Friday, October 27, 2017

Pain Comes from the Darkness and We Call It Wisdom

  • Toward an ideal poetry anthology.
  • The 2017 Best American Poetry was on new book truck.
  • - go look downstairs for that yellow New Yorker
  • what the fuck was I just reading - o! - reading Baker's Chowder re: yellow New Yorker
  • only anthology I ever read front to back
  • when I backpacked by myself took only one book -
  • Baal bless the Best American Poetry series and Baal Bless David Lehman for his work.
  • I do not buy each year's Best American Poetry, and not because I work in a library.
  • Baal bless all anthologizers is the least a shitty aggregator can begrudge.
  • I confess I skipped more than a few poems after a fair chance in the yellow New Yorker.
  • I admit the yellow New Yorker is one smugass motherfucker.
  • This wanting to tell you something, fuck is wrong with me
  • - Found the yellow New Yorker, photo top, where my mind's eye saw it -
  • Yellow New Yorker the most influential poetry anthology of my life.
  • Below is my favorite anthology, and I've rattles and complaints:

  • If you ask nice and I'll like you I'll get you a copy.
  • Vital reminder: poetry anthologies are perfect bathroom reading.
  • All this because well-intentioned people (not just you, fish) yesterday, within an hour, tweeted into my timeline photos of a dead giraffe, a dead elephant, a dead bear, and a dead rhino with horn gruesomely just sawed off, the sick shitsmears who killed them gloating over the bodies, I... 
  • Nothing throws me Dark down a spiraling staircase faster.
  • I daydream of killing the shitsmears. Not torturing, mentally - I'd not make them wait - or physically - no their pain for my pleasure - just a quick bullet in the temple.
  • I'm hiking with Earthgirl instead today.
  • I just bought two hours pretending I don't still see them by vamping re: poetry anthologies..
  • Too late: post.
  • I discovered Jarrell via the yellow New Yorker, though not the below poem there.


Randall Jarrell
At home, in my flannel gown, like a bear to its floe,
I clambered to bed; up the globe's impossible sides
I sailed all night—till at last, with my black beard,
My furs and my dogs, I stood at the northern pole.
There in the childish night my companions lay frozen,
The stiff furs knocked at my starveling throat,
And I gave my great sigh: the flakes came huddling,
Were they really my end? In the darkness I turned to my rest.
—Here, the flag snaps in the glare and silence
Of the unbroken ice. I stand here,
The dogs bark, my beard is black, and I stare
At the North Pole . . .
                                        And now what? Why, go back.
Turn as I please, my step is to the south.
The world—my world spins on this final point
Of cold and wretchedness: all lines, all winds
End in this whirlpool I at last discover.
And it is meaningless. In the child's bed
After the night's voyage, in that warm world
Where people work and suffer for the end
That crowns the pain—in that Cloud-Cuckoo-Land
I reached my North and it had meaning.
Here at the actual pole of my existence,
Where all that I have done is meaningless,
Where I die or live by accident alone—
Where, living or dying, I am still alone;
Here where North, the night, the berg of death
Crowd me out of the ignorant darkness,
I see at last that all the knowledge
I wrung from the darkness—that the darkness flung me—
Is worthless as ignorance: nothing comes from nothing,
The darkness from the darkness. Pain comes from the darkness 
And we call it wisdom. It is pain.


  1. 1)intro to "american hybrid" appears at

    2)richard kostelanetz writes [trigger warning - somewhat unfavorable comments]

    In the thick The New Yorker Book of Poems (1974), the poems appear with titles in alphabetical order (discounting their articles), which, here and elsewhere, is a sign of under-editing, which is to say a reluctance or inability to discover a sequence reflecting editorial intelligence evident, say, in the magazine itself. (Alphabetical order by authors’ names reflects under-editing as well, as does any chronological order by authors’ birthdates or initial publication.) A second problem with this Poems is that the texts are jammed together in continuous typesetting, sometimes with several poems to a page, which is visibly so different from spaciousness marking their initial appearance in the magazine itself. Third, the admission in the preface for only “original versions printed in The New Yorker” makes me wonder how many and which poems appeared differently in the poets’ own books. Fourth, many of the better poets appearing in the magazine’s pages are barely visible here (e.g., Ogden Nash, Elizabeth Bishop). Fifth, even in this self-selection, particularly excellent poems are scarce. For one measure, consider that few of these hundreds appear in general anthologies of poetry. The secret revealed in this self-selecting “by the Editors of the New Yorker” is that, even though this magazine probably pays better for poetry than any other, little first-rank poetry appears in its pages. Indicatively perhaps, never again has The New Yorker published an anthology selecting from its poetry.

    1. O, it's flawed (and has strong detractors, some of whom have very good reasons) but it's where I first found many of the poets whose poems I post and some of the poets who get birthday cards.

      It *IS* hard to read, the pages are big, the font size is small, poems start on one page end on another...