Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
13 Aug. – 14 Sept. 1964
314.1 beginning An: as 315.9-11 indicates, from “A”-14 on the rest of the movements of “A” all begin with “an” (or “an‑“). In a lengthy 12 Dec. 1930 letter to EP, LZ indicates that he planned very early to move from “a” to “an” in the second half of the poem (EP/LZ 80); see also Preface to “Thanks to the Dictionary” (CF 265). Scroggins points out that this opening echoes the title, “Poem beginning ‘The’” (Bio 387).
314.2 An / orange / our / sun…: the opening of this prelude comes from a line at 13.280.10, which also supplies the closing images: pea and wee wee. This line in “A”-13 is sandwiched between two lines quoted from Charlie Chaplin that clearly inspired LZ’s variation (see note at 13.280.8); and these lines are in turn embedded in a passage variously concerned with the sun. There is a draft of this prelude dated 18 Aug. 1962, part of which was extracted and became the first few lines at the top of page 316 (HRC 3.16).
315.15 paddle satellite…: the lunar probe Ranger 7 (315.30) was launched on 28 July 1964 and impacted on the moon 31 July. It had two large paddle-like solar panels sticking out on either side. After a series of failures and near misses, Ranger 7 was a major success and sent back far better closeup photos of the moon, particularly of Mare Nubium, than previously.
315.24 words you / count…: aside from being the first “An” song (see 314.1), “A”-14 is also the first movement that deploys a predominately word count line, as will also be the case in “A”-18, -19, -21-23 and 80 Flowers. However, LZ’s interest in the possibilities of the word-count line goes back at least to “Two Dedications” written in Feb. 1929, on which he remarks in a note to the original version of “American Poetry 1920-1930” in The Symposium 2.1 (Jan. 1931): 64. “A”-14 begins with a one-count line, gradually progresses to two (pages 315-331) and then a three count line through the remainder until concluding with a rapid count down to two then one.
315.30 Ranger VII…: see note at 315.15. The closeup photos Ranger 7 sent back were intended to help determine the viability of an eventual manned moon landing, and one of the key questions was how deep was the dust that covered the moon’s surface (316.2-3).
316.11 Hallel ascents / degrees vintage: Hallel is Heb. meaning praise; designates the group of Psalms 113-118 that are recited during various Jewish holidays. The Hallel group is followed by the Songs of Degrees (also translated as Ascents), Psalm 120-134. LZ used the title, “Songs of Degrees” for a group of poems in Some Time (CSP 144-152); see “A”-12.171.13 and “Thanks to the Dictionary” (CF 284).
316.15 may / ear race / and eye / them: from Psalm 19:8, transliterated from the Hebrew:
קּוּדֵי יְהוָה יְשָׁרִים, מְשַׂמְּחֵי-לֵב; מִצְוַת יְהוָה בָּרָה, מְאִירַת עֵינָיִםפִּ
pikudei adonai yesharim mesamkhei-lev mitsvat adonai bara meirat einayim:
The precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes.
316.21 while I / have being?: from Psalm 104:33: “I will sing unto the Lord as long as I live: I will sing praise to my God while I have my being.”
316.27 Aristippus…: (c.435-356 B.C.) a follower of Socrates and founder of the Cyrenaic school of thought teaching that the ultimate goal of human action is pleasure. According to Diogenes Laertius in his Life of Aristippus: “He bore with Dionysius when he spat on him, and to one who took him to task he replied, ‘If the fishermen let themselves be drenched with sea-water in order to catch a gudgeon, ought I not to endure to be wetted with negus [wine punch] in order to take a blenny [a fish]?’” From Lives of Eminent Philosophers (II.67); trans R.D. Hicks. LZ wrote an early but unpublished poem on Aristippus dated 1923; see “Discarded Poems.”
316.30 bore—he / and now / she—my / bane foe…: through 317.9 from Psalm 104:1 homophonically rendered from the Hebrew with a segment (from “my bane” to “new call) interpolated from Psalm 104:12:
בָּרְכִי נַפְשִׁי, אֶת-יְהוָה יְהוָה אֱלֹהַי, גָּדַלְתָּ מְּאֹד; הוֹד וְהָדָר לָבָשְׁתָּ
barakhi nafshi et-yehva adonai elohai gadalta meod hod vehadar lavashta:
Bless the Lord, O my soul. O Lord my God, Thou art very great; Thou art clothed with glory and majesty.
עֲלֵיהֶם, עוֹף-הַשָּׁמַיִם יִשְׁכּוֹן; מִבֵּין עֳפָאיִם, יִתְּנוּ-קוֹל
aleihem of-hashamayim yishkon mibein ofayim yitnu-kol:
Beside them dwell the fowl of the heaven, from among the branches they sing.
317.10 Dark heart…: refers to Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness (1899); see 317.13, 317.29 and 328.25.
317.13 ‘familiar / vague sounds / exchanged…: through 317.24 from Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness; Marlowe’s account of what Kurtz says when he is intercepted in his attempt to join the savage night rituals: “I’ve been telling you what we said—repeating the phrases we pronounced,—but what’s the good? They were common everyday words,—the familiar, vague sounds exchanged on every waking day of life. But what of that? They had behind them, to my mind, the terrific suggestiveness of words heard in dreams, of phrases spoken in nightmares. Soul! If anybody had ever struggled with a soul, I am the man. And I wasn’t arguing with a lunatic either. Believe me or not, his intelligence was perfectly clear—concentrated, it is true, upon himself with horrible intensity, yet clear; and therein was my only chance—barring, of course, the killing him there and then, which wasn’t so good, on account of unavoidable noise. But his soul was mad. Being alone in the wilderness, it had looked within itself, and, by heavens! I tell you, it had gone mad. I had—for my sins, I suppose—to go through the ordeal of looking into it myself. No eloquence could have been so withering to one’s belief in mankind as his final burst of sincerity. He struggled with himself, too. I saw it—I heard it. I saw the inconceivable mystery of a soul that knew no restraint, no faith, and no fear, yet struggling blindly with itself.”
317.29 ‘I / saw it I / heard it / I saw / her…: through 318.18 splices together quotations from Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness and Henry James, “The Tone of Time” (1903). For “I saw it I heard it,” see above quotation at 317.13, while the next lines come from Marlowe’s visit to Kurtz’s “Intended”: “I saw her and him in the same instant of time—his death and her sorrow—I saw her sorrow in the very moment of his death. Do you understand? I saw them together—I heard them together.”
From “The Tone of Time”: “I may not perhaps say that she was never so sad as when she laughed, but it’s certain that she always laughed when she was sad.”
318.22 Throw bottles / jeering at their funerals…: through 319.3 refers to various images of violent incidents in the African-American struggle for civil rights in Alabama (see note to “A”-16). In April-May 1963, Martin Luther King and other prominent black leaders campaigned for desegregation in Birmingham, Alabama. In May 1963, Commissioner “Bull” Connor ordered dogs and water hoses to be turned on the protesters in Birmingham—the water hoses were reportedly set at a pressure that would strip the bark off trees. Photos and TV footage of young protesters being blasted by the water hoses became iconic images of the civil rights struggle and helped win the demonstrators wide-spread sympathy.
318.22-24: Throw bottles / jeering at / their funerals: specifically refers to the burial of James Earl Chaney (1943-1964), an African-American civil rights worker abducted and murdered by the Ku Klux Klan in June 1964 along with two other white civil rights workers.
319.1: four / little girls / bombed: four African-American girls were killed 15 Sept. 1963 when a church in Birmingham was dynamited by Ku Klux Klansmen.
319.3 ‘better / trust an / unbridled horse / than undigested / harangue’: a remark attributed to Theophrastus (d. 287 BC), student and successor of Aristotle; the translation indicates that LZ found this in the Preface by Arthur Hort to Enquiry into Plants, which is used for an extensive passage in “A”-22.520,23-521.15.
319.7 Crazy / white man! / high altitude tests…: LZ’s notebook indicates this was the reaction of Hawaiians startled at night by the flash of a high altitude nuclear bomb test many hundreds of miles away (dated 7/14/62; HRC 3.16). At the time, the New York Times reported this remark as said by a Samoan. Probably this test was Starfish Prime detonated on 9 July 1962, which created an artificial aurora clearly visible from Hawaii 1,300 kilometers away as well as power outages. However there were numerous such nuclear tests outside the Earth’s atmosphere by both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. between Aug. 1958 and Nov. 1962, which ceased with the Partial Test Ban Treaty signed in Aug. 1963 and went into effect in Oct. 1963 (see 15.367.23, also notes at 15.360.36 and 367.23).
319.15 ‘Fly which / way shall / I fly…: the long passage through 325.6 is taken entirely from John Milton, Paradise Lost, from which LZ splices together short phrases and words from throughout the poem. Go here for a catalog of the passages LZ uses. Further passages from Paradise Lost and other works of Milton appear at 327.2-328.20. Scroggins identifies the edition LZ used as The Poems of John Milton, ed. James Holly Hanford, 2nd ed. (NY: Ronald Press Co., 1953), which includes a life that supplies the biographical details that appear at 327.5-328.2 (Bio 541).
320.19 Tsīyōn: = Zion or Sion; Milton uses the latter form, for which LZ substitutes the Heb. transliteration meaning originally a hill (CD).
324.8 Death on / his pale / horse: from Revelation 6:8: “And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell followed with him. And Power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.”
325.7 As at / the scroll’s / first hanging…: through 326.31 refers to a scroll sent to LZ by Cid Corman (1924-2004) that reproduces a poem by the Japanese Zen poet Ryokan (1758-1831) in the poet’s own famous free-style calligraphy. See “(Ryokan’s scroll)” which includes LZ’s version of Ryokan’s poem working from a literal translation sent to him by Corman: “the / first / snow / out / off / where / blue / eyes / the / cherry / tree’s / petals” (CSP 203), whose images reappear in “A”-14. For Corman’s literal translation and other remarks, see notes to “(Ryokan’s scroll)”; see also the account by Corman, “Ryokan’s Scroll,” Sagetrieb 1.2 (1982). It is not difficult to discern the suggestion of LZ’s initials in the running cursive style of the scroll: see image below.
325.22 ‘I only / see what / sounds—…: through 326.4 and also at 326.22-24 quoting a letter from Cid Corman dated 5 June 1963 from Kyoto, Japan responding to the receipt of I’s (pronounced eyes): “Your EYES just came. I only see what sounds. You probably don’t realize that the Ryokan scroll has been printed upside down, which means the blossoms are falling up. I don’t know how much time that will save you, but it may make a poem called ERRATUM (as an expert erratumcist or erratiasist, erotic erratic, no end to a word when it’s heard, or how the flock gets away) (From the pen.) […] Strange how things mesh. Talking with one of the older teachers at school today, he mentioned visiting Ryokan’s hut in the mountains recently with students. A pretty shabby place evidently, but no end of legends remain. As how secretly embarrassed he would be when someone asked him to write something for them, since his calligraphy was so much admired and treasured” (HRC 22.8). On Ryokan’s scroll see note at 325.7 above. As Corman mentions, the cover of I’s (pronounced eyes) published by Trobar Press in 1963 has a poor reproduction of his Ryokan scroll, which inadvertently was printed upside down as well as cutting off the top characters, even though LZ claimed he specifically marked which side was up when he sent to the printer (Corman, “Ryokan’s Scroll” 286). For a later perspective on this mixup by George Economou, who with Robert Kelly was the publisher of Trobar Press, see Daniel Kane, All Poets Welcome: The Lower East Side Poetry Scene in the 1960s (Berkeley: U of California P, 2003): 242. Image courtesy of the Harry Ransom Research Center (University of Texas, Austin).
327.1 Good gout: gout in Fr. means taste; but also Milton (see below) suffered from gout.
327.2 ‘Not sedulous / to indite / not tilting / furniture: through 326.20 concerns John Milton, primarily using the life of Milton included in The Poems of John Milton edited by James Holly Hanford (2nd ed., 1953), in which LZ found the various quotations from Milton’s prose (see 319.15-325.6).
327.2-5: from Paradise Lost IX.27-39, the autobiographical invocation (Cf. 1.4.11: “Not boiling to put pen to paper…”):
Since first this subject for heroic song
Pleas’d me, long choosing and beginning late,
Not sedulous by nature to indite
Wars, hitherto the only argument
Heroic deem’d, chief maistry to dissect
With long and tedious havoc fabl’d knights
In battles feign’d—the better fortitude
Of patience and heroic martyrdom
Unsung; or to describe races and games,
Or tilting furniture, emblazon’d shields,
Impreses quaint, caparisons and steeds,
Bases and tinsel trappings, gorgeous knights
At joust and tournament; then marshall’d feast
Serv’d up in hall with sewers and seneschals,
The skill of artifice or office mean:
327.5-8: not / able to quaff huge / tankards lustily: from “Prolusion VI,” a comic university exercise written in Latin addressed to Milton’s fellow students. LZ quotes from several of Milton’s Prolusions in Bottom 186, but here he follows the biographical introduction by James Holly Hanford: “Here Milton asks in a half jesting, half angry way why they persist in calling him ‘The Lady.’ ‘Is it,’ he says, ‘because I never was able to quaff huge tankards lustily . . . or, in short, because I have never proved my manhood in the same way as those debauched blackguards?’”
327.9-12: did not / insult only / preferred Truth / to King: “In October, 1649, [Milton] published Eikonoklastes, as an answer to the Eikon Basilike, ‘The True Protraiture of his Sacred Majesty in His Solitudes and Sufferings,’ a work purporting to be by the hand of the martyred king himself. ‘I did not insult over fallen majesty,’ he said later of this pamphlet, ‘I only preferred Queen Truth to King Charles.’”
327.1318: —mere / move from / one residence / to another / a cause / of sickness—: quoted directly from Hanford’s introduction who is paraphrasing Milton.
327.19-24: (had traveled) / after I…: from the autobiographical section of Milton’s Second Defense of the English People describing his travels to Italy: “After I had spent a month in surveying the curiosities of this city [Venice], and had put on board a ship the books which I had collected in Italy, I proceeded through Verona and Milan […].”
327.25-29: —Italian, yes? / —No (dozing)…: this records an incident that took place during the Zukofskys’ 1957 trip to Europe; the respondent is CZ rather than LZ (HRC 3.16). This appears here as a personal analogous substitute for a detail in Milton’s own description of his travels in Italy (see 327.19), when he is warned about his too open expression of his Protestant beliefs: “[…] for it was a rule which I laid down to myself in those places, never to be the first to begin any conversation on religion; but if any questions were put to me concerning my faith, to declare it without any reserve fear.”
327.30-328.2: ‘Retreated to / a pretty / box…: “In the matter of residence Milton’s life after his third marriage was more stable than it had been in earlier days. He moved, perhaps as early as 1663, to en establishment in Artillery Walk, away from the heart of London, with Bunhill fields beyond. Here, as Phillips puts it, was his last stage in this world. For a few months in 1665/6, however, he retreated [because of the plague] for a few months to a ‘pretty box’ in Chalfont St.Giles and it was at this time that he showed the completed manuscript of Paradise Lost to his young Quaker friend Thomas Ellwood.”
328.2-3: the / beyond: myrtles—: from Paradise Lost IX.625-629, but see also quotation in preceding note:
To whom the wily Adder, blithe and glad.
Empress, the way is ready, and not long;
Beyond a row of myrtles, on a flat,
Fast by a fountain, one small thicket past
Of blowing myrrh and balm:
(See also passage at IX.424-431).
328.4-6: love was / not in / their eyes: from Paradise Lost X.111-114:
Love was not in their looks, either to God
Or to each other, but apparent guilt,
And shame, and perturbation, and despair,
Anger, and obstinacy, and hate, and guile.
328.7-8: past who / can recall: from Paradise Lost IX.926: “But past who can recall, or done undoe?”
328.9-11: nothing is / here—for / tears: from Samson Agonistes, lines 1721-1724:
Nothing is here for tears, nothing to wail
Or knock the breast, no weakness, no contempt,
Dispraise, or blame,—nothing but well and fair,
And what may quiet us in a death so noble.
328.12-17: sense variously / drawn…: from the Preface to Paradise Lost, in which he rejects rhyme, arguing that “true musical delight; […] consists only in apt numbers, fit quantity of syllables, and the sense variously drawn out from one verse into another, not in the jingling sound of like endings, a fault avoided by the learned ancients both in poetry and all good oratory.” See CSP 223.14.
328.18-20: To open / eyes make / them taste’: from Paradise Lost IX.866:
This tree is not, as we are told, a tree
Of danger tasted, nor to evil unknown
Opening the way, but of divine effect
To open eyes, and make them Gods who taste;
And hath been tasted such:
328.25 ‘nobody not / a hut / standing…: through 329.21 somewhat altered from Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness. Describing the journey inland to the Central Station:
“No use telling you much about that. Paths, paths, everywhere; a stamped-in network of paths spreading over the empty land, through long grass, through burnt grass, through thickets, down and up chilly ravines, up and down stony hills ablaze with heat; and a solitude, a solitude, nobody, not a hut. The population had cleared out a long time ago. Well, if a lot of mysterious niggers armed with all kinds of fearful weapons suddenly took to traveling on the road between Deal and Gravesend, catching the yokels right and left to carry heavy loads for them, I fancy every farm and cottage thereabouts would get empty very soon. Only here the dwellings were gone too. Still, I passed through several abandoned villages.” […]
“No, I don’t like work. I had rather laze about and think of all the fine things that can be done. I don’t like work—no man does—but I like what is in the work—the chance to find yourself. Your own reality—for yourself, not for others—what no other man can ever know. They can only see the mere show, and never can tell what it really means.”
Harry Gilnois has pointed out that LZ’s substitution of “thick-lips” for “niggers” almost certainly comes from Shakespeare, Othello I.i, where Othello is referred to as “thick-lips” by Roderigo in conversation with Iago (“Dark Heart: Conrad in Louis Zukofsky’s ‘A’, The Conradian 14.1/2 (Dec. 1989): 96).
329.12 infra dig: = beneath one’s dignity; from L. infra dignitatem.
329.22 in- / nocere: L. root of innocent and innocence: in- privative + nocen(t-)s, present participle of nocere, harm, hurt (CD).
330.3 newspaper strike: there was a long newspaper strike in NYC from 8 Dec. 1962 to 1 April 1963.
330.23 abi / gesunt abi: or abi gezunt, Yiddish salutation: as long as you’re healthy.
