Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
3 Oct. – 1 Dec. 1964
359.2 hinny: a mule got from a she-ass by a stallion; to neigh, whinny (CD). See also LZ’s rendition, “he neigh,” of the first Hebrew word from Job 3:7 quoted in the next note.
359.7 He neigh ha lie low…: these following four stanzas through 360.14 consist primarily of homophonic renditions from the Hebrew text of the Book of Job; however, “homophonic” must be understood flexibly, and LZ mixes in other strategies as well, including working from the English translation. The following notes may be incomplete, although most of the Hebrew lines have been identified with reasonable certainty. LZ’s general practice is that each of his lines represents a half-verse of the original. My guess is that LZ was using the Soncino edition of Job with facing Hebrew and translated text (this was in his library), but I do not presently have that available to me. One can assume that LZ also looked up specific words in a Hebrew dictionary. The following Hebrew text is taken from the Mechon Mamre Hebrew – English Bible site <http://www.mechon-mamre.org/p/pt/pt0.htm> and the transliterations are from Lev Software site <http://www.levsoftware.com/SAV/>.The translations are from the Jewish Publication Society version, which is that used in the Soncino editions. In the transcriptions, vowels are pronounced: “a” as in father; “e” as in red; “i” as in king; “o” as in sport; “u” as in blue—although there is no reason to assume LZ was concerned with strict pronunciation accuracy as he mouthed the words for English equivalents.
359.7: He neigh ha lie low h’who y’he gall mood: from Job 3:7:
הִנֵּה הַלַּיְלָה הַהוּא, יְהִי גַלְמוּד; אַל-תָּבוֹא רְנָנָה בוֹ
hine halaila hahu yehi galmud al-tavo renana vo:
Lo, let that night be desolate; let no joyful voice come therein.
359.8: So roar cruel hire / Lo to achieve an eye leer rot off: from Job 7:7:
זְכֹר, כִּי-רוּחַ חַיָּי; לֹא-תָשׁוּב עֵינִי, לִרְאוֹת טוֹב
zekhor ki-ruakh khayai lo-tashuv eini lirot tov:
O remember that my life is a breath; mine eye shall no more see good.
359.9: Mass th’lo low o loam echo / How deal me many coeval yammer: from Job 7:16:
מָאַסְתִּי, לֹא-לְעֹלָם אֶחְיֶה; חֲדַל מִמֶּנִּי, כִּי-הֶבֶל יָמָי
maasti lo-leolam ekhye khadal mimeni ki-hevel yamai:
I loathe it; I shall not live always; let me alone; for my days are vanity.
359.9 Lo…: see 14.337.8f.
359.12 Naked on face of white rock—sea: LZ’s notebooks indicate for this line Job 24:8:
. מִזֶּרֶם הָרִים יִרְטָבוּ; וּמִבְּלִי מַחְסֶה, חִבְּקוּ-צוּר
mizerem harim yirtavu umibli makhse khibku-tsur:
They are wet with the showers of the mountains, and embrace the rock for want of a shelter.
The translation of the preceding line may also be relevant: “They cause the naked to lodge without clothing, that they have no covering in the cold.”
This line also appears to be a variation on 13.293.23, which read in that context suggests this line could be read meta-textually: the words are naked on the white face of the page which we are urged to see. The previous line from “A”-13 that this line echoes is a “literal” rock with graffiti on it that asks: “Who do you love?” and any play on sea/see/C has the potential to suggest CZ.
359.13 Then I said: Liveforever my nest / Is arable…: through 359.16 primarily working from the English version of Job 29:18-20 (Leggott 155), although 359.14 and following “Shore she” are suggested by the Hebrew. In the King James Version: “Then I said, I shall die in my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand. My root was spread out by the waters, and the dew lay all night upon my branch. My glory was fresh in me, and my bow was renewed in my hand.” On liveforever see 1.4.29.
359.14: Is arable hymn: from Job 29:18:
וָאֹמַר, עִם-קִנִּי אֶגְוָע; וְכַחוֹל, אַרְבֶּה יָמִים
vaomar im-kini egva vekhakhol arbe yamim:
Then I said: ‘I shall die with my nest, and I shall multiply my days as the sand;
359.15: Shore she: from Job 29:19:
שָׁרְשִׁי פָתוּחַ אֱלֵי-מָיִם; וְטַל, יָלִין בִּקְצִירִי
sharshi fatuakh elei-mayim vetal yalin biktsiri:
My root shall be spread out to the waters, and the dew shall lie all night upon my branch;
359.17 Wind: Yahweh at Iyyob…: these next three stanzas are from the climatic whirlwind section of Job 38-42:6. Through 360.1, Job 38:1-8:
359.17-18: Wind: Yahweh at Iyyob / Mien His roar ‘Why yammer: from Job 38:1:
וַיַּעַן-יְהוָה אֶת-אִיּוֹב, מנהסערה (מִן הַסְּעָרָה); וַיֹּאמַר
vayaan-yaveh et-iyov min min haseara vayomar:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said
359.19-20: Measly make short hates oh / By milling bleat doubt?: from Job 38:2:
מִי זֶה, מַחְשִׁיךְ עֵצָה בְמִלִּין– בְּלִי-דָעַת
mi ze makhshikh etsa vemilin beli-daat:
Who is this that darkeneth counsel by words without knowledge?
359.21-22: Eye sore gnaw key heaver haul its core / Weigh as I lug where hide any?: from Job 38:3:
אֱזָר-נָא כְגֶבֶר חֲלָצֶיךָ; וְאֶשְׁאָלְךָ, וְהוֹדִיעֵנִי
ezar-na khegever khalatseikha veeshalkha vehodieni:
Gird up now thy loins like a man; for I will demand of thee, and declare thou unto Me.
359.23-24: If you—had you towed beside the roots? / How goad Him—you’d do it by now—: from Job 38:4:
אֵיפֹה הָיִיתָ, בְּיָסְדִי-אָרֶץ; הַגֵּד, אִם-יָדַעְתָּ בִינָה
eifo hayita beyasdi-arets haged im-yadata vina:
Where wast thou when I laid the foundations of the earth? Declare, if thou hast the understanding.
359.25-26: My sum My made day a key to daw? / O Me not there allheal—a cave: from Job 38:5; allheal is a plant, cat’s valerian, Valeriana officinalis, thought to have broad healing powers:
מִי-שָׂם מְמַדֶּיהָ, כִּי תֵדָע; אוֹ מִי-נָטָה עָלֶיהָ קָּו
mi-sam memadeiha ki teda o mi-nata aleiha kav:
Who determined the measures thereof, if thou knowest? Or who stretched the line upon it?
