Additional Readings

TU, 12/7: Free Verse II

Michael Palmer, “Sun”
May Swenson, “Bleeding”
Nathaniel Mackey, “Sound and Cerement”


TUE, 11/30: Sestina and Villanelle

W.H. Auden
from The Sea and the Mirror: A Commentary on Shakespeare’s The Tempest


My Dear One is mine as mirrors are lonely,
As the poor and sad are real to the good king,
And the high green hill sits always by the sea.

Up jumped the Black Man behind the elder tree,
Turned a somersault and ran away waving;
My Dear One is mine as mirrors are lonely.

The Witch gave a squawk; her venomous body
Melted into light as water leaves a spring
And the high green hill sits always by the sea.

At his crossroads, too, the Ancient prayed for me;
Down his wasted cheeks tears of joy were running:
My Dear One is mine as mirrors are lonely.

He kissed me awake, and no one was sorry;
The sun shone on sails, eyes, pebbles, anything,
And the high green hill sits always by the sea.

So, to remember our changing garden, we
Are linked as children in a circle dancing:
My Dear One is mine as mirrors are lonely,
And the high green hill sits always by the sea.

TUE, 11/16: The Greater Romantic Lyric

Lucy Larcom, “Wild Roses of Cape Ann”

John Ashbery
“The Instruction Manual”

As I sit looking out of a window of the building
I wish I did not have to write the instruction manual on the uses of a new metal.
I look down into the street and see people, each walking with an inner peace,
And envy them—they are so far away from me!
Not one of them has to worry about getting out this manual on schedule.
And, as my way is, I begin to dream, resting my elbows on the desk and leaning
   out of the window a little,
Of dim Guadalajara! City of rose-colored flowers!
City I wanted most to see, and most did not see, in Mexico!
But I fancy I see, under the press of having to write the instruction manual,
Your public square, city, with its elaborate little bandstand!
The band is playing Scheherazade by Rimsky-Korsakov.
Around stand the flower girls, handing out rose- and lemon-colored flowers,
Each attractive in her rose-and-blue striped dress (Oh! such shades of rose and blue),
And nearby is the little white booth where women in green serve you green and yellow
The couples are parading; everyone is in a holiday mood.
First, leading the parade, is a dapper fellow
Clothed in deep blue. On his head sits a white hat
And he wears a mustache, which has been trimmed for the occasion.
His dear one, his wife, is young and pretty; her shawl is rose, pink, and white.
Her slippers are patent leather, in the American fashion,
And she carries a fan, for she is modest, and does not want the crowd to see her face too
But everybody is so busy with his wife or loved one
I doubt they would notice the mustachioed man’s wife.
Here come the boys! They are skipping and throwing little things on the sidewalk
Which is made of gray tile. One of them, a little older, has a toothpick in his teeth.
He is silenter than the rest, and affects not to notice the pretty young girls in white.
But his friends notice them, and shout their jeers at the laughing girls.
Yet soon all this will cease, with the deepening of their years,
And love bring each to the parade grounds for another reason.
But I have lost sight of the young fellow with the toothpick.
Wait—there he is—on the other side of the bandstand,
Secluded from his friends, in earnest talk with a young girl
Of fourteen or fifteen. I try to hear what they are saying
But it seems they are just mumbling something—shy words of love, probably.
She is slightly taller than he, and looks quietly down into his sincere eyes.
She is wearing white. The breeze ruffles her long fine black hair against her olive cheek.
Obviously she is in love. The boy, the young boy with the toothpick, he is in love too;
His eyes show it. Turning from this couple,
I see there is an intermission in the concert.
The paraders are resting and sipping drinks through straws
(The drinks are dispensed from a large glass crock by a lady in dark blue),
And the musicians mingle among them, in their creamy white uniforms, and talk
About the weather, perhaps, or how their kids are doing at school.

