THREE POEMS BY ANNE CARSON
(forthcoming in her collection to be issued later this year, Decreation)
Ode To The Sublime By Monica Vitti
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I want everything
Everything is a naked thought that strikes.
A foghorn sounding through fog makes the fog seem to be everything.
Quail eggs eaten from the hand in fog make everything aphrodisiac.
My husband shrugs when I say so, my husband shrugs at everything.
The lakes where his factory has poisoned everything are as beautiful as Bruegel.
I keep my shop, in order that I may sell everything there, empty but I leave the light on.
Everything might spill.
Do you know that in the deepest part of the sea everything goes transparent? asks my husband’s friend
Corrado and I say Do you know how afraid I am?
Everything requires attention, I never relax my neck even when kissing Corrado.
Kant says “everything” exists only in our mind, attended by a motion of pleasure and
pain that throws itself back and forth in me when I lay on Corrado’s bed fighting with
everything with Corrado watching from across the room then he came to the bed and
mounted me and this made no difference except now I had to fight everything through Corrado, which I did
“undaunted” (so Kant) on his freezing bed in its midnight glare.
What will you take? I ask Corrado who is leaving for Patagonia and when he says 2 or 3
valises I say if I had to go away I would take with me everything I see.
To this Corrado says nothing which is not I think the opposite of everything.
Doesn’t seem right is what my husband would say, he says this about everything—
especially since I came out of the clinic, a clinic for people who want everything, everything I see
everything I taste everything I touch everyday even the ashtrays and at
the clinic I had only one question What shall I do with my eyes?
Outwardly His Life Ran Smoothly
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Comparative figures: 1784 Kant owned 550 books, Goethe 2300, Herder 7700.
Windows: Kant had one bedroom window, which he kept shut at all times, to forestall
insects. The windows of his study faced the garden, on the other side of which was the
city jail. In summer loud choral singing of the inmates wafted in. Kant asked that the
singing be done sotto voce and with windows closed. Kant had friends at city hall and
got his wish.
Tolstoy: Tolstoy thought that if Kant had not smoked so much tobacco The Critique of
Pure Reason would have been written in language you could understand (in fact he
smoked one pipe at 5 AM).
Numbering: Kant never ate dinner alone, it exhausts the spirit. Dinner guests, in the
opinion of the day, should not number more than the Muses nor less than the Graces.
Kant set six places.
Sensualism: Kant’s favorite dinner was codfish.
Rule Your Nature: Kant breathed only through his nose.
Guillermo’s Sigh Symphony
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Do you hear sighing.
Do you wake amid a sigh.
Radio sighs AM,
Shortwave sighs crackle in from the Atlantic.
Hot sighs steam in the dawn.
People kissing stop to sigh then kiss again.
Doctors sigh into wounds and the bloodstream is changed forever.
Flowers sigh and two noon bees float backwards.
Is it doubt.
Is it disappointment.
The world didn’t owe me anything.
Leaves come sighing in the door.
Bits of girl sigh like men.
Forgeries sigh twice.
Balthus sighs and lies about it, claiming it was Byron’s sigh.
A sigh may come too late.
Is it better than screaming.
Give me all your sighs for four or five dollars.
A sigh is weightless,
yet it may interrupt the broadcast.
Can you abstain.
What is that hush that carries itself up each sigh.
We hunt together the sigh and I,
sport of kings.
To want to stop is beyond us.
The more sighs shine the more I’m in trouble—some kind of silvery stuff—
you thought it was the sea?
Ever since 1987, when she published the long poem “Kinds of Water” in Grand Street, Anne Carson has become one of the brightest fixtures on the world literary scene. A professor of classical studies and comparative literature at U-M, the Toronto-born Carson has won a Lannan Award (1996), Pushcart Prize (1997), Guggenheim Fellowship (1998), MacArthur Fellowship (2000) and Griffin Prize (2001).
She is perhaps most widely praised for her 1998 poem-novel (a far more demanding genre than the novel in verse) Autobiography of Red. Carson followed up with two other magically masterly collections of poetry, criticism, lyrics, essays and compositions that defy genre labels, Men in the Off Hours (2000) and The Beauty of the Husband: A Fictional Essay in 29 Tangos (2001). An accomplished artist, Carson has also produced books comprising photographs, paintings and poems.
For more on Carson, see the online Literary Encyclopediahttp://www.litencyc.com/php/speople.php?rec=true&UID=758
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