359.27-28: All mouth deny hot bough? / O Me you’re raw—Heaven pinned Dawn stars: from Job 38:6:
עַל-מָה, אֲדָנֶיהָ הָטְבָּעוּ; אוֹ מִי-יָרָה, אֶבֶן פִּנָּתָהּ
al-ma adaneiha hatbau o mi-yara even pinata:
Whereupon were the foundations thereof fastened? Or who laid the corner-stone thereof,
359.29-30: Brine I heard choir and weigh by care— / Why your ear would call by now Elohim: from Job 38:7; Elohim is one of various Old Testament names for God:
בְּרָן-יַחַד, כּוֹכְבֵי בֹקֶר; וַיָּרִיעוּ, כָּל-בְּנֵי אֱלֹהִים
beran-yakhad kokhvei voker vayariu kol-benei elohim:
When the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
360.1: Where was soak—bid lot tie in hum—: from Job 38:8:
וַיָּסֶךְ בִּדְלָתַיִם יָם; בְּגִיחוֹ, מֵרֶחֶם יֵצֵא
vayasekh bidlatayim yam begikho merekhem yetse:
Or who shut up the sea with doors, when it broke forth, and issued out of the womb;
360.2: How would you have known to hum: from Job 38:16:
הֲבָאתָ, עַד-נִבְכֵי-יָם; וּבְחֵקֶר תְּהוֹם, הִתְהַלָּכְתָּ
havata ad-nivkhei-yam uvkheker tehom hithalakhta:
Hast thou entered into the springs of the sea? Or hast thou walked in the recesses of the deep?
360.3: How would you all oats rose snow lay: from Job 38:22:
הֲבָאתָ, אֶל-אֹצְרוֹת שָׁלֶג; וְאוֹצְרוֹת בָּרָד תִּרְאֶה
havata el-otsrot shaleg veotsrot barad tire:
Hast thou entered the treasuries of the snow, or hast thou seen the treasuries of the hail,
360.4: Assáy how’d a rock light rollick ore: from Job 38:24:
אֵי-זֶה הַדֶּרֶךְ, יֵחָלֶק אוֹר; יָפֵץ קָדִים עֲלֵי-אָרֶץ
ei-ze haderekh yekhalek or yafets kadim alei-arets:
By what way is the light parted, or the east wind scattered upon the earth?
360.5: Had the rush in you curb, ah bay: from Job 39:20:
הֲתַרְעִישֶׁנּוּ, כָּאַרְבֶּה; הוֹד נַחְרוֹ אֵימָה
hatarishenu kaarbe hod nakhro eima
Hast thou made him [the horse] to leap as a locust? The glory of his snorting is terrible.
360.6: Bay the shophar yammer heigh horse’: from Job 39:25:
בְּדֵי שֹׁפָר, יֹאמַר הֶאָח– וּמֵרָחוֹק, יָרִיחַ מִלְחָמָה; רַעַם שָׂרִים, וּתְרוּעָה
bedei shofar yomar heakh umerakhok yariakh milkhama raam sarim uterua:
As oft as he heareth the horn he saith: ‘Ha, ha!’ and he smelleth the battle afar off, the thunder of the captains, and the shouting.
(A shophar (or shofar) is an ancient Hebrew musical instrument made from a ram’s horn, used for warning or summons. Traditionally it is associated with both Rosh Hashanah (Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur.)
360.7: Wind: Yahweh at Iyyob ‘Why yammer’: from Job 40:1:
וַיַּעַן יְהוָה אֶת-אִיּוֹב; וַיֹּאמַר
vayaan yaveh et-iyov vayomar:
Moreover the Lord answered Job, and said:
360.8-9: Wind: Iyyob at Yahweh, ‘Why yammer / How cold the mouth achieved echo’: from Job 40:3-4:
וַיַּעַן אִיּוֹב אֶת-יְהוָה; וַיֹּאמַר
הֵן קַלֹּתִי, מָה אֲשִׁיבֶךָּ; יָדִי, שַׂמְתִּי לְמוֹ-פִי
vayaan iyov et-yaveh vayomar: hen kaloti ma ashiveka yadi samti lemo-fi:
Then Job answered the Lord, and said Behold, I am of small account; what shall I answer Thee? I lay my hand upon my mouth.
360.10: Wind: Yahweh at Iyyob ‘Why yammer: from Job 40:6:
וַיַּעַן-יְהוָה אֶת-אִיּוֹב, מנסערה (מִן סְעָרָה); וַיֹּאמַר
vayaan-yaveh et-iyov min min seara vayomar:
Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind, and said:
360.11: Ha neigh now behēmoth and share I see see your make: from Job 40:15:
הִנֵּה-נָא בְהֵמוֹת, אֲשֶׁר-עָשִׂיתִי עִמָּךְ; חָצִיר, כַּבָּקָר יֹאכֵל
hine-na vehemot asher-asiti imakh khatsir kabakar yokhel:
Behold now behemoth, which I made with thee; he eateth grass as an ox.
360.12: Giddy pair—stones—whose rages go: from Job 40:17:
יַחְפֹּץ זְנָבוֹ כְמוֹ-אָרֶז; גִּידֵי פַחֲדָו יְשֹׂרָגוּ
yakhpots zenavo khemo-arez gidei fakhadav fakhadav yeshoragu:
He straineth his tail like a cedar; the sinews of his thighs are knit together.
In this case LZ takes the “stones” from the English translation, which in the King James version reads: “He moveth his tail like a cedar: the sinews of his stones are wrapped together,” which apparently is an inaccurate or misleading translation that allows this to be understood as concerning the Behemoth’s testicles, which evidently amused LZ; see 14.337.9.
360.13: Weigh raw all gay where how spill lay who’: from Job 40:11:
הָפֵץ, עֶבְרוֹת אַפֶּךָ; וּרְאֵה כָל-גֵּאֶה, וְהַשְׁפִּילֵהוּ
hafets evrot apekha uree khol-gee vehashpilehu:
Cast abroad the rage of thy wrath; and look upon every one that is proud, and abase him.