330.28 Irish / Boston factory / worker forr / Ted’s campaign…: this anecdote is from Edward (Teddy) Kennedy’s first campaign for the Senate in 1962, when his opponent attacked him for never having worked.
331.22 ‘speech / framed to / be heard…: well-known remark from “Poetry and Verse” in the Journals of Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889): “Poetry is speech framed for contemplation of the mind by the way of hearing or speech framed to be heard for its own sake and interest even over and above its interest of meaning. Some matter and meaning is essential to it but only as an element necessary to support and employ the shape which is contemplated for its own sake. (Poetry is in fact speech only employed to carry the inscape of speech for the inscape’s sake—and therefore the inscape must be dwelt on…).”
332.4 incunabula: plural of incunabulum, a book printed before 1501; an artifact of an early period [< L. incunabula, swadding clothes, cradle] (AHD). In “American Poetry 1920-1930,” LZ quotes Hart Crane’s line, “The incunabula of the divine grotesque,” as an example of his “amorphous” quality (Prep+ 139).
332.8 horse-finch: the chaffinch.
332.23 Port / Authority: the New York Port Authority manages all transportation facilities of NYC.
332.13 YAMASHITA LINE: this passage beginning at 332.1 relates to the Zukofskys’ move to a new apartment in early Feb. 1962 at 160 Columbia Heights, which was in the same neighborhood just one street over from 135 Willow Street. In the first letter to Cid Corman written from the new address, LZ describes the apartment and noted the change of view from the northwest looking toward the skyline of Manhattan (see partitia v of “A”-13) to the southwest toward Staten Island and New York harbor, including the piers off the Brooklyn shoreline where he can see a ship of the Yamashita Line. The motivation for this particular detail is that Corman, who was in San Francisco for a couple years, was preparing to return to Japan (letter dated 10 Feb. 1962, HRC 18.7). See note at 333.13,
333.7 Hokusai: Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), Japanese painter and print maker of the Edo period, particularly famous for the print “Great Wave off Kanagawa.” See 18.403.24-404.4, which largely consists of various quotations by Hokusai.
333.13 Alone: the few / minutes I breathe / terrace to watch / the harbor burn—: in a 28 June 1963 letter to Cid Corman, LZ reported that after seeing PZ off at the airport, he returned home on an extremely hot day and went out onto the terrace “to watch the harbor burn” (HRC 18.8).
333.18 B’s Chomei: Basil Bunting’s “Chomei at Toyama” (1932), a free adaptation of the “Record of the Ten-Foot-Square-Hut” by Kamo no Chomei (1153-1216); see Bunting’s Complete Poems 83-94. Early in the work, Chomei describes two fires he witnessed that devastated Kyoto.
333.25 curry-spun-dense: < correspondence; LZ uses this punning spelling on various occasions in his correspondence; e.g. 12 March 1936 letter to EP, which the latter echoed in a subsequent letter (EP/LZ 178, 195).
333.27 Swift had no / scholaress…: Jonathan Swift first met Esther Johnson (Stella) as a tutor and thus she was his “scholaress”; she died in 1728 when Swift was 61 and he lived 17 more years.
334.1 I’m son of / a guileless presser: LZ’s father worked as a pants presser when he immigrated to NYC. In a 11 July 1936 letter to EP, LZ mentions that his father still worked as a presser at over 70.
334.3 Suffenuses: Suffenus is a type of superficial poet; see Catullus, Carmina 22.
334.3 footprints / on the sands / of time…: as LZ indicates at 334.11-12, from Henry Wadsworth Longfellow (1807-1882), “A Psalm of Life”:
Lives of great men all remind us
We can live our lives sublime,
And, departing, leave behind us
Footprints on the sands of time;
334.27 he plays…: presumably PZ, who is also “the child” at 335.10.
334.28 L’Enlèvement d’Europe—: operatic work by Darius Milhaud (1892-1974). The title means the Abduction or Rape of Europa.
334.29 Defoe of / Europe’s jakes…: Daniel Defoe (1660-1731), published a verse satire, The True-Born Englishman (1701), in which he defended King William III against the charge of being a foreigner and includes the following lines (jakes is a latrine; see 355.30):
We have been Europe’s sink, the jakes where she
Voids all her offal outcast progeny.
335.4 kokoro—mind you / […] heart: writing to LZ, Cid Corman uses the Japanese word kokoro in characterizing Catullus, and when LZ asks about the meaning of the term, Corman explains: “KOKORO is the Japanese word which means heart-mind. When a Japanese person uses the word ‘mind’ he touches his heart; NEVER his head” (dated 3 July 1963; HRC 22.8). See 358.8-9.
335.5 recordari re + cor: the etymology of record and recorder is from the L. recordari, call to mind, remember, recollect, think over, meditate upon; from re-, again, + cor(d-) heart = English heart: see cordial. Cf. accord, concord, discord (CD).
335.10 The child once / cried twice…: the child is PZ; see 18.400.3-4.
335.16 grandpa died: this was CZ’s father, Hyman Thaew (1885-1953). See the poem “H.T.” (CSP 144-145), written on the occasion of his funeral.
335.19 only way to / outlast their authority…: from Bertold Brecht; this comes from one of Brecht’s Herr Keuner epigrams or mini-fables: “The only way to fight authority is to outlive it.” LZ’s precise source is uncertain, although the poetic context suggests it may have come from PZ. Directly or indirectly the probable source was Brecht on Brecht, a revue composed out of songs, quotes and excerpts by Brecht and Kurt Weil performed in NYC throughout 1962 when LZ noted this remark in his notebook (HRC 3.16).
335.29 “the theatre’s / an intellectual hogpen”: from H.L Menken (1880-1956), remark from a letter to Burton Rascoe referring to George Jean Nathan, his co-editor of The Smart Set: “I dislike his interest in the theatre, which seems to me to be an intellectual hogpen.” LZ’s source may be a review of Menken’s Letters in the New York Times for 17 Sept. 1961 by Carlos Baker, in which he remarks: “When we note that [Menken] had no ear for poetry and despised the theater as an ‘intellectual hogpen,’ it is difficult to claim for him any special eminence as a literary critic, whatever his skills as philologist and editor.”
336.4 Melville’s windy / quite understandable…: this passage on American authors is evidently a reworking of mostly sarcastic comments by PZ dated Sept/25/61 (HRC 3.16).
336.7 James’ / persisting for all / he prefaced revisions: Henry James revised and prefaced the famous New York edition of his selected works in 24 volumes (1907-1909).
336.10 Twain’s Jim with / integration behind him: Mark Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn (1885); as McMorris suggests (13), this apparently allude to the relationship of Jim and Huck on the raft where the racism that prevails in the society on shore has been left behind. Cf. 18.402.38.
336.12 Adams’ History…: Henry Adams’ History of the United States of America during the Administrations of Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in 9 volumes (1889-1891).
336.13 Hawthorne’s / a chair (grandfather’s)…: Nathaniel Hawthorne (1804-1864), Grandfather’s Chair (1841) was one of Hawthorne’s early works for children which treated colonial and Revolutionary American history. LZ would use material from this work in “A”-23.561.24-27; see Rieke 210-213. Presumably “the scarlet rest” (336.15) alludes to The Scarlet Letter.
336.17 Irving storaged the / storied sketch: Washington Irving’s The Sketch Book (1819-1820) includes his best-known stories.
336.18 Whittier— / wittier authority doily / its lo well…: John Greenleaf Whittier (1807-1892). “lo well” < Lowell, presumably James Russell Lowell (1819-1891). Both were considered major figures of the so-called Fireside Poets.
336.24 Song of Myself / 11 my Shih-king: Whitman’s early long poem sequence and the Shih-king is the Confucian Book of Songs (or Odes), the anthology of ancient poems traditionally edited by Confucius and which EP translated as Shih-ching: The Classic Anthology Defined by Confucius (1954). LZ drew this connection between Whitman and the Shih-king on a number of occasions. Robert Creeley notes: “Zukofsky once told me that, of him, the eleventh section of the ‘Song of Myself’ constituted the American Shih King, which is to say, it taught the possibilities of what might be said or sung in poetry with that grace of technical agency, or mode, thereby to accomplish those possibilities. It presents. It does not talk about or refer to—in the subtlety of its realization, it becomes real” (“Introduction to Penguin Selected Whitman,” Collected Essays (1989): 8). Poem 11 in Whitman’s sequence describes 28 young men bathing naked in the sea being watched by a woman who imagines herself joining them. In his 1930 essay on EP’s Cantos, LZ quotes the image of boys swimming from the Kung Canto (Canto 13) as capturing the perception of Confucius’ thought (Prep+ 68).
336.26 I was Kagekiyo: Kagekiyo is the title character in a Noh play by Motokiyo translated by Fenollosa-Pound in 1914.
336.27 ‘That thunders in / the Index’: from Shakespeare, Hamlet III.iv; Gertrude’s response to Hamlet’s harangue: “Ah me, what act, / That roars so loud, and thunders in the index?” (qtd. Bottom 445).
337.3 No / index was whole…: Bottom: on Shakespeare does of course include an extensive index, in which the last two entries are for CZ and LZ.
337.8 Job’s Lo and / his strength—‘stones’?: see Job 6.12: [Job speaking] “Is my strength the strength of stones? or is my flesh of brass?” and 40.15-17: [the Lord speaking] “Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox. Lo now, his strength is in his loins, and his force is in the navel of his belly. He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together.” See 350.28 where Job and index are again collocated; also 15.360.12 for Job and stones.
