LITERARY SUPPLEMENT TO THE ORANGE & WHITE/WINTER, 1965
STAFF editor managing editor fiction editor nonfiction editor poetry editor art editor advisors
• • • • • • • •
Albert Wilhelm Pam Saylor Larry Maupin Mary Lee Washburn Doris Yates Louise Stewart Dr. Francelia Butler Prof. Frank B. Thornburg vv.
CONTENTS fiction Gothick Tale, by Jan Bakker 12 Invasion!, by David McNutt 15 Many Things, by Charlyn Paul 20 poetry Red Light, by Frank Steele 11 Who Are You, Child?, by Larry Yates--------------------------------------- 11 Hymn of Praise, by A. Olafson 16 Et-y-mon, by Hugh Keenan 19 Kite-day, by Virginia Dumas 19 #1, #2, by Charles Bebber 19 Dejection, by Ane Christensen 19 Son-of-a-Bet, by John Gilbreath 27 nonfiction Elements of the Sublime in Yeats’ “Leda and the Swan,” by Albert E. Wilhelm 17 Poetry As A Parlor Game, by Larry Yates-------------------------------- 22 A Consideration of “Yarrow Revisited,” by Mary Lee Washburn---- 24 art Felt-tip pen drawing, by Becky Lewiscover Felt-tip pen drawing, by Louise Stewart------------------------------------- 12 Felt-tip pen drawing, by Becky Lewis 21 Felt-tip pen drawing, by Louise Stewart----------------------------------- 25
The Phoenix is the literary and art magazine published by the students of the University of Tennessee. It is issued quarterly as a supplement to The Orange & White. Separate copies are sold for fifteen cents. Copies are five cents if purchased en closed in The Orange & White. Contributions or any correspondence intended for the Phoenix should be addressed to the appropriate staff member or to the editor at Box 8690, University Station, Knoxville, Tennessee, 37916. Winter, 1965. Vol. 60, No. 39.
Red Light The young men driving hang their arms out windows Letting the rough wind starch their sleeves, Letting their glances drift and pause Where, Shaped like a sail. The Negress, with her legs Apart, catches the breeze in her tightened skirt. Her hands on her hips, all triangles she stands Dreamily watching the street While the metal cop in the Slow-School-Zone Waves his square. Gloved fingers, a totem. And smiles forever at the ignorant traffic. —By Frank Steele
Who Are You, Child? Because ten thousand tears have made you, child. And thousands more will fall before we part. There are some questions branded on my heart Which damn my soul and leave your name defiled. Who are you, child? And what is that to me? How dare you match your worth in life to mine? At love’s feast where neophytes can dine. Honored I have sat, and met hypocrisy. While on a sour teat you place your fate. And hope that life will be as good to you . . . Stop! My heart will not sweeten for your coo. For I should treat a living threat with hate. Peace, child. Even if your care stays with me. Immoral acid etches tragedy. —By Larry Yates
Writing Contests Announced The English Department has an nounced its annual creative writ ing awards contest with cash awards in three categories — poetry, fiction, and literary criti cism. The Bain-Swiggett Award will be given for the best poem. The best short story will take the Rob ert Arnold Burke Award, and the Eleanor Richards Burke Award will go to the author of the winning literary criticism. The awards totaled $130 last year. Last year’s winners were fiction: “Other Thing s,” by Robert J. Higgs ; literary criticism: “Con cepts of Political Order in Richard II,’’ by Albert E. Wilhelm; poetry: “Picasso’s Human Comedy,” by Curtis L. Harris. Deadline for the contest is April 2. Entries must be in Ayres Hall 127 by noon. General terms of the awards are: Any student regularly enrolled in the University of Tennessee during any quarter of the 1964-65 school year is eligible to enter. Any student may enter no more than one short story, one piece of literary criticism, and three poems. All manuscripts must be typed, on one side of the paper; no manu script will be returned. Each entry in each contest should be identified by a pseudo nym, and each contestant should rubmit also, in a sealed envelope, a note identifying the owner of the pseudonym. Specific requirements for poetry are: English translations of poems in other languages and moderniza tions of Old or Middle English poems will be eligible. All poetry “must conform to the standards of traditional English verse.” According to the donors of the award, free verse does not ful fill this condition. The suggested maximum length for any poem is 200 lines. It is suggested that any short story submitted be between 2,000 and 5,000 words long. Requirements for literary criti cism are: The maximum length suggested is 3,000 words.
Creation (wrote Henry Murdo’s widower Papa, Llohreathor, crippled in war, when Henry was ten) . . . Creation implies decay, for to create is to subject the object or concept created to the inevitable natural or spiritual — intellectual forces — weather, revolution, constipation — that bring about disintegration through chemical or ideological change in materials or ideas. Mate rial decay, obviously, and especially since the explosion of the concept of spontaneous generation, leads to nothing but utter dissolution which, indeed, gives rise to new creation — creation out of necessity (ahem) — which, in its turn, is only doomed to the inevitable cyclical process of decay. Intellectual decay, too . . . (My Lord, said the then-not-so-old serv ant, Jame, to Llohreathor as he sat writing; the carriage house has just fallen in and Master Henry has smashed the last of the stained glass in the chapel. What! said Llohreathor, throwing down his pen and blotting his page; that glass was to be taken out tomorrow and sold to Dunlop. Damn these interruptions. Llohreath or left his pen and went in pursuit of Henry). Murdo, 1916 12
GOTHICK TALE By Jan Bakker To D.V.H. and F.M.B.