360.14: Wind: Iyyob: from Job 42:1:
וַיַּעַן אִיּוֹב אֶת-יְהוָה; וַיֹּאמַר
vayaan iyov et-adonai vayomar
Then Job answered the Lord, and said:
360.15 ‘Rain without sun hated? hurt no one: from Job 30:28 and 31:29:
קֹדֵר הִלַּכְתִּי, בְּלֹא חַמָּה; קַמְתִּי בַקָּהָל אֲשַׁוֵּעַ
koder hilakhti belo khama kamti vakahal ashavea:
I go mourning without the sun; I stand up in the assembly, and cry for help.:
אִם-אֶשְׂמַח, בְּפִיד מְשַׂנְאִי; וְהִתְעֹרַרְתִּי, כִּי-מְצָאוֹ רָע
im-esmakh befid mesani vehitorarti ki-metsaora:
If I rejoiced at the destruction of him that hated me, or exulted when evil found him—
360:16: In two we shadow, how hide any’: from Job 31:35:
מִי יִתֶּן-לִי, שֹׁמֵעַ לִי– הֶן-תָּוִי, שַׁדַּי יַעֲנֵנִי; וְסֵפֶר כָּתַב, אִישׁ רִיבִי
mi yiten-li shomea li hen-tavi shadai yaaneni vesefer katav ish rivi
Oh that I had one to hear me!—Lo, here is my signature, let the Almighty answer me—and that I had the indictment which mine adversary hath written!
360.20 The Parkway: at the time “A”-15 was composed, the Zukofskys lived at 160 Columbia Heights, Brooklyn in a 10th and 11th floor apartment, so presumably the Parkway would be the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway immediately below.
360.24 the one / the two old / songsters would not / live to see—: John F. Kennedy was assassinated on 22 Nov. 1963. The “two old songsters” who did not see JFK’s death are Robert Frost (died 29 Jan. 1963) and William Carlos Williams (died 4 March 1963). Frost became something of an unofficial poet laureate when JFK invited him to recite the 1942 poem “The Gift Outright” with a verse introduction at the 1961 presidential inauguration.
360.36 vying culturally / with the Russian / Puritan Bear— / to vagary of / Bear hug and King Charles losing his head: with the support of JFK, Robert Frost made a trip to the USSR in Sept. 1962 and had a private meeting with Premier Khrushchev. The “bear hug” may also refer to the signing in Aug. 1963 of the Partial Test Ban Treaty by the U.S., Great Britain and the Soviet Union, just a few months before the assassination of JFK (see 367.26)—the latter event presumably is referred to in the allusion to the English Civil War, in which the revolutionary Puritans triumphed and beheaded King Charles; cf. 14.350.9-10.
361.4 the other / a decade younger…: WCW born 1883 was a decade younger than Frost born 1874.
361.10 a suburb: WCW lived in Rutherford, New Jersey, more or less a suburb of NYC.
361.17 to the hill / his grave…: WCW was buried at the Hillside Cemetery in Lyndhurst overlooking Rutherford. For further details on his funeral, see 374.6; since LZ went to the memorial service at Williams’ house but stayed there rather than go to the following burial itself, the gastank seen in the distance may be his means of locating the cemetery (on this detail of the gastank, cf. 3.10.25-11.1 associated with the burial of Ricky Chambers). It is perhaps not irrelevant that President Kennedy is also buried on a hillside in Arlington National Cemetery, a detail, like every detail concerning Kennedy’s funeral ceremonies, was reported in the media at the time.
361.28 ‘In another week…: from Fyodor Dostoevsky (1821-1881), Crime and Punishment (1866), Part VI, Chap. 8; Raskolnikov is on his way to turn himself into the police for murder: “He looked eagerly to right and left, gazed intently at every object and could not fix his attention on anything; everything slipped away. ‘In another week, another month I shall be driven in a prison van over this bridge, how shall I look at the canal then? I should like to remember this!’ slipped into his mind. ‘Look at this sign! How shall I read those letters then? It’s written here “Campany,” that’s a thing to remember, that letter a, and to look at it again in a month—how shall I look at it then? What shall I be feeling and thinking then?…’” (trans. Constance Garnett).
362.18 his mother died: WCW’s mother, Elena Hoheb Williams, died in Oct. 1949.
362.19 walking / with me / to my class…: WCW lectured to students at the Brooklyn Polytechnic Institute where LZ taught on 14 Nov. 1949 (WCW/LZ 417), which WCW mentions briefly in his Autobiography 311.
363.8 no Drum Taps / no Memories / as for Walt: Drum Taps, first published in 1865, collected Whitman’s Civil War poems, while Memories of President Lincoln, including “When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d,” was a sequel grouping of poems in response to Lincoln’s assassination. The funeral ceremonies for President Kennedy were consciously patterned after those for Lincoln.
363.17 Flown back from Love Field, Dallas: JFK was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on Friday 22 Nov. 1963; Love Field is Dallas’ main airport from which Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington, D.C. Various details from events over the next three days leading up to Kennedy’s burial, which were exhaustively covered on TV, are worked into “A”-15. The basic chronology of events is as follows: Kennedy’s body was flown back to Washington and laid in rest in the White House on Saturday 23 Nov; on Sunday 24 Nov. a military procession took the body to the U.S. Capitol building for public viewing and there were also a number of eulogies including that by Senator Mansfield (366.3-13); the public viewing lasted through the night until Monday morning when the body was again moved in military procession, including Jackie Kennedy with children, from the Capitol building to the White House to St. Matthew’s Cathedral, where a requiem mass was celebrated by Cardinal Cushing, and then finally to the national military cemetery at Arlington for the burial.
363.19 kittenish face / the paragon of fashion…: Jackie Kennedy, who was riding in the open car with JFK when he was shot.
363.25 Até…: goddess of infatuation, rash actions and mischief; sister of Ares, god of war and storms. The famous image here is from Homer, Iliad XIX.91, which LZ quotes in Bottom as: “First-born daughter of Zeus, Ate, who blinds all . . . who steps not upon earth, ah rather down upon the heads of men” (386). The quotation also appears in Plato’s Symposium (195). This reference foreshadows the Iliad passages at 574.30-575.21.
363.30 Kings ‘dalas’ / the poorest: Heb. dal from dalah meaning dangling and by implication weak or thin; lean, needy, poor. LZ refers to 2 Kings 24:14: “And he carried away all Jerusalem, and all the princes, and all the mighty men of valour, even ten thousand captives, and all the craftsmen and smiths; none remained, save the poorest sort of the people of the land.” See 363.37 and 21.507.9.
363.33 the “English” teaching drudge / with a holiday on his hands…: presumably LZ himself; most schools closed early on Friday afternoon as news of Kennedy’s assassination spread; Monday 25 Nov. 1963, when Kennedy was buried, was declared a national day of mourning so all schools and government offices were closed.
