A BOOK OF POETIC EXPERIMENTS
ANNE KNISH AND EMANUEL MORGAN
NEW YORK MITCHELL KENNERLEY 1916
COPYRIGHT 1916 BY MITCHELL KENNERLEY
PRINTED IN AMERICA
PAGE To Remy de Gourmont (Emanuel Morgan) vii Preface (Anne Knish) ix
SPECTRA BY EMANUEL MORGAN OPUS PAGE 1 Drums 53 2 Hope 14 6 If I Were Only Dafter 56 7 A Bunch of Grapes 8 9 Frogs' Legs on a Plate 57 13 A Peacock-Feather 11 14 I Had Put Out My Leaves 51 15 Despair Comes 6 16 The Guillotine 20 17 Needles and Pins 46 29 Knives 31 31 Thank God that We Can Laugh 27 40 Two Cocktails Round a Smile 35 41 Spectres 2 45 The Locust-Tree 49 46 No Other Angle 40 47 Giver of Bribes in the Brightness of Morning 37 55 The Impossible 43 62 Three Little Creatures 16 63 Spears 23 78 I Am Beset 63 79 Only Lovers 66 101 The Piano 61 104 Madagascar 59
SPECTRA BY ANNE KNISH OPUS PAGE 1 The Seconds Bob By 41 40 I Have not Written—That You May Read 26 50 The Piano Lives in a Dusk 1 67 I Would Not in the Early Morning 10 76 Years Are Nothing 4 80 Oh, My Little House of Glass 52 88 So We Came Back Again 36 96 You Are the Delphic Oracle 33 118 If Bathing Were a Virtue 7 122 Upstairs There Lies a Sodden Thing 39 126 His Eyes 12 131 I Am Weary 18 134 Listen, My Friend 21 135 In a Tomb of Argolis 64 150 Sounds 29 151 Candle, Candle 15 181 Skeptical Cat 62 182 He's the Remnant of a Suit 60 187 I Do Not Know Very Much 58 191 The Black Bark of a Dog 48 195 Her Soul Was Freckled 55 200 If I Should Enter to his Chamber 45
TO REMY DE GOURMONT
POET, a wreath!— No matter how we had combined our flowers, You would have worn them—being ours. . . . On you, on them, the showers— O roots beneath! EMANUEL MORGAN.
THIS volume is the first compilation of the recent experiments in Spectra. It is the aim of the Spectric group to push the possibilities of poetic expression into a new region,—to attain a fresh brilliance of impression by a method not so wholly different from the methods of Futurist Painting.
An explanation of the term "Spectric" will indicate something of the nature of the technique which it describes. "Spectric" has, in this connection, three separate but closely related meanings. In the first place, it speaks, to the mind, of that process of diffraction by which are disarticulated the several colored and other rays of which light is composed. It indicates our feeling that the theme of a poem is to be regarded as a prism, upon which the colorless white light of infinite existence falls and is broken up into glowing, beautiful, and intelligible hues. In its second sense, the term Spectric relates to the reflex vibrations of physical sight, and suggests the luminous appearance which is seen after exposure of the eye to intense light, and, by analogy, the after-colors of the poet's initial vision. In its third sense, Spectric connotes the overtones, adumbrations, or spectres which for the poet haunt all objects both of the seen and the unseen world,—those shadowy projections, sometimes grotesque, which, hovering around the real, give to the real its full ideal significance and its poetic worth. These spectres are the manifold spell and true essence of objects,—like the magic that would inevitably encircle a mirror from the hand of Helen of Troy.
Just as the colors of the rainbow recombine into a white light,—just as the reflex of the eye's picture vividly haunts sleep,—just as the ghosts which surround reality are the vital part of that existence,—so may the Spectric vision, if successful, synthesize, prolong, and at the same time multiply the emotional images of the reader. The rays which the poet has dissociated into colorful beauty should recombine in the reader's brain into a new intensity of unified brilliance. The reflex of the poet's sight should sustain the original perception with a haunting keenness. The insubstantiality of the poet's spectres should touch with a tremulous vibrancy of ultimate fact the reader's sense of the immediate theme.
