Sunday, June 13, 2010

Two Poems (the second one) - Kenneth Rexroth

Sometimes called the father of the Beat poets of the 1950s, Kenneth Rexroth (1905 - 1982) was far more.  From a peripatetic youth and early years working odd jobs, hitchhiking here and in Europe, he became an early and active member of the San Francisco poetry scene and instrumental in introducing/mentoring poets that included,  Lawrence FerlinghettiDenise Levertov, and LeRoi Jones.
Rexroth also had an early interest in poetry from other cultures and eras, and his compilations of Chinese and Japanese poetry helped popularize those and their influence on American poetry.  As a poet, he never garnered the major writing awards, but his devotion to poetry and its place in society was recognized by a lifetime achievement award from The Academy of American Poets.  I chose this one because its representative of one of his themes (erotic poetry), part of a broader "anti-establishment" thread in his outlook and writings.
Two Poems  (second one)

I like to think of you naked.
I put your naked body
Between myself alone and death.
If I go into my brain
And set fire to your sweet nipples,
To the tendons beneath your knees
I can see far before me.
It is empty there where I look,
But at least it is lighted.
I know how your shoulders glisten,
How your face sinks into trance,
And your eyes like a sleepwalker’s,
And your lips of a woman
Cruel to herself.
                                I like to
Think of you clothed, your body
Shut to the world and self contained,
Its wonderful arrogance
That makes all women envy you.
I can remember every dress,
Each more proud that a naked nun.
When I go to sleep my eyes
Close in a mesh of memory.
Its cloud of intimate odor
Dreams instead of myself.

                                                       Kenneth Rexroth - American

No comments: