Saturday, April 3, 2010

Variations - A. Gregor

It's bad enough when a poet is referred to as "lesser-known" or "minor", but Arthur Gregor (1923-   ) not only hasn't merited a bio on the Poetry Foundation site, but no one has bothered even to provide a bio on Wikipedia!  He deserves better.   (His poetry is spiritual tinged with mysticism, which sometimes translates into being hard to connect with.) I came across him during the early 70s through his "Selected Poems" and liked several, including this one.  It needs to be read more than once and with close attention, but the effort is worthwhile.   He has written several volumes of poetry plus a memoir.  Gregor was born in Vienna and fled the Nazis in the weeks right after WW II began in 1939.  (He lives in Paris now and is available for readings.)

Everything alive is sensitive.
You are off with someone else
looking at autumn leaves.
The musical key this stirs in me
comes from
helplessness, acceptance, rage –
like you, like your new love, or friend,
a body
for feelings
the inevitable conflict brings.

Imagine fireworks from barges,
royal outings along the Thames,
plumes, ruffles, modes of
eighteenth-century elegance, or
other characteristics of an age.
Time intrudes. Black clouds
rifting in moonlight. A cry
no one utters, no one hears
rips the night –
conflict playing on
the dreamer as though
were a musical instrument.

Everything alive is sensitive.
If not a phoenix, a dove,
(all right, a pigeon) lifts from
the fire of autumn leaves,
driven out of summer’s death
in response to what
no one can hear or guess.
The very air vibrates
colors of fire and of fur
something somewhere is astir –

more than my pain
caused by you
who do not mean to harm.
Needs often interact.
Not what the mind can grasp
but what is secret in us
determines what we do.
The fire has shifted far into
the sky, a single leaf
ablaze like a cry
floats toward the bank
where in the early dark-
as though
still waiting for a boat –
the human figure stands.
                                                                   Arthur Gregor - American

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