From Ghoulies and Ghosties, Preposterous Families, And Things that go bump in the night, Dear Lord deliver Murdo. (Sour serpent horns.) Henry Murdo at Murdo, 1937 In a vaulted library where Llohreathor’s manuscripts drooped from bookcases, swelled yellow in drawers, and underwent the cycli cal process of material decay he had written about; in the three, great, gothic-window-twilight that faded over the floor and up across the panelling and the portrait, fad ed over the bindings of umber books, disintegrated finally high on stone masonry and wooden beams above the bookcases shaped to a dark taper like the gothic windows at night; with a leaking, ancient horn beaker in his hand—a beaker whose whiskey contents were caus ing a smelly decomposition of its animal fiber, dribbling whiskey on wrist, on cuff, on tie; with his eye on a portrait between tall book cases stood Henry Real Murdo cum Finian ap Tetley. He was looking at the likeness of some blackening ancestor Tetley who had puffing eyelids and taut lips. Near-drunk, sag-tweed Murdo looked to the por trait and thought, with whiskey soaking the edge of his cuff and a faint, glue-factory smell in the air he breathed: Damn this dribble! And he drained then threw the
beaker into a corner. Sucking at his cuff he walked to the middle window of the library built by Murdo to look over Real — the first Real called Cealc: old, ribbled glass and a view right below of the roofless, square hollow, black, heavy stone with foliage growing out of decaying stone and wood rotten (high-up green leaves mov ing in a sea-breeze) : the squat don jon keep built by Cealc and called Real. Beyond was the sea with wind and whitecaps touched with some twilight that made Henry think of Abyssinia. I am the last Real out of Cealc, he thought. The last Tetley, the last Finian and Murdo. True and proven. Irrevocably. I am the reductio ad absurdum of the lot. He looked at the sea with its strange last light, and then turned back to the room where everything was fading. Irrevocably. Poor Henry, after he had futilely tried to play Finian with the First Con sul’s wife two weeks before the Italians entered Addis Abba. Ah, how a successful affair, how a good career with the Foreign Service would have restored his names and given him confidence. Now his incapacity, the rebuff, the scandal, the disgrace gave him the sense of bitter failure he knew his father had when war cut short his mili tary career and the fall of the roof of the donjon had taken his sea painting wife with it. Unlucky Llohreathor. His one paternal tri
umph was that of seeing his son finish the University with honors and embark upon a career with the best of references (a name that went back to the tenth century could do that for him nowadays if nothing more). He died at Murdo before Henry came back disgraced. Reductio, though Henry. That’s what I am. What’s more. I’m fat! “Hear that, Tetley, wandering ghost,” he said to the portrait with the lids and lips. How he relished his agonies. And he drank from an old glass now and he thought, as it was a ritual with him to think first of . . . Richard Tetley, hardly the first of Henry’s line but, nonetheless, the rich Lord Boundacre, married into Real. Tetley, whose wealth had enabled him to participate in Irish Absenteeism in the sixteenth century and still to maintain his manor and his town house in Eng land. Ah, yes: it was Absenteeism for the Lord but not for his Lady. She, weak-spirited woman, simper ing, stiff in portrait, he compelled to spend a great part of the year on the Irish holding. ‘My Lady will enjoy the fresh surroundings,’ Murdo could hear ruff-fingering Tetley say. ‘The best of company and of rustick sport.’ But in Ire land the second spring after Boundacre had fingered his ruff to his Lady; in Ireland, Finian, the Irish Bailiff (he was cheaply hired, knew the land, had even owned some of it), made Lady Boundacre his mis13
tress while Tetley, plump and in competent, was left free to play a similar though fruitless game in England. When, humiliated, pulpy, rebuffed by the Queen herself, family tradition said, Tetley re turned to his wife he suffered the final indignity of being inexplicably murdered and hung to rot in a tree on his estate. At least, murder was the consensus and Finian had to be the culprit. But the times were troubled, and what was one disgraced dead Lord, even if Eng lish in Ireland? Poor Boundacre, whose Lady swore to Finian’s in nocence and then married him. (The house of Keal had been strong though poor and the donjon, with its crenelated fourteenth century addition, was sound amid the sedge, trees, and rocks of its island shore. But then Tetley came, and disgrace, and the marriage of Lady Boundacre to Finian: decay steps numbers one and two. “Finian!” screamed Henry Murdo before the portrait of Tetley.) Ritual to the sound of piccolo and the increasing tempo of tabor . . . Henry drank and was drunk; Tetley cum Finian, he thought. The Bailiff had cynically demand ed of his Lady and got the right to append his name to that of the ruff-lord. Tyrone’s rebels burned the plantation from which Tetley’s relatives were about to evict them, and they landed in England secret ly one night. Henry could hear and see them: Finian with heavy sword swearing, his wife in farthingdale sighing. Straightway they retired to the widow’s ancestral and for some years neglected northern castle on Coirechatachan island. No one offered solace to the ex-Lady Boundacre and her new husband. ‘Let ’em rot at Keal — her and her Irishman,’ Henry heard her Anglo phile brother saying, bearded, cold, and pale in his dimming portrait. We would have nothing to do with keep or crenels, and he died in Ire land like Tetley. But then the lovely Melissa Catherina Tetley cum Finian — vo luptuous, sly-looking portrait — in the eighteenth century married the Scot’s noble, Murdo. He had money and a fine coachman. The castle was repaired. A vaulted great hall of pre-Walpole gothic was added to overlook Real’s keep. And Murdo —gruff, egocentric portrait — re named the whole after his family. He also cynically demanded and got the right to put his name first, 14
Tetley last in the string of names his ultimate scion, Henry, bore. Fanfare: percussion and winds. “The oboe’s gone flat.” Murdo curled his lip at Murdo. “The Forty-five: that was you, hater of the English. You and Prince Char lie. King of Scotland! Then your castle was looted by redcoats and you were shot down in the street of your own village. The rest of us have rotted ever since in all this rot. Too bad they didn’t level this pile when they took away the lands. But that was it, Murdo: the pile saved because your own son was loyal to the Tetley part of his name (it didn’t save his skin from the Scots, though), which really wasn’t part of it anymore since Finian; the boy whom everyone anyway thought wasn’t your son but the Coachman’s, and thank God no one remembered his name, much less thought to add it to Keal ap Cealc.” Someday I must stop this non sense, he thought. Murdo turned away from the portrait and sat in a deep chair by the favorite center window over looking the sea. The light was very dim now on his face: round nose, brushed moustache. He drank from a bottle on the little table beside him; picked up an old book that was scaling. Shudder. There was a shudder in the house. As he’d felt it sometimes before, Murdo felt it. Then something overhead seemed to bleat and scamper in the rafters. Mice? Bats? In the darkness the black portraits could have been winking. There was a rattle at the library door. “Stop it!” said Murdo. With a gasp he rolled from his chair. The book fell from his lap and broke. “I smell dust.” Faint strings. The old servant, Jame, stood in the doorway. His vest was the one element of brightness in the dim ming all around him with the single, iron chandelier-lighted great hall to his back. He wore rubber boots that were wet and dribbled, as Murdo saw when he turned up a library lamp. Blinking Murdo said: “You’ve been wading. A little cold for that, isn’t it? I suppose dinner’s ready. Damn the lights. Look at this room. I prefer it dim.” Dust. “You might be interested. My Lord,” said Jame, an old man in yellow hunting vest that had been Llohreathor’s. His face betokened infinite patience. “You might be
interested to know” (hand on door knob, a heavy brass lamp lighted on a table near books ; Murdo pour ing a drink and one for Jame) “that the keep is flooding badly. The waves have undermined the foundations, washed away some rocks. I’m afraid the salt water’s coming in. I doubt if the structure is sound.” “So?” Murdo handed him a leaky beaker. “So, My Lord, I think the castle is falling.” “With those words and in that vest you sound and look like Chicken Little. I don’t like it.” “I beg My Lord to come and see.” “Well, you have a torch. Let’s go then.” The falling of the donjon was becoming part of life at Murdo. Jame drank off the beaker and put it on a table beside the door, shaking liquor from his fingers as he said in turning: “Follow me. Sir.” Sniffing Murdo brushed his moustache with his finger. “I know your go thick tricks” (with a sweeping gesture to his hanging family) “so stay in your frames; refrain from bleeding. You’re not statues and I’ll have no weeping.” With Jame diminishing down the hall before him, he closed the library doors behind him and start ed to follow between the standing armor that had not yet been sold. In the day Murdo could see eyes moving in the helmets when the beavers reflected light from the leaded windows high above. A fig on you all, he thought, and on this rotten castle. But the armor didn’t hear, and there were no eyes at night. Murdo’s mind went back to the library where, of course, to no musical ac companiment whatsoever. They left their frames as soon as the door closed. Old ancestor Tetley, bought at auction in a mo ment of w h i m s e y by Henry’s grandfather; Finian, painted late in life, and his Lady, who had been Tetley’s; three Keals — one great beard, one great wig, and one Lady with great-muff and diminutive dog; Melissa Catherina and her Murdo, and four others (including Henry’s Papa) with their wives. Wigs, hoops. Regency, whiskers, Henry’s father with walrus mous tache : all these gathered in a jumble at the gothic windows. They were dark, as in their por(Continued on Page 26)
INVASION! By David McNutt
Following in the tradition of Guy de Maupassant and O. Henry, Mr. Mc Nutt’s short story is one whose most prominent feature is the surprise end ing. His effect depends primarily upon the use of “quasi-anachronism.” In one fell blow Mr. McNutt’s conclusion both suggests anachronism and at the same time reduces it to mere appearance. It is revealed as no more than pseudo anachronism. The tension created by this device serves to emphasize the es sential constancy of man’s nature throughout time. The reader is led to reflect upon those unchanging fears and ideals which are shared by all men of all ages. A.E.W.
