Alex Raichev

I Knew a Woman

I knew a woman, lovely in her bones,
When small birds sighed, she would sigh back at them;
Ah, when she moved, she moved more ways than one:
The shapes a bright container can contain!
Of her choice virtues only gods should speak,
Or English poets who grew up on Greek
(I’d have them sing in chorus, cheek to cheek).

How well her wishes went! She stroked my chin,
She taught me Turn, and Counter-turn, and Stand;
She taught me Touch, that undulant white skin;
I nibbled meekly from her proffered hand;
She was the sickle; I, poor I, the rake,
Coming behind her for her pretty sake
(But what prodigious mowing we did make).

Love likes a gander, and adores a goose:
Her full lips pursed, the errant note to seize;
She played it quick, she played it light and loose;
My eyes, they dazzled at her flowing knees;
Her several parts could keep a pure repose,
Or one hip quiver with a mobile nose
(She moved in circles, and those circles moved).

Let seed be grass, and grass turn into hay:
I’m martyr to a motion not my own;
What’s freedom for? To know eternity.
I swear she cast a shadow white as stone.
But who would count eternity in days?
These old bones live to learn her wanton ways:
(I measure time by how a body sways).

~ Theodore Roethke, 1954

What a sweet poem! Here's my musical setting for (part of) it.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2018-09-10
Tags: poem, Roethke
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Fern Hill

Now as I was young and easy under the apple boughs
About the lilting house and happy as the grass was green,
The night above the dingle starry,
Time let me hail and climb
Golden in the heydays of his eyes,
And honoured among wagons I was prince of the apple towns
And once below a time I lordly had the trees and leaves
Trail with daisies and barley
Down the rivers of the windfall light.

And as I was green and carefree, famous among the barns
About the happy yard and singing as the farm was home,
In the sun that is young once only,
Time let me play and be
Golden in the mercy of his means,
And green and golden I was huntsman and herdsman, the calves
Sang to my horn, the foxes on the hills barked clear and cold,
And the sabbath rang slowly
In the pebbles of the holy streams.

All the sun long it was running, it was lovely, the hay
Fields high as the house, the tunes from the chimneys, it was air
And playing, lovely and watery
And fire green as grass.
And nightly under the simple stars
As I rode to sleep the owls were bearing the farm away,
All the moon long I heard, blessed among stables, the nightjars
Flying with the ricks, and the horses
Flashing into the dark.

And then to awake, and the farm, like a wanderer white
With the dew, come back, the cock on his shoulder: it was all
Shining, it was Adam and maiden,
The sky gathered again
And the sun grew round that very day.
So it must have been after the birth of the simple light
In the first, spinning place, the spellbound horses walking warm
Out of the whinnying green stable
On to the fields of praise.

And honoured among foxes and pheasants by the gay house
Under the new made clouds and happy as the heart was long,
In the sun born over and over,
I ran my heedless ways,
My wishes raced through the house high hay
And nothing I cared, at my sky blue trades, that time allows
In all his tuneful turning so few and such morning songs
Before the children green and golden
Follow him out of grace.

Nothing I cared, in the lamb white days, that time would take me
Up to the swallow thronged loft by the shadow of my hand,
In the moon that is always rising,
Nor that riding to sleep
I should hear him fly with the high fields
And wake to the farm forever fled from the childless land.
Oh as I was young and easy in the mercy of his means,
Time held me green and dying
Though I sang in my chains like the sea.

~ Dylan Thomas, 1945

I set the beginning of this poem to music. These days i play the tune faster at about 52 beats per minute.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2016-05-27
Tags: poem, Thomas, music
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Seafarer

The sea will wash in
but the rocks—jagged ribs
riding the cloth of foam
or a knob or pinnacles
with gannets—
are the stubborn man.
He invites the storm, he
lives by it! Instinct
with fears that are not fears
but prickles of ecstasy,
a secret liquor, a fire
that inflames his blood to
coldness so that the rocks
seem rather to leap
at the sea than the sea
to envelop them. They strain
forward to grasp ships
or even the sky itself that
bends down to be torn
upon them. To which he says,
It is I! I who am the rocks!
With out me nothing laughs.

