In Memoriam, James Brown
by Ruth-Miriam Garnett
Monday, March 19, 2007
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A Rumination On the Recent Passing of a Black Genius
RUMINATION ON SHELLEY
(In Memoriam, James Brown)
“…what happens when a new work of art is created is something that happens
simultaneously to all the works of art which preceded it.”— from “Tradition and the Individual Talent,” essay, T. S. Eliot.
“…the stock of such seventeenth-century poets as John Donne and Andrew Marvell went sky-high in the early twentieth century while the stock of the Romantic stalwart Percy Bysshe Shelly plummeted and has never fully recovered.”— from The Oxford Book of American Poetry, David Lehman, Editor
“A heavy weight of hours has chained and bowed/One too like thee: tameless and swift and proud.”— Ode to the West Wind, Percy Bysshe Shelley
You have to have suffered,
crossed the water and seen
the slayings, the violations.
You have to have been
at the vanishing point,
under water drowning,
gurgling your last breaths
without gills, cursing the air
you were made for.
You have to have had your belly full,
then emptied through retching,
had your skull ache from rotund imaginings
made mockery of by the daylight’s
cordoned dreams, by nightmares, ensconced
in the face of cohorts brandishing knives.
You have to have known these things
and swallowed guilt whole, felt its oozing
swathe the gums and repulse the tongue,
to know that what is joined is joined,
that in all life grief harvests joy,
that apart from the hard bones eroding
and apart from agony, the soul lingers,
the soul opens up.
from CONCERNING VIOLENCE, NEW & SELECTED POEMS (Onegin Publishing Company 2007