May 22nd, 2011

what the degraded soul unworthily admires

From Wordsworth’s Ruth, or The Influences of Nature:

But ill he lived, much evil saw,
With men to whom no better law
Nor better life was known;
Deliberately and undeceived
Those wild men’s vices he received,
And gave them back his own.

His genius and his moral frame
Were thus impair’d, and he became
The slave of low desires—
A man who without self-control
Would seek what the degraded soul
Unworthily admires.

The entire poem is on bartleby.

May 22nd, 2011

riving sail and cord and plank

From Written among the Euganean Hills by P. B. Shelley

MANY a green isle needs must be
In the deep wide sea of Misery,
Or the mariner, worn and wan,
Never thus could voyage on
Day and night, and night and day,
Drifting on his dreary way,
With the solid darkness black
Closing round his vessel’s track;
Whilst above, the sunless sky
Big with clouds, hangs heavily,
And behind the tempest fleet
Hurries on with lightning feet,
Riving sail, and cord, and plank,
Till the ship has almost drank
Death from the o’er-brimming deep,
And sinks down, down, like that sleep
When the dreamer seems to be
Weltering through eternity;
And the dim low line before
Of a dark and distant shore
Still recedes, as ever still
Longing with divided will,
But no power to seek or shun,
He is ever drifted on
O’er the unreposing wave,
To the haven of the grave.

Continue reading…

May 13th, 2011


Shakespeare’s Sonnet 147:

My love is as a fever longing still,
For that which longer nurseth the disease;
Feeding on that which doth preserve the ill,
The uncertain sickly appetite to please.
My reason, the physician to my love,
Angry that his prescriptions are not kept,
Hath left me, and I desperate now approve
Desire is death, which physic did except.
Past cure I am, now Reason is past care,
And frantic-mad with evermore unrest;
My thoughts and my discourse as madmen’s are,
At random from the truth vainly expressed;
For I have sworn thee fair, and thought thee bright,
Who art as black as hell, as dark as night.


Canst thou, O cruel! say I love thee not,
When I against myself with thee partake?
Do I not think on thee, when I forgot
Am of my self, all tyrant, for thy sake?
Who hateth thee that I do call my friend,
On whom frown’st thou that I do fawn upon,
Nay, if thou lour’st on me, do I not spend
Revenge upon myself with present moan?
What merit do I in my self respect,
That is so proud thy service to despise,
When all my best doth worship thy defect,
Commanded by the motion of thine eyes?
But, love, hate on, for now I know thy mind,
Those that can see thou lov’st, and I am blind.


O! from what power hast thou this powerful might,
With insufficiency my heart to sway?
To make me give the lie to my true sight,
And swear that brightness doth not grace the day?
Whence hast thou this becoming of things ill,
That in the very refuse of thy deeds
There is such strength and warrantise of skill,
That, in my mind, thy worst all best exceeds?
Who taught thee how to make me love thee more,
The more I hear and see just cause of hate?
O! though I love what others do abhor,
With others thou shouldst not abhor my state:
If thy unworthiness raised love in me,
More worthy I to be beloved of thee.

May 3rd, 2011

hymn to the spirit of nature

P.b. Shelley:

LIFE of Life! thy lips enkindle
With their love the breath between them;
And thy smiles before they dwindle
Make the cold air fire: then screen them
In those locks, where whoso gazes
Faints, entangled in their mazes.

Child of Light! thy limbs are burning
Through the veil which seems to hide them,
As the radiant lines of morning
Through thin clouds, ere they divide them;
And this atmosphere divinest
Shrouds thee wheresoe’er thou shinest.

Fair are others: none beholds thee;
But thy voice sounds low and tender
Like the fairest, for it folds thee
From the sight, that liquid splendour;
And all feel, yet see thee never,
As I feel now, lost for ever!

Lamp of Earth! where’er thou movest
Its dim shapes are clad with brightness,
And the souls of whom thou lovest
Walk upon the winds with lightness
Till they fail, as I am failing,
Dizzy, lost, yet unbewailing!

May 3rd, 2011

to the moon

p. b. shelley:

Art thou pale for weariness
Of climbing heaven, and gazing on the earth,
Wandering companionless
Among the stars that have a different birth,—
And ever-changing, like a joyless eye
That finds no object worth its constancy?

April 27th, 2011

pure cinema / 6.18.67

At the end of his tenture at USC, 24-year-old George Lucas went to Arizona to follow the production of the western, McKenna’s Gold for three months. He made this short visual tone-poem while there.


Pure Cinema is the film theory and practice whereby movie makers create a more emotionally intense experience using autonomous film techniques, as opposed to using stories, characters, or actors.