363.37 to atone for your souls: likely alludes to Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement. The quoted phrase can be found in at least two relevant passages from the Old Testament. Leviticus 17:11: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.” Exodus 30:15: “The rich shall not give more, and the poor shall not give less than half a shekel, when they give an offering unto the Lord, to make an atonement for your souls.”
364.11 Castro ‘We should comprehend it / who repudiate assassination…: Fidel Castro (b. 1926), President of Cuba since 1959; remarks responding to the Kennedy assassination as reported in the New York Times for 25 Nov. 1963: “Excerpts From Castro Talk; No Justification Negative Repercussions”: “We have to make an objective analysis of the facts, consequences and repercussions that the assassination of President Kennedy might have. We should comprehend it very well. This kind of act affects the ‘sensibility of every man.’ Before an act of this nature I react in this way and I believe this is the reaction of most human beings, ‘who repudiate assassination.’ […] As Marxist-Leninists we recognize that the role of a man is small and relative in society. We should be glad about the death of a system. The disappearance of a system would always cause us joy. But the death of a man, although this man is an enemy, does not have to cause us joy. We always bow with respect in front of death. The death of President Kennedy can have very negative repercussions for the interests of our country, but in this case it is not the question of our interest, but of the interests of the whole world.”
364.16 joy of the Irish…: JFK made an official visit to Ireland for three days in June 1963; his grandfather immigrated from Ireland and his father, Joseph P. Kennedy, married Rose Fitzgerald from another prominent Boston family, whose own grandfather had immigrated from Ireland. On 28 June, JFK addressed the Irish Parliament in Dublin and included the following remarks: “This elegant building, as you know, was once the property of the Fitzgerald family, but I have not come here to claim it. Of all the new relations I have discovered on this trip, I regret to say that no one has yet found any link between me and a great Irish patriot, Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Lord Edward, however, did not like to stay here in his family home because, as he wrote his mother, ‘Leinster House did not inspire the brightest ideas.’ That was a long time ago, however.” Reported in the New York Times for 29 June 1963.
365.6 (Guildencrantz) / who’d stopped husking…: this name conflates the two university friends of Hamlet, Rosencranz and Guildenstern (thanks to Michael Fournier). Here refers to Barry Goldwater (1909-1998), the conservative Republican presidential candidate who lost to Lyndon B. Johnson in the 1964 election. In response to the JFK’s assassination, the Republican Party called for a temporary moratorium on campaigning for primaries to decide the party nomination; the leading Republican contenders were Goldwater and Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York.
365.17 (pricing steel)…: in an effort to control rising inflation in 1962, the Kennedy administration proposed self-enforced agreements by unions and corporations to freeze wages and prices. The steel industry agreed to a contract between unions and management to implement these proposals, but U.S. Steel promptly broke it, announcing an across the board price rise while fixing wages, which was quickly emulated by the rest of the industry. JFK was furious, denounced the steel executives on national TV on 11 April, and off-camera made the widely reported remarks LZ quotes at 365.22-28; in the end the steel industry rolled back their prices. See New York Times for 23 April 1962, which includes Kennedy’s remark at 365.22-28: “Steel: A 72-Hour Drama With an All-Star Cast; Period of Excitement Hints of Rise Given The Steel Crisis: A 72-Hour Drama With All-Star Cast and Plot of Many Surprises Price Rises Set Stage on April 10 Kennedy’s Quick and Angry Reaction to News Touched Off Fast-Paced Play How It Developed White House Reception Wednesday Curb by Law Suggested Hold-outs Emerge Agree to Consider It Antitrust Line Pushed F.B.I. Told to Check A Morgan Man Called Thursday Awakened By F.B.I. Quick Rebuttal Planned Helps Friends to Meet Supports President U.S. Serves Subpoenas Friday Defense Orders Shifted Finds Outlook ‘Abysmal.’”
365.18 twenty-third of April…: date of Shakespeare’s death and traditionally of his birthday as well (1564-1616), so seven months prior to JFK’s assassination.
365.29 Vietnam’s witch…: Madame Nhu, notorious wife of South Vietnam’s Prime Minister, Ngo Dinh Diem. On 11 June 1963, in protest against the Prime Minister’s anti-Buddhist policies, a Buddhist monk set himself on fire in Saigon. Madame Nhu reportedly quipped that she would “clap hands at seeing another monk barbecue show.”
365.37 (Queen Margaret and dying Edward’s queen) / And see another as I see thee now: from Shakespeare, Richard III I.iii.204; Queen Margaret, widow of Henry VI, is ranting at Queen Elizabeth, wife of the dying Edward IV:
Long mayest thou live to wail thy children’s death,
And see another, as I see thee now,
Deck’d in thy rights, as thou art stall’d in mine!
Long die thy happy days before thy death;
And, after many length’ned hours of grief,
Die neither mother, wife, nor England’s Queen!
366.3 Eloquence / words of / a senator’s eulogy…: Senate Majority leader Mike Mansfield of Montana offered a poetic eulogy for JFK that was nationally telecast from the Rotunda of the U.S. Capitol on 24 Nov. 1963, in which he five times repeated the line, “And so she [Jackie Kennedy] took a ring from her finger and placed it in his hands,” adding as conclusion, “and kissed him and closed the lid of a coffin.”
366.6 da capo: repeat from the beginning (in music).
366.14 ‘Bethink you / if Bach’s feet deserved such bounty…: a comment on Bach’s extraordinary ability as an organist, which in context offers a curious link with the preceding ring motif in Manfield’s eulogy (366.3): “‘His feet, flying over the pedals as though they were winged, made the notes reverberate like thunder in a storm,’ till the Prince [the Crown Prince of Sweden], ‘cum stupore admiratus,’ pulled a ring from his finger and presented it to the player. ‘Now bethink you,’ commented [Constantin] Bellermann, ‘if Bach’s skilful feet deserved such a bounty, what gift must the Prince have offered to reward his hands as well?’” (Terry 107).
366.18 Capella, alpha in Auriga, little first goat: Capella, L. for she-goat, is also called Alpha Aurigae since it is the brightest star in the constellation of Aurigae, meaning Charioteer or Driver. In the northern hemisphere Capella is particularly bright in the early autumn through winter. Ahearn suggests the appearance of this image as due to the fact that since Capella is 46 light-years away, the light that reaches earth in 1963 left the star the year of JFK’s birth in 1917 (226-227). Interestingly, Capella plays a prominent role in the concluding part of Basil Bunting’s Briggflatts (1966), where Bunting explicitly points out, as well as works into the significance of his poem, this point about Capella’s light taking about 45 years to reach Earth.
