Monday, July 4, 2011

Patrick James Dunagan and Wordsworth

On this Independence Day when many marshal their meager intellectual and emotional resources to enthrall us with their notions of patriotism and county, Patrick Dunagan, a San Francisco poet, scholar and seer-of-visions-which-need-no-addition, finds the country for himself, outside even the thrall of literary eloquence and and tradition, directly responding to the same poem James Cervantes found usefully apposed to Mr. Bondo on the second of this month. Dunagan's view of the city as a possible "sight [site] . . . touching in its majesty" is similar to that of Cervantes, but no alternate is opposed. After all, we're in the district of the urban, and Dunagan is "anti-pastoralizing" Milton's fields and pipes and sheep (and not just with an Et in Arcady); nowhere other is even suggested unless the reference to Chaucer implies a state of a pre-Miltonic, truer idealism. Yet there remains a residual romanticism (something is "bleeding through"), or a more ancient and apt idealism, or a sensibility/state so powerful it tempers the sight [site] of mindless urban existence since  through the entire district word-weave echoes Milton's serenity and the cadence of emotions cadance  rides Wordsworth's musical pulse. Though faded and dearly ironic (as well as hauntingly lovely), Dunagan's music ends with an image of marginalized faces on the silent screen of anger. Happy 4th!

Milton’s District
       --Patrick James Dunagan

Nymphs and shepherds dance no more
the wind chills where the sun warms
Nicholas Nickleby never to be read
champagne on a Sunday awakens
for fate’s a rub down, best bring the oils up
jaguar breath, fingered blister, clipped hoof.
Southampton memoirs color 16th St station
ask not a kid to grasp the reasoning.
Never to taste lips Chaucer’s met
last in line, the previous night’s sorrow turns.
Ah, it's then anger raises a weary head
post-Anglo tradition colors the face
Guerrero, Valencia, Mission; tonight at rest.

(let's say "composed" September 3, 2002)


Composed upon Westminster Bridge, September 3, 1802
                                                           --William Wordsworth

Earth has not any thing to show more fair:
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This City now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres, and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky;
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
Never did sun more beautifully steep
In his first splendour, valley, rock, or hill;
Ne'er saw I, never felt, a calm so deep!
The river glideth at his own sweet will:
Dear God! the very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still!


Patrick James Dunagan lives in San Francisco. His new book, There are people who think painters shouldn’t talk: A GUSTONBOOK (Post-Apollo, 2011),
is a workman’s notebook of sorts sketched out in response to years spent contemplating the work and life of Philip Guston. Other recent writings of his include an essay on Creeley and Stevens in Fulcrum 7 and an imagined dialogue between Blake and Olson in Wild Orchids 3, along with poems and book reviews in the likes of: Amerarcana, Barzakh, Big Bell, The Critical Flame, Galatea Resurrects, House Organ, ON, The Poetry Project Newsletter, Polis, Rain Taxi, and Vanitas. Recent chapbooks include: from Chansonniers (Blue Press, 2008), Spirit Guest & Others (Lew Gallery Editions, 2009), Easy Eden w/ Micah Ballard (PUSH, 2009) and her friends down at the french cafe had no english words for me (PUSH, 2010). In addition to his own poems and book reviews, he’s currently working with Persian poet Ava Koohbor assisting in translating her work from Farsi.


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