The water was cold and dark and choppy that day, and the sky had turned a threatening gray. A light wind whipped the stinging salt spray over the bows of the tiny in vasion craft that glided along slow ly in the water. The boy huddled in the bow of one of the leading boats, his head jammed low into his shoulders in an attempt to keep out the spray. He tugged at a strap that was biting into his shoulder muscles, then glanced about him at the other soldiers in the boat. Most were battle-hardened veterans of
the bitter, scorching - hot North African campaign. The boy himself was a green replacement, having been in the squad only two months. His glance fell on the sergeant. The huge, barrel-chested soldier crouched amidship in the boat, his huge metal helmet adding to the character of hard and unrelentless drive. He was one of the veterans of the North African campaign, and had been wounded twice, but he was now back in the fray again. A gruff man (he allowed no mis takes in his squad) drilling to ex haustion for the tiniest slip-up. The boy looked further aft to the captain, who sat in the stern of the boat with his head bowed forward in an attempt to escape the driving spray and the waves that sloshed over the gunwales of the boat. A capable leader, he was a veteran of three campaigns al ready, and commanded the respect of all those under him. He would call a man into his own tent and there, in private, reprimand him for disobedience or a misdemeanor, but would stand a man up before the whole company for praise or a promotion. Men followed a leader like that. The boy’s thoughts dwelled briefly on the coming invasion. He
was only one small part of the gi gantic operation that would trans port men and supplies across eighty miles of treacherous English Channel to the waiting enemy shores. It was the first big push of the army in this theater of ope rations, and many of the new theories about landing operations were yet to be tried. Whether the invasion would be a costly one or merely a dry run was something only the leaders cared to guess. The boy knew nothing of the enormous preparations necessary for the in vasion, nor did he care to find out about any of it. He was ignorant of what the cost would be in hu man lives and valuable material, but he had heard the seasoned campaigners in the squad discuss ing their landings, and he was afraid. A scene flashed through his mind. An officer was bending over him and talking to two other sol diers. “Take him down the beach and put him with the rest of the dead.” He shuddered, and then, as al- * ways when there was time, his mind drifted back home . . . He re membered her as he had last seen her, the wing tugging at the scarf tied about her dark hair, her eyes shiny and wet from unshed tears, the tiny mouth bravely smiling but 15
trembling noticeably. Behind her stood his mother, her face set with the quiet courage he had seen all his life but only now appreciated. Beside them was his father, proud ly erect but fiercely blinking his eyes. He had waved to them as long as he had seen them, and then hi|t arm had dropped limply to his side. But that was all in the past now. Months of intensive training had hardened his young body into a mass of steel muscles, ready to kill. He had been transformed from a laughing, carefree teen-ager into a deadly potential killer. The boats plowed on, and the boy looked again over the gunwales at the sea. The water in the Channel was not the sparkling white-capped blue of the open sea, but a dull, evil-tempered brownish gray, con stantly in motion. The invasion boats rose giddily on the crest of one wave, then plunged sickeningly into the trough of the next, there to start all over again. The boy glanced far out to the sea. The horizon on this day was nonexist ent. Where it should have been there was only a uniform grayness, so that it appeared as if the ships were destined to sail forever on a limitless sea. A sudden lurch in the boat sent him sprawling into the filthy black bilge water at the bottom of the craft. Red-faced and dripping with slime, he raised himself from the filth and leaned back against the bulkhead. His heavy helmet was pressing down unbearably on his head, and he took it off for a mo ment to relieve the pressure. The wind touseled his thick, wavy hair and dried the cold, sour sweat on his forehead. He shifted his weight, tightened his battle har ness, and checked his battle gear once more. Sighing, he buckled the helmet back on and leaned back once more. He thought of the beach they would land on ... . “Take him down the beach and put him with the other dead.” “The Coast!” The cry brought the boy scrambling to his senses. He gripped his weapon tightly and peered out at the approaching coastline. It was black, but even at this distance he could make out high cliffs and a thin stretch of beach. The boats pounded steadily on, and details became clearer and sharper. He could make out large 16
masses of black rocks on the beach, and he wondered about it for a moment. Then it hit him with a shock: those were the enemy, wait ing to kill him! His mind was in a panic. Looking heavenward, he said a quick prayer and nervously ran the tip of his tongue over his dry lips. The boy could see the enemy plainly now, and then with a soft whispering ssssssshhhhhhh and a wooden Thump! the boat was at last grounded on the invasion beach. He closed his eyes and gripped his weapon so tightly his palms began to bleed, and his face became colorless and waxen with fear . . . “You all right, son?” The captain peered anxiously into the face of the boy. The boy nodded, grinned half-heartedly, and drew his weapon. “Over the side, then,”
the captain ordered and immediate ly executed his own order, landing in the dark, swirling waist - high water, he fought his way ashore. The boy gripped his weapon tightly and mechanically imitated the captain’s action. The cold water revived him with a shock, and he struggled toward the beach, trying to keep the captain in sight. Sud denly something struck him in the chest with terrible force. He tried to wrench the metal from his chest, then sank to his knees on the beach. The sand turned a bright crimson under him. The last thing he heard was the words, “Take him down the beach and . . .” An officer bent over him and removed the feathered shaft from the boy, the first of Caesar’s legionnaires to die on the beaches of Britain in the first invasion of England, 44 B.C.
Hymn of Praise by A. Olafson Fill up your glasses then and hold them high. And let loud skoals and singing fill the sky. A happy night we’ll have to celebrate The love of life, which casts away all hate. Tide not your pure and holy face, 0 man So filled with pious grace, but if you can Now join the dance before the moon and stars And cry aloud through space ’til heaven jars. Fill up your glasses, fill them to the brim. And ever with great, joyous skoals praise Him.
Elements of the Sublime In Yeat's "Leda and the Swan" By Albert E. Wilhelm
“Yeats was by nature no purist,” writes Edward Engelberg, “and his aesthetic, though it is remarkably self-consistent, offers little to the purist critic. The vexing question of genuine ‘influences’ is nearly im possible to solve with certainty be cause Yeats was at times an er ratic reader and occasionally too cavalier as a reporter of his read ing.”’ Engelberg’s observation sets the mood and establishes the in tent of this essay. Even though we have evidence that Yeats was well acquainted with Burke, Longinus, and other writers on the sublime, I shall not attempt to trace the development of Yeat’s thought on the subject or to analyze the deriv ative elements in his poetry. In a paper of this scope such an analysis might verge upon the fallacy of false cause (post hoc ergo propter hoc) or the genetic fallacy. It will, I think, be more instructive to con sider earlier theories of the sublime as interpretive tools rather than as formative influences. It should also be noted at this point that Yeat’s asthetic theory apparently did not include an ex plicit theory of the sublime. We find, however, an alternate concept whose meaning is closely analogous or equivalent. Engelberg points out: “ ‘Sublimity’ was a word used infrequently by Yeats but its mean ing was conveyed by ‘ecstasy’, a word he was very fond of us ing . . .”2 Speculation on the sublime had its origin in the work of Longinus, a third-century Greek philosopher. Longinus’s importance for modern thinkers lies in his distinction be tween the sublime style (as a rhe torical conception) and the sublim ity which is achieved through con tent. For Longinus the point of emphasis is invariably the creative mind and its thoughts rather than grandiose language.