366.22 Vesper there / Vesper Olympus dig air: from the opening strophe of Catullus, Carmina 62; LZ is quoting from lines 1 and 4 of his own Catullus version: “Vesper out there, you vain knees can sure get up: Vesper, Olympus / expected all day […] / come dig the air Hymenaeus.” Vesper is the evening star, especially Venus.
366.24 court orchestra of uniformed Haiduks…: through 367.20 gives details from J.S. Bach’s residence at the court of Weimar from 1708-1717 taken from the relevant chapter in Charles Sanford Terry’s biography. Duke Wilhelm Ernst had a small “court orchestra, uniformed in the hussar habit,” a style which Terry explains in a footnote came from the Heyducs of a region in Hungary, adding, “we must imagine Bach himself thus clothed” (87). Details of the musicians available to Bach and his pay while at Weimar are given by Terry (91-95).
366.28 ‘Friedmann, shall we go / over to Dresden…: a remark Bach supposedly addressed to one of his sons indicating his lack of interest in Italian opera for which Dresden was then famous; Terry adds, “Unlike Händel, he was little attracted by the Italian tradition of the seventeenth century” (Terry 110-111).
366.32 Frescobaldi’s Musical Flowers…: Girolamo Frescobaldi (1583-1643), Italian organist and composer, who greatly influenced the development of baroque music. J.S. Bach was so impressed by his best-known collection of organ music, Fiori musicale (1635), that he copied out the 104 pages in full (Terry 106). Terry also notes that Bach copied out a series of his own cantatas on paper “provided by the ducal treasury,” at the time an expensive item.
366.34 Ziegler: Johann Gotthilf Ziegler (1688-1747), student of and later agent for Bach, who “instructed me when playing hymns not to treat the melody as if it alone were important, but to interpret the words through the melody” (Terry 99).
367.2 a rare banquet in cypress / orange almond…: from a description of a birthday celebration in 1716 for Duke Christin of Sachsen-Weissenfels, at which Bach performed (Terry 108).
367.5 or the court company of comedians…: “The Puritan austerity of a court [at Weimar] whose lights were extinguished at eight in winter and nine in summer was relieved by occasional and decorous relaxation. The exercises of the chase were not disdained, and in his younger days Wilhelm Ernst maintained a company of comedians, whose dispersal synchronized with Bach’s arrival” (Terry 86).
367.7 not ‘useful to accept a post / poorer than the one he abandons’: from a 19 March 1714 letter in which Bach declines an offer of a position at Halle (Terry 105).
367.9 finger exercises traceries little pieces of himself…: through 367.14 is a creative paraphrase of Terry’s description of Bach’s teaching practice while at Weimar, for which he often wrote his own exercises or “inventions.” In teaching composition, Terry tells us, “He was as severe to those who showed him clumsy part-writing, reminding them that each part must be regarded as an individual conversing with his fellows, who, when he speaks, must speak grammatically and complete his sentences, and if he has nothing to say, had better remain silent” (99-100).
367.15 Orpheuses, Arions: Orpheus and Arion were legendary Greek poets. Their appearance here is from a contemporary comment on Bach’s playing skills addressed to the ghost of the Roman rhetorician Quintilian: “I’m an honest admirer of your ancient world, but I tell you this Bach of mine, or another, if you can find one like him, is worth any number of Orpheuses, and twenty singers like Arion” (Terry 108).
367.16 Weimar…: Terry makes this remark about a lack of a street named for Bach (85). Bach left for Cöthen when an appointment he hoped for was given to someone else, but Duke Wilhelm Ernst of Weimar had him arrested for four weeks in an effort to prevent his departure (Terry 113-114).
367.17 Lucas Cranach: (1472-1553), German painter who spent his last few years and died in Weimar. Terry appears to suggest that Weimar was his native city, although this is not the case (95).
367.18 Herder’s house…: Johann Gottfried von Herder (1744-1803), German Romantic philosopher who spent the latter half of his life in Weimar. This speculation about Herder’s house does not appear in Terry, who only mentions Herder’s quip that Weimar was “something between a capital and a village” (Terry 96).
367.19 more certain he was arrested…: see 367.16.
367.21 perpetuate the young dead’s name with place: numerous places and streets were named or renamed for JFK, but two particularly prominent examples of renaming very shortly after his assassination were NYC’s John F. Kennedy International Airport (formerly known as Idlewild Airport) and the John F. Kennedy Space Center (formerly Cape Canaveral).
367.22 statesman stumping The Tabernacle, Salt Lake City: JFK spoke at the Tabernacle, the main Mormon temple in Salt Lake City, on 26 Sept. 1963, less than two months before his assassination. His speech called for a realistic and tolerant approach to foreign policy rather than an imposition of American ideology on others. The speech was reported in the New York Times for 27 Sept. 1963: “Kennedy Attacks Goldwater Line; Says in Salt Lake City That Isolationist Policy Would Be Boon to Communists Goldwater Views Are Attacked By Kennedy at Salt Lake City Treaty No Panacea.” JFK had just signed the Partial Test Ban Treaty (see note at 367.26), which Barry Goldwater strongly opposed.
367.23 quick with his story of the first step…: on 26 July 1963 JFK made a nation-wide address over radio and TV urging support for the signing of the Partial Test Ban Treaty (see next note), which appeared in the New York Times for 27 July 1963. The speech concludes: “But now, for the first time in many years, the path of peace may be open. No one can be certain what the future will bring. No one can say whether the time has come for an easing of the struggle. But history and our own conscience will judge us harsher if we do not now make every effort to test our hopes by action, and this is the place to begin. According to the ancient Chinese proverb, ‘A journey of a thousand miles must begin with a single step.’ My fellow Americans, let us take that first step. Let us, if we can, step back from the shadows of war and seek out the way of peace. And if that journey is a thousand miles, or even more, let history record that we, in this land, at this time, took the first step.”
367.26 Test Ban Treaty: the Partial/Limited Test Ban Treaty signed by the U.S., the Soviet Union and the U.K. in Aug. 1963, went into effect on 10 Oct. 1963, “42 days” before JFK’s assassination. This treaty was the first to limit the testing of nuclear detonations, prohibiting all such testing in the atmosphere, space or the ocean, but not underground tests. See 360.37.