If the Spectrist wishes to describe a landscape, he will not attempt a map, but will put down those winged emotions, those fantastic analogies, which the real scene awakens in his own mind. In practice this will be found to be the vividest of all modes of communication, as the touch of hands quickens a mere exchange of names.
It may be noted that to Spectra, to these reflected experiences of life, as we perceive them, adheres often a tinge of humor. Occidental art, in contrast to art in the Orient, has until lately been afraid of the flash of humor in its serious works. But a growing acquaintance with Chinese painting is surely liberating in our poets and painters a happy sense of the disproportion of man to his assumed place in the universe, a sense of the tortuous grotesque vanity of the individual. By this weapon, man helps defend his intuition of the Absolute and of his own obscure but real relation to it.
The Spectric method is as yet in its infancy; and the poems that follow are only experimental efforts toward the desired end. Among them, the most obvious illustrations of the method are perhaps Opus 41 by Emanuel Morgan and Opus 76 by Anne Knish.
Emanuel Morgan, with whom the Spectric theory originated, has found the best expression of his genius in regular metrical forms and rhyme. Anne Knish, on the other hand, has used only free verse. We wish to make it clear that the Spectric manner does hot necessitate the employment of either of these metrical systems to the exclusion of the other.
Although the members of our group would by no means attempt to establish a claim as actual inventors of the Spectric method, yet we can justifiably say that we have for the first time used the method consciously and consistently, and formulated its possibilities by means of elaborate experiment. Among recent poets in English, we have noted few who can be regarded in a sure sense as Spectrists. ANNE KNISH.
ANNE KNISH Opus 50
THE piano lives in a dusk Where rich amber lights Quiver obscurely.
It exists only at twilight; And somewhere afar In the depths of a tropic forest The sun is now setting, and the phoenix looks Mysteriously toward the gold.
I think I must have been born in such a forest, Or in the tangle of a Chinese screen.
There is indigo in this music; This dusk is filled with amber lights; Through the tangled evening of heavy flower-scents Come footfalls That surely I can almost remember.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 41
SPECTRES came dancing up the wind, Trailing down the long grass, Shooting high, undisciplined, To join the sun and see you pass . . . The colors of the pointed glass.
Under a willow-maze you went Unsaddened . . . But a violet beam Fell on the white face, backward bent, Of a body in a stream.
Into the sun you came again, With sun-red light your feet were shod . . . And round you stood a ring of feathered men With naked arms acknowledging a god.
Indigo-birds and squirrels on a tree And orioles flashed in and out . . . The yellow outline of Eurydice Waited for Orpheus in a black redoubt
With a beaded fern you waved away a gnat . . . And maidens, hung with vivid beads of green, One of them bearing in her arms an orange cat, Held palms about a queen.
Then you were lost to sight And locking trees became the clouds of you, Till you emerged, the moon upon your shoulder, and the night Bloomed blue.
ANNE KNISH Opus 76
YEARS are nothing; Days alone count; These, and the nights. I have seen the grey stars marching, And the green bubbles in wine, And there are Gothic vaults of sleep.
My cathedral Has one great spire Tawny in the sunlight. Gargoyles haunt its nave; High up amid its dark-arches Forgotten songs live shadowy. Gold and sardonyx Deck its altars. Its mighty roof Is copper rivering with the rain.
Tomorrow lightning swords will come And thunder of cannon. They will unrivet this roof Of mighty copper. Before the eyes of my gargoyles, In the sound of my forgotten songs, They will take it. And as the rain sluices down I shall have to follow my roof into the war.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 15
DESPAIR comes when all comedy Is tame And there is left no tragedy In any name, When die round and wounded breathing Of love upon the breast Is not so glad a sheathing As an old brown vest.
Asparagus is feathery and tall, And the hose lies rotting by the garden-wall.
ANNE KNISH Opus 118
IF bathing were a virtue, not a lust, I would be dirtiest.
To some, housecleaning is a holy rite. For myself, houses would be empty But for the golden motes dancing in sunbeams.