This distinction is amplified in the seventeenth century by Boileau whose theory contains an explicit censure of the traditional sublime style of rhetoric. For Boileau “. . . the greatest thought in simple language is the highest form of the sublime, since the thought operates directly and with no let or hindrance to the reader’s mind, filling it with awe and awakening emotions of a very intense kind . . . The very contrast between the striking event and the matter-offact language in which it is re corded serves to make the state ment effective.”” It would seem that Yeats’s “Leda and the Swan” provides an excellent supporting example of Boileau’s thesis. Here a striking event — an annunciation or union of God and man — is pic tured in starkly realistic terms. Aesthetic distance is nil: All verbs in lines 1-10 are conspicuously in the present tense, and no attempt is made to achieve distance by means of spacial removal. In short, the setting becomes the “here” and “now.” Anatomical references are exact and unmincing — thighs, breast, finger, loins. The language is revealed as even more colloquial when we consider (as does John Unterecker) possible puns on such words as “laid” and “lies.” Before continuing our analysis of “Leda and the Swan” we must consider the aesthetic theory of Edmund Burke, the most promi nent eighteenth-century writer on the sublime. The keystone of Burke’s aesthetic is emotion, and the foundation of his theory of sub limity is the emotion of terror. He writes: “Whatever is fitted in any sort to excite the ideas of pain and danger, that is to say, whatever is in any sort terrible, or is convers ant about terrible objects, or ope rates in a manner analogous to terror, is a source of the sublime;
that is, it is productive of the strongest emotion which the mind is capable of feeling . . The experience of sublimity then is accompanied by a mixture of positive and negative feelings to ward the object. As Jerome Stolnitz points out, it is both “awful” and “aweful” — we are frightened of it but also enobled by it. Kant writes, “. . . the mind is not merely attracted by the object but is ever being alternately repelled . . . the satisfaction in the sublime does not so much involve a positive pleas ure as admiration and respect.”” If Burke’s definition is accepted as a suitable characterization of the sublime, it becomes immediate ly apparent that “Leda and the Swan” involves a multi-dimensional concern with sublimity. Zeus in the guise of a swan is an embodiment capable of inducing sublime emo tions. Leda experiences such emo tions through direct contact with Zeus. Her experience (i.e., the sex act or the conception) is itself con ducive to feelings of sublimity. The reader is thus exposed to both a primary and a secondary embodi ment of the sublime. His own emo tional reaction may introduce a further dimension to the pattern. The overall structure of the poem is then roughly analogous to the play-within-a-play or picture-within-a-picture effect (cf. such works as Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream or Picasso’s “Paint er and Model”). One might object on the grounds that Leda’s reaction to the swan is not one of sublimity but pure terror. If this is so such an exp«pience clearly cannot partake of the sublime. In such a case “the per cipient would become wholly con cerned with his personal well-be ing, and he would be motivated to practical action. Burke takes ac count of this: ‘When danger or 17
pain pass too nearly, they are in capable of giving any delight, and are simply terrible; but at certain distances, and with certain modifi cations, they may be, and they are delightful, as we every day experi ence.’ To be sure Leda’s initial reac tion to the “sudden blow” is ex treme fright. But this feeling is soon modulated and becomes what well may be in Yeats’s scheme an exalting and e n o b 1 i n g emotion. Unterecker provides a succinct an alysis of this transition. He sees in Yeats’s use of the sonnet form a kind of fulcrum at lines eight and nine (i.e., between octave and ses tet.) “For one instant, the instant of Helen’s conception, the opposing flows of passion intersect. Zeus at the beginning of the poem had been passionate, Leda helpless and ter rified. At the end of the poem Leda is ‘caught up’ in his passion, Zeus is ‘indifferent.’ But at the struc tural center of the poem a kind of communion takes place. Leda must feel, Yeats insists, ‘the strange heart beating where it lies’ at exactly the instant that ‘A shudder in the loins’ engenders the fu ture.”^ Unterecker goes on to show that even the rhythm of the poem em phasizes the shift in the passions of the two characters; “The five anapests literally move Leda through the poem staggering her, loosening her thighs, letting her be caught up, and finally letting her drop (the staggering girl,’ ‘her loosening thighs,’ ‘Being so caught up,’ ‘the indifferent beak’).® The sublimity of this experience is communicated to the reader by means of imagery which closely parallels Burke’s analysis of the elements of the sublime. Burke cites objects of vast size as the most common of these elements. However, he also takes into account obj ects which are not of great magnitude but which possess vast power, e.g., hurricanes, volcanoes, and waterfalls. This aspect of the sublime is thoroughly exploited by Yeats. Consider such lines as: A sudden blow: the great wings beating still . . . He holds her helpless breast upon his breast . . . Being so caught up. So mastered by the brute flood of the air . . . I commented above about the realistic nature of Yeats’s lan guage. It may then seem somewhat 18
paradoxical to suggest that the sublimity of “Leda and the Swan” is further enhanced by elements of vagueness. This, however, ap pears to be the case. To be sure, the description of the rape is exact insofar as exactitude is possible. But there is inherent to the chosen subject matter an essential vague ness. Consider Unterecker’s refer ence to “ ‘those terrified vague fingers’ (visually vague because buried in feathers or blurred from beating, emotionally vague be cause, in spite of the fingers’ ter ror, thighs already loosen . . .).”* The image of “The feathered glory” is similarly vague and in definite. It is, however, a powerful image because of this undeveloped potential. In other words, the ef fect of such vagueness is to amp lify the awefulness of the unknown by refusing to place definite limits upon it. Burke’s theory of the sub lime lays great emphasis upon such phenomena. In fact, Burke objects to clarity in the arts and insists upon the essential pettiness of ideas that the reason can grasp. “A clear idea,” he says, “is there fore another name for a little idea.”i« One final element in Burke’s catalogue of the sublime is particu larly applicable to the art and over all world-view of William Butler Yeats. This is the element of dif ficulty — that quality of an object or situation “which seems to owe its existence to a vast expenditure of labor and effort.” It is not, I think7 stretching the point too far to suggest that, for Yeats, diffi culty is the essence of all forms of existence. In his vision of real ity Yeats draws a sharp dichotomy between objective and subjective, solar and lunar. Will and Creative Mind. The natures of individual men, of countries, and even of the vast historical cycle (or Magnus Annus) depend upon a dynamic op position between these antinomies. Each real phase of the Great Wheel is characterized by a Heraclitianlike tension or, in Burke’s termi nology, a “difficulty.” Only phase one (complete objectivity) and phase fifteen (complete subjectiv ity) are pure in composition, and these states are never embodied in particular men. The idea of a wedding of con traries which is sustained only through “difficulty” lies at the basis of the conception of “Leda and the Swan.” On one level we see
a godhead assuming a foreign dis guise to consummate a love that is presumably equally foreign to his nature. On the other hand there is Leda, the object of his desire, who alternately resists and yields to his passion. The fruit of this union — Helen of Troy and Castor and Pol lux — suggest perhaps the basic, archetypal dichotomy of all human existence ; for in this mythical con ception beauty artd war, love and strife, are siblings and are born of the same flesh. Whether William Butler Yeats was directly influenced by Longi nus, Boileau, Burke, and others, and whether he consciously strived for the effects of sublimity cited here are moot questions. Neverthe less, these theories of the sublime serve as valuable interpretive tools in an examination of Yeats’s work. Notes 'Edward Engelberg, The Vast Design (Toronto, 1964), p. 9. "Ibid., p. 11. "Samuel H. Monk, The Sublime; A Study of Critical Attitudes in Eigh teenth-Century England (New York, 1935), p. 31. 4Ibid., p. 91. "Jerome Stolnitz, Aesthetics and the Philosophy of Art Criticism (Boston, 1960), p. 273. "Ibid. “John Unterecker, A Reader’s Guide to William Butler Yeats (New York, 1959), p. 188. «Ibid., p. 189. "Ibid. '"Monk, p. 94. "Ibid., p. 93.