367.30 ‘not to our size, but to our spirit’…: on 26 Oct. 1963, JFK delivered some memorial remarks at the inauguration of the Robert Frost Library at Amherst College, reported in the New York Times for 27 Oct. 1963: “Kennedy, Honoring Frost, Bids U.S. Heed Its Artists”: “In America our heroes have customarily run to men of large accomplishments. But today this college and country honors a man whose contribution was not to our size but to our spirit; not to our political beliefs but to our insight; not to our self-esteem but to our self-comprehension. […] And because he knew the midnight as well as the high noon, because he understood the ordeal as well as the triumph of the human spirit, he gave his age strength with which to overcome despair.” Another possible source that reproduced JFK’s remarks on Frost is an anthology to which LZ contributed: Of Poetry and Power: Poems Occasioned by the Presidency and by the Death of John F. Kennedy, eds. Erwin A. Glikes and Paul Schwaber (1964); see note at 368.17.
368.1 Chinese sage a thousand / years…: see quotation at 367.23. As JFK notes, the remark is proverbial, and although it is often attributed to Confucius, it actually comes from Lao Tze, Chap. 64.
368.11 ‘Black Jack’ Sardar…: JFK’s military funeral procession included a riderless black horse, Black Jack, who was saddled with a sword and boots in the stirrups pointing backwards symbolizing the dead leader looking back over his life. Following immediately behind Kennedy’s coffin, Black Jack attracted considerable media attention, particularly since the huge crowds made him skittish and at times balk as mentioned at 368.8. Zukofsky is repeating an error that was widely reported at the time confusing this Black Jack with another horse, Sardar (meaning Chief), given to Jackie Kennedy by the president of Pakistan, but given the additional name “Black Jack,” which was the nickname of Jackie’s father. Black Jack in the funeral procession was a military horse who frequently performed this duty.
368.11 with black- / hilted sword black dangled…: McMorris points out that “as a decorated veteran of the U.S. Navy in World War II, [JFK] receives a full dress military funeral” (19).
368.17 Finally a valentine…: poem written in Feb. 1963 (CSP 240); although composed before JFK’s death, LZ apparently felt it was a fitting tribute to the president, and its first publication was in the collection, Of Poetry and Power: Poems Occasioned by the Presidency and by the Death of John F. Kennedy, eds. Erwin A Glikes & Paul Schwaber (NY: Basic Books, 1964). For his contributor’s notes to that volume, he wrote the following statement, although it was not used: “The source of all poetry is in a sense occasional. But the occasion if it is poetry is also always in the future. Had J.F.K. by some chance expressed an interest in my poetry I should have been glad to inscribe “Finally a valentine” to him. In time, a collection of my short poems will include “After reading, a song,” which was written with J.F.K. in mind on the train from Boston to N.Y. after I had read at Adams House and taped for The Lamont Library at Harvard, Dec. 15, 1963; and my long poem “A” (begun 1927 – still unfinished) whose occasions are often history will have more about J.F.K.” (HRC). For “After reading, a song,” see CSP 233.
368.21 After reading, a song…: this poem (CSP 233) was written on the train-ride back from reading in the Adams House at Harvard on 14 Dec. 1963 on the invitation of the young poet Michael Palmer, and so three weeks after JFK’s assassination.
368.24 John to John-John to Johnson: i.e. JFK to John Kennedy, Jr. to Lyndon B. Johnson (JFK’s Vice President and successor).
368.30 holy holy tetraktys / of the Pythagorean eternal flowing creation: the tetraktys is 1+2+3+4=10, the ultimate numerological symbol or image in Pythagoreanism, which represented these first four numbers as points forming a pyramid or perfect triangle: four numbers creating an image with four on each side (four is the number of justice, the highest virtue) and adding up to ten, the number of the whole. LZ is here referring to the Pythagorean prayer to the tetraktys preserved in the so-called Golden Lines of Pythagoras: “O holy, holy tetraktys, thou that containest the root and source of eternally flowing creation”; see 19.419.7 for the full prayer.
368.37 ‘I was dreaming a high hole in rock…: this dream account appears to have been related to LZ by the experimental filmmaker Stan Brakhage (1933-2003), or possibly LZ related it to Brakhage (HRC 4.6). Brakhage greatly admired LZ, among many other poets, and the two corresponded through at least much of the 1960s. Brief shots of both LZ and CZ appear in Brakhage’s anti-war film, 23rd Psalm Branch (1966-1967), as well as text from “A”-11. The Glass Mountain at 369.10 does not refer to any actual film by Brakhage, although it is possible it was a working title, but apparently refers to a gift-object of mica or sheepsilver, which Brakhage picked up while in Custer, South Dakota and sent with the following undated note: “THE / GLASS MOUNTAIN / made of mica / also called / Muscovy glass / in Scotland / called / sheepsilver” (HRC 231.3). Although the note is undated, the Brakhages were in Custer when Kennedy was assassinated. Brakhage may have sent this to LZ somewhat in the manner of “Daruma,” a small mounted stone given to LZ by Will Petersen and the subject of the poem of that title (see After I’s, CSP 221-222).
369.10 The Glass Mountain: see preceding note.
369.14 the dead’s church / remembered not a moment too soon / to absolve the Jews of Yeshua’s…: JFK (“the dead”) was Roman Catholic. Vatican II (see 18.398.20) officially absolved the Jews of responsibility for the death of Jesus, although the document was not published until 1965 it was already being reported in 1964. Yeshua is the Heb. (or originally Aramaic) name for Jesus and means salvation.
369.18 Gibbon: Edward Gibbon (1737-1794), English historian; see 370.17.
369.19 ‘spare them the pains of thinking’: from Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, Chap. IX: “The State of Germany Till the Invasion of the Barbarians”: “In the dull intervals of peace, these barbarians [the Germans] were immoderately addicted to deep gaming and excessive drinking; both of which, by different means, the one by inflaming their passions, the other by extinguishing their reason, alike relieved them from the pain of thinking.” However, also see Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations: “I should not like my writing to spare other people the trouble of thinking” (Preface vi).
369.20 under the aspic of eternity: pun on Spinoza’s “under the aspect of eternity,” meaning the highest level of understanding that involves the closest possible identification with God and thus of self-knowledge. “Aspic” is a clear jelly used in cooking as mould, but also serves as a preservative.
369.22 great Cow of Heaven: any of various forms of the Great Mother goddess in Egyptian mythology—e.g. Hathor, Nut and Neith are all depicted as cow figures giving birth to and suckling the cosmos.