~ William Carlos Williams, 1950
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-08-06
Tags: poem
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Course to the Pond

As if the sun was withdrawing
In the last book of an evening
With a few feet distant
As if laboring
With some remote horizon

I heard a prudent man found himself
Planning and contriving
Against his will
All dark-colored
And saturated with dew

I saw the axe out again
I heard him express wonder
His gnarled rind serving
The god of loons

Snapping the air
Pressed by a spring fire
Burst from the point of a belt
Another year's life
Gone and come with a smile

And the course to the pond
We should be so idle
To try all that we are
At length
At any rate

To cut off the top
Of the thick woods south
To fain turn over
Unobscured by weeds

To know the hall
Know them breaking ground
Village and trowel
Fishes and judges
Judges and jays
Wind away
Wind away

Credits

  • Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  • Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carrol
  • Markov poems
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-04-12
Tags: poem, Markov
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Every heaven is hung by clouds or sown with stars

Give us time to reflect
What is life
What is the content of our friend or wife
Frightened of something
We become what we utter
Vehicular and transitive

All symbols are fluxional
The mind will find a rational explanation
And plunge itself into every partridge, fox, squirrel, and mole
And in the woods and waters roll

But what is holistic?
What is the soul?
What arises from night?
What is history but an optical illusion
About every person we meet

See
The foaming brook
Without compunction
Our problem in the whole movement of thought
Must inevitably fall in its right place

Wherever are forms with transparent boundaries
Wherever are forms with transparent boundaries
Wherever are outlets into celestial space
Wherever is stillness and awe

The Caliph Ali is seeking after thee
Therefore be at rest from seeking after thee
Therefore be at rest from seeking after it

Credits

  • Essays by Ralph Waldo Emerson
  • Talks by Jiddu Krishnamurti
  • Markov poems
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-04-12
Tags: poem, Markov
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Free of Debts

This is the way you become free of debts
You will be found in the connexion p implies p
And has no more than three

Suggest to your mind some such possibility as this
That every proposition alters something in common
Between a fact
And an Infinite Space

When you rise above your personality,
A Being above your personality,
A Being which is of great importance
The use of the Universal Mind
Is the explanation of the object itself

The Universal Mind is the totality of propositions
And is based upon the Elements

Given the composition of facts
To which objects are colourless
Two objects of the objects
Roughly speaking
The groups of truth-conditions
Are equal numbers of white and black

But to them that they are identical is nonsense
And to all the general form is the sign

Essential are those which alone and independently have a threefold manifestation
Three functions attributes or characteristics
This and that and one
Essential and subtle
Law and Love

If you want to visit the Atomic Plane
Esoteric meaning is always more or less vague
So every proposition is the same

But the possibility of every truth-operation on the mind and the proof
Must show that there are places for arguments
Of the probability Trs to Tr

So the measure of the human organism is your Being
That is all

But you may perceive some activity in the innermost depths
Ghosts of earthbound spirits
No proposition can contradict it

Identity in the world is also given
This last is a Path that attempts to rediscover
The symbol for the other

Do not be disturbed by apparent irregularities
Do not be disturbed by the marks of triangles and hexagons together
A particle cannot at its root mean the same as (∃x).fx
The determination is a sign

Essential are those who find true peace
And quiet and strength
And renewal within the Causal Worlds

And whether found ascending in the East
Or descending in the West
The plane is without stress

Credits

  • Heavens and Hells of the Mind by Imre Vallyon
  • Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus by Ludwig Wittgenstein
  • Markov poems
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-04-12
Tags: poem, Markov
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Reminiscences

$13.34 earned by day labor
$36.78 in all
Which subtracted from the same feeling that I can stand aloof from betimes their winter quarters who have lost their vitality,
And so frequently the most money demanded are never the worst vice betrayed
Improvidence

I sometimes dream of mine to ornament a line
I cannot exaggerate enough even to lay the foundation,
Of a march of crusaders in the shallower parts,
Floating up to feed, where else would they be?
Some absolute goodness somewhere?

With such reminiscences I repeopled the woods
And still from time to time
Here are such that you have done great deeds and sung divine songs,
Which shall still consist of only one or two of my pleasing works
I took up my clothes, and along and out of the water,
Full of glee and youth, as most suppose,
Drained,
Would not stand much about gracefulness,
And never mean to countenance an effort,
And never hesitated at a certain set of rules,
Called etiquette and politeness,
I made it worth the while

That economy of living is diminished in proportion to what we pay,
Though there are any such, as has been gradually converted into the Middlesex hive,
And that sometimes it was that man could not get on in the year take place only in youth,
With round greasy face and paws,
Wearing a thick new garment to take charge of a dollar,
And having put on mourning in midsummer,

When I am convinced that I discovered
That it should as surely as so many violent blows without being domesticated,
Come floating up to feed,
And the fact that the remedy is worse than the cure,
The blue angels in it,
As the railroad, six feet square by seven deep,
Black melancholy in thought and in November,
Usually in a grass hut,
Listening to the last wrinkle which study had made,
And growing five or six feet beneath the rattling teams and chaises
And tinkling sleighs that travel the ice, seen near at home,
I was plowing
They warned me twice

Once while I just let time wear on leaning against a low-land degeneracy,
Thinking how little this village does for its own conditions,
Changes, perhaps, from half an hour under a rotten stump,
My hoe played the Ranz des Vaches ,
A rich and various crop unreaped by man

Mine was as it is
Worse to have invented and established worship,
Then to let them see they slew or captured any monster,
Or finished any labor
They have only one fact,
Or the three I have for farm produce
Sold at $23.44

Credits

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-04-12
Tags: poem, Markov
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Yes Sir!