Let us take this opportunity to tiptoe into one of the side streets.
Here you may see one of those white houses with green trim
That are so popular here. Look—I told you!
It is cool and dim inside, but the patio is sunny.
An old woman in gray sits there, fanning herself with a palm leaf fan.
She welcomes us to her patio, and offers us a cooling drink.
“My son is in Mexico City,” she says. “He would welcome you too
If he were here. But his job is with a bank there.
Look, here is a photograph of him.”
And a dark-skinned lad with pearly teeth grins out at us from the worn leather frame.
We thank her for her hospitality, for it is getting late
And we must catch a view of the city, before we leave, from a good high place.
That church tower will do—the faded pink one, there against the fierce blue of the sky. Slowly we enter.
The caretaker, an old man dressed in brown and gray, asks us how long we have been in the city, and how we like it here.
His daughter is scrubbing the steps—she nods to us as we pass into the tower.
Soon we have reached the top, and the whole network of the city extends before us.
There is the rich quarter, with its houses of pink and white, and its crumbling, leafy
There is the poorer quarter, its homes a deep blue.
There is the market, where men are selling hats and swatting flies
And there is the public library, painted several shades of pale green and beige.
Look! There is the square we just came from, with the promenaders.
There are fewer of them, now that the heat of the day has increased,
But the young boy and girl still lurk in the shadows of the bandstand.
And there is the home of the little old lady—
She is still sitting in the patio, fanning herself.
How limited, but how complete withal, has been our experience of Guadalajara!
We have seen young love, married love, and the love of an aged mother for her son.
We have heard the music, tasted the drinks, and looked at colored houses.
What more is there to do, except stay? And that we cannot do.
And as a last breeze freshens the top of the weathered old tower, I turn my
Back to the instruction manual which has made me dream of Guadalajara.


THU, 11/11: The Ode II  

Gerard Manly Hopkins, “The Wreck of the Deutschland”
Robert Lowell, “The Quaker Graveyard in Nantucket”


11/2: The Sonnet
Donald Justice

The wall surrounding them they never saw;
The angels, often. Angels were as common
As birds or butterflies, but looked more human.
As long as the wings were furled, they felt no awe.
Beats, too, were friendly. They could find no flaw
In all of Eden: this was the first omen.
The second was the dream which woke the woman:
She dreamed she saw the lion sharpen his claw.
As for the fruit, it had no taste at all.
They had been warned of what was bound to happen;
They had been told of something called the world;
They had been told and told about the wall.
They saw it now; the gate was standing open.
As they advanced, the giant wings unfurled.


10/26: The Ballad
Langston Hughes
“A Ballad of Negro History (So Much to Write About)”
Written especially for The Authors Association at the request of Dr. M.A. Majors, June, 1951.

There is so much to write about
In the Negro race.
On each page of history
Glows a dusky face.
Ancient Pharoahs come to mind
Away back in B.C.
Ethiopia’s jewelled hand
Writes a scroll for me.
It was a black man bore the Cross
For Christ at Calvary.
There is so much to write about
In the Negro race.
Though now of Ghana’s Empire
There remains no trace,
Once Africa’s great cultures
Lighted Europe’s dark
As Mandingo and Songhay
Cradled learning’s ark
Before the Moors crossed into Spain
To leave their mark.
There is so much to write about
In the Negro race.
Ere the ships of slavery sailed
The seas of dark disgrace,
Once Antar added
Winged words to poetry’s lore
And Juan Latino searched
The medieval heart’s deep core–
All this before black men in chains
At Jamestown were put ashore.
There is so much to write about
In the Negro race,
So many thrilling stories
Time cannot erase:
Crispus Attuck’s blow for freedom,
Denmark Vesey’s, too.
Sojourner Truth, Fred Douglass,
And the heroes John Brown knew–
Before the Union Armies gave
Black men proud uniforms of blue.
The Negro race
Began its mighty struggle
For a rightful place
In the making of America
To whose young land it gave
Booker T. and Carver–
Each genius born a slave–
Yet foreordained to greatness
On the crest of freedom’s wave.
Paul Laurence Dunbar
Penned his rhymes of lyric lace–
All the sadness and the humor
Of the Negro race.
To the words of colored Congressmen
The Halls of Congress rang.
Handy wrote the blues.
Williams and Walker sang.
Still on southern trees today
Dark bodies hang.
The story is one of struggle
For the Negro race–
But in spite of all the lynch ropes,
We’ve marched on to take our place:
Woodson, Negro History Week,
Du Bois, Johnson, Drew,
Cullen, Maynor, Bunche,
The cultural record grew.
Edith Sampson went around the world
To tell the nations what she knew–
And Josephine came home from France
To claim an equal chance
Through song and dance.
There is so much to write about
To sing about, to shout about
In the Negro race!
On each page of history
America sees my face–
On each page of history
We leave a shining trace–
On each page of history
   My race!
      My race!
         My race!


Click here for the text as well as an audio clip of Evie Shockley’s “ballad of bertie county.”