369.23 Birjand, October five thousand nine hundred eleven / (an anagram)…: through 369.32 from F. Hale, From Persian Uplands (London 1920), a volume of letters by a British officer stationed in Birjand in eastern Persia (Iran) near the Afghan border from 1913-1919. The letter from which LZ quotes is headed: Birjand, 10th October 1915, but he has deliberately scrambled (anagramized) the numbers of the year:
“We have been out hawking with the Amir, so as it was my first experience, and as hawking is an old British sport, I must tell you about it. […] Within ten minutes a covey of see-see, the little partridge that frequents these bare hills, rose with a whistle and disappeared round a bend. We dismounted and advanced, the falconers leading with bright-eyed hawks held on their gloved hands by a slender thong attached to a leg-ring. The hawks had at no time been hooded: they were now straining for their release, which came shortly. The see-see rose again twenty yards ahead of us, the falconers raised their hands and let go, and the hawks simultaneously rose and pursued in different directions. One of them disappeared and pinned its quarry a hundred yards away. The other went straight ahead of us, lost or overshot its mark, and alighted on a jutting rock that overlooked the ‘field.’ The Amir’s men came up and commenced to search the ground for the crouching partridge, while the hawk watched the proceedings from fifty yards’ distance. After a minute or two a couple of birds were put up again, and a lightening chase followed, which ended a hundred yards off. The falconer ran up and took the quarry, bringing the hawk back. We again went forward, and in a short time put up another covey. This time the hawk pursued unerringly. Its victim skimmed along a few years above the ground, seeking cover, till it was brought to earth. When I arrived on the scene the hawk was poised on its quarry with it claws gripping behind the neck and had begun to pluck the feathers from the back of the silent wide-eyed and motionless partridge. The falconer came up, took the neck and back of the still-living partridge in his left hand and its legs in his right, and with one pull dismembered the body. He then presented the legs, which had brought away the greater part of the bird’s flesh, to the waiting hawk. When this gruesome business was over I felt little inclination to see the process repeated. The hawk had received his meal, however, and the royal and ancient sport was ended for the day” (79-82).
370.1 He could not think another / thing that evening…: through 370.4 from Fyodor Dostoevsky, Crime and Punishment (see 361.28), Epilogue, Chap. 2: “But he could not think for long together of anything that evening, and he could not have analyzed anything consciously; he was simply feeling. Life had stepped into the place of theory and something quite different would work itself out in his mind” (trans. Constance Garnett).
370.4 young Isaac / burning for Rebecca: puzzling since Isaac’s marriage to Rebecca was arranged by his father Abraham when he was 40 years old, and this description seems more apt in describing his son Jacob’s passion for Rachel, for whom he worked twice seven years for Rachel’s father Laban. On the other hand, Genesis 24:67 states that with his marriage to Rebecca, “Isaac was comforted after his mother’s death.”
370.6 not all and scorned in Augustine: St. Augustine of Hippo (354-430), largely credited with establishing the theological orthodoxy of the early Catholic Church, he generally took a very severe line on all matters of the flesh, but agreed with Paul that “it is better to be married than to burn.”
370.7 Eros agh nick not hay mock…: through 370.9 from Sophocles, Antigone lines 781 and 801, spoken by the Chorus; the translation is that of the Loeb Classical Library, Sophocles, vol. I, trans. F. Storr (1912):
Eros agh nick hot hay mock on Eros us inked massy / pipped eyes
Ἔρως ἀνίκατε μάχαν, Ἔρως, ὃς ἐν κτήμασι πίπτεις,
Erôs anikate machan, Erôs, hos en ktêmasi pipteis,
(Love resistless in fight, all yield at a glance of thine eye,)
now on th’heyday caught as thus mown
νῦν δ᾽ ἤδη ᾽γὼ καὐτὸς θεσμῶν
nun d’ êdê ‘gô kautos thesmôn
(Lo I myself am borne aside.)
370.14 the fourth kingdom shall be as strong as iron…: from Daniel 2:40. Although LZ knew the Bible well, in this instance he probably found this quotation in the annotations to his edition of Edward Gibbons, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, since it is the source of the imagery in the last sentence of the first paragraph in the passage from Gibbon quoted in the next note. The famous prophecy in Daniel 2:31-40 of four kingdoms of gold, silver, brass and iron has been interpreted variously, but often the fourth kingdom has been identified with Rome, which shallowed up many smaller states and kingdoms.
370.17 ‘perpetual violation of justice…” through 373.32 from a famous summarizing passage in Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (1776-1788), Chap. 38: General Observations on the Fall of the Roman Empire in the West (Everyman’s Library, 1954):
“The Greeks, after their country had been reduced into a province, imputed the triumphs of Rome, not to the merit, but to the fortune, of the republic. The inconstant goddess who so blindly distributes and resumes her favours, had now consented (such was the language of envious flattery) to resign her wings, to descend from her globe, and to fix her firm and immutable throne on the banks of the Tiber. A wiser Greek, who has composed, with a philosophic spirit, the memorable history of his own times, deprived his countrymen of this vain and delusive comfort, by opening to their view the deep foundations of the greatness of Rome. The fidelity of the citizens to each other and to the state was confirmed by the habits of education and the prejudices of religion. Honour, as well as virtue, was the principle of the republic; the ambitious citizens laboured to deserve the solemn glories of a triumph; and the ardour of the Roman youth was kindled into active emulation as often as they beheld the domestic images of their ancestors. The temperate struggles of the patricians and plebeians had finally established the firm and equal balance of the constitution, which united the freedom of popular assemblies with the authority and wisdom of a senate and the executive powers of a regal magistrate. When the consul displayed the standard of the republic, each citizen bound himself, by the obligation of an oath, to draw his sword in the cause of his country till he had discharged the sacred duty by a military service of ten years. This wise institution continually poured into the field the rising generations of freemen and soldiers; and their numbers were reinforced by the warlike and populous states of Italy, who, after a brave resistance, had yielded to the valour and embraced the alliance of the Romans. The sage historian, who excited the virtue of the younger Scipio and beheld the ruin of Carthage, has accurately described their military system; their levies, arms, exercises, subordination, marches, encampments; and the invincible legion, superior in active strength to the Macedonian phalanx of Philip and Alexander. From these institutions of peace and war Polybius has deduced the spirit and success of a people incapable of fear and impatient of repose. The ambitious design of conquest, which might have been defeated by the seasonable conspiracy of mankind, was attempted and achieved; and the perpetual violation of justice was maintained by the political virtues of prudence and courage. The arms of the republic, sometimes vanquished in battle, always victorious in war, advanced with rapid steps to the Euphrates, the Danube, the Rhine, and the Ocean; and the images of gold, or silver, or brass, that might serve to represent the nations and their kings, were successively broken by the iron monarchy of Rome.
