Sunday, January 25, 2009

Aimless Reading: The B's, Part 24 (Paul Blackburn)

Blackburn, Paul
The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn

I have a confession to make: although l watch a movie almost every day, I have never seen "Gone With The Wind." I alternately feel guilt and pride over not having seen it. Mostly, though, I feel a nagging sense of incompletion. This same feeling lead me to the purchase of The Selected Poems of Paul Blackburn at some point in the last two years. I think I remember buying it at Talking Leeaves, but I may have bought it online. Sadly, I still have that nag -- I have read a few of the poems, but haven't spent much serious time with his work. I love this first poem in the book, which I guess is very early work. It is to my ear an amazing modern revision of "Ode to a NIghtingale":


This bird speaks to me from the night,
From chilled autumn dark;
There is plaint in the song he makes
In his midnight field.
He remembers a sun-shaft smile
And soft air,
As I remember in my heart and
with my flesh
A smile that made the sundrench
Seem less bright,

Made my soul more lucid than
Any sunlimmed world.
And on my back, awake in a
Single bed,
This room without light, hearing
A bird speak
My flesh to me, I, groping
For the light switch,
Must climb out, struggle into
A robe, making
Two late singers mourning
A lost time.

*This poem also reminds me (a little) of Creeley's "The Whip."


Anonymous said...

Hi Mike!

Paul Blackburn's Collected Poems was available in bulk somewhere online recently. It's great. His final journals are wonderful.

ok: written in haste - but with all bests - after a long time out of touch - from



Gary said...

You will love Blackburn! Of all people!

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...


Good to hear from you again -- I'll check it out -- I guess I should read what I have first in this economy!


I know, I know!