337.10 no song summers / but loyal hush / lull—motor off: from Job 35:10 and 38:28, transliterated from the Hebrew:
וְלֹא-אָמַר–אַיֵּה, אֱלוֹהַּ עֹשָׂי: נֹתֵן זְמִרוֹת בַּלָּיְלָה
velo-amar aye eloha osai noten zemirot balaila:
But none saith: But where is God my Maker, who giveth songs in the night.
הֲיֵשׁ-לַמָּטָר אָב; אוֹ מִי-הוֹלִיד, אֶגְלֵי-טָל
hayesh-lamatar av o mi-holid eglei-tal:
Hath the rain a father? Or who hath begotten the drops of dew?
337.16 Low Library’s / Doric columns…: Low Memorial Library is the main library of Columbia University, which LZ attended 1920-1924. Its design is based on both the Pantheon in Rome and the Parthenon in Athens and has imposing classical columns across the front.
337.25 the dead / friend always the / other side of— / River…: WCW who lived in Rutherford and had died the previous year on 4 March 1963. He was buried in a hillside cemetery near Lyndhurst, NJ directly across the Hudson River from Manhattan (see 15.361.17-20 and 374.6-29).
338.3 en canimus: LZ translates this Latin epigram immediately following as quoted in Charles Sanford Terry’s biography of J.S. Bach (18). This and the following Latin epigrams are from the historian of Eisenach, Bach’s native town, Christian Paul Paullini in Annales Isenacenses (1698). See 8.104.1.
338.5 claruit semper urbs / nostra musica: Terry does not offer a translation of this, so the immediately following rendition is by LZ, although more literal might be: our city always shines through music.
338.22 Bach’s necrology from / half-wit aunt…: necrology here means an obituary and refers to the Nekrolog (1754), an obituary which is effectively the first life of Bach put together by his son, Carl Philipp Emanuel, and his pupil, J.F. Agricola, and published a few years after Bach’s death. One of Bach’s paternal aunts is described in Terry as “half-witted” and the quoted remarks are from the sermon at her funeral in 1679: “‘Our sister now with the Lord,’ said the preacher of her funeral sermon, ‘was as simple as a child, knowing not her right hand from her left. Yet her brothers are men of understanding and skill, respected, hearkened to in our churches and schools, esteemed by all the community, men in whom the Master’s work is glorified’” (13).
339.2 Yiddish / Prometheús Desmótes chanted: LZ grew up virtually in the Yiddish theater district and was taken to many classic dramas in Yiddish by his older brother, as mentioned in his Autobiography 33 (see 8.83.25), where he also mentions first reading Prometheus Unbound in Yiddish (63). Here, however, LZ simply gives the transliterated Greek for the title of Aeschylus’ Prometheus Unbound.
339.4 Seb Bach at 14 / mastered Phocylides’ “spurious” / Poíema Nouthetikón in / Greek…: Phocylides was a 6th century B.C gnomic Greek poet who survives only in a few fragments (see next note), but in the Hellenic period, a long didactic poem was passed off as the work of Phocylides. Because of its ethical import this work became a popular school text in the Reformation period. Terry mentions that this text was part of Bach’s schooling by age 14, although not that he “mastered” it (28, 44). LZ gives the Greek title and a translation, which is presumably his humorous take on the version of the title he found in Terry, “Poem of Admonition.” LZ’s is also taking information from John Addington Symonds, Studies of the Greek Poets (1973-1876): “Phocylides enjoyed a high reputation among the ancients. Though few genuine fragments of his sayings have been handed down to us, there is a long and obviously spurious poem which bears his name. Some moralist of the Christian period has endeavored to claim for his half-Jewish precepts the sanction of a great and antique authority. The greater number of those which we may with safety accept as genuine are prefaced by the words καὶ τόγε Φωκυλίδεω (and this too of Phocylides), forming an integral part of a hexameter.”
339.11 kaì tóde Phokulídeo…: the “genuine” Phocylides’ verses commonly opened with this Gk. phrase meaning literally “thus also Phocylides….” (see quotation in preceding note). Lines 339.14-25 are derived from the surviving fragments of Phocylides. The following translations are from the Loeb Classical edition of Elegy and Iambus, ed. and trans. J.M. Edmonds (1931).
339.14: Clifftown stands civil / above mad Nineveh: “Thus also spake Phocylides—A little state living orderly in a high place is stronger than a blockheaded Nineveh” (175). Nineveh was the capital of the Assyrian Empire in the 8th century B.C and destroyed in 612 B.C.
339.16: bread first then / virtue: “Seek a living, and when thou hast a living, virtue” (177). This epigram can also be found in Plato’s Republic (407a): “Then you never heard of the saying of Phocylides, that as soon as a man has a livelihood he should practice virtue?” (trans. Benjamin Jowett).
339.17: justice whole / virtue: “Righteousness containeth the sum of all virtues (arête)” (181). This remark, which Edmonds notes is apparently proverbial and attributed to Theognis, is also found in Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics (1129b): “Justice then in this sense is perfect Virtue, though with a qualification, namely that it is displayed towards others. This is why Justice is often thought to be the chief of the virtues, and more sublime ‘or than the evening or the morning star’; and we have the proverb—In Justice is all Virtue found in sum” (trans. H. Rackham).
339.18: Lerians evil / all, not Procles / he’s Lerian: “Thus also spake Phocylides—The Lerians are bad men, not one bad and another not, but all save Procles, and Procles is a Lerian” (173).
339.20: rich / and no delight / in word or / action: “Thus also spake Phocylides—Of what advantage is high birth to such as have no grace either in words or in counsel?” (175).
339.23: middleman lives: Phocylides as quoted in Aristotle’s Politics (1295b): “It is these which are securest in a state; neither are they themselves covetous of other men’s goods like the poor, nor are others covetous of theirs as poor men’s are of rich men’s; and they run no risks, because they are neither the objects nor the authors of conspiracy. And this is why we may approve the wish of Phocylides: ‘Much advantage is theirs who are midmost, and midmost in a city would I be’” (179).
339.24: lady was dog, / bee, pig, horse—: “Thus also spake Phocylides—The tribes of women come of these four, the bitch, the bee, the savage-looking sow, and the long-maned mare; the mare’s daughter sprightly, quick, gadabout, and very comely, the savage-looking sow’s neither bad, belike, nor good, the bitch’s tetchy and ill-mannered; and the bee’s a good huswife who knows her work—and ‘tis she, my friend, thou shouldst pray thou mayst get thee in delectable wedlock” (173-175).
339.28 Maria Barbara: Maria Barbara Bach was Bach’s second cousin and first wife, married in 1707. Terry mentions that shortly before he married, Bach was asked to explain the presence of a young woman singing with him while he practiced the organ at his first musical post at Mühlhausen, who proved to be his future wife.
340.8 Cythringen…: as LZ indicates, a lute-like instrument that purportedly Bach’s great great grandfather, Veit Bach, liked to play (Terry 5); see 4.15.12-21.
340.10 a Lämmerhirt…: Bach’s mother, Maria Elisabeth Lämmerhirt (1644-94); her surname means lamb shepherd. Her father, Valentin Lämmerhirt (d.1673), was municipal councilor of Erfurt (Terry 15).
340.18 (when a kid / your old man / declaimed…: LZ mentions that as a young boy he memorized Henry Wadsworth Longfellow’s “Hiawatha” in Yiddish translation by Yehoash (Solomon Bloomgarden; see 4.14.18) (Autobiography 33) and also reciting the poem to neighboring Italians (letter to Cid Corman dated 28 June 1960; Scroggins’ interpretation (Bio 3) that the young LZ was being forced to recite by “gangs” of threatening “bullies” strikes me as an exaggerated if not impossible reading of this letter).
340.27 Christoph’s clavier / pieces by moonlight: Johann Christoph Bach (1671-1721) was Bach’s eldest brother who was chief organist at Ohrdruf and believed to have given Bach his first keyboard lessons. Terry mentions an anecdote (recorded in the Nekrolog) that the precocious young Bach demanded ever more challenging works that his brother felt he was not yet ready for, so Bach secretly copied out over six months a volume of compositions owned by his brother by moonlight, but supposedly once completed his brother found out and took the copy from him (25).
341.4 his discant voice / breaking fled into…: Bach’s first musical employment at age 15 was as a boy singer at a school in Lüneburg, but when his voice broke his instrumental skill was such that he was able to remain at the school. Terry describes young Bach as a “descantist” (45) and that as an instrumentalist he began playing the violin and viola, but preferred the latter (341.9-16), quoting from the earliest biography of Bach by Johann Nikolaus: “At musical gatherings, where quartet or other instrumental music was performed, Bach preferred to play the viola, an instrument which put him, as it were, in the midst of the harmony, in a position to hear and enjoy it on both sides” (23).
341.7 cantatas: a vocal and instrumental piece composed of choruses, solos and recitatives (AHD); Bach composed numerous examples; see 2.8.7.
341.8 Passions: musical settings of the biblical story of Christ’s death, usually to be sung in churches during the Easter period.