9/30: Character / Persona
John Yau
“I was a Poet in the House of Frankenstein”

Do you remember me as a spy
in a mythical European kingdom?
How about when I am a French Canadian trapper?
a role I play a number of times.
I kidnap Henrietta Barge. It isn’t the last time
I will commit such a dastardly act.
I belong to a band of marauders
presided over by the evil Mangua,
played by Wallace Beery.
I am the villain Ahmed Khan
and a villainous halfbreed
who abducts the heroine in a canoe.
The ruler of a fictitious Menang Island,
I order the wholesale massacre of the white settlers.
I live in Old Baghdad and make tents.
I become a maharajah and, once again,
I am a French Canadian trapper.
A Mexican halfbreed, a mate
on a rum smuggling ship,
an evil governor:
I am each of them and more.
During World War I, I am a scissors grinder in Vienna.
Both earlier and later, depending on the way
you tell time, I am a scurvy-looking
crew member of the pirate Jean Lafitte.
I continue being a Barbary pirate.
I am a deserving victim in a murder mystery.
My name is Blackie Blanchette: I rob railroads.
This is my card: Snipe Collins, fiendish crook.
I live among lion worshippers.
Usually, I am one of the main villains.
I disinter, smuggle, conspire,
I behead, betray, swallow,
I shoot, throttle, gasp.
I am the ship’s purser.
I live in swashbuckling New Orleans;
my name is Fleming.
The Vanishing Rider,
Vultures of the Sea.
In Burning the Wind,
I am a wicked ranch foreman
who carries off the heroine.
Hoot Gibson is the good guy.
I am Maurice Kent,
stewing in a cabin in the “northwoods.”
Small furry animals are part of the plot.
I once played a man named “Boris.”
I am a henchman, call me Cecil.
In the Charlie Chan murder mystery
Behind That Curtain,
my name is “Karlov.”
The first time I spoke on screen,
I was a Hindu servant.
The director of the film was Lionel Barrymore.
Instead of being the villain,
as everyone thought,
I am the heroine’s father.
I am a prison guard.
My boss is a sadistic overseer.
I star in Sea Bat.
Charles Bickford
manages to escape
Devil’s Island.
I play a villainous sheik
with a phony French accent
in a film about a young American
who escapes from an Indian prison.
I am a “trusty” who kills a “stool pigeon.”
I become a revolutionary
in the kingdom of El Dorania.
I sell dope, the stronger the better.
I am a crooked gambler
who tries to cheat a barber.
I am a crook’s cultured accomplice.
Will Rogers is a razorblade king from Oklahoma,
I am a sheik.
I work as a butler.
I am an unscrupulous newspaper
editor’s evil assistant.
A clubfoot man
who loves to dance,
I teach my son, Fedor,
who, of course, becomes famous
making me happy, scared, and jealous.
A madman kills me during the performance of a ballet.
I am a gangster, a beer baron.
I work as Lionel Barrymore’s orderly.
I try to hide on a yacht, but I am caught.
I am on the dirigible Los Angeles,
exploring the South Pole.
Many members of the team,
myself included, perish.
I am on the lam,
I hide, shiver, moan, and grunt.
I play the part of a prison warden,
and then I am lying on a table in a castle,
waiting to be born.
My name is Frankenstein,
and I am deathly afraid of fire.
I manage to become a waiter.
I work as an autopsy surgeon,
and I am malevolent.
I play myself, eating in a well-known restaurant.
My name is Nikko; I am a charlatan.
I pretend to be a faith healer.
I direct a narcotics ring.
In ancient Egypt,
I am a prince
who breaks into the tomb
where the princess I love
had been buried.
A brutish dumb
but homicidal butler.
I own a nightclub,
and wear no makeup.
I steal the mask of Genghis Khan
from the British Museum
in an attempt to start a “holy war.”
I am Dr. Fu Manchu,
both Chinese and sinister.
A torturer of the innocent.
I am both
a half-mad recluse
and a master criminal.
After I am buried alive,
I return to claim
a priceless jewel
which someone has stolen from me.
Lon Chaney, Bela Lugosi, and I
appear in a cartoon.
I am the evil host.
Bela Lugosi is the sinister stranger.
The movie is House of Doom
directed by Edgar G. Ulmer,
who, because of the Nazis,
was forced to flee Germany.
I am an insane religious fanatic,
trying to incite my people
to destroy a British patrol
which has gotten lost in Mesopotamia.
As the anti-Semitic Baron Ledrantz,
I try to destroy the House of Rothschild.
I am able to transfer
all my thoughts and feelings
into someone else.
I am “Dr. Maniac, the brainsnatcher.”
In Charlie Chan at the Opera,
I am Gravelle, a former baritone
possessed by homicidal tendencies.
After Charlie Chan cures me of my insanity,
I resume my career in the opera.
While engaged, with my partner
Bela Lugosi, in astronomical research
in Africa, I am contaminated
by a radioactive meteorite.
Anyone I touch dies.
I try to kill Lugosi
because he wants to stop me
from killing Frank Lawton,
who is having an affair with my wife.
In the story of the man
who is brought back to life
after he is electrocuted,
I am wrongly accused of murder
and put to death.
I return, a strange, remote, possessed,
and obsessed being,
completely animated
by one idea: revenge.
My name is Mallory;
I invented a burglar alarm,
which was stolen from me
by Ranger. Twenty years
have passed and I am
about to go blind.
But, before I do,
I invent an invisible ray system
which enables me to silence
my foolproof burglar alarm.
In 1937, in the northern oilfields of China,
I am the Chinese bandit Fang,
a good guy who dies because of his beliefs.
In 1938, in San Francisco,
I am Mr. Wong,
an unassuming but meticulous
specialist in crime investigation.
Because I help
a wounded, escaped prisoner,
I am sentenced to Devil’s Island for treason.
My name is Doctor Gaudet.
Edwards, a collector of jewels and antiques,
gains illegal possession of the gem,
“Eyes of the Moon,” which was seized
from the Nanking Museum during a riot.
When he is murdered
during a game of charades,
I decide to track down the murderer.
My name is Mr. Wong.
In Mr. Wong in Chinatown,
my name is Detective James Lee Wong.
Princess Lin Haw, played
by Lotus Long, is murdered
by a dart from a bamboo tube
hidden inside a sleeve, a weapon
well known to the Chinese
and those familiar with their ways.
The story centers around
a “mechanical” heart
that restores life to the dead,
but changes the whole
character of the revived man.
Baron Wolf von Frankenstein
returns to the castle
where he discovers I am in a coma,
tended to by a crazy shepherd.
I am the grim clubfoot executioner, Mord.
Captain Street’s best friend,
Detective O’Grady, is murdered
and I am called in to solve the case.
This is the fourth time I am Mr. Wong,
but the sixth time I am Chinese.
I have not yet added up the times
I am less than human, a halfwit,
a necrophiliac, or a ghoul.
I am an absentminded
professor of English literature,
who is run down in the street.
In order to save me,
part of a dead gangster’s brain
is transplanted into my skull.
I dress as an ape, and obtain
the liquid needed for the serum.
I am the German ace-spy, Strendler.
I invent a machine which can communicate with the dead.
I steal the body of a woman from a newly dug grave.
I am a Greek general in the Balkan War
visiting the island where my wife was buried fifteen years ago.
I escape from prison.
I am the head of an insane asylum known as Bedlam,
and I have a mistress who will turn against me.
I am a crazed clothes designer.
My name is Gruesome, and Dick Tracy
will throw me in the clink.
My name is Guyasuta, Chief of the Senecas.
I am Tishomingo, a friendly, educated Choctaw.
I am Mr. Hyde.
I am the ferocious
head of a band of dope smugglers
on the island of Ischia.
I work as the local rajah’s military chief.
I am Baron Victor von Frankenstein, the last of my family.
I am a novelist investigating a gruesome murder,
two decades old, which,
in another personality, I committed.
I am a doctor during the early days of anaesthesia.
I am a wicked wizard living in a slimy green castle.
My archenemy, another sorcerer, is Vincent Price.
During the prologue, he reads
Edgar Allan Poe’s poem “The Raven.”
I am a necrophiliac baron
intent on preserving my dead wife.
Jack Nicholson tries to rescue her,
but ends up with her turning to dust in his arms.
My co-stars are Vincent Price and Peter Lorre.
I am Amos Hinchley, Price’s senile father-in-law.
I am an East European vampire who carries
someone’s head in a sack.
One day, I tear out the throat of my four-year-old grandson.
I walk on Bikini Beach.
I have the voice of a rat.
I am a blind sculptor.
I cannot see the ghost in the invisible bikini.
I am bearded, I limp.
I start out ordinary, kind,
but end up a hideous monster.
My job is to reenact the role of a mad scientist.
I am Professor Marsh, witchcraft expert.
I am Byron Orlok, an aging actor
who became famous for his horror roles.
I want to retire.
A young married man
with an obsession for guns
decides to kill me.
He sees me once,
through a telescopic lens,
and then in two places.
I am on the screen of a drive-in movie,
where he has come with his rifle,
to kill more innocent bystanders,
and I am walking toward him,
an aged but determined man with a cane.