WATCH for the Spring Issue of
PHOENIX (May, 1965)
Et-Y-Mon Where one with many languages His doubt and hate assuages, Gift may a poison prove, For gelt is guilt at one remove. Yet Haggard Sophia transmutes To holy wisdom of Byzantine roots; So even God may be good. If being mad can be wood.
#1 A sudden star May shock a point of space And blacken. Ships still mark the shadowed light; Lovers warm to echoed fire. Eons of death-masks Trace the night. —By Charles Bebber
—By Hugh Keenan
Kite-day look o look at today the kite-day riding frailly the wind of all yesterdays it frail like willow it dip and flutter on paper wings gay as child’s red balloon o morning middle sunset set kite-wind free and curvetting coquettishly from clenched hand’s grasp kite-today look o go laughingly into night —By Virginia Dumas
I heard Night breathe laughter. Stroked by warm, streaming rain. In lightning I saw night silver. Naked. —By Charles Bebber
Dejection My heart, full of hope, rushes out through the window to the bleak world. Hope of seeing life . . . But it is gone, and the brittle, dank branches of the trees scrape my heart in the empty wind. ■By Ane Christensen
Many Things ... By Charlyn Paul
It had all started with the bird — the female pigeon with the crippled right wing and the softly watchful eyes. She had first no ticed it foraging for food in the graveled parking lot that spread bleakly outside her kitchen win dow. After breakfast during the days and weeks that followed she had scattered food for the bird in the weedy little flower bed outside the doorway to the dingy basement apartment. The bird kept coming back, winging down into the park ing lot and dragging the dirty tip feathers of her right wing toward the crumbs in the flower bed. It always exhibited a direct forth rightness of purpose which was ac centuated by the bobbing head. The bird’s eyes were still wary and she was ready for instant flight when ever the girl approached, but un derstanding was there and no real fear. The bird would often peck in dustriously, close to the skirts of the quietly kneeling figure that had somehow come to mean suste nance and warmth. Then the slen der figure in the old tweed coat would straighten and the bright head would lift. By the time the girl was halfway on her four block walk to the subway entrance the bird would be climbing out between the sooty buildings, to wherever pigeons go. The parking lot was very empty when the girl was not there. 20
There is a very special kind of loneliness in New York. Especially in the basement apartments on the fringes of Washington Square when all the leaves have fallen and darkness and chilling rain sweep through the streets. It is most op pressive in the moments just be fore the subways spill the surging dark masses that they swallowed up in the first grey light of the morning. That day the loneliness which met the girl in the damp tweed coat at the foot of the puddled steps leading down from the puddled parking lot was a little too much to bear. She came in and laid the coat carefully on the nar row bed. In the doorway of the tiny kitchen she looked long at the cold dishes, washed and neatly stacked in the drain rack. Then she went to the bathroom and for a long moment studied the quiet face in the mirror. She dried the hair and combed it into softness and touched her wide lips carefully with a vivid lipstick. Slipping into the damp coat, she clicked the wall switch beside the basement door and stepped firmly out into the darkness. She had never been in the bar before, though she had passed it many times and remembered the music and the laughter that spilled from the doorway in the long eve nings. There was no hesitancy in her step and the head was lifted and challenging as she moved into
the warm, noisy darkness. As the undistinguishable faces turned to ward her from the bar, she paused only for the slightest moment be fore she moved into the dark booth by the wall. He was sitting there across the dark, wet table, and he had been watching her, his eyes oriented to the darkness. He made no move or sound until she had slipped her coat from her should ers. Then he took it from her searching hands and hung it care fully on the hook just outside the booth. “Hi!”, he said, and slid quietly back into the dim booth. There was something in his voice that com pletely stilled the alarmed surprise in her throat. She did not leave the booth. Her first instinctive movement in arising had been strangely halted by the calmness in that voice from the darkness. The voice was slurred. “Wasn’t ex pectin’ c o m p ’ n y” . . . and the tongue was thick, but there was a quietness about it that was almost protective. “Good evening,” she said. “I’m sorry ... I didn’t know this booth was occupied.” And then . . . “Is . . . is there someone sitting . . . here?” And she touched the table top before her. She could see his head move in the darkness, now. “Just you.” And, as he caught the hesitancy . . . “Please stay.” “It’s very dark in here.” She
looked about the huge room, cover ing her sudden embarrassment. She could see now the smoky paint ings above the bar. There was a mountain, topped with grey ice and footed with yellow flowered trees. A lush, reclining nude woman with long dark hair and a rose in her hand . . . and a wild battle scene, with Indians brandishing toma hawks. “Some of us like it that way,” he said. The voice was low. “Yes,” she said, “I suppose I understand.” . . . and then, to the waiter who suddenly stood there in the gloom . . . “I’d like . . . a . . . a drink, please” . . . and then, in sudden desperation in the silence that followed . . . “whiskey . . . bourbon whiskey . . . and water, please.” The waiter departed silent ly and she relaxed. “You don’t drink often,” he said. “And certainly not in here.” The words were slurred again, but she
could see his eyes now, and they were leveled quietly, speculatively on her own. “No,” she said. “But somehow this was a special sort of night.” “Celebration?” She hesitated. “Rather . . . just the opposite, I think.” He lifted his glass heavily. He drank heavily. “Welcome!”, he said softly. The waiter arrived on heavy feet. She could see that his apron was dirty. She lifted the glass that he had placed before her. “Thank you,” she said, and she was now speaking to the shadowy figure across the table. “I’m glad that you were here.” She meant it and was surprised that she dicL The nights grow long around and about Washington Square. Perhaps it is because of the rest less spirit of the people who live there. Perhaps the atmosphere of the old neighborhood encourages.
through some strange force of its own, the hungry quest of its lonely people, who are hungry for one another. In the dark booth she watched him drink, her own glass halftouched before her, the ice long since melted. She knew that she should go home . . . should have gone home long ago. But she stayed. “The world,” he said, “is large . . . and filled with many things ...” and the glass trembled in his hand. “Alice in Wonderland . . .” “Have you seen it?”, she asked gently. “No . . . and I know of no one who has. Do you?” She shook her head. “Not all of ^ it.” “There are a great many worth while things in this world, I sup pose,” and he thought long and drunkenly before continuing. (Continued on Page 23) 21
Poetry As A Parlor Game By Larry Yates
It really wasn’t our intention to write poetry when we got together just before Christmas last year. Ordinarily we constitute a group of earnest, if less than masterful, poets who regularly meet at some body’s home to exchange comments and criticisms about each other’s poetry. But on this particular eve ning about midway in the session, one member of the group brought forth a catchy little poem by Ger ard Manley Hopkins that is en titled “Triolet” and goes like this: ‘The child is father to the man.’ How can he be? The words are wild. Suck any sense from that who can; ‘The child is father to the man.’ No; what the poet did write ran, ‘The man is father to the child.’ ‘The child is father to the man!’ How can he be? The words are wild.
