Sunday, July 29, 2012

Off The Shelf Archive~July 2012

The archivist has been most remiss of late, plus under medication, but no excuses. It's more than past time for a new selection for the Off the Shelf Page, and it's a good time for one, as I still am a bit groggy and not up for much in the writing department. 

This month, what's left of it, I've chosen a moody and bizarre poem from American novelist and poet Stephen Crane called On the Desert. It makes heavy use of repetition, without rhyme or a true refrain, and for me is one of those poems that give the effect of being in someone else's nightmare, a sensation of grue and creeping darkness. There's a bio of Crane here at The Poetry Foundation   for those who'd like to know more about him.

You can read On the Desert here:  Off the Shelf Archive for September 2012

And to make room for the current offering, last month's selection, Beyond Love by Octavio Paz, is archived below for a final reading. As always feel free to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page :

Beyond Love
~by Octavio Paz

Everything menaces us:
time that divides into fragments
who I was
from who I will be,
like a machete does a snake:
consciousness, transparency transfixed,
the blind look of watching yourself look;
words, grey gloves, mental dust on the grass,water, skin;
our names, that rise up between you and me,
walls of emptiness that no trumpet can fell.

Neither dreams peopled with broken images,
nor delirium and its prophetic foam,
nor love with its teeth and claws, suffices.
Beyond us,
on the frontiers of being and time,
a greater life than life beckons us.

Outside the night breathes, it expands,
full of great hot leaves,
of mirrors in combat:
fruit, talons, eyes, foliage,
backs that glisten,
bodies that push their way through other bodies.

Lie down here on the edge of so much foam,
of so much life that does not know and surrenders:
you too belong to the night.
Stretch out, whiteness that breathes,
throb, oh portioned star,
bread that tips the balance to the side of the dawn,
pause of blood between this time and another, without measure.

From El Girasol, Poems 1943-1948
© Octavio Paz

Image: Blue Dahlias, 
© joy ann jones 2012


  1. Thank you for this poem, Hedge. It is not one I am familiar with, but I love Stephen Crane's way with words. That second to last stanza is something of extraordinary beauty.

  2. ah you new poet seems to be right up your alley, a bit of gritty fantasy...and thanks for another last look at paz...i hope you are doing better hedge...def miss seeing you. smiles.

  3. I already thanked you for the introduction to Octavio Paz, and you know I am a big fan of Crane. His style (or form, if you will, though it isn't really a form poem) in the poem you're featuring reminds me And also of you, in the kinds of ominous and unusual beings moving through the shadows of his poem.

    Both of these are excellent choices, Hedge!

  4. Oh, my. Thank you for both poems. The Crane is stunning and alarming at once. The Paz is breathtaking ("throb, oh portioned star").

  5. "Neither dreams peopled with broken images,
    nor delirium and its prophetic foam,
    nor love with its teeth and claws, suffices.
    Beyond us,
    on the frontiers of being and time,
    a greater life than life beckons us."

    Paz is making me cry today, tired and sore as I am, and I wish I knew more about you. I'll check in on Stephen Crane another time.

    1. Sorry to hear you are tired and sore, Susan. Rest up, and thanks for coming by. This is one of my favorite poems.(And now you know more about me. ;-) )

  6. Treats for the senses, both of these. But, damn, I am missing your poems!

    1. Thank you Lydia. That's one of the nicest things anyone's said to me lately. Hopefully when the drugs wear off, the words will be back.

  7. OOh, that beginning is strong. (And ending.)

    Yes, I am missing your poems too and your general presence. Hope you feel better soon. k.

    1. Thanks, k. Slowly getting more human-feeling. I should be back by OLN Tuesday, I'm hoping.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats