Monday, March 20, 2006


Sorry it has been a long time since I last blogged. But I am in the middle of taking my Ph.D. exams and my brain is awhir (or awash) with dead poets. Today I read the first volume of Gilbert and Gubars No Man's Land. Wow. I think every female writer should read this book. I think it should be a requirement. It was like looking at my own history in the mirror. Don't get me wrong, I hardly think I'll be anthogized when I'm gone. But I'm a writer, no doubt. And though I've read the poems before, of female poets talking back to other female poets. Of women writers speaking back to their foremothers (that Elizabeth Bishop poem is my favorite)
"An Invitation to Miss Marianne Moore" where she invites Miss Moore to "please come flying" across that net of the Brooklyn Bridge. I thought about her words and the image of that awkward three-cornered hat woman with exceedingly long, gerund crammed sentences, each time I walked across that wooden-planked bridge. I'd never realized that all of my talking back to Emily and Elizabeth and Gertrude was par for the course.

And all the poems I've written back at the dead forefathers. I screamed poems at Eliot and Pound from inbetween their own words. Now, as I'm trying to intellectualize my argument about their poetics, my words are looking back at me. According to Gilbert and Gubar, my words written in the margins of Pound's Personae is a natural reaction. I can't wait to open up my old text of Frost, and Stevens. Who knows what's written in there : )

Is it unhealthy as a poet to meta-interpret oneself?

Here is that poem from Elizabeth Bishop.

From Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
please come flying.
In a cloud of fiery pale chemicals,
please come flying,
to the rapid rolling of thousands of small blue drums
descending out of the mackerel sky
over the glittering grandstand of harbor-water,
please come flying.
Whistles, pennants and smoke are blowing. The ships
are signaling cordially with multitudes of flags
rising and falling like birds all over the harbor.

Enter: two rivers, gracefully bearing
countless little pellucid jellies
in cut-glass epergnes dragging with silver chains.
T he flight is safe; the weather is all arranged.
The waves are running in verses this fine morning.
Please come flying.

Come with the pointed toe of each black shoetrailing a sapphire highlight,
with a black capeful of butterfly wings and bon-mots,
with heaven knows how many angels all riding
on the broad black brim of your hat,
please come flying.

Bearing a musical inaudible abacus,
a slight censorious frown, and blue ribbons,
please come flying.

Facts and skyscrapers glint in the tide; Manhattan
is all awash with morals this fine morning,
so please come flying.

Mounting the sky with natural heroism,
above the accidents, above the malignant movies,
the taxicabs and injustices at large,
while horns are resounding in your beautiful ears
that simultaneously listen to
a soft uninvented music, fit for the musk deer,
please come flying.

For whom the grim museums will behave like courteous male bower-birds,
for whom the agreeable lions lie in wait
on the steps of the Public Library,
eager to rise and follow through the doors
up into the reading rooms,
please come flying.

We can sit down and weep; we can go shopping,
or play at a game of constantly being wrong
with a priceless set of vocabularies,
or we can bravely deplore, but please
please come flying.

With dynasties of negative constructions
darkening and dying around you,
with grammar that suddenly turns and shines
like flocks of sandpipers flying,
please come flying.

Come like a light in the white mackerel sky,
come like a daytime comet
with a long unnebulous train of words,
from Brooklyn, over the Brooklyn Bridge, on this fine morning,
please come flying.

2 comments:

lucette said...

Thank you for the poem--nice to read it again. Who knows? maybe she found the idea for it stuck to her sock one day.

erieblue said...

My most remarkable talking back poem was addressed to Wright--I got so sick of the always ethereal, slight, young Jenny. Recently, at AWP, I was inspired to respond to poets who are always licking their wounds open--but that was a gender-neutral thing.