More Found Poems


a huge moth-like thing

fluttering round the sun for its candle
likely to be eventually drawn into it
and consumed so that the velocity
changed into heat may cause
the extinction of the human race
due around 1897 says George Sturt
reading about the prediction which
brought on a feeling—a distinct sense
of desolation & a temptation to resort
to some sort of teleology—to postulate
a purpose to be served by human life

at which point the delusion of size
crept into his mind: what could
so large an affair as this comet
consorting with the sun possibly care about us?

size & magnitude may be only appearance—
a finite thing compared with life—
the Being that lies behind
all impressions and sensations
and just as the soil they are rooted in
may well exist apart from them
unconcerned with our bodies
and with Magnitude   Weight   Force
and the like that offer no way out of the problem
which is concerned with the continuance
of this sort of life that I love so much

I wasted more thought over this
(says George Sturt from his sick bed
windows all frozen over like they used to be)
than as if I had been able to get out
and see the sky…
a couple of days later
he thought again of the comet—
fancied the catastrophe over—
himself alone with a few friends
by some chance surviving
the remainder of humankind quite gone:

it was strange how empty
dull & purposeless the new life
presented itself as—no possible interest:
unwittingly never before so secluded
misanthropic…   it would seem
we live with and for one another—
for the race mainly

reading Whitman between whiles
(continues George Sturt) I stir the fire
and open passages for the air beneath—
I see in this action
a type and example of the way
to make life burn clear & freely

1897 came and went…

(After George Sturt: Journals November 28th/30th 1890)

*

between the processes

of mind & body
I think there is more than a resemblance—
a real connection;
an attitude of mind

you may stand expectant
for impressions as a lookout on a ship
as a cricketer fielding
and you may choose
whether you shall receive
pleasure from good
or digust from evil
but most of all you may determine
not to feel cold and not even to feel
the determination in bracing the mind
to enjoy its rigour

the knees stiffen up
the loins erect themselves
and shoulders throw back
and you don’t shiver
almost by instinct

I conceive a constant rivalry
and emulation (never a conflict)
between soul & body—
in the cleanness of thought and its vigour
and cleanness of blood & tissue
in straightness of back & of character
in the fearlessness of sight
the sensitiveness of nerve & feeling
the suppleness of limb
and readiness of senses
to work the soul’s bidding

when the soul is alert
one should not hamper it with sloth
in an easy chair

After George Sturt: Journals

*
the mind is too much trodden

—it is a paved highway for affairs
but do I make the most of
every protected or untouched interval?

I have hardly got this day as part of me
but have shivered in its shadow—
a day like this may yield music

but the soul must be very fine strung
to respond to its faint harmonies—who knows
but that it might offer the best of all?

After George Sturt: Journals, 1st December 1890
3rd December 2012 at Benslow

*

a very dark night

no wind     church bells dinning
and myself chill
and afraid of the misty evening—

little time & energy to cultivate the day;
I feel I have subtracted one day
from Vitality and added it to my years

life is a pyramid
whose base is Vitality
and whose apex should be cloudless

After George Sturt: Journals, 1st December 1890
3rd December 2012 at Benslow

*

REFLECTIONS ON ELIAS CANETTI: CROWDS & POWER

I

we petrify

& darken in the distances
we create; we drag at the burden
of them; we forget
that we choose distance
while longing for its annihilation

but whatever we do—however determined
we imagine ourselves to be—
we always find ourselves
among those who thwart our efforts
by holding fast to their own distances

so then we seek a crowd
in which to free ourselves of the burden
of distance—throw distinctions off
in a density where body presses against body
or so we imagine—crowd   club   association

the invented equality is all illusion—
we return to our separate houses
lie down in our own bedrooms    keep
possessions & names which divide—
a different association could be a Crowd-Crystal

*

the crowd

particularly likes destroying
houses & objects;   likes breaking things
such as window panes    mirrors
pictures & crockery

is it the very fragility of these objects
that stimulates the crowd’s destructive
tendencies?    for sure
the noise of destruction adds

a certain something to the crowd’s
sense of black joy—the banging of windows
and the crashing of glass are the robust sounds
of fresh life          the cries of something new-born

easily evoked with increasing popularity—
everything shouts together: the din
is the applause of objects—
the din is the applause of objects

the destruction of the statues of saints
the knocking off of their noses
the toppling of representational hierarchies
is the violation of visible & tangible distances

that seem to have existed forever—
solid upright unmovable; never before
possible to approach with hostile intent
as the crowd discharges its purpose

an attack on boundaries and a transcending
of individual limits; an earthenware pot
irritates because it is all boundary;
the closed house-door irritates…

3 thoughts on “More Found Poems

  1. Reading these new poems early in the morning, just before heading off to my weekly yoga class. What a perfect time to contemplate these lines from “the mind is too much trodden” –

    a day like this may yield music
    but the soul must be very fine strung
    to respond to its faint harmonies—who knows
    but that it might offer the best of all?

    Thanks for such an inspiring start to my day, Colin! I will be listening for those faint harmonies ….

    Tom

    Like

  2. Again Colin, your poems take me on a journey that continues the conversation.

    In the first poem of this collection (the focus here) Blundell joins in and picks up George Sturt’s musings (conversations) about “the extinction of the human race” (5). He begins with, “a huge moth-like thing” that brightens the poem’s form and its found content. This portentous image claims an allegorical position at the top of this five poem collection. Through line and stanza, prosody and craft, this “moth-thing” wings its way, giving both the speaker and Sturt’s distant voice, a field to co-exist and listen closely to “its faint harmonies.”

    The opening poem, “a huge moth-like thing” and its meditative lines like, “size & magnitude may be only appearance – / a finite thing compared with life – / the Being that lies behind/ all impressions and sensation” (16-19) serve the found poem’s inner-working of proportion, imagination, isolation, along with man’s existential confusion inherent in the idea of accidents, cosmic & otherwise ; in their weight and dimension to our expertise at believing in any old thing, but as the poem reminds us, “I wasted more thought over this” (26), “then as if I had been able to get out/ and see the sky (29-30). Strut’s resignation isn’t wasted on the speaker 115 yrs. later, the same “moth-like thing” a few lines down isn’t as shadowy, as harmful, or as forceful.

    Blundell’s conversational tones in lines like, “it was strange how empty/ dull & purposeless the new life/ presented itself as – no possible interest” (37-39) are deceptively subtle and casual, as if he were talking to a neighbor. The language shifts between large scary things and the good sense of “it would seem/ we live with and for one another – / for the race mainly” (41-43) evoke the Transcendental movement.

    It’s not much of a leap to envision Sturt’s own soulful journals and Emerson’s magnificent essays sitting next to one another on any book shelf, just as Blundell’s poems in this collection rub shoulders with some of Sturt’s Wheelwright Shop’s turnings and inscape.

    The poem calls for a gathering of these artists & craftsmen in the last stanza where the speaker pulls out from a nearby table (or from a shelf of some type) something from Whitman. This accidental action proposes a different weight and balance to ‘things’ where, “the straightness of back & of character” collide not out of some chaotic winged thing unbalanced and uncaring, but from the same lawful events as “a huge moth-like thing”

    This Time outfitted with purpose, vitality, “and open passages for the air beneath – / I see in this action/ a type and example of the way/ to make life burn clear & freely” (46-49).
    Beautiful Colin!

    Like

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