The Collected Longer Poems of Kenneth Rexroth
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This is a companion volume to the Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth which was published in 1967.This is a companion volume to the Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth which was published in 1967. All of the long poems written over the past forty years are included: The Homestead Called Damascus (1920-25), A Prolegomenon to a Theodicy (1925-27), The Phoenix and the Tortoise (1940-44), The Dragon and the Unicorn (1944-50) and The Heart's Garden, The Garden's Heart (1967-68). As we read the long poems together and in sequence we can see that Rexroth is a philosophical poet of consequence who offers us a comprehensive system of values based on the realization of the ethical mysticism of universal responsibility. He is concerned, above all, with process: the movement from the Dual to the Other. "I have tried," Rexroth writes," to embody in verse the belief that the only valid conservation of value lies in the assumption of unlimited liability, the supernatural identification of the self with the tragic unity of creative process. I hope I have made it clear that the self does not do this by an act of will, by sheer assertion. He who would save his life must lose it."
ideograph A mechanical bracelet A small diesel engine First one and then the other Air congeals in water The mural rift A kind of going The little block falls The little wooden block That long snarl of coast on the Mediterranean The heart inclines The four triangles The fifth The fingers jerk The green cheek The fourth The image in the portal The resin curls The soggy mitten The third The cleaved cough The second The closing ribs The first The double envoi The grackle
toujours! No collectivity against Collectivities can function To restore community. You cannot creep from quantity To quality. Today the world is full Of the vendors of well policed Utopias, preachers of Progress by mass arithmetic. They are all liars, knowingly Using the language of being To sweeten the poison of Death. Never has the last circle Of Dante’s Hell been so crowded. While there is a lower class, I am in it. ‘While there is A criminal element, I am of it. ‘Where there is A soul in
seem to be unable to escape From our own ornate, wasted fictions. There are cannas now on the guarded Lawns, crimson and Chinese orange, with wine Brown leaves. The privet hedges are black, And grey with dust. The thick blood squeezes In and out of the heart and falls like Quicksilver down the arteries. The brain Unrolls in its own vaults its own arid, Endless frieze. Sebastian strolls along The narrow privet lanes of the garden Labyrinth. Ignorant, invisible, The catechumens move along the
in each specific Act of love there be one other. Duality is a condition Of direct knowledge. However, The dual can be found in the Void of the one or in the Fullness of all the others, Just as they are found in it. The afternoon ends with red Patches of light on the leaves On the northeast canyon wall. My tame owl sits serenely On his dead branch. A foolish Jay squalls and plunges at him. He is ignored. The owl yawns And stretches his wings. The jay Flies away screaming with fright. My king
dwarf iris heavy with Perfume hang over the brink. Cedars and cypresses climb The hillsides. Something else climbs. Something moves reciprocally To the tumbling water. It ascends the rapids, The torrents, the waterfalls, To the last high springs. It disperses and climbs the rain. You cannot see it or feel it. But if you sit by the pool Below the waterfall, full Of calling voices all chanting In a turmoil of peace, It communicates itself. It speaks in the molecules Of your blood, in the pauses