The Little Review (littlereview) wrote,
The Little Review

Poem for Wednesday

From 'A'
By Louis Zukofsky

Facing south, I looked
At the ferry at South Ferry
At night, the ruins of Castle Garden
Where Jenny Lind sang
Before my time — with the diamonds
Of the songs of the nightingale —
Long after the Castle became the Aquarium:
Swung back by my young pulse,
Recalled a seal in teal blue,
A compass in binnacle —
Asleep or sleepless
Held on to Paul's hand.


Michael Dirda reviewed Mark Scroggins' new biography of Zukofsky in The Washington Post Book World's poetry issue, calling him "a poet whose work demanded attention." A New York poet who grew up in a Yiddish-speaking family, Zukofsky caught the attention of Ezra Pound and "was in many ways the last of the real modernists, ambitious on a grand scale, producing appealing but still demanding short work, while giving his greatest efforts to a mammoth 24-section epic titled 'A,'" according to Dirda, who said that the poetry "was neither personal nor accessible," like that of his onetime inspirations Pound and T.S. Eliot. Admired by San Francisco poets like Kenneth Rexroth and by the Beats, Zukofsky's "A" (according to Scroggins) "presents the dilemma of the poet's task in an unsettled time -- how to navigate between the demands of an unjust, capitalistic society and the otherworldly perfection offered by art, represented here by Bach's St. Matthew Passion." Dirda adds that Zukofsky "valued recurrence, repetition and allusion as a basic structural principle of art" yet believed that "'only objectified emotion endures.'" Dirda accepts that "not everyone will be drawn to the verbal music and allusive intricacies of Louis Zukofsky. But Mark Scroggins certainly makes us understand that the author of 'A' is a major poet, and he prods us into wanting to read him. After all, the test of poetry, said Zukofsky, 'is the range of pleasure it affords as sight, sound, and intellection. This is its purpose as art.'"

Not a lot to report here -- Daniel got out of school at noon after his morning exams, so I picked him up and we had lunch and he read to me from Jon Stewart's America (The Book), which I fear he will quote on his US History exam on Thursday as well. When Adam got home, the two boys went to the pool and I folded laundry while watching Knocked Up, which I enjoyed a great deal more than I expected -- other than the somewhat shallow lives of all the middle-class protagonists and the absurdist male fantasy of a world in which a woman like Alison ends up with a guy like Ben, which I anticipated going in, I thought it was sympathetic to the women, less vulgar than I expected (lots of swearing but not the usual gay and misogynistic stuff) and much funnier than most romantic comedies I've seen.

Penguins pursuing soap bubbles in their enclosure at the Maryland Zoo...

...and outside in the moat around Rock Island, diverted from diving and hiding from the heat.

Like children and cats, they enjoy popping the bubbles, but they seem to be smarter than cats about not popping them all over themselves and having to lick themselves and make faces.

The penguins also like to build nests out of these plastic tubes, given to them as replacements for the twigs they would otherwise try to bring in, some of which contain a harmful fungus.

They carried them to their nest boxes and in some cases handed them off to their mates.

Some of the penguins were a bit suspicious about having visitors...

...but most of them went about their routine.

Caught up on phone conversations (mother, out of town friends, mamadracula), had dinner and watched North By Northwest, which Paul had wanted to make sure our kids saw before we went to Mount Rushmore this summer. The spy story still makes very little sense to me but what the hell, it's a fun movie. *g* We got curious and looked up the Vandamm house because it's so awesome, clearly influenced by Frank Lloyd Wright, and found this article on the architecture and design of the house-that-isn't, as it's entirely movie sets and effects shots!

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