Tax-assessors frequently overlook valuables. Today they noted my jade. But my memory of you escaped them.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 7
BEYOND her lips in the dark are a man's feet Composed and dead . . . In the light between her lips is a moving tongue-rip sweet, Red.
Her arms are his white robes, They cover a king, His ornaments her crescent lobes And two moons on a string.
Sheba, Sheba, Proserpina, Salome, See, I am come!—king, god, saint!— With the stone of a volcano O show that you know me, Pound till the true blood pricks through the paint!
Twitch of the dead man's feet if he remembers A bunch of grapes and a ripped-open gown.— And the live man's eyes are night after embers, Two black spots on a white-faced down . . .
And in the dawn, lava . . . rolling down . . . Down-rolling lava on an up-pointing town.
ANNE KNISH Opus 67
I WOULD not in the early morning Start my mind on its inevitable journey Toward the East. There are white domes somewhere Under that blue enameled sky, white domes, white domes; Therefore even the cream Is safest yellow. Cream is better than lemon In tea at breakfast I think of tigers as eating lemons. Thank God this tea comes from the green grocer, Not from Ceylon.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 13
O PEACOCK-FEATHER Drawn through a death-dim hole, With colors blurred together, Persian pattern of a soul—
Is it enough to have belonged To the exaltation of a bird Round whom they thronged Each time her high tail stirred?
. . . I loved a woman whose two eyes, One blue, one gray, Would block Like cliffs my foothold in the skies . . . She is dead, they say— Dead as a peacock.
ANNE KNISH Opus 126
HIS eyes Are the resurrection. Once when beneath the moonrise They looked into mine, Grey mists held mastery between us, And I knew that his soul Had gone down into death. But tonight a golden star-dust Is pouring through space, And the mist is burned away by it. Tonight his soul awakens Out of its splendid cerements, And through his eyes the miracle Arises to the earth.
I have prayed long beside the tomb And touched the grave-cloths With living fingers. I have lain my breasts Against the granite Of the sarcophagus Where he was. Prayers for the dead I offered up And hecatombs.
Today there was a wonder in the sunrise. I knew that there were glories in the sky And new branches of willow on the earth. And my soul trembled with prophecy.
I prophesied The resurrection. Now it has come. And I lie shaken Before its tumult.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 2
HOPE Is the antelope Over the hills; Fear Is the wounded deer Bleeding in rills; Care Is the heavy bear Tearing at meat; Fun Is the mastodon Vanished complete . . .
And I am the stag with the golden horn Waiting till my day is born.
ANNE KNISH Opus 151
CANDLE, candle, Flicker and flow— I knew you once— But it was not long ago, it was
Last night. And you spoiled my otherwise bright evening.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 62
THREE little creatures gloomed across the floor And stood profound in front of me, And one was Faith, and one was Hope, And one was Charity.
Faith looked for what it could not find, Hope looked for what was lost, (Love looked and looked but Love was blind), Charity's eyes were crossed.
Then with a leap a single shape, With beauty on its chin, Brandished a little screaming ape . . . And each one, like a pin,
Fell to a pattern on the rug As flat as they could be— And died there comfortable and snug, Faith, Hope and Charity.
That shape, it was my shining soul Bludgeoning every sham . . . O little ape, be glad that I Can be the thing I am!
ANNE KNISH Opus 131
I AM weary of salmon dawns And of cinnamon sunsets; Silver-grey and iron-grey Of winter dusk and morn Torture me; and in the amethystine shadows Of snow, and in the mauve of curving clouds Some poison has dwelling.
Ivory on a fan of Venice, Black-pearl of a bowl of Japan, Prismatic lustres of Phoenician glass, Fawn-tinged embroideries from looms of Bagdad, The green of ancient bronze, cinereous tinge Of iron gods,— These, and the saffron of old cerements, Violet wine, Zebra-striped onyx, Are to me like the narrow walls of home To the land-locked sailor.
I must have fire-brands! I must have leaves! I must have sea-deeps!
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 16
DEATH on a cross was not the blade In Mary's heart . . . For the mother of man and the son of the maid Had walked one night apart, When his beard was not yet grown—and, afraid, She had seen his young words dart.