341.26 no uncle quarreling / to run your / musical Center…: somewhat freely adapted from Terry’s life of Bach concerning disputes about official musical positions that involved one of J.S. Bach’s uncles, Johann Christoph Bach (1645-1693): “Enraged at their bickering, the Count (7 Jan. 1681) dismissed both parties as quarrelsome good-for-nothings, a sentence which placed Johann Christoph in hard straits till the new Count Anton Günther composed the strife by combing the two inharmonious offices (1682). Till his death in 1693 Johann Christoph functioned as Hofmusicus and Stadtpfeifer, and lived to see Arnstadt a vigorous musical centre” (14). LZ is apparently contemporizing the reference by reworking the sense of “musical Center.”
341.30 Capriccio / sopra la lontananza / del suo fratello / dilettissimo: an early Bach composition from 1704; the title means: Capriccio on the Departure of His Most Beloved Brother and was written for Bach’s elder brother Johann Jakob (1682-1722) (Terry 31).
342.6 zippelfagottist for bassooning…: in 1705 Bach was involved in an argument that ended up in court because he referred to a musician as a “zippel fagottist.” Terry does not venture a translation (65-66) and Bach scholars are not entirely in agreement as to the meaning of zippel, which is Ger. vernacular and, according to Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm’s Deutsches Wörterbuch, volume 15, means “a large, awkward, sometimes dumb person […].” Therefore, zippelfagottist is a dumb or simply bad bassoonist (M. Waas).
342.10 slipped / out of the / organ gallery…: early in his career when employed at Arnstadt, Bach was criticized by his superior who complained among other things that Bach “had slipped out of the organ gallery to visit the ‘Schwartzberger Hof,’ or another beer-house, during the preceding Sunday’s sermon, and was admonished to behave better in future under penalty of forfeiting his emolument as Prefect” (Terry 71).
342.16 Societät / der Musicalischen Wissenschaften…: founded by his student Lorenz Christoph Mizler, Bach joined the Society for Musical Sciences in 1747, among whom he circulated copies of the Goldberg Variations. The various details LZ mentions, such as Mizler dedicating his thesis to Bach, “among others,” and free postage for the Society to circulate manuscripts are mentioned by Terry (254-255). However, LZ evidently takes the view of Bach’s son, Carl Philipp Emanuel Bach, who claimed that Bach had little enthusiasm for this society in his honor. In a letter to a future biographer of his father, Carl Philipp Emanuel mentions the Nekrolog or obituary that he wrote (see note at 338.22): “Mizler added the paragraph at the end regarding his Society. The article is not of great value; for, like all true musicians, my father was no lover of dull and prosaic detail” (Terry 55).
342.29 hid calculus of / Leibniz: Terry mentions in passing that Bach and Gottfried Leibniz were contemporaries (see note at 12.44.24), but here LZ is drawing on a well-known remark by Leibniz: “Musica est exercitium arithmeticae occultum nescientis se numerare animi” (Music is the hidden arithmetical exercise of a mind unconscious that it is calculating). LZ renders this remark in Bottom: “Leibnitz […] continued with the thought of music as ‘number, a felt relation of counting’” (426). Cf. remark in “For Wallace Stevens”: “I hope everybody would read me that same way—that is, […] just read the words. This activity is a kind of mathematics but more sensuous, and it has little to do with learning, it has something to do with structure” (Prep+ 24).
343.1 affliction of / Voltaire’s Jacques…: LZ links the religious background of Bach’s family to that of Voltaire’s Jacques the Anabaptist in Candide (1759): “Like the Bachs, the Lämmerhirts [Bach’s maternal lineage] were of Thuringian peasant stock. Holding opinions akin to those of the persecuted Baptists, they migrated to Schleswig in the sixteenth century, whence returned on the outbreak of the Thirty Years War, and about 1620 settled in Erfurt, among those old patrician families therefore they cannot be counted, though within a generation of their arrival they ranked among its ruling plutocracy” (Terry 15).
343.7 designed that / organ grounding new / mingling on tone—: referring to the young Bach’s recommendations for technical improvements in the organ, “[…] whose introduction will permit many new combinations of tone and the more delicate accompaniment of figural music” (Terry 79).
343.10 That Was The / Week That Was: topical satirical TV program that originated in Britain, but an American edition ran from 1963-1965 presented by David Frost. The program opened with a song that began and concluded with the lines, “That was the week that was, It’s over, let it go…” and incorporated news items of the preceding week. See 245.20.
343.18 Eyquem (“de” Montaigne): Michel Eyquem de Montaigne (1533-1592), French Renaissance essayist; see 344.5-29.
344.4 sieur: Fr. = seigneur; sir, title of respect.
344.5 ‘Never Middling Poets / over your publisher’s / door…: through 344.29 mostly from Michel de Montaigne (1533-1592). LZ ‘s source is apparently The Autobiography of Michel de Montaigne, ed. and trans. Marvin Lowenthal (1935), which assembles extracts into the form of an autobiography.
344.5-10: “A man has the right to make a fool of himself in everything but poetry. ‘Neither gods, men, nor booksellers permit mediocrity in poets,’ says Horace. Would to God this sentence were written over the doors of our publishers!”
344.13-14: ‘Reading’s profitable / pleasure…: “As for my other reading, in which the pleasure is somewhat more tinged with profit and whereby I learn to order my opinions and behavior, the books which serve me best are Plutarch—since he has been translated into French—and Seneca.”
344.15-19: attracts judgment to / task…: “With its variety of matter, reading above all awakens my reasoning power. It puts my judgment to work, not my memory. And I would rather forge my mind than furnish it.”
344.19-23: song / does not work / my judgment…: “At the lower end of the scale, poetry can be judged by precepts and laws. But the real, the supreme, the divine is above rule and reason. Though you may see its beauty with a steady and knowing eye, you see no more than the splendor of a lightening flash. It doesn’t work upon our judgment; it ravishes it. My gaze is clear enough, but in poetry it is dazzled.”
344.23-29: if not / the weight of / what I write…: “If I can’t arrest my reader by the weight of what I write, it is something, perhaps, if I can do it by my intricacy. ‘Yes, but he will repent afterwards that he ever bothered with you.’ True—but still he will have bothered.”
345.2 Bill: WCW.
345.7 Prorsus / Latin goddess of / births head first / whence prose – news?: the etymology of “prose” is from L. prosa, short for prosa oratio, straightforward or direct speech (i.e. without transpositions or ornamental variations as in verse): prosa, fem. of prosus, contraction of prorsus, straightforward, direct, contraction of proversus, from pro, forth, + versus, turned, past participle of vertere, to turn, a turning, a line, verse (CD). More commonly the goddess goes by the feminine form, Prorsa or Prorsae. WCW (see 345.2) was a pediatrician.
345.12 art of sinking: Peri Bathous: or, The Art of Sinking in Poetry (1727), a mock Ars Poetica based on Longinus’ treatise on the sublime that was part of the Martinus Scriblerus project, believed to be primarily by Alexander Pope; qtd. Bottom 195.
345.13 ‘The Republic Plato / sought the course / of human events’ / Vico…: Giambattista Vico (1699-1744) more or less says this in his Conclusion to The New Science, although the wording here seems likely taken from Benedetto Croce (1866-1952) in History of Europe in the Nineteenth Century (1932; trans. 1933): “[…] But [the advance of] the end of the eighteenth century and the beginning of the nineteenth had disentangled the problem [of liberty] more clearly and almost conclusively, because it had criticized the opposition—acute in eighteenth-century rationalism and the French Revolution—between reason and history, in which history had been degraded and condemned by the light of reason. […] It had made one the rationality and the reality of the new idea of history, rediscovering the saying of the philosopher Giovanni Battista Vico that the republic sought for by Plato was nothing but the course of human events. […] No longer did history appear [to have been] directed by alien forces. Now it was seen to be the work and activity of the [human] spirit, and […] since spirit is liberty, [as] the work of liberty.”
345.16 Bickerstaff / ‘Socrates the wisest / of uninspired mortals’: from Jonathan Swift, “Predictions for the Year 1708,” using the voice of Swift’s personae Isaac Bickerstaff: “[astrology] hath been in all ages defended by many learned men, and among the rest by Socrates himself, whom I look upon as undoubtedly the wisest of uninspired mortals […].”
345.19 Struldbruggs: in Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels Book III, Gulliver hears about the Struldbruggs from Luggnagg, who are immortal but nonetheless grow old, feeble and forgetful.
345.19 Hamilton’s Manufactures: Alexander Hamilton’s “Report on the Subject of Manufactures” (1791) argued for the advantages of developing manufacturing and free trade.
345.20 That Was The / Week That Was: see 343.10.
345.22 Each disenchanted Nazi / acted Polonius…: the Frankfurt Auschwitz trials from Dec. 1963-Aug. 1965 prosecuted 22 mostly lower level functionaries at the death camp; the trials were public and widely reported in detail. Polonius from Shakespeare’s Hamlet is a long-winded and conniving counselor to the king.
345.25 with noble prize / address I would / be Iago too / all things shall / be well…: Iago in Shakespeare, Othello IV.ii assures Desdemona that “All things shall be well,” as he sets up her demise, and much earlier in I.ii he repeatedly advises Roderigo to “put money in thy purse.” It appears that these lines in “A”-14 are LZ’s own imaginary sarcastic response to the Noble Prize and the poetry business generally. Beyers points out that in 1964, when “A”-14 was written, Jean-Paul Sartre refused the Nobel Prize for literature; however, the draft of this passage in LZ’s notebooks is dated 13 Dec. 1962 (HRC 3.16), which indicates he is almost certainly responding to the prize giving ceremony held annually on 10 Dec. The recipient for the Noble Prize for Literature in 1962 was John Steinbeck, who gave a somewhat apocalyptic acceptance speech on humankind’s capacity for (nuclear) self-destruction. It is possible that LZ is thinking of T.S. Eliot, who won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1948, and the last of the Four Quartets, “Little Gidding” (1942), contains the lines (quoting Julian of Norwich): “All shall be well and / All manner of thing shall be well.”