The poem was infectious. The entire group of striving poets, and even the small number of nonpoetic friends attending the meet ing, were immediately attracted to this bit of unpoetic poetry. Its ba sic form almost demands that, in order for it to be successful, it must be both written and read in a light-hearted manner. This seems evident, but for most of those pre sent, experience dictated that to treat a poem frivolously in its cre ation was to invite literary disas ter. Because the nature of this poem seemed to contradict one of the empirieal laws of writing poetry— that is, that the conscientious poet 22
must beat out his brains for count less hours in order to attain success in expression and originality — a deep philosophical discussion was impending. (The reader has prob ably experienced this type of argu ment in which the strongest per suader was nature.) In order to avoid the ravage and waste from an oral battle, the member who was guilty of introducing this enigma suggested that we stop arguing for fifteen whole minutes and each person there attempt to write a triolet (the name of this poetic form). The first group to protest against this unorthodox approach to the creative process of poetry was comprised of those members who argued that even with poetry which is light in tone, great care and massive expenditures of time and mental energy are required to realize success. They finally agreed to the experiment, but with serious reservations as to whether any thing could be produced in that time span. The second faction to emit pro testations was the small group of innocent bystanders, the non-poetic guests. They finally and goodnaturedly agreed when the design er of the experiment explained that their efforts would help demon strate whether this type of form was so simple as to be adequately handled by even an inexperienced person. Some simple preparation was
necessary before the 15-minute writing period began: locating a piece of scrap paper and a pencil, and familiarizing ourselves a little with the form and meter. This is how the person who introduced the poem described it: Run your lines with a meter of “da dowdy dowdy dowdy dow,” with a rhyme pattern of ABAAABAB, re peat line 1 in line 4 and line 7, and repeat line 2 in line 8. There are eight lines in the poem.
An umpire-type member checked his watch and the signal to begin was given. The opening minutes of this creative moment were relig iously quiet, and the atmosphere in the room was charged with this combined mental effort visually transmitting its intensity in the shifting of seated bodies and being audibly transmitted in sounds of pencil-gnawing. But all of a sudden the earnest silence was cracked by a chuckle. Soon other chuckles widened the crack and then the first burst of laughter both shat tered any remnants of earnestness and grounded the air of any elec trical charges. Before the period was through, nearly every writer was beaming a successful smile and most were impatiently waiting for the slower authors to finish so that each literary “gem” could be read aloud and enjoyed for what merit it had. The first criterion was satisfied in that each writer was proud that
he had managed to get something on his paper which succeeded as a light hearted poem and which stimulated frivolity while it was being written. At the terminating signal, only one writer had not been able to finish his triolet and it was because, as he admitted, he had made the mistake of trying to con tain wholly serious subject matter within the triolet form. The second criterion, that of stimulating light - heartedness in the listener, could only be de termined if the pieces were read aloud and judgment passed as to success or failure of both indi vidual works and the entire collec tion. Here is a sampling of the triolets created within that fifteen minute period; Friday Next Door Oh Lord, preserve me from the stinks That come from cooking Friday fish! Those high church folks are really finks— Oh Lord preserve me from the stinks! If they would just eat sausage links And go to hell. But eat that dish? Oh Lord, preserve me from the stinks That come from cooking Friday fish!
While the above triolet gave one of the “high church folk” an op portunity to express her own thin ly - disguised, homely experience, this second poem gave another poetess the opportunity to express a desire for originality in her cloth ing (because no encyclopedia lists her type of goat) :
Spot Remover Remove that spot from my new coat, No matter what the work or cost. It’s made from Persian long-haired goat; Remove that spot from my new coat. In the Bible some sage has wrote “To spin and weave is labor lost.” Remove that spot from my new coat. No matter what the work or cost.
At least one experimenter dem onstrates that while humor is the best tone for this form, one cer tainly can introduce an underlying suggestion of seriousness and still be successful: Old Bones To hear the rattle of old bones; It sets a fever in my head. Restatements of forgotten groans— To hear the rattle of old bones. This clatter touches wistful zones; I wish old bones were good and dead. To hear the rattle of old bones— It sets a fever in my head.
This next example again breaks into striding levity but truthfully imparts a common sentiment fount in today’s society: (Continued on Page 25)
Many Things . . . (Continued from Page 21) “There are great mountains, and wide valleys, and quiet streams, and . . .” and the gesturing hand caught the edge of her glass and the table top flooded with weak bourbon and water. Though she tried to evade it the liquid drained over the table’s edge and into her lap. Clumsily he tried to stem the flow from the table with a hand kerchief. “I am so very sorry” . . . “It was nothing,” and she arose. He eyed the dark, spreading stain on the front of her skirt. Slowly he folded the handkerchief and re turned it to his pocket . “I must go,” she said. He remained erect, weaving a little against the table’s edge. “I’m sorry,” he said again, and he was not speaking of the stain on her skirt. Impulsively she reached across the table and touched his hand. “It’s filled with many things.” And she hardly knew why she said it. He staggered heavily, helping her with her coat. As she turned away from the table she saw him drop exhaustedly into his seat and looking back, she saw his head drop into his folded arms. The bar tender was watching too. Quickly she turned back to the table and touched his shoulder gently. His head lifted in wonderment. “Come with me,” she said simp ly. And he did. Somehow, he did. In the little basement apartment the first light of morning faded in through the curtains, and the girl who had slept fitfully in the chair by the window stirred into tired wakefulness. Across the room, stretched long and lean on her bed, covered with her best blanket, slept the man. She went into the little kitchen and moved wearily through fami liar tasks. Coffee. Frozen orange juice. An egg, waiting for the water to boil. Two slices of bread in the rusty toaster. There was a faint noise from the next room, and she looked through the doorway. He had rolled onto his side and his face was toward her. He was quiet in repose. His breathing softened. She found two more eggs in the re frigerator and placed them beside the first. And as she stood there