Between a mother and a son, The guillotine . . . It falls, it falls, and one by one, Unseeing and unseen, They face the great sharp shining ton That time has eaten green.
Between the shoulder and the head The guillotine must play And cleave with clash unmerited The generating day . . . Till the separated parts, not dead, Rise and walk away.
ANNE KNISH Opus 134
LISTEN, my friend, That you may understand me.—
In my earliest youth I dreamed in hues volcanic. I saw each day open Like a curtain of flame. Black slaves attended My waking moments; Three ebony slaves Washed sleep from my white body. Three ebony slaves Around my ivory smoothness Folded heavy robes Of crimson and white. And as I issued forth Into the blue vault of the daylight A grey ape pranced before me And a leopard crept behind.
This was the state Of my young heritage. Scarlet as the voice of trumpets Was the pageant of my days. Can I accept now The twilight? And soon the dark, where all colors Die?
Before I die, I will hold one last revel! I will have golden cups and poppy curtains!— And yet—
No! . . . In a black hall The black table shall spread far down before me And all the feasters garbed in black. Then, at the feast's height, I arising Shall with a gesture like the midnight Throw back my midnight robe and suddenly stand Naked, the sole white flame of the world.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 63
THE seven deathly spears of memory Setting behind a god, a golden glorious Halo of land and sea Even for you and me, Even for us . . .
The spear of Egypt, Orange, Through the sleeping lid, With all the power of the bulk of a pyramid.
The spear of Chile, Yellow, Through the thrilling cheek, With all the push of an upturned Andean peak.
The spear of Thibet, Violet, Through the eager hand, The thrust of the iron of a silent land.
The spear of the Ice-Poles, Green, Through the warm-breathing breast, The glacial east and the glacial west
The spear of Norway, Blue, Through the curved arm-pit, The cheerless sun majestic in a jagged slit.
The spear of India, Indigo, Through the holy side, A heaven-touching temple-roof down a mountain-slide.
The spear of Europe, Red, In the mouth's breath, The million-splintering scream of death . . .
Even to us, The seven-spearing sun, The sword of separation before our love is done; Even for us, A simian shape Throwing seven souls on the sea-wet cape; Even for us Who smile mouth to mouth, The full tornado from the seven-forked south; Even to us Who clasp with our knees, The scattering upheaval of the seven cold seas!
And this is as near as lovers ever come, Their words are dumb; This is as near as they have ever kissed, Their lips are ocean-mist.
Yet what avail the seven Spears of memory Against the obstinate archery Of light, the spears of heaven?
ANNE KNISH Opus 40
I HAVE not written, reader, That you may read. . . . They sit in rows in the bare school-room Reading. Throwing rocks at windows is better, And oh the tortoise-shell cat with the can tied on! I would rather be a can-tier Than a writer for readers.
I have written, reader, For abstruse reasons. Gold in the mine . . . Black water seeping into tunnels . . . A plank breaks, and the roof falls . . . Three men suffocated. The wife of one now works in a laundry; The wife of another has married a fat man; I forget about the third.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 31
THE night is growing deep with snow O put your hand in mine, While the mirthful secrets that we know Bloom in the fire-shine— Flakes falling with an undertow Of delicate design.
Hushed are the courts where ladies went Unquestioning to quaff Goblets of liquid firmament— Thank God that we can laugh!
Hushed are the plains where Asia poured The blood of peacock kings— But we can echo, thank the Lord, What the China teapot sings:
Nothing bereaves The eternal tune Of little crisp leaves Green in the moon.
The night is deeper still with snow . . . O let us never stir From the mirthful secrets that we know Of old diameter! Eve laughed at Adam long ago, And Adam laughed at her.
ANNE KNISH Opus 150
SOUNDS, pure sounds— Nothing— Vibrancies of the air— And yet—
This summer night There are crickets shrilling Beyond the deep bassoon of frogs. They cease for a moment As the rattling clangor Of the trolley Bumps by. I hear footsteps Hollow on the pavement Now deserted And blank of sound. They die. The crickets now are sleeping; Even the leaves Grow still.
And slowly Out of the blankness, out of the silence Emerges on soundless wings! The long sweet-sloping Rise and fall of far viol notes,— The mad Nirvana, The faint and spectral Dream-music Of my heart's desire.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 29
KNIVES for feet, and wheels for a chin, And the long smooth iron bore for a neck, And bullets for hands. . . . And the root runs in, The root of blood no stone can check, From the breasts of the grinding crash of sin, From engines hugging in a wreck.
A thousand round-red mouths of pain Blaring black, A twisting comrade on his back In a round-red stain, Clotted stalks of red sumac, Discs of the sun on a bayonet-stack . . .
Blood, flame, a cataract Thrown upward from a desert place: Flame and blood, the one blind fact, Contained, or spouting from the face, Or coiling out of bellies, packed In a stinking spent embrace . . .
Country, a babble of black spume . . . Faith, an eyeball in the sand . . . Mother, a nail through a broken hand— A kissing fume— And out of her breast the bloody bubbling milk-red breath Of death.
ANNE KNISH Opus 96
YOU are the Delphic Oracle Of the Under-World.
As we sit talking, All of us together, You flash forth sudden utterance Of buried things That writhe in obscure life Within our minds' last darkness. That which we think and say not You say and think not. In us these thoughts Like worms stir vilely. But from you they depart as sudden butterflies Crimson and green against the pure sky.
Many are the revelers; Few are the thyrsus-bearers; And sole is Dionysus.
This I inscribe to you, Singer, In memory of the crags of Delphi And the Thessalian vales beyond.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 40
TWO cocktails round a smile, A grapefruit after grace, Flowers in an aisle . . . Were your face.
A strap in a street-car, A sea-fan on the sand, A beer on a bar . . . Were your hand
The pillar of a porch, The tapering of an egg, The pine of a torch . . . Were your leg.—
Sun on the Hellespont, White swimmers in the bowl Of the baptismal font Are your soul.
ANNE KNISH Opus 88
SO we came back again After some years— Just revisiting The scenes of our sin. Nothing is there but the garden; And we had expected That we would be there.
I heard a wind blowing Down the sky. It came with heavy auguries And passed. There was a soothsayer once in Rome Who on a white altar Inspected the purple entrails of victims.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 47
GIVER of bribes in the brightness of morning, Cities have wavered and rocked and gone down . . . But the lamps of the altars hang round you, adorning The niche of your neck and the drift of your gown.
O bribe-giver, marked with purple metal— Cut in your naked contentment there shows On the curve of your breast one carven petal From heaven's impenetrable rose!
You open the window to myriad windows, The high triangular door of the world . . . Till the walls and the roofs and the curious keystone, The carven rose with its petals uncurled,
Are swayed in the swathe of the uppermost ether, Where stars are the columns upholding a dome, And the edifice rolls on a corner of ocean, Lifts on a wave, poises on foam . . .
We stand on the rose, we are images golden, We move interchanging, attaining one crest: One chin and one mouth and one nose and one forehead, One mouth and one chin and one neck and one breast . . .
I pull you apart from me, struggle to bind you, I free you, I rend you in seven great rays . . . And we cling to them all . . . but we lose them, and slowly— We slip with the rainbow down the blue bays.
ANNE KNISH Opus 122
UPSTAIRS there lies a sodden thing Sleeping. Soon it will come down And drink coffee. I shall have to smile at it across the table. How can I? For I know that at this moment It sleeps without a sign of life; it is as good as dead. I will not consort with reformed corpses, I the life-lover, I the abundant. I have known living only; I will not acknowledge kinship with death. White graves or black, linen or porphyry, Are all one to me. And yet, on the Lybian plains Where dust is blown, A king once Built of baked clay and bulls of bronze A tomb that makes me waver.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 46
I ONLY know that you are given me For my delight. No other angle finishes my soul But you, you white.
I know that I am given you, Black whirl to white, To lift the seven colors up . . . Focus of light!
ANNE KNISH Opus 1
REITERATION! . . .
