Saturday, August 25, 2012

Poem of the Week 8/25/2012: Keaton


I will be good; I will be good.
I have set my small jaw for the ages
and nothing can distract me from
solving the appointed emergencies
even with my small brain
— witness the diameter of my hat band
and the depth of the crown of my hat.

I will be correct; I know what it is to be a man.
I will be correct or bust.
I will love but not impose my feelings.
I will serve and serve
with lute or I will not say anything.

If the machinery goes, I will repair it.
If it goes again I will repair it again.
My backbone

through these endless etceteras painful.

No, it is not the way to be, they say.
Go with the skid, turn always to the leeward,
and see what happens, I ask you, now.

I lost a lovely smile somewhere,
and many colors dropped out.
The rigid spine will break, they say—
Bend, bend.

I was made at right angles to the world
and I see it so. I can only see it so.
I do not find all this absurdity people talk about.
Perhaps a paradise, a serious paradise where lovers hold hands
and everything works.
I am not sentimental.

 Elizabeth Bishop

This poem is meant to be taken contrapuntally to the one that will follow tomorrow, as a vision of the human will, its force, tension, and sadness, in this one form. There's a lot more to say on this, tomorrow. I find it very touching and important, an impetus to go lightly, since it is so restrained.