running her fingers vaguely through her hair, she remembered. She awakened h i m carefully, knowing that he would not remem ber. She knew that he would not smile, but relief came flooding when the look of repose did not leave his face when he became fully awake and looked at her. “Are you all right?”, he said. The question was true, and the voice was gentle and sincere. “I’m fine!”, she said, and she smiled a little. “How are you?” He stretched his rumpled figure upright. He swayed. “Okay, I guess. Do you have a drink around here?” She walked slowly across the room and from behind the books on a wall shelf she withdrew a small brown bottle. She handed it to him in silence and turned back into the kitchen. The three eggs she lowered carefully into the boil ing water. She lowered the flame under the now raging coffee and pressed the lever on the old toaster. When she turned back to the liv ing room the bottle was empty. He lurched slightly as he made his way into the bathroom, and she heard the retching that he had dreaded and that she had expected. She carried orange juice and cof fee to the table beside the bed. When he came out of the bath room he had washed his face and neatly combed his hair. His tie was fastened. “I’m sorry about last night,” he said, and he sipped slowly at the orange juice. “Must’ve been pretty rough on you ... I remember about your dress . . . and . . . everything.” She kept her eyes on her orange juice. “I don’t quite know what to say,” he continued lamely. Then she lifted her eyes, and there was some flame in them. She lifted the bright glass and her eyes met his. “Repeat after me!”, she said. “The world is large . . . and filled with many things!” Outside, in the parking lot, a pigeon with a crippled wing pecked busily at a beer bottle cap. Failing entirely in this endeavor she walked in her busy, nodding way to the little weed-grown flower bed beside the window. No cracker crumbs. She was late this morning. And then the door opened. Two of them. She was smiling up at him. The bird’s breakfast was in her hand. 23
A Consideration of "Yarrow Revisited, III" *'W
By Mary Lee Washburn
A Place of Burial in the South of Scotland Part fenced by man, part by a rugged steep That curbs a foaming brook, a Graveyard lies; The hare’s best couching-place for fearless sleep; Which moonlit elves, far seen by credulous eyes. Enter in dance. Of church, or sabbath ties. No vestige now remains; yet thither creep Bereft Ones, and in lowly anguish weep Their prayers out to the wind and naked skies. Proud tomb is none; but rudely-sculptured knights. By humble choice of plain old times, are seen Level with earth, among the hillocks green: Union not sad, when sunny daybreak smites The spangled turf, and neighbouring thickets ring With jubilate from the choirs of spring! —William Wordsworth
The sonnet “A Place of Burial in the South of Scotland” is one of Wordsworth’s later poems well worth our time and study. With few others, this poem stands apart from most of Wordsworth’s writ ing after 1807 — it treats the sub ject matter of the Lyrical Ballads and produces much of their effect upon the reader, but does not em ploye either the technique set forth in the “Preface” to the Second Edi tion or illustrate the general weak nesses of the later poetry. The poem is not a lyrical ballad. Written in classic Italian sonnet form, the octave describes the graveyard as Wordsworth saw it in autumn—the “foaming brook,” the “wind and naked skies.” The 24
sestet is an interpretation of the autumn scene by imagining it in spring. The sonnet form is too re strained to be called lyrical. The meter is almost a regular iambic pentameter, including only a few spondaic feet for emphasis (i.e., “G r a V e y a r d,” “Bereft Ones,” “Proud tomb is none”), and the end-rhymes are so tightly con structed that we hear only three stressed vowel-sounds in fourteen endings. There is no narrative, story, or characterization to imply ballad form. The poem is not “about” anything, it is something: a description of an old graveyard in southern Scotland. The subject matter is common — how many poets have written in, about, or
upon a graveyard?— and the win ter - into - spring - symbolizing death - into - resurrection theme was thoroughly hackneyed by the early 1800’s. The significant aspect of this poem is not its form or sub ject, like the Lyrical Ballads, but the original and perceptive presen tation of its form and subject. Wordsworth’s quick perception saw a graveyard “Part fenced by man, part by a rugged steep.” This first line suggests that man and nature are dually important to the description of the graveyard — the graveyard is presented as the meeting place of man and nature. This is not a Churchyard; Words worth emphasizes that there are no religious ties here. A busy graveyard, it is the habitat of na ture’s tiny animals, playground for fairyland’s elves, and weepingground for the Bereft Ones. We notice that these human visitors are not the conventional Loved Ones, described by what they have loved, but the Bereft Ones, de scribed by what they have lost. These people are “credulous,” but not believing or faithful. They “weep their prayers,” they do not pray. They are “lowly,” “humble,” “plain,” and their only emotion is anguish. Even the dead share this total lack of human characteristics, and “Proud tomb is none.” The glint of hope in the last lines is clearly not a man-made emotion. Only nature’s spring suggests the union of man with nature. Thus,
Poetry . . (Continued from Page 23) A Whacking Lot of Cash I’d like to have a whacking lot of cash. Then I could say the hell with my good name. Though stealing purses may be stealing trash. I’d like to have a whacking lot of cash. I’d flourish it abroad and make a smash— Ing sort of spendthrift, wicked, crazy fame. I’d like to have a whacking lot of cash. Then I could say the hell with my good name.
Although more orthodox critics would blanch at the above treat ment of “smashing,” this little bit of fudging lends to the lightness of the tone. The final example was written by a non-poet, a girl who was brought to the meeting as a sort of date. With no experience in poetry-writing, but with a lot of good-sportsmanship, her first poe tic work goes like this;
Yarrow . . . Wordsworth refuses to allow reli gion, faith, belief, love, or pride to enter this graveyard. This is a poem of life, death, nature—noth ing else. The techniques and principles established in the “Preface” are almost completely abandoned in this sonnet. Wordsworth’s lan guage is not the language of ordi nary man, but is often inverted (“Of church, or sabbath ties,/No vestige now remains”) or formal (“spangled turf,” “Proud tomb is none”). He does present ordinary things in an unusual manner, but his use of scenes from humble, rustic life differs from his intent in the “Preface” where he praises the use of simple life as an effec tive background for the all-im portant ‘feeling.’ Here, the back ground emerges dominant to the feeling. There is no “spontaneous overflow,” only an attempt at ra tional explanation. Further, in this poem we find no “worthy purpose” or depiction of man’s passions (ex
cept the two-line anguish), both necessary in the “Preface.” 'In addition to its independence of earlier principles, this poem avoids most of the weaknesses of the post-1807 poetry. There are no rhetorical questions here (XI, “Can written book/ Teach what they learn?”) and no dogmatic attempt to moralize (conclusion of XIII, “So may thy Soul . . .”) as in other selections from “Yarrow Revisit ed” and other later poems. Many of the later poems seem to have only one purpose, the teaching of a moral or spiritual lesson, but here Wordsworth refrains from “teach(ing) the rustic moralist to die.” Happily, he does not resort to supernatural personific a t i o n s of Science, Art, Thought, Love, Sor row — or even Nature. Description and interpretation stand alone. Almost technically perfect, “A Place of Burial in the South of Scotland” deserves study and ap preciation as a work of art and as an attribute to a mind still observ ant, still perceptive, though hope lessly meshed in a melange of ele gies, inscriptions. Thoughts, and Feeling.
“At the Faculty-Grad Student Reception” I wish I had a mug o’ beer All icy cold with foam on top; A beer would fill me full o’ cheer. I wish I had a mug o’ beer— A good light beer, so cold and clear: I’d chug it down and never stop. I wish I had a mug o’ beer All icy cold with foam on top.
