are in blouses,   
Some are in smocks: but truly there they are.   
Now they are rising together in calm swells   
Of halcyon feeling, filling whatever they wear   
With the deep joy of their impersonal breathing;

    Now they are flying in place, conveying
The terrible speed of their omnipresence, moving   
And staying like white water; and now of a sudden   
They swoon down into so rapt a quiet
That nobody seems to be there.
                                             The soul shrinks

    From all that it is about to remember,
From the punctual rape of every blessèd day,
And cries,
               “Oh, let there be nothing on earth but laundry,   
Nothing but rosy hands in the rising steam
And clear dances done in the sight of heaven.”

    Yet, as the sun acknowledges
With a warm look the world’s hunks and colors,   
The soul descends once more in bitter love   
To accept the waking body, saying now
In a changed voice as the man yawns and rises,   
    “Bring them down from their ruddy gallows;
Let there be clean linen for the backs of thieves;   
Let lovers go fresh and sweet to be undone,   
And the heaviest nuns walk in a pure floating   
Of dark habits,
                      keeping their difficult balance.”


  1. i read the following poem for the first time today - so far as i know it is completely fictional - it begins ominously but by the end of the poem no harm has befallen the children - of whom we know only their genders, not their ages or relationship, except that there is an implication that they have the same mother

    coincidentally, my maternal grandfather's given name was scott, and the most recent movie i have watched was 'scott pilgrim versus the world' - in that movie the guy ends up with the girl, but in the alternate ending, included on the dvd, he ends up with the other girl

    Right Conduct, by James Tate

    A boy and a girl were playing together
    when they spotted a woodchuck and started
    chasing it. The woodchuck's burrow was at
    the edge of the forest and it safely dis-
    appeared into it, but the children did not
    see this and kept running into the forest.
    In no time at all they realized that they
    were lost and they sat down and began to cry.
    After a while, a man appeared and this fright-
    ened them all the more. They had been warned
    a thousand times never to talk to strangers.
    He assured them that he would not hurt them
    and that, in fact, he would lead them back
    to their home. They agreed to walk with him,
    but when he tried to make conversation they
    would not reply. "You act like you're prisoners
    of war," he said. "Not much fun for me, but
    I guess that's good. When I was a kid my
    mother also told me never to talk to strangers.
    But I did anyway, because that's how you learn
    stuff. I always thought the stuff my ma and
    pa tried to teach me was boring. But from
    strangers you could learn the secret stuff,
    like how to break into a locked door or how
    to tame a wild stallion, stuff you could use
    in life." It made sense what he was saying,
    but the kids were sworn to silence, a brain-
    washed silence in a shrunken world from which
    they could already faintly hear their mother
    scolding them.