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Blake: "O Rose thou art sick!"



             I  missed  Charles  Olson's  visit.  (I  heard  from  my  friend  Tom  Hanna  that  Olson
             lamented the vanishing of the concept of Rhea--an important theme in his work.
             One of the professors said, "Oh, we have it in one word: diarrhea.") The writers I
             was reading influenced my verse, surely, but they could not push me forward, as
             Olson's work was to do some years later. At Cornell, I had no sense of  direction.
             The closest I was able to come to such a sense was in something I wrote myself, a
             poem  called  "Orpheus"  which  was  eventually  published  in  The  Beloit  Poetry
             Journal in 1970, about eight years after it was written. The poem was influenced by
             Pound- particularly  by  "Moeurs  Contemporaines"  and  "Mauberly,"  with  their
             fragmented  sections.  Except  for  the  opening  lines,  written  as  part  of  an  earlier
             poem, it came all of a sudden, in a tremendous burst. It was as if the original poem
             suddenly  decided  to  change  direction  and  take  on  a  life  of  its  own.  The  central
             sections,  including  the  somewhat  homophobic  lines  about  Whitman,  were  a

             deliberate  echo  of  Lorca's  Poet  In  New  York  and  "Lament  for  Ignacio  Sánchez
             Mejías":

              Walt Whitman walks on the harbor, watching          Garcia Lorca chants Walt Whitman—
              seagulls scatter, his beard full of lice.                      Orpheus in the saddle,
              There he goes with his body electric,                          his beautiful eyes are
              chanting his chansons in the morning,               gleaming.
                                                             never shaving.             Never will there be an
                                                                  Andalusian
              Walt eyes the sailors, with their bodies electric,             as handsome as he.
              electric to him, Walt Whitman,
              chanting his chants in the morning,                            Now the worms eat him,
                                                             never shaving.             now the worms chew up

                                                                  Garcia Lorca


                                                                             shot in the head for political
                                                                  reasons.

















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