The seconds bob by, So many, so many, Each ugly in its own way As raw meats are all ugly. Why do we feed on the dead? Or would at least it were with cries and lust Of slaying our human food Beneath a cannibal sun! But these old corpses of alien creatures! . . . I loathe them! And too many heads go by the window, All alien— Filers of saws, doubtless, Or lechers Or Sabbath-keepers. Morality comes from God. He was busy. He forgot to make beauty. Why does he not call back into their hen-house This ugly straggling flock of seconds That trail by With pin-feathers showing?
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 55
WHY ask it of me?—the impossible!— Shall I pick up the lightning in my hand? Have I not given homages too well For words to understand?—
Words take you from me, bring you back again, Dance in our presence, cover your proud face With the incredible counterpane, Break our embrace . . .
No, not to you Your wish, But to some kangaroo Or cuttle-fish
Or octopus or eagle or tarantula Or elephant or dove Or some peninsula Let me speak love—
Or call some battle or some temple-bell Or many-curving pine Or some cool truth-containing well Or thin cathedral—mine!
ANNE KNISH Opus 200
IF I should enter to his chamber And suddenly touch him, Would he fade to a thin mist, Or glow into a fire-ball, Or burst like a punctured light-globe? It is impossible that he would merely yawn and rub And say—"What is it?"
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 17
MAN-THUNDER, woman-lightning, Rumble, gleam; Refusal, Scream.
Needles and pins of pain All pointed the same way; Parellel lines of pain When the lips are gray And know not what they say: Rain, Rain.
But after the whirl of fright And great shouts and flashes, The pounding clashes And deep slashes, After the scattered ashes
Of the night, Heaven's height Abashes With a gleam through unknown lashes Of delicious points of light.
ANNE KNISH Opus 191
THE black bark of a dog Made patterns against the night. And little leaves flute-noted across the moon.
I seemed to feel your soft looks Steal across that quiet evening room Where once our souls spoke, long ago.
For that was of a vastness; And this night is of a vastness . . .
There was a dog-bark then— It was the sound Of my rebellious and incredulous heart Its patterns twined about the stars And drew them down And devoured them.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 45
AN angel, bringing incense, prays Forever in that tree . . . I go blind still when the locust sways Those honey-domes for me.
All the fragrances of dew, O angel, are there, The myrrhic rapture of young hair, The lips of lust; And all the stenches of dust, Even the palm and the fingers of a hand burnt bare With a curling sweet-smelling crust, And the bitter staleness of old hair, Powder on a withering bust . . .
The moon came through the window to our bed. And the shadows of the locust-tree On your white sweet body made of me, Of my lips, a drunken bee. . . . O tree-like Spring, O blossoming days, I, who some day shall be dead, Shall have ever a lover to sway with me. For when my face decays And the earth moulds in my nostrils, shall there not be The breath therein of a locust-tree, The seed, the shoot of a locust-tree, The honey-domes of a locust-tree, Till lovers go blind and sway with me?—
O tree-like Spring, O blossomy days, To sway as long as the locust sways!
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 14
BESIDE the brink of dream I had put out my willow-roots and leaves As by a stream Too narrow for the invading greaves Of Rome in her trireme . . . Then you came—like a scream Of beeves.
ANNE KNISH Opus 80
OH my little house of glass! How carefully I have planted shrubbery To plume before your transparency. Light is too amorous of you, Transfusing through and through Your panes with an effulgence never new. Sometimes I am terribly tempted To throw the stones myself.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 1
THEY enter with long trailing of shadowy cloth, And each with one hand praying in the air, And the softness of their garments is the grayness of a moth— The lost and broken night-moth of despair.
And they keep a wounded distance With following bare feet, A distance Isadoran— And the dark moons beat Their drums.
More desolate than they are Isadora stands, The blaze of the sun on her grief; The stars of a willow are in both her hands, And her heart is the shape of a leaf.
And they come to her for comfort And her black-thrown hair Is a harp of consolation Singing anthems in the air.
With the dark she wrestles, daring alone, Though their young arms would aid; Her body wreathes and brightens, never thrown, Unvanquished, unafraid . . .