346.3 long hot summer: phrase often used to refer to race riots throughout the mid-1960s; see 346.18-20 below.
346.4 “a coasted / torn-muffin”: < a toasted corn muffin.
346.9 mine tipples, dynamite’s / in Hazard, Kentucky / which speaks Chaucer: Hazard was in a long depressed and volatile coal mining area of eastern Kentucky, which in 1963-1964 was in the news due to bitter disputes between striking miners and owners that included the dynamiting of mines and even homes. The miners’ misery was compounded by serious floods during in March 1963. As Beyers points out, a tipple is a tip-car for carrying coal out of the mines and dynamite was used in the mining, which relates to the name Hazard; also there are possible puns on tipple meaning strong drink and dynamite as slang for bootleg liquor. LZ gave a reading at a community college in Hazard at the invitation of Guy Davenport, but this took place in Sept. 1965 (Scroggins, Bio 362-363).
346.12 ‘Gave sheep’s brains / to Academician Lavrentyev’…: through 346.17 the speaker is Premier Khrushchev joking with American reporters; from the New York Times for 5 July 1961: “Jovial Khrushchev Goes to U.S. Party and Stays Till End.” Mikhail A. Lavrentyev (1900-1980), Russian physicist and mathematician, was a vice president of the Soviet Academy of Sciences.
346.13 —But Academician (stop) / has brains?: it seems likely that LZ has WCW’s Pictures from Brueghel in mind here and in the following reference to Gagarin. In the poem “He Has Beaten About the Bush Long Enough,” WCW describes a testy encounter while visiting Indiana University: “[…] the / slowly hardening // brain of an academician” (Collected Poems II, 405).
346.18 The victims of / looting…: this refers specifically to the Harlem riot of 1964 (16-22 July); see 346.3-8 above.
346.21 Floats eats and / sings Gagarin (Wild Duck)…: Yuri Gagarin (1936-1968), Soviet cosmonaut who became first man in space on 12 April 1961. The New York Times had numerous articles on the flight in the following days, from which LZ selectes for the lines through 347.2. 14 April 1961: “‘I Could Have Gone On Forever’; Gagarin, in Ecstasy, Says He Floated, Ate and Sang.” 13 April 1961: “First in Space; Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin”: “The name Gagarin derives from the Russian word for ‘wild duck.’” 13 April 1961: “Astronaut’s Day Started at Dawn; By the Late Morning Gagarin Had Orbited the Earth and Made a Safe Return”: “‘I see the earth. Visibility good. One can see everything. Some covered by cumulus cloud’ * * * ‘I am continuing with the flight. Everything normal. Everything working perfectly.’ […] ‘What is it like up there?’ Major Gagarin told them: ‘The sky is very, very dark and the earth is bluish. Everything is clearly visible.’” WCW responded to the 14 April 1961 report of Gagarin’s flight with the poem “Heel & Toe to the End,” included in Pictures from Brueghel, which includes the lines: “he floated / ate and sang” (Collected Poems II, 436).
347.3 Elsewhere landing the / two astronauts inhaled…: Pavel Popovich and Andrian Nikolayev were launched into orbit on Vostok 3 and 4 a day apart on 11 and 12 Aug. 1962 to become the first humans to be simultaneously in space. The New York Times for 17 Aug. 1962: “Malinovsky Says Space Trips Show Military Power; Warning of Defense Chief Given as Moscow Prepares Welcome for Astronauts Red Square Decorated Parade Expected Tomorrow Families of Two Pilots Arrive in the Capital”: “Moscow, Aug. 16—The Soviet Defense Minister, Marshal Rodion Y. Malinovsky, declared today that the space flights of Maj. Andrian G. Nikolayev and Lieut. Col. Pavel R. Popovich should serve as a warning to the enemies of the Soviet Union. […] Upon landing, Pravda reported, the two astronauts inhaled the fragrance of wild flowers, took showers and sang ‘Because it is not without reason a poet has said that all that is best in life ends with a song.’” Nikolayev married fellow cosmonaut Valentina Tereshkova the following year; see 15.373.37.
347.23 I’m here parted / with everything…: through 347.27 from a note to CZ from Marianne Moore: “That rare rare troubador in the snow, Celia. You thought of everything parted with everything. I dwell on these givings.” (dated 19 Nov. 1963 in LZ notebook, HRC 3.16).
347.29 rhomb: shaped like an equilateral parallelogram.
347.30 sensitif / enharmonics flyspeck / random crescendo their / aleatory: sensitive = Fr. sensory, sentient, over-sensitive. Enharmonic = in music, tones that are identical in pitch but are written differently according to the key in which they occur; what LZ appears to have in mind here is the idea of an enharmonic scale which essentially means there are more notes or tones distinguished between the usual notes of the scale (see LZ’s remarks on enharmonic notes and microtonic music in Bottom 35). These lines obliquely refer to an anecdote recounted in Little, in which the adolescent Little (PZ) shows his music teacher Betur (Ivan Galamian) an experimental music score, identified by PZ in the notes to the novel as by John Cage, to which Betur responds: “‘[…] would be difficult to play when’s hot becus summer flies change composer’s score’” (CF 160-161).
348.3 All a / Chinese sandwich…: through 348.7 from a quip by LZ’s brother-in-law, Alan Wand; see “Atque in Perpetuum A.W.” (CSP 231-232): “it’s all a Chinese Sandwich – flatulence a fart between two pieces of matzoh” (HRC 3.16).
348.11 Paul H: Paul Hindemith (1895-1963) Jewish German composer and theorist, who emigrated to the U.S. and taught for many years at Yale. In the early 1940s he wrote two books of A Concentrated Course in Traditional Harmony, a copy of which was owned by PZ. LZ apparently alludes to this work in a 21 June 1951 letter to WCW where he encourages the latter to write a work on poetics that might do what Hindemith and Schoenberg did for music (WCW/LZ 441).
348.16 Fly epistemologists— / can’t pee dies…: through 348.29 a satiric and mildly off-color improvisation on epistemology as a species of intellectualized solipsism. Dios, Spanish for god. There is a punning allusion to William Wordsworth at 348.24-26, who LZ tended to think of as the paradigmatic poet of Romantic egotism (HRC 4.6). On various occasions LZ claimed to be doing away with epistemology in Bottom (Prep+ 242-243).
348.29 One / word is too / often profaned: from Percy Bysshe Shelley, the first line of the poem “One word is too often profaned / For me to profane it.”
349.2 Jefferson dined alone: in 1962 JFK invited a large group of Nobel Prize winners to the White House and remarked: “I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone.”
349.4 lower limit body / upper limit dance…: cf. 12.138.7-8.
349.11 mathémata / swank for things / learned: mathematic < Gr. μαθηματικός, pertaining to learning, disposed to learn, belonging to the sciences, esp. to mathematics, < μάθημα, a lesson, a thing learned, learning, science, in the pl. μαθήματα, the sciences, esp. mathematics, < μανθάμνειν, μαθεῑν, learn (CD). In Bottom, LZ mentions that in Greek mathematics “meant a disposition to learn” (75).
349.13 (“like” caged / “silence” which pulses): reference to John Cage’s 1952 work 4’33”, in which a performer sits at a piano for the designated time and allows the ambient sounds to make up the composition or performance; see 347.30.
349.17 Gracie Allen’s dead: American comedian, best known for teaming with George Burns, died 27 August 1964; see 12.206.12.
349.18 Button up your / overcoat: a classic late 1920s popular hit sung by Helen Kane: “Button up your overcoat, / When the wind is free, / Take good care of yourself, / You belong to me!” WCW quotes the title stanza of this song as an example of American speech in “Excerpts from a Critical Sketch: A Draft of XXX Cantos by Ezra Pound” (Selected Essays, 110), originally published in The Symposium 2.2 (April 1931). See 15.374.12-13. On Kane also see note to “Madison, Wis., remembering the bloom of Monticello.”
349.28 A Test: LZ’s A Test of Poetry (1948).
349.30 Bach’s / one unposthumous: LZ consoles himself on his own lack of recognition with the fact that few of Bach’s works were published during his lifetime and he was largely forgotten for a century after his death.
350.5 Old man looking / for some one / to endear (Moon / Compasses)…: Robert Frost (1874-1963), whose short poem “Moon Compasses” (350.7-8) ends with the line, “So love will take beneath the hands a face,” which evidently strikes LZ as a “premonition” of the death of JFK, “bonny prince / beheaded” (350.9-10; see 15.360.36f), and the image of Jackie taking his face between her hands; the prince reference perhaps alludes to the popular association of the Kennedy White House with the musical Camelot.
350.10 ‘poetry’s of / the grief, politics / of the grievances’: a well-known remark by Robert Frost. He originally made this distinction in his introduction to Edwin Arlington Robinson, King Jasper (1935), and repeated it as late as Nov. 1962 in an address at Dartmouth College, “On Extravagance: A Talk.”
