Friday, September 6, 2013

6 September 2013

Ronald Johnson [Isola di Rifiuti]

from Ronald Johnson’s To Do As Adam Did: Selected Poems:

Four Orphic Poems [excerpts]


. . .

between bone & page, circlings

of sap, stars, tide

hold meaning
as a nest holds speckled bird’s eggs,

& I (like
Thoreau) sit here engrossed,

between a microscopic & a telescopic
attempting to read

the twigged, branchy writing

of frost, spider & galactic cluster. That the syllables!

rock & flower & animal
alike —
among the words,

make Order.

The field is newly plowed & unfenced. Its furrows

hold innumerable seeds
which have come on the wind, on wings
of birds.

What new green

will crack their burr & prickle? What words

must I corner like

to put them on a page?

. . .


At night in the New Jersey woods, we were awakened
by the bucks
circling our camp.

They would stamp the earth
& cough

in their rut, continuing the night through.

They would pause only
at the beam of
a flashlight. Then rings of blue


burned back at us. Lyres,

were tuned to those intervals between the known
planets — Saturn, Jupiter, Mars,

Venus & Mercury —

to indicate the ‘harmony’, music of the spheres, that played

in a measure
hidden, ineluctable

to an ear.

. . .

All night
the earth reverberating
with their hooves,

& at morning

the birds singing.

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