Till light comes leaping On little children's feet, Comes leaping Isadoran— And the white stars beat Their drums.
ANNE KNISH Opus 195
HER soul was freckled Like the bald head Of a jaundiced Jewish banker. Her fair and featurous face Writhed like An albino boa-constrictor. She thought she resembled the Mona Lisa. This demonstrates the futility of thinking.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 6
IF I were only dafter I might be making hymns To the liquor of your laughter And the lacquer of your limbs.
But you turn across the table A telescope of eyes. And it lights a Russian sable Running circles in the skies. . . .
Till I go running after, Obeying all your whims— For the liquor of your laughter And the lacquer of your limbs.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 9
WHEN frogs' legs on a plate are brought to me As though I were divinity in France, I feel as God would feel were He to see Imperial Russians dance.
These people's thoughts and gestures and concerns Move like a Russian ballet made of eggs; A bright-smirched canvas heaven heaves and burns Above their arms and legs.
Society hops this way and that, well-taught; But while I watch, in cloudy state, I feel as God would feel if he were brought Frogs' legs on a plate.
ANNE KNISH Opus 187
I DO not know very much, But I know this— That the storms of contempt that sweep over us, Ready to blast any edifice before then Rise from the fathomless maelstrom Of contempt for ourselves. If there be a god, May he preserve me From striking with these lightnings Those whom I love.
Saying which, Zarathustra strolled on Down Fifth Avenue.
The last three lines Are symptomatic.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 104
HOW terrible to entertain a lunatic! To keep his earnestness from coming close!
A Madagascar land-crab once Lifted blue claws at me And rattled long black eyes That would have got me Had I not been gay.
ANNE KNISH Opus 182
"HE'S the remnant of a suit that has been drowned; That's what decided me," said Clarice. "And so I married him, I really wanted a merman; And this slimy quality in him Won me. No one forbade the banns. Ergo—will you love me?"
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 101
HE not only plays One note But holds another note Away from it— As a lover Lifts A waft of hair From loved eyes.
The piano shivers, When he touches it, And the leg shines.
ANNE KNISH Opus 181
SKEPTICAL cat, Calm your eyes, and come to me. For long ago, in some palmed forest, I too felt claws curling Within my fingers . . . Moons wax and wane; My eyes, too, once narrowed and widened Why do you shrink back? Come to me: let me pat you— Come, vast-eyed one . . . Or I will spring upon you And with steel-hook fingers Tear you limb from limb. . . .
There were twins in my cradle. . . .
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 78
I AM beset by liking so many people. What can I do but hide my face away?— Lest, looking up in love, I see no eyes or lids In the gleaming whirl of day, Lest, reaching for the fingers of love, I know not which are they, Lest the dear-lipped multitude, Kissing me, choke me dead!—
O green eyes in the breakers, White heave unquieted, What can I do but dive again, again—again— To hide my head!
ANNE KNISH Opus 135
IN a tomb of Argolis, Under an arch of great stones, Where my eyes were sightless, groping, I touched this figment of clay.
Forgotten vase of immemorial Greece, Colorless form! I have entered to the blind dark Of the tomb where you have slept forever And with the dreams of my importunate hands I touch you in the profound darkness.
You are cold and estranged; Yet the ends of my fingers cling to your porous surface. You are thin and very tall; My palm can cover your mouth. Your lip curves but a little; Around your throat My two hands meet, And then part as I follow the swelling Rhythm that downward widens, And I pass around and under, And the returning line Ebbs home.
Beneath your feet I touch cold marble; My hand returns To sleep upon your breast Dreaming it warm.
EMANUEL MORGAN Opus 79
ONLY the wise can see me in the mist, For only lovers know that I am here After his piping, shall the organist Be portly and appear?
Pew after pew, Wave after wave . . . Shall the digger dig and then undo His own dear grave?
Hear me in the playing Of a big brass band . . . See me, straying With children hand in hand . . .
Smell me, a dead fish . . . Taste me, a rotten tree. . . . Someday touch me, all you wish, In the wide sea.