350.28 Job’s, for which / the pious have / been blamed, restoration…: in the epilogue to the Book of Job, all that Job has lost is restored two-fold and the Lord reprimands the three friends who berated Job for his lack of submissiveness before the Lord. LZ apparently disagrees with those who have felt this was an inappropriate later addition to counter the rather unflattering depiction of Yehweh and Job’s unrepentant last speech.
351.10 —that I so / carefully have dress’d…: through 352.15 consists entirely of quotations all related to horses; those in italics are from Shakespeare. Evidently LZ composed this passage by consulting the index to Bottom and picking out phrases or words from quotations on horses. While he did not use every horse quotation in Bottom, those he did appear in the same order as in that volume. The following quotations appear as in Bottom:
351.10: from Richard II V.v (qtd. Bottom 71):
Groom: Bolingbroke rode on roan Barbary,
That horse that thou so often hast bestrid,
That horse that I so carefully have dress’d!
King Richard: Rode he on Barbary? Tell me, gentle friend,
How went he under him?
[. . . ]
King Richard: So proud that Bolingbroke was on his back!
That jade hath eat bread from my royal hand;
This hand hath made him proud with clapping him.
Would he not stumble?
[. . .]
Forgiveness, horse! why do I rail on thee,
Since thou, created to be aw’d by man,
Wast born to bear? I was not made a horse;
And yet I bear a burden like an ass . . .
351.16: (the Prince of / the First Heaven…: this parenthetical passage is quoted from the pseudoepigraphal Hebrew Book of Enoch (3 Enoch), Chap. XVIII; the larger passage from which this is extracted qtd. Bottom 107.
351.21: from Anthony and Cleopatra IV.14 (qtd. Bottom 136, 318):
Mark Anthony: That which is now a horse, even with a thought
The rack dislimes, and makes it indistinct, [the cloud effaces or disfigures]
As water is in water. . . .
351.24: (grazing in a / field, rubbed down / by other hands): LZ is quoting two separate phrases that appear in Bottom. The first from George Bernard Shaw, The Apple Cart: “[Sempronius speaking:] Nature to him meant nakedness; and nakedness only disgusted him. He wouldn’t look at a horse grazing in a field; but put splendid trappings on it and stick it into a procession and he just loved it” (Bottom 211). The second phrase is LZ’s own comment on Shakespeaere’s The First Part of Henry the Sixth, “which conjecture assumes to be a horse rubbed down by other hands than Shakespeare’s […]” (Bottom 267).
351.27: from Henry IV, Part 1 I.iv (qtd. Bottom 268):
Talbot: Your hearts I’ll stamp out with my horse’s heels,
And make a quagmire of your mingled brains.
351.27: from Henry IV, Part 1 II.iv (qtd. Bottom 270):
Warwick: Between two horses, which doth bear him best;
351.28: from Venus and Adonis l. 287 [describing Adonis’ horse] (qtd. Bottom 278):
He sees his love, and nothing else he sees,
For nothing else with his proud sight agrees.
351.29: from King Lear II.iv (qtd. Bottom 311):
Fool: . . . All that follow their noses are led by their eyes but blind men . . . the cockney . . . ’Twas her brother that, in pure kindness to his horse, buttered his hay.
351.30: from Macbeth II.iv (qtd. Bottom 313):
Ross: . . . horses— . . .
Beauteous and swift, the minions of their race,
Turn’d wild in nature, broke their stalls, . . .
Contending ’gainst obedience, as they would make
War with mankind.
352.1: from Two Noble Kinsmen V.iv (qtd. Bottom 349; see 13.305.2-5 where the immediately following phrase is quoted):
Pirithous: On this horse is Arcite
Trotting the stones of Athens, which the Calkins
Did rather tell than trample; . . .
as he thus went counting
The flinty pavement, dancing, as t’were, to th’ Musicke
His own hoofes made; (for as they say, from iron
Came Musickes origen)
352.2: (tethered / by reins / not frightened trampling / on the dead): from Homer, Iliad X; in this case the passage concerned is not actually quoted in Bottom but is referenced at 352; the same episode but different details concerning the capture of Rhesus’ horses by Odysseus and Diomedes also appears at 15.374.30-375.3:
Iliad X.475f: “Rhesos slept in the middle, his horses tethered by the reins to the handrail of the car. Odysseus saw him first, and pointed him out to Diomedes. ‘There’s the man, Diomedes, there are the horses, just as Dolon told us before we killed him. Now then, pluck up your courage. You must not stand idle in your armour. Loose the horses—or you kill the men, and I’ll look after the horses.’ Then Athena breathed strength into Diomedes. He struck right and left; there were ugly groans and cries as the sword went home, and the ground was reddened with blood. As a lion leaps furious on sheep or goats without a shepherd, so Tydeides went up and down among the Thracians until he had killed twelve; Odysseus went behind him, and every time he struck one of them took hold of a foot and pulled him out of the way, so as to leave a clear space for the horses to pass without being scared by trampling on dead bodies, for they were not used to them yet” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
352.6: from A Midsummer Night’s Dream III.i (qtd. Bottom 388, 12.132.24 and 12.226.26):
Flute: As true as truest horse, that would never tire
352.7: (capable): from Troilus and Cressida III.iii (qtd. Bottom 392):
Achilles: Come, thou shalt bear a letter to him straight.
Thersites: Let me carry another to his horse; for that’s the more capable creature.
352.7: from Merchant of Venice V.i (qtd. Bottom 415):
Lorenzo: bring your music forth into the air . . .
colts . . .
If they but hear . . .
any air of music touch their ears,
You shall perceive them make a mutual stand,
Their savage eyes turn’d to a modest gaze . . .
Orpheus drew trees, stones, floods . . .
nought so stockish, hard . . . full of rage,
But music for the time doth change his nature.
352.11: destroyed if changed / into a man—: from Spinoza, Ethics IV, Preface (qtd. Bottom 421): “For most specially must it be noted . . . when I say a man passes from a less to a greater perfection, and the contrary . . . I do not understand that he has changed from one essence or form into another, e.g., a horse would be equally destroyed if it were changed into a man as if it were changed into an insect; but that his power of acting, in so far as it is understood by his nature, we conceive to be increased or diminished.”
352.13: from Pericles II.i (qtd. Bottom 431):
Pericles: Vnto thy value I will mount myselfe
Vpon a Courser, whose delight steps
Shall make the gazer ioy to see him tread;
352.16 Our children’s children: from Shakespeare, King Henry VIII V.v (qtd. Bottom 341, 386; see 12.254.17):
Wherever the bright sun of heaven shall shine,
His honour and the greatness of his name
Shall be, and make new nations: he shall flourish,
And, like a mountain cedar, reach his branches
To all the plains about him: our children’s children
Shall see this, and bless heaven.
352.18 A Vermeer blown / up into a / mural: in 1964 the Zukofskys moved into the 12th floor of a newly built apartment building called the Vermeer Apartments at 77 Seventh Avenue on the corner of West 15th Street, Manhattan. There was an over-sized reproduction of a Vermeer painting in the lobby (see Tomlinson, Some Americans 70).
352.24 Pitman: Sir Isaac Pitman (1813-1897), British inventor of phonographic shorthand; see “A” index.
352.24 Ez: EP.
353.4 unurged horses, / or you forget / they are horses—: from a Hasidic saying: “Urge on your horses and let them run until they forget they are horses.” LZ’s precise source is uncertain, but probably directly or indirectly from Martin Buber, Tales of Hasidim: The Early Masters (1947).
353.7 Holy Thursday (coincidence) / April 11, 1963 / Pacem in Terris…: anniversary date of the death of LZ’s father, Pinchos Zukofsky, in 1950. However this date and the Latin phrase, meaning Peace on Earth, indicate a famous encyclical letter of Pope John XXIII issued during Easter week on Establishing Universal Peace in Truth, Justice, Charity and Liberty—the Latin phrase is used as the short title. The long salutation ends: “and to all men of good will.” The encyclical was a response to the Cold War, calling for conflict resolution through negotiation rather than arms and a respect for human rights.
353.15 if Iván jokes / ‘In fallout…: Ivan = Russia (U.S.S.R.). A bit of Russian dark humor: “‘What would you do should nuclear warfare break out?’ one Russian asks another. ‘Get into a shroud and calmly walk to the cemetery,’ he answered. ‘Why calmly?’ ‘To avert panic.'”
353.19 Will who care / for his fools…: through 353.22 from a quip by the filmmaker Stan Brakhage on the proverbial saying, God takes care of his fools: “Yes, I sometimes say he’s a fool too” (HRC 3.16).
354.4 Schönberg seems / lately to plait / song near Mozart: LZ is referring to a music program, possibly performed by PZ, that includes works by both Schönberg and Mozart, which sometime earlier might have been considered entirely incompatible.
354.7 your broken-glass painting / of last night’s / universe…: through 354.11 refers to Carolee Schneeman (b. 1939) and James Tenney (1934-2006). A couple at the time, both were living and performing in New York City during the early 1960s. Schneeman is best-known as a performance artist, but also painted, including works with broken mirrors. Tenney was an avant-garde composer, associated with John Cage among others, who was experimenting with random input at this time.
354.12 The voice of / Episcopal goldwasser Polyuria: polyuria is an excessive passage of urine (AHD); goldwasser Ger. gold water < Barry Goldwater (1909-1998), conservative American politician who ran as the Republican presidential candidate in 1964 against Lyndon B. Johnson; see note at 15.365.6.