Unlike nearly all other fare offered via celluloid, pure cinema rejects the link and the character traits of artistic predecessors such as literature or theatre. It declares cinema to be its own independent art form that should not borrow from any other. As such, “pure cinema” is made up of nonstory, noncharacter films that convey abstract emotional experiences through unique cinematic devices such as montage (the Kuleshov Effect), camera movement and camera angles, sound-visual relationships, super-impositions and other optical effects, and visual composition.

Pure cinema.

April 25th, 2011

digital poems

I recommend viewing full screen. Thanks Aengus for the heads up!

March 25th, 2011

seeking or paining

William Blake:

Never seek to tell thy love,
Love that never told can be;
For the gentle wind does move
Silently, invisibly.

I told my love, I told my love,
I told her all my heart;
Trembling, cold, in ghastly fears,
Ah! she doth depart.

Soon as she was gone from me,
A traveller came by,
Silently, invisibly:
He took her with a sigh.

In another version of this poem Blake apparently replaced “Never seek to tell thy love” with “Never pain to tell thy love”. Wiki:

As the only textual authority for many of these poems is a foul draft, some of them are partly editorial reconstructions. In the notebook the first stanza of “Never pain to tell thy love” has been marked for deletion. Two variant readings are sometimes found in published versions of the poem. In the first line “seek” was deleted by Blake and replaced by “pain”, and the final line replaced the deleted version “He took her with a sigh”.

I like the poem even if the advice is not necessarily worth following. Why not try?

Never seek to tell thy love

March 12th, 2011

when you are old and grey and full of sleep

W. B. Yeats, When you are old:

When you are old and grey and full of sleep,
And nodding by the fire, take down this book,
And slowly read, and dream of the soft look
Your eyes once had, and of their shadows deep;

How many loved your moments of glad grace,
And loved your beauty with love false or true,
But one man loved the pilgrim soul in you,
And loved the sorrows of your changing face;

And bending down beside the glowing bars,
Murmur, a little sadly, how Love fled
And paced upon the mountains overhead
And hid his face among a crowd of stars.

February 20th, 2011

mijn hart was toegevroren

Simplicity works:

Immortelle XXXIII

Mijn hart was toegevroren,
Mijn tranen vloeiden niet meer.
Toen trof mij haar gloeiende blikstraal,
En de wateren ruischten weer.

O ware ik toch verdronken
In den bitterzilten vloed!
In liefdetranen, hoe brak ook,
Te smoren, is honingzoet.

By Piet Paaltjens (thanks, Kasina).

February 14th, 2011

reese’s pieces calories

A spambot left this poetic string of words on my blog in a comment:

reese’s pieces calories hydrophilic ointment fougera yellow diarrhea vit b deficiency textured paint finishes nursing responsibilities of intravenous fluids sodium chromate hydrate buy cholecalciferol in nj etanercept for crohns testosterone cypionate injections every five maalox gelcaps microgestin caverject info do b12 shots hurt pfs capsules trypsin zinc kams inc travel care for barberry bushes badlander seats

That kind of spam I don’t mind receiving. See previous found poems:

  • sugar corn sirup butter milk
  • inattention gory beachcomb allbright prayer
  • December 20th, 2010

    I put it shining anywhere I please

    It’s a full moon.

    The Freedom of the Moon by Robert Frost

    I’ve tried the new moon tilted in the air
    Above a hazy tree-and-farmhouse cluster
    As you might try a jewel in your hair.
    I’ve tried it fine with little breadth of luster,
    Alone, or in one ornament combining
    With one first-water start almost shining.

    I put it shining anywhere I please.
    By walking slowly on some evening later,
    I’ve pulled it from a crate of crooked trees,
    And brought it over glossy water, greater,
    And dropped it in, and seen the image wallow,
    The color run, all sorts of wonder follow.

    December 17th, 2010

    evolution of a book

    I’ve been working on a translation of a poem into sounds and smells. The sounds and smells are released in synchrony by a machine (made with help from my engineer friend Brecht) that selects scented beakers using the turntable of an old record player.

    You can download an excerpt from the audio track here, smells not included. This one is the translation of the second stanza, which begins “fondants, fudge, caramels, taffy brittles”, and lasts one and a half minutes. The whole piece is approximately eleven minutes long.

    I may improve upon the audio, smells and machine over the next weeks. This is a sort of work-in-progress or, I suppose, the continued evolution in my mind of the original text.

    December 4th, 2010

    love made madness magnificently

    Qaeda Quality Question Quickly Quickly Quiet on Vimeo.

    This video by Lenka Clayton takes a 2002 speech by George W. Bush and reorganizes the words alphabetically. It turns out to be an experiment in sound and words that’s sublime in its simple premise and resultant beauty. Some repetitions of words are mesmeric as they accumulate (“citizens citizens citizens citizens”, “from from from from from from”) and pleasing to the ear, some combinations and sequences of words are uncannily poetic or profound (“love made madness magnificently”, “gathering gay generosity”, “George giving glimpsed goals”).

