Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Again, Again - Jean Garrigue

Jean Garrigue (1914 - 1972) is not a household name when citing woman poets of the American mid-century.  Yet, one of her books was nominated for a National Book, and she had a successful academic career teaching at Smith and Bard Colleges, and was generally well-regarded by critics.  She was from Indiana, spent several periods of her life in Europe, and eventually settled in New England.  The critic Stanley Kunitz called her "... a wildly gifted poet…whose art took the road of excess that leads to the palace of wisdom".   Two themes to which she often returned were travel and love.  From my limited reading of her, I liked this one for its observations about the cyclical nature of love relationships. (It reminds me of a long, lovely, lyrical poem by Conrad Aiken on the same subject.)
Again, Again

Always that old language for the new:
How many eyes are black or brown or blue.
How many have come naked into bed
The curtains drawn; late morning that lets in
Just so much light to gild the rose-gold head.
That amorini look – intent and bent
To fast desire on nothing else but it
A century long.
How many times. How many arms
How many kisses that the gamblers gave
Or pitched all on to win
Or gaining win to lose again.
How many times. And now you come.
Have cigarettes, cigars, guitars and rum!
How many times. Yet none but this –

                                                                                   Jean Garrigue - American

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