The reader will agree that the experiment was successful in that the poetry, written in a very brief period of time and in the spirit of fun, produces results which stimu late similar levity in those who read them. Perhaps not all of the efforts were so successful as those which are presented in this article, but each contained enough merit to warrant the little time and little energy required to compose it. The profit from this pleasurable ex periment may be itemized in these general terms: 1) many of the poets realized that there is more than one attitude possible towards the creative process ; 2) experimen tation with different attitudes may reveal hidden reservoirs of ability undiscovered because of rigidity of creative method; 3) the non-poet may be delighted in discovering that he is capable of writing poe try, providing he avoids discour agement by selecting subject mat ter or form not too challenging for his initial efforts; and 4) a pleas ant evening can be profitably spent in treating poetry as a parlor game. 25
Gothick ... (Continued from Page 14) traits, and they seemed to laugh at rocks and sea, something (Henry imagined) they had never thought to do when they were living. All in a jumble now together, moving strangely. Dark in front of darken ing windows. No sound with what appeared to be their laughing. Murdo caught himself midway down the hall. Arms akimbo. Hunt ing horns. “Jame! I told ’em to stay back.” Jame kept diminishing in wet boots. “Jame!” The old man stopped, turned, sighed : “My Lord?” “You, you fool! They’re making a mockery of me and the keep.” He turned and ran with both hands outspread against the library doors. Cold Wood. Ducking his head as he charged: “Look!” The doors burst open, bangrattle. There were the windows, the three pointed arches with no sha dows standing in what was left of the outside light. Just the portraits black and old books. “Damned cheats,” said Murdo. “God A’mighty,” said Jame. Murdo, sweating, hurried up be side his servant. Took Jame by the arm. He felt wild. Worse than drunk. His brain was stuffed, his feet almost too heavy to move. Clump. His cuff was still wet with liquor from a decomposing beaker. “If the castle falls, Jame, where will we go?” Together they walked to the end of the banquet hall, with its great fireplace, remnants of furniture, and its iron chandelier hanging down above the floor where a long table once had been. Jame with flashlight, Henry with wild eyes: together they walked down stairs built around supporting pillars on which hung armorial shields paint ed by Llobreathor’s M i 11 i c e n t. Down into a dark stone corridor onto which opened low rooms, some with doors, some without, from one of which they could see the corner of an old billiard table illuminated by one of the lamps Jame had lighted in the passageway. Through the hollowness they walked, under dining hall and libra ry, to the door to the donjon sealed off since Millicent fell. Llohreathor hated the keep (Jame had said to Henry), and he didn’t want to hear of the seeping. At the end of passage there was 26
a little door deep in stone that led to another narrow descending cor ridor through the wall that con nected the newer parts of the castle to Cealc’s keep. At the door they stopped. Head spinning, cotton, his gut bulging against and over his belt, Murdo struggled with his trousers in discomfort. “I haven’t look in here for years. Not since mother fell. Dreary place, I recall. Storage rooms. Squealing apparitions,” Murdo said. Jame took a large key from a listing medieval cabinet. Henry grunted. The key was turned. The door opened and light slanted in and up to the low, arched ceiling of the small passageway behind it. Jame switched on his torch with Henry breathing behind him, bend ing in the narrow corridor: black. Harpsichord, doleful. The flash light beam made a growing circle on another solid wood door as they approached through stone. Jame put his shoulder to the wood, pushed it open. A sigh and a tremble came up at them out of blackness. Where the flashlight pointed they could see how the roof had crashed right through the floors, leaving a few beams and planks intact. Between these and some rotted rafters crossing above, and out through the few slit win dows all was black and empty. “Listen,” said Jame. Far below there was an inside hushing, liquid kind of sloughing moving back and forth. A dim wash sound. Tremble. Something near the water beneath them jarred loose and splashed. Hisssigh, tremble. Dampness welled up at them — standing in the door, looking down, seeing nothing — musty, stone dust, rotting wood and salt water. Murdo, leaning on the door jamb, felt a sense of ter ror. “Pour boiling oil on ’em,” he said. Jame led and Murdo followed in growing terror. “Maybe we shouldn’t look. Maybe it’ll go away, the sloughing. Maybe the walls will stand until I die.” “I doubt it. Sir,” said Jame. Steps cut into rock up against the inside of the stone wall of Keel, steps went down, steep down where only light during the day came from the few arrow-slit windows or from the open, collapsed roof, light distorted through broken timbers where floors once were. Murdo stepped carefully, kept close to the rough wall.
All this waste, he thought. The beam of Jame’s torch point ed on timbers, some still whole and stretching from wall to wall, on stone abutments; tried to point through ruin down to where the water “Comes in. Sir, through a hole — Lord knows how big or how deep it is — broken in the founda tion,” he said, and Murdo breathed. “The water moves with the break ers outside, and when it subsides, as the waves do after slapping against the rocks, you can see the gap.” Jame looked up. Suddenly. There was a crack of wood. Stone ground on stone somewhere below them as they stood. Something heavy, from part of a ceiling or a wall, splashed into water. Murdo reached down for the flashlight Jame held. There was a fumble and the torch fell. “I wanted to see,” said Murdo. And its metal tinned on wood and stone; its beam shot up, around. Wood and stone. Then disappeared. There was a grinding. Tremble. The walls were almost quaking in rhythm with the waves. It suddenly and peculiarly oc curred to Henry that he should wheel around and hurl himself run ning upwards and go “Ahghhh!” After all, his house was literally falling and he was still drunk de spite his terror. He spun. Tamborine. But Jame then only had to help his bleeding Master up from where he fell on the steps. He had slipped and fallen as he had tried to wheel even before he had got ten around to saying “Ahghhh!” Hit his nose and ripped his trous ers. “What happened?” said Murdo, numb. “I can’t see. Help me to bed.” “Easily now. My Lord,” said Jame. Silence. Murdo breathing. Damp cold. Then: kettledrums solo, mut ed at first. In the castle after Henry had, as usual, gone early to bed, there was a single scene of warmth and light. In the servants’ wing, built parallel to the sea at an agle off Murdo’s great hall, Jame sat by a fire in the kitchen. There were his wife and the gardener, who leaned forward with his elbows on a small table between them. On the mantel above the fire a heavy old clock ticket. Brass and pewter in the room reflected dull tones of fire light, of lamplight. Jame, Ruth, his wife, and Morgan drank from an-
cient pewter that had belonged to the Scotsman Murdo, had been hid den and saved from the looting English, who buying now would get it anyway. They were talking of the castle falling, gossiping of Tet ley cum Finian. But when they heard it and felt it, the crash out side accompanied by the sounds of jarred pewter, brass, and glass in side the room, their musing talking stopped. They smelled strong dust. “What?” said Ruth. Jame went to the window and looked out to where the donjon had been. In the water-glow darkness down below he could see the white ocean mov ing amid rubble where there had been no sea visible since the time when the mysterious C e a 1 c had started the decay by throwing the first great rocks into the breakers to build his keep. And in another room — dark — off the library overlooking the sea right above the ruining keep, Mur do, sobering, sleepless, lay silent in bed. Before they in the kitchen heard it, Murdo sensed a deep growing rumble and a tearing. All the portraits went blank. He sat up in bed enclosed in curtains: “Gone. I knew you’d go at last, foul apparations. Gone.” Glass broke. Then gradually he felt and heard it — jarring rumble, grinding tear. The swell of kettledrums muted in heavy stone, heavy stroke, slowly thumping, rolling faster and in creasing in discord up to a final Roar that at culmination lingered into hollow diminuendo a long time dying into silence in the damp rooms and basements of that de caying castle. Murdo gripped his bed sheets and stared in horror in to darkness: he heard the sound of ancient brick, stone, mortar, wood en beams ripping loose and tumbl ing down into water. He heard those elements break and fall that had sagged so long on the rocks above the sea. Gripping, thought less but for terror, Murdo smelled the scent of rotten lumber, ancient stone dust as the noise died away. Shuddering Henry pulled the cov ers around him where he lay en closed. A fissure opened in the wall by the bedroom’s dead fireplace. Through broken windows and mas sive crack darkness poured in upon darkness where dust rose out of every pore of that old house. Ar mor fell, and a baroque mirror in the hall. Fresh air cold came in through the broken wall and glass of Murdo cum Finian ap amid dust; chilled — aye — chilled to the very marrow of his bones.
Son-of-a-bet ’cha thought the world was yer oyster, Sittin’ on yer ring-tailed, high-flown high-horse— Suckin’ on th’ purdy anthem witha grain of salt. Readin’ from the Bible, shootin’ craps on Sunday, Makin’ time with women when th’ light turned red. Betcha wish you’re dead—sleep-headed paranoid— Readin’ through th’ newsprint—lookin’ at yer wrist-watch— Tickin’ througha day. Hey there, big-boned buck-passin’ bruiser—bumpkin through the thoroughfare—lookin’ for yer answer there? Runnin’ from the stagnant stare of I. 0. U.? Or was it, I love you, or hate that Jew, or have a few? Boom! went th’ world and henny-penny lost ’is nickel, playin’ on a pin-ball, eatin’ Tuttin-fruitti with ’is silver baby spoon. Look at the moon ona clear night— Thinkin’ wrong was really right—wishin’ ona star. Do you know who ya are?—Till ya look ina mirror, ya half-baked cream-puff—dreamin’ of th’ bonnie fluff of light-brown hair? Look for it there!— In a dime-store. Yer heart’s sore? Whaddya think it’s hurtin’ for? Son-of-a-bet ’cha thought the world was yer oyster, ridin’ on the wait-train—waitin’ on th’ right-train. Wishin’ ona star. Ya know whoya are, but ’cha won’t Go far, ’cause ya can’t get there—from here. —By John Gilbreath