Norton says: “Perhaps no postwar writer has influenced so many different kinds of poets, whether identified with formalism or antiformalism, with enoconfessionalism or the avant-garde.”
Writes in seemingly antithetical modes, from fragmentary free verse and prose poetry to traditional verse forms
In his poetry the self is elusive, multiple and fractitious; the so-called real world is forever mutating and slipping away
Is fond of unexpected juxtapositions, sentence fragments or run on’s, and allusions to contemporary jargon
“Most of my poems are about the experience of experience.”
Barely tolerated, living on the margin/ IN our technological society, we were always having to be rescued/ On the brink of destrucion, like heroines in Orlando Furioso/ Before it was time to start all over again./ There would be thunder in the bushes, a rustling of coils,/ And Angelica, in the Ingres painting, was considering/ The colorful but small monster near her toe, as though wondering whether forgetting/ The whole thing might now, in the end, be the only solution. / And then There always came a time when/ Happy Hooligan in his rusted green automoblie/ Came plowing down the course, just to make sure everything was O.K.,/ Only by that time we were in another chapter and confused/ About how to receive this latest piece of information./ Was it information? Weren’t we rather acting this out/ For someone else’s benefit, thoughts in a mind/ With room enough and to spare for our little problems (so they began to seem),/ Our daily quandary about food and the rent and bills to be paid?/ To reduce all this to a small variant,/ To step free at last, minuscule on the gigantic plateau-/ This was our ambition: to be small and clear and free.
This is what you wanted to hear, so why/ Did you think of listening to something else? We are all talkers/ It is true, but underneath the talk lies/ The moving and not wanting to be moved, the loose/ Meaning, untidy and simple like a threshing floor.
These were some hazards of the course,/ Yet though we knew the course was hazards and nothing else/ It was still a shock when, almost a quarter of a century later,/ The clarity of the rules dawned on you for the first time./ They were the players, and we who had struggled at the game/ Were merely spectators, though subject to its vicissitudes/ And moving with it out of the tearful stadium, borne on shouldrs, at last./ Night after night this message returns, repeated/ In the flickering bulbs of the sky, raised past us, taken away from us,/ Yet ours over and over until the end that is past truth,/ The being of our sentences, in the climate that fostered them,/ Not ours to won, like a book, but to be with, and sometimes/ To be without, alone and desperate./ But the fantasy makes it ours, a kind of fence-sitting/ Raised to the level of an esthetic ideal. These were moments, years,/ Solid with reality, faces, namable events, kisses, heroic acts,/ But like the friendly beginningof a geometrical progression/ Not too reassuring, as though meaning could be cast aside some day/ When it had been outgrown. Better, you said, to stay cowering/ Like this in the early lessons, since the promise of learning/ Is a delusion, and I agreed, adding that/ Tomorrow would alter the sense of what had already been learned,/ That the learning process is extended in this way, so that from this standpoint/ Non eof us ever graduates from college,/ For time is an emulsion, and probably thinking not to grow up/ Is the brightest kind of maturity for us, right now at any rate,/ And you see, both of us were right, though nothing/ Has somehow come to nothing, the avatars/ Of our conforming to the rules and living/ Around the home have made- well, in a sense, ‘good citizens’ of us,/ Brushing the teeth and all that, and learning to accept/ The charity of the hard moments as they are doled out,/ For this is action, this not being sure, this careless/ Preparing, sowing the seeds crooked in the furrow,/ Making ready to forget, and always coming back/ To the mooring of starting out, that day so long ago.
Title is from the proverb “Least said, soonest mended”
The first of the undecoded messages read: ‘Popeye sits in thunder,/ Unthought of. From that shoebox of an apartment,/ From livid curtain’s hue, a tangram emerges: a country.”/ Meanwhile the Sea Hag was relaxing on a green couch: “How pleasant/ To spend one’s vacation en la casa de Popeye,” she scratched/ Her cleft chin’s solitary hair. She remembered spinach
But Olive was already out of earshot. Now the apartment/ Succumbed to a strange new hush. “Actually it’s quite pleasant/ Here,” thought the Sea Hag. “If this is all we need fear from spinach/ Then I don’t mind so much. Perhaps we could invite Alice the Good over’ -she scratched/ One dug pensively- “but Winpy is such a country/ Bumpkin, always burping like that.” Minute at first, the thunder
Soon filled the apartment. It was domestic thunder,/ The color of spinach. Popeye chuckled and scratched/ His balls: it sure was pleasant to spend a day in the country.
-Farm Implements and Rutabagas in a Landscape
Play on the title of the painting “Farm Implements and Vegetables in a Landscape” by Jacob van Ruysdael
Formally a Sestina: See definition Here