    Clayton has a website. And this video has a page on it. I also like the idea of her Accidental Haiku (2008) very much.

    Via Sredzkistrasse.

    November 12th, 2010

    if fruits are fed on any beast, let vine-roots suck this parish priest

    I like this playfully morbid poem by J.M. Synge:


    After reading Ronsards lines from Rabelais.

    If fruits are fed on any beast,
    Let vine-roots suck this parish priest,
    For while he lived, no summer sun
    Went up but he’d a bottle done,
    And in the starlight beer and stout
    Kept his waistcoat bulging out.

    Then Death that changes happy things
    Damned his soul to water springs.

    I like this one very much too:


    With little money in a great city.

    There’s snow in every street
    Where I go up and down,
    And there’s no woman, man, or dog
    That knows me in this town.

    I know each shop, and all
    These Jews, and Russian Poles,
    For I go walking night and noon
    To spare my sack of coals.

    More here. Thanks Aidan

    November 7th, 2010

    sugar corn sirup butter milk

    If truth is more beautiful than the contrived, then the most beautiful kind of poetry is perhaps the entirely accidental kind… The kind that comes into being with no aesthetic intentions attached and sleeps until the perfect alignment of observer, time and space.

    Take this digitized recipe book “experimental cookery from the chemical and physical standpoint” — its contents pages are dripping with divine word combinations. A choice selection:

    sugar corn sirup butter milk
    sugar cookery
    sugar cookery classification of the carbohydrates

    fondants, fudge,
    caramels, taffy, brittles
    stages of cookery of sucrose solutions

    classification of ice creams
    ices and sherbets

    plant pigments part 5
    crisping pickles

    meat. grading and stamping of meat.
    definition of meat and flesh
    federal inspection of meat

    breaking mayonnaise

    I feel like I found a €50 note on the pavement. For more unintentional poetry, see this spam poem I found in 2008.

    Incidentally, some of the experiments in this book sound fun/interesting. I found the book when googling for information about boiling vegetables in milk.

    Addendum: Another food science word I discovered recently and developed affections for is farinaceous, describing a mealy, floury, starchy nature (from farina, latin for flour).

    October 28th, 2010

    the panther

    Above: Rainer Maria Rilke, Autumn 1923. Adapted from this photo.

    Below, probably Rilke’s most popular poem “Der Panther”:

    Im Jardin des Plantes, Paris

    Sein Blick ist von Vorübergehen der Stäbe
    so müd geworden, daß er nichts mehr hält.
    Ihm ist, als ob es tausend Stäbe gäbe
    und hinter tausend Stäben keine Welt.

    Der weiche Gang geschmeidig starker Schritte,
    der sich im allerkleinsten Kreise dreht,
    ist wie ein Tanz von Kraft um eine Mitte,
    in der betäubt ein großer Wille steht.

    Nur manchmal schiebt der Vorhang der Pupille
    sich lautlos auf—. Dann geht ein Bild hinein,
    geht durch der Glieder angespannte Stille—
    und hört im Herzen auf zu sein.

    There are, it would seem, hundreds of English translations online, many of them quite rubbish. The one I like the most out of those that I’ve read so far is by Robert Bly. It does away, mostly, with the rhyme, but seems more faithful to the mood and meaning of the original than others. His translation is below (via here).

    In the Jardin des Plantes, Paris

    From seeing the bars, his seeing is so exhausted
    that it no longer holds anything anymore.
    To him the world is bars, a hundred thousand
    bars, and behind the bars, nothing.

    The lithe swinging of that rhythmical easy stride
    which circles down to the tiniest hub
    is like a dance of energy around a point
    in which a great will stands stunned and numb.

    Only at times the curtains of the pupil rise
    without a sound . . . then a shape enters,
    slips through the tightened silence of the shoulders,
    reaches the heart, and dies.

    October 24th, 2010

    I am all sere and yellow and to my core mellow

    I am the autumnal sun by Henry Thoreau:

    Sometimes a mortal feels in himself Nature
    — not his Father but his Mother stirs
    within him, and he becomes immortal with her
    immortality. From time to time she claims
    kindredship with us, and some globule
    from her veins steals up into our own.

    I am the autumnal sun,
    With autumn gales my race is run;
    When will the hazel put forth its flowers,
    Or the grape ripen under my bowers?
    When will the harvest or the hunter’s moon
    Turn my midnight into mid-noon?
    I am all sere and yellow,
    And to my core mellow.
    The mast is dropping within my woods,
    The winter is lurking within my moods,
    And the rustling of the withered leaf
    Is the constant music of my grief…

    Thanks Kasina for the poem.

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