9/28: “The Police in Different Voices”: Voice / Tone / Ventriloquism II
Wendy Cope
“Waste Land Limericks”

In April one seldom feels cheerful;
Dry stones, sun and dust make me fearful;
Clairvoyants distress me,
Commuters depress me–
Met Stetson and gave him an earful.

She sat on a mighty fine chair,
Sparks flew as she tidied her hair;
She asks many questions,
I make few suggestions–
Bad as Albert and Lil–what a pair!

The Thames runs, bones rattle, rats creep;
Tiresias fancies a peep–
A typist is laid,
A record is played–
Wei la la. After this it gets deep.

A Phoenician called Phlebas forgot
About birds and his business–the lot.
Which is no surprise,
Since he met his demise
And was left in the ocean to rot.

No water. Dry rocks and dry throats.
Then thunder, a shower of quotes
From the Sanskrit to Dante.
Da. Damyata. Shantih.
I hope you’ll make sense of the notes.

9/23: Voice / Tone / Ventriloquism
T.S. Eliot
“Journey of the Magi”

‘A cold coming we had of it,
Just the worst time of the year
For a journey, and such a long journey:
The ways deep and the weather sharp,
The very dead of winter.’
And the camels galled, sore-footed, refractory,
Lying down in the melting snow.
There were times we regretted
The summer palaces on slopes, the terraces,
And the silken girls bringing sherbet.
Then the camel men cursing and grumbling
And running away, and wanting their liquor and women,
And the night-fires going out, and the lack of shelters,
And the cities hostile and the towns unfriendly
And the villages dirty and charging high prices:
A hard time we had of it.
At the end we preferred to travel all night,
Sleeping in snatches,
With the voices singing in our ears, saying
That this was all folly.

   Then at dawn we came down to a temperate valley,
Wet, below the snow line, smelling of vegetation;
With a running stream and a water-mill beating the darkness,
And three trees on the low sky,
And an old white horse galloped away in the meadow.
Then we came to a tavern with vine-leaves over the lintel,
Six hands at an open door dicing for pieces of silver,
And feet kicking the empty wine-skins.
But there was no information, and so we continued
And arrived at evening, not a moment too soon
Finding the place; it was (you may say) satisfactory.

   All this was a long time ago, I remember,
And I would do it again, but set down
This set down
This: were we led all that way for
Birth or Death? There was a Birth, certainly,
We had evidence and no doubt. I had seen birth and death,
But had thought they were different; this Birth was
Hard and bitter agony for us, like Death, our death.
We returned to our places, these Kingdoms,
But no longer at ease here, in the old dispensation,
With an alien people clutching their gods.
I should be glad of another death.

John Berryman
“Dream Song 28: Snow Line”

It was wet & white & swift and where I am
we don’t know. It was dark and then
it isn’t.
I wish the barker would come. There seems to be to eat
nothing. I am unusually tired.
I’m alone too.

If only the strange one with so few legs would come,
I’d say my prayers out of my mouth, as usual.
Where are his notes I loved?
There may be horribles; it’s hard to tell.
The barker nips me but somehow I feel
he too is on my side.

I’m too alone. I see no end. If we could all
run, even that would be better. I am hungry.
The sun is not hot.
It’s not a good position I am in.
If I had to do the whole thing over again
I wouldn’t.

Louise Glück

comes into the world unwelcome
calling disorder, disorder—

If you hate me so much
don’t bother to give me
a name: do you need
one more slur
in your language, another
way to blame
one tribe for everything—

as we both know,
if you worship
one god, you only need
one enemy—

I’m not the enemy.
Only a ruse to ignore
what you see happening
right here in this bed,
a little paradigm
of failure. One of your precious flowers
dies here almost every day
and you can’t rest until
you attack the cause, meaning
whatever is left, whatever
happens to be sturdier
than your personal passion—

It was not meant
to last forever in the real world.
But why admit that, when you can go on
doing what you always do,
mourning and laying blame,
always the two together.

I don’t need your praise
to survive. I was here first,
before you were here, before
you ever planted a garden.
And I’ll be here when only the sun and moon
are left, and the sea, and the wide field.

I will constitute the field.

[Click here to hear Glück reading “Witchgrass”]
9/14: Metaphor, Simile, & Conceit
Margaret Atwood
[You Fit into Me]

you fit into me
like a hook into an eye

a fish hook
an open eye
W.S. Merwin
“When You Go Away”

When you go away the wind clicks around to the north
The painters work all day but at sundown the paint falls
Showing the black walls
The clock goes back to striking the same hour
That has no place in the years

And at night wrapped in the bed of ashes
In one breath I wake
It is the time when the beards of the dead get their growth
I remember that I am falling
That I am the reason
And that my words are the garment of what I shall never be
Like the tucked sleeve of a one-armed boy


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