We are in the beginning of a lull
And I have had an emotional experience

Very calmly and very quietly I say
All right
Look at Gunsmoke
Look at the proletariat
The anarchy in production
The crying inequalities in the modes of producing and appropriating products,
That is bound to have an answer
Get a Bible
Get others
Get the money

That is the bourgeoisie
Use their life
Take their time and labor
They smash to pieces machinery
They set factories ablaze
They seek to alter the character of production

Therefore as the people who profess one thing
One social thing
We go
Because we take the name of God at the foot of the old property relations
Not justified by faith
But cooking with gas now

I say that's great
I say that's great
I say, Lady, if it's carried out in your place

Dissolution going on before our television sets
Spending our time filling the night before
I saw an inscription coming up this mountain
To the unknown God
Do You believe in Christ?
Have you really given yourself to Christ?
Do You believe in Him?
I can do!
See Romans 6:20-23

We take His name
We write it down
The Manifesto has become fully developed
A new life of the state of society
Minus its revolutionary and disintegrating elements

And the heroes of modern American life?
Learn more by watching than by reading
Why do you know what living was?
I follow God and that place where the workers begin to form combinations
Trades' Unions
Against the bourgeoisie whenever it acts in a nuclear war

That could be a revolution
On the floor of the Law
Administrative reforms based on class antagonisms be damned!
No flesh be justified!

Credits

  • Sermons of Billy Graham
  • The Communist Manifesto by Karl Mark and Frederick Engels
  • Markov poems
Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2014-04-12
Tags: poem, Markov
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Brahma

If the red slayer think he slays,
Or if the slain think he is slain,
They know not well the subtle ways
I keep, and pass, and turn again.

Far or forgot to me is near;
Shadow and sunlight are the same;
The vanished gods to me appear;
And one to me are shame and fame.

They reckon ill who leave me out;
When me they fly, I am the wings;
I am the doubter and the doubt,
I am the hymn the Brahmin sings.

The strong gods pine for my abode,
And pine in vain the sacred Seven;
But thou, meek lover of the good!
Find me, and turn thy back on heaven.

~ Ralph Waldo Emerson, 1857

Apparently Emerson should have titled this poem 'Brahman' instead of 'Brahma'. For why and more insighful commentary, see Emerson's Brahma: An Indian Interpretation, K. R. Chandrasekharan, The New England Quarterly, Vol. 33, No. 4 (Dec., 1960), pp. 506-512.

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2013-06-04
Tags: poem, Emerson
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Epistle to Be Left in the Earth

...It is colder now,
there are many stars,
we are drifting
North by the Great Bear,
the leaves are falling,
The water is stone in the scooped rock,
to southward
Red sun grey air:
the crows are
Slow on their crooked wings,
the jays have left us:
Long since we passed the flares of Orion.
Each man believes in his heart he will die.
Many have written last thoughts and last letters.
None know if our deaths are now or forever:
None know if this wandering earth will be found.

We lie down and the snow covers our garments.
I pray you,
you (if any open this writing)
Make in your mouths the words that were our names.
I will tell you all we have learned,
I will tell you everything:
The earth is round,
there are springs under the orchards,
The loam cuts with a blunt knife,
beware of
Elms in thunder,
the lights in the sky are stars--
We think they do not see,
we think also
The trees do not know nor the leaves of the grasses hear us:
The birds too are ignorant.
Do not listen.
Do not stand at dark in the open windows.
We before you have heard this:
they are voices:
They are not words at all but the wind rising.
Also none among us has seen God.
(… We have thought often
The flaws of sun in the late and driving weather
Pointed to one tree but it was not so.)
As for the nights I warn you the nights are dangerous:
The wind changes at night and the dreams come.

It is very cold,
there are strange stars near Arcturus,
Voices are crying an unknown name in the sky

~ Archibald MacLeish, 1930

Author: Alex Raichev
Date: 2012-04-24
Tags: poem, audio
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