*The stairway. . . . from “The Jacob’s Ladder” by Denise Levertov.
Show me the geometer’s points
lines & surfaces!
(nowhere to be found)
happy & beautiful
& without thought of daily affair
(sometimes too palette pink & blue?)
these ranks-landless & distressed
inward upon himself
pessimistic & escapist
(to know, to do, to aspire to)
E’ mai possibile riflettere. . . . E’.
E’ per aver visto una mano glorificata di Gesù.
Che dire? Le ampiezze smisurate del firmamento
in un frammento di specchio?
the distance of lines & angles.
the shame & anger in the looks of a man.
& how my blushing gladness brrrrrrrings. . . .
“The stairway is not
a thing of gleaming strands” she said.
In my dream I lost sensation in my legs.
the clothes make the man
& anxious at the same time
make us happy)
The I in writhe & the I in spice.
“An apple falling freely has no force acting upon it.”
This point, a “véritable retour à Archimède”
that V. used against himself.
V. saw Mayakovski at the Tretyakov.
“A student of the history of classical scholarship
must know something of the chemistry of inks and of paper.”
“The character of peoples as revealed by their vocabularies?”
“It is as if Leonardo had had the heretical idea
of making his Christian saint a pendant of his heathen Leda,
setting alongside the hymn of voluptuous womanhood
the glorification of the perfect body of a young man.”
“Fermi’s unusual versatility made him a rara avis,
excelling both as theoretician and as experimentalist.”
When Aveling was nearly well, Eleanor suddenly took poison.
How sad life has been all these years. . . .
V. practiced ventriloquism
by talking with figs in his mouth.
His wealthy father said, “That is impolite.”
He thought to spit them out,
but thinking twice, he swallowed hard. . . .
V. is doing Mahler,
V. is doing Liszt,
V. has little Timmy on his hip.
Timmy says all men are come-again
& Guinness’s the water of life.
Timmy says the Irish have the gift of the song.
(Why then are there no Irish composers?)
(It is perhaps insufficiently realized
that V. himself—during his early years
in the Jacopo della Quercia—
had a very considerable influence
on the development of the Sienese Sassetta.)
raiments, voice & body
(to do, the doing. & what is done)
“As a woman, I feel. . . .”
(out of awe, or love, or fear of my person.
in spite of the temptation to become unreal.)
“One ought to hope for grace, or at least a sense of humor.
It is the conscious ones who are most hard on themselves.”
V. knows the power of a recaptured memory
V. knows the satisfaction of the instinct
V. knows to separate his perceptions
from the emotions aroused by & accompanying them
V. knows the actual, the apparent, & then what should not be
V. knows eternity, androgyny & the senses of Orlando
V. knows the science of the impossible
V. knows the overcoming of adversity—
the classic struggle of one’s aspirations with one’s circumstances
“By no means is it easy for those to rise from obscurity whose
noble qualities are hindered by straitened circumstances at home.”
V. knows Charlotte Rampling & Dominique Sanda
V. knows Lotte Lenya & Ilse Steppat
V. knows Hanna Schygulla & Liliana Cavani & Oriana Fallaci
& all V.’s man’s men are Hemingway
But consider whom he detests.
whom he would choose to possess.
(all very normal & on schedule)
“. . . a bull, an Aztec. Fight another man. . . .”
V. thinks all adult women are mad about him
(& some are)
In the falsest of false positions, V.
(has just enough decency to know his position for what it is)
How hard it is to destroy a man.
How hard to eliminate so radical a rival.
“That sexual needs and passions may at times be related
to murderous impulses has of course long been known.”
(the time is the late 1930s)