354.14 “to strip the / amour off the enemy: from a remark by one of LZ’s students that in Homer’s Iliad the aim of war is to strip the amour off one’s enemy (HRC 4.6).
354.16 Lucretius re- / wombs…: through 354.29 paraphrases from Book V of Lucretius’ De Rerum Natura.
355.10 an escaped cat / ran down three / flights of stairs…: LZ was fond of this childhood anecdote; in recounting it to Cid Corman he says he was about three years old at the time (letter dated 16 Oct. 1959). CZ mentions the incident in Terrell, “Eccentric Profile” 36-37.
355.26 They wash / the streets with / it in Poitiers: PZ recalls that during the Zukofskys’ trip to Europe in the summer of 1957, they encountered one of Paris’ iconic 19th century public pissoirs, once ubiquitous but by this time already in sharp decline, and on observing that the urine did not drain away into the sewer but spilled out onto the street, a local quipped that (unlike in Paris) in Poitiers they washed the street with it (personal communication). Poitiers is a medieval town in central France, which the Zukofskys also visited during their 1957 trip; see CSP 172.
355.30 jakes: latrine; see 335.1.
355.30 my “Cats”…: through 356.7 and beyond refers to the renditions of Catullus, on which LZ worked with CZ from 1958-1966. McMorris (17) references the mention of “chaste” at 356.1 to LZ’s translation of Catullus, Carmina 16: “But the pious poet / is chaste…” (CSP 253). The lines at 356.1-5 were echoed by LZ a number of times, including in a note on the cover of Catullus, which reproduces a manuscript work page: “I might be said to / have tried reading his lips / that is while pronouncing”; see also the 1962 statement, “Translating Catullus” (Prep+ 225). The lines “to sharp them / and flat them” refer to the task and problem of translating Catullus’ quantitative verse. On “not in prurience” at 356.6, cf. remark in Aug. 1975 letter to David Gordon: “Point of Catullus was to focus on something beside the obscene” (Gordon, “Zuk on His Toes” 135).
356.12 Lunaria annua honesty: honesty is the name of several plants, especially of a small cruciferous plant, Lunaria annua (L. biennis): so called from the transparency of its dissepiments (CD). Also called satin flower, lunary and misleadingly moonwort (see 23.563.21), which more properly refers to the fern Botrychium lunaria; see 15.375.26-27. Cruciferae includes mustard; see 356.15 (Leggott 119). See Leggot (136-140) for detailed consideration of “honesty” in “A”. The moon reference in the names of both honesty and moonwort associates them in LZ’s mind with CZ, whose C suggests the crescent moon.
356.14 Good Master / Mustardseed I desire / you more acquaintance: from Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night’s Dream III.i; see 12.134.15 and qtd. Bottom 371.
356.20 broken homonyms: McMorris points out (17) that this alludes to LZ’s homophonic translation method in his rendering of Catullus.
356.22 Sir Horse: Little refers to his father as “Sir Horse,” which is appropriate given LZ’s life-long horse obsession (CF 140).
356.28 rays: this word appears repeatedly in both Catullus poems whose last words are quoted at 357.1-4; the first line of Catullus 68a is, “No postmeridian ray, dear Girls, choir my Allius and ray” (CSP 302), and the word appears twice further on, as well as twice in Catullus 76. In all I count 26 instances of ray/s throughout Catullus, which usually relates to Bottom’s concern with eyes/sight/light and goes back at least to the definition of “An Objective”: “The lens bringing the rays from an object to focus” (Prep+ 12).
357.1 dulce mihist / kiss me last—: last two words of Catullus, Carmina 68a. LZ gives his “Cats” translation; more literal would be “sweet to me.” LZ uses the Loeb Classical Library text here, whereas most current editions give the text as: dulce mihi est.
357.3 pietate mea— / my piety may: last two words of Catullus, Carmina 76 with LZ’s translation.
357.5 Mr. Dooley…: created by Finley Peter Dunne (1867-1936), Mr. Dooley was a working class Chicago saloon keeper who satirically comments on politics and government policy of the day. The following quotation is a sample of his vernacular commentary from “A Little Essay on Books” in Observations by Mr. Dooley (1902). LZ refers to Mr. Dooley in Anew 14 (CSP 85).
357.20 Fulton / street market of / fish: major fish market in lower Manhattan on the East River.
357.26 The Book / Of the Dead…: The [Egyptian] Book of the Dead: The Hieroglyphic Transcription of the Papyrus of Ani in the edition of E.A. Wallis Budge, which includes the hieroglyphic texts with translations and extensive commentary. As Odlin (552) points out, there are various editions and revisions of this text, but it appears LZ used a reprint of Budge’s final edition of 1913. The lines, “not wished for / facsimile of papyrus,” apparently refers to the fact that the one volume edition LZ bought (University Books, 1960) excluded the last of the original three volumes, which reproduced in color facsimile the original papyrus texts. The quoted text at 357.30-358.2 is taken from Budge’s description of “The Papyrus of Ani, Its Date and Contents”: “When brought to England the papyrus was of a very light colour, similar to that of the Papyrus of Hunefer (no. 9901), but after it was unrolled it became darker, the whites, yellows, blues, and greens lost their intense vividness, and certain parts of the sections contracted. The papyrus contains a large selection of Chapter of the Theban Recension of the Book of the Dead, nearly all of which are accompanied by Vignettes; text and Vignettes have at top and bottom a border of two colours, red and yellow, or yellow and orange” (217)
358.2 Pert– / em-hru (pronounced / it how?)…: this is the transliteration of the Egyptian title of the Book of the Dead, and LZ appears to be primarily working from the opening page of the text. The numbers in the following quotation refer to the three lines of the hieroglyphic text, with the numbers in the parentheses referring to the following footnotes:
“Chapter I: [Plates V and VI] 1. Here begin the Chapters of Coming Forth (1) by Day, and the songs of praising (2) and glorifying which are to be recited 2. for ‘coming forth’ and for entering into Khert-Neter, and the spells which are to be said in Beautiful Amentet. They shall be recited on the 3. day of the funeral, entering in after coming forth.
(1) I.e., the Chapters which make the soul of a man to leave his body, and make its appearance by day, or in the day; they are popularly known as the ‘Book of the Dead.’ The title ‘Pert-em-hru’ has been translated and explained in various ways, e.g., ‘Coming forth from [or as] the Day’ (Birch), ‘The departure from the Day’ (Birch), ‘Sortir du jour’ (Naville, Devéria), ‘Sortie de la journée’ (Pierret), ‘Ausgang bei Tage’ (Brugsch), etc.
(2) The title of this Chapter mentions three kinds of compositions, [hieroglyphic text], which indicate the commemorative praisings, and the forms of words which were recited during the performance of ceremonies, and spells or words of power, respectively. The object of all these was to secure the life and safety of the departed soul, and to enable it to move about freely, and to return to the earth at pleasure” (355).
In his introduction, Budge mentions other possible translations of Pert-em-hru, and then remarks: “This name, however, had probably a meaning for the Egyptians which has not yet been rendered in a modern language, and one important idea in connection with the whole work is expressed by another title which calls it ‘the chapter of making strong (or perfect) the Khu’” (28), an idea often repeated in the Egyptian text.
358.8 Mind you, heart: see 335.4-6 and 339.7-8.
358.11 Kuh…: this term in Budge is spelled Khu, which either LZ mis-copied or deliberately altered. It is possible there is an intentional echo of LZ’s “Hi, Kuh” poem from I’s (pronounced eyes) (1963) (CSP 214). Khu are the spirits or souls of the dead, as Budge explains: “Another important and apparently eternal part of man was the Khu, [hieroglyph], which, judging from the meaning of the word, may be defined as a ‘shining’ or translucent Spirit-soul. For want of a better word Khu has often been translated ‘shining one,’ ‘glorious,’ ‘intelligence,’ and the like, but its true meaning must be Spirit-soul” (79).
358.19 adz / (sail?)– / bird–…: this concluding list is LZ’s speculative translation of a line of hieroglyphs quoted in Budge’s introduction (Odlin 553-554). The relevant hieroglyphs are at the very top of the page which can be seen below:
“In the Papyrus of Ani (Chapter CLXXV) the deceased is represented as having come to a place remote and far away, where there is neither air to breathe nor water to drink, but where he holds converse with Temu. In answer to his question, ‘How long have I to live?’ the god of Anu answers:—
[hieroglyphic text, followed by translation:]
Thou shalt exist for millions of millions of years, a period of millions of years” (67-68)
LZ interprets the hieroglyphs of the main clause visually with secondary guesses in parentheses:
1) a reed quill which could be taken for an adz or a sail;
2) a chick;
3) what looks like a cruse-type lamp (a cruse is a small earthen pot or bottle for holding liquids);
4) a mouth, but could be taken for a pupil-less eye;
5) a person sitting or kneeing down with arms upraised > exult;
6) a single stroke underneath which are three strokes > tally, or one over three as at 358.31-32;
7) looks like a horizontal squiggle;
8) repeats the fifth;
9) repeats the sixth.
10-11) apparently LZ’s final Sun and eye are taken from a cluster in the final phrase of the hieroglyphic sentence where there is a sun hieroglyph (a circle with a dot in the middle), which might also be taken for an eye, although in this case it is next to a single stroke that also could be read as “I.”