Sunday, July 10, 2011

Bill Lavender and Browning

Age is what happens if you're lucky, right? Or is one a "tattered coat upon a stick," as Yeats had it? Browning's paean to age* in the persona poem below easily (too easily) rides the puffy clouds of belief. Lavender simply steps back and looks. The branches may be rooted in the stars, or the roots may branch through the chthonic blind alleys below. Lavender cooly notes the correspondence.

*I named my son Benjamin Ezra after both Pound and one of his favorite Victorians. Ben had me read several stanza of this poem at his wedding. The paean to age became an epithelium! (And Zara, the product of that union graced my home not 24 hours ago along with her cousin Wilgus, my first grandchild. She was contemplative, quiet and pleasant. Wilgus was wild and happy, when not confused after naps.Wow.)

["When a tree sheds"]
               --Bill Lavender

When the tree shreds
its leaves in the fall
the limbs begin
to resemble the root
thus also
the man in his autumn


from "Rabbi Ben Ezra"
                       --Robert Browning

Grow old along with me! 
The best is yet to be, 
The last of life, for which the first was made: 
Our times are in his hand 
Who saith, "A whole I planned,
Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!"

. . .

Poor vaunt of life indeed, 
Were man but formed to feed
On joy, to solely seek and find a feast: 
Such feasting ended, then 
As sure an end to men; 
Irks care the crop-full bird? Frets doubt the maw-crammed beast?

. . .  

For pleasant is this flesh;
Our soul, in its rose-mesh
Pulled ever to the earth, still yearns for rest: 
Would we some prize might hold 
To match those manifold
Possessions of the brute, --gain most, as we did best!

. . . 

What though the earlier grooves, 
Which ran the laughing loves
Around thy base, no longer pause and press? 
What though, about thy rim, 
Skull-things in order grim 
Grow out, in graver mood, obey the sterner stress?


Bio with links.

Bill Lavender began Lavender Ink in 1998; since then he has published 24 books and chapbooks. He is now the Director of University of New Orleans Press as well. His own most recent book of poetry is A Field Guide to Trees, recently published by Foothills. Memory Wing, his epic memoir in verse, is forthcoming from Black Widow in late 2011. Transfixion was published in 2009 by Trembling Pillow and Garret County Presses. Poems from this book have been published online in E*Ratio and Fieralingua, and in print in YAWP, Fell Swoop, and Prairie Schooner. Books also include I of the Storm (Trembling Pillow 2006), While Sleeping (Chax Press 2004), look the universe is dreaming (Potes and Poets 2002), and Guest Chain (Lavender Ink 1999). He is currently editing a volume of creative responses to Arakawa and Gins, has been a guest editor at Exquisite Corpse and Big Bridge, and has edited an anthology, Another South: Experimental Writing in the South, from University of Alabama Press (2003). His poetry and essays have appeared in numerous print magazines including Praire Schooner, Jubilat, New Orleans Review, Gulf Coast Review, Skanky Possum, YAWP, and Fell Swoop, and web publications including Exquisite Corpse, E•ratio, CanWeHaveOurBallBack, Moria, Big Bridge, and Nolafugees. He has published scholarship in Poetics Today and Contemporary Literature.

No comments:

Post a Comment