The rise of a city, which swelled into an empire, may deserve, as a singular prodigy, the reflection of a philosophic mind. But the decline of Rome was the natural and inevitable effect of immoderate greatness. Prosperity ripened the principle of decay; the causes of destruction multiplied with the extent of conquest; and as soon as time or accident had removed the artificial supports, the stupendous fabric yielded to the pressure of its own weight. The story of its ruin is simple and obvious; and instead of inquiring why the Roman empire was destroyed, we should rather be surprised that it had subsisted so long. The victorious legions, who, in distant wars, acquired the vices of strangers and mercenaries, first oppressed the freedom of the republic, and afterwards violated the majesty of the purple. The emperors, anxious for their personal safety and the public peace, were reduced to the base expedient of corrupting the discipline which rendered them alike formidable to their sovereign and to the enemy; the vigour of the military government was relaxed and finally dissolved by the partial institutions of Constantine; and the Roman world was overwhelmed by a deluge of Barbarians.
The decay of Rome has been frequently ascribed to the translation of the seat of empire but this history has already shown that the powers of Government were divided rather than removed. The throne of Constantinople was erected in the East; while the West was still possessed by a series of emperors who held their residence in Italy, and claimed their equal inheritance of the legions and provinces. This dangerous novelty impaired the strength and fomented the vices of a double reign: the instruments of an oppressive and arbitrary system were multiplied; and a vain emulation of luxury, not of merit, was introduced and supported between the degenerate successors of Theodosius. Extreme distress, which unites the virtue of a free people, embitters the factions of a declining monarchy. The hostile favourites of Arcadius and Honorius betrayed the republic to its common enemies; and the Byzantine court beheld with indifference, perhaps with pleasure, the disgrace of Rome, the misfortunes of Italy, and the loss of the West. Under the succeeding reigns the alliance of the two empires was restored; but the aid of the Oriental Romans was tardy, doubtful, and ineffectual; and the national schism of the Greeks and Latins was enlarged by the perpetual difference of language and manners, of interests, and even of religion. Yet the salutary event approved in some measure the judgment of Constantine. During a long period of decay his impregnable city repelled the victorious armies of barbarians, protected the wealth of Asia, and commanded, both in peace and war, the important straits which connect the Euxine and Mediterranean seas. The foundation of Constantinople more essentially contributed to the preservation of the East than to the ruin of the West.
As the happiness of a future life is the great object of religion, we may hear without surprise or scandal that the introduction, or at least the abuse of Christianity, had some influence on the decline and fall of the Roman empire. The clergy successfully preached the doctrines of patience and pusillanimity; the active virtues of society were discouraged; and the last remains of military spirit were buried in the cloister: a large portion of public and private wealth was consecrated to the specious demands of charity and devotion; and the soldiers’ pay was lavished on the useless multitudes of both sexes who could only plead the merits of abstinence and chastity. Faith, zeal, curiosity, and more earthly passions of malice and ambition, kindled the flame of theological discord; the church, and even the state, were distracted by religious factions, whose conflicts were sometimes bloody and always implacable; the attention of the emperors was diverted from camps to synods; the Roman world was oppressed by a new species of tyranny; and the persecuted sects became the secret enemies of their country. Yet party-spirit, however pernicious or absurd, is a principle of union as well as of dissension. The bishops, from eighteen hundred pulpits, inculcated the duty of passive obedience to a lawful and orthodox sovereign; their frequent assemblies and perpetual correspondence maintained the communion of distant churches; and the benevolent temper of the Gospel was strengthened, though confirmed, by the spiritual alliance of the Catholics. The sacred indolence of the monks was devoutly embraced by a servile and effeminate age; but if superstition had not afforded a decent retreat, the same vices would have tempted the unworthy Romans to desert, from baser motives, the standard of the republic. Religious precepts are easily obeyed which indulge and sanctify the natural inclinations of their votaries; but the pure and genuine influence of Christianity may be traced in its beneficial, though imperfect, effects on the barbarian proselytes of the North. If the decline of the Roman empire was hastened by the conversion of Constantine, his victorious religion broke the violence of the fall, and mollified the ferocious temper of the conquerors.
This awful revolution may be usefully applied to the instruction of the present age. It is the duty of a patriot to prefer and promote the exclusive interest and glory of his native country: but a philosopher may be permitted to enlarge his views, and to consider Europe as one great republic, whose various inhabitants have attained almost the same level of politeness and cultivation. The balance of power will continue to fluctuate, and the prosperity of our own or the neighbouring kingdoms may be alternately exalted or depressed; but these partial events cannot essentially injure our general state of happiness, the system of arts, and laws, and manners, which so advantageously distinguish, above the rest of mankind, the Europeans and their colonies. The savage nations of the globe are the common enemies of civilized society; and we may inquire, with anxious curiosity, whether Europe is still threatened with a repetition of those calamities which formerly oppressed the arms and institutions of Rome. Perhaps the same reflections will illustrate the fall of that mighty empire, and explain the probable causes of our actual security.
I. The Romans were ignorant of the extent of their dangers and the number of their enemies. Beyond the Rhine and Danube the northern countries of Europe and Asia were filled with innumerable tribes of hunters and shepherds, poor, voracious, and turbulent; bold in arms, and impatient to ravish the fruits of industry. The barbarian world was agitated by the rapid impulse of war; and the peace of Gaul or Italy was shaken by the distant revolutions of China. The Huns, who fled before a victorious enemy, directed their march towards the West; and the torrent was swelled by the gradual accession of captives and allies. The flying tribes who yielded to the Huns assumed in their turn the spirit of conquest; the endless column of barbarians pressed on the Roman empire with accumulated weight; and, if the foremost were destroyed, the vacant space was instantly replenished by new assailants. Such formidable emigrations no longer issue from the North; and the long repose, which has been imputed to the decrease of population, is the happy consequence of the progress of arts and agriculture. Instead of some rude villages thinly scattered among its woods and morasses, Germany now produces a list of two thousand three hundred walled towns: the Christian kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and Poland have been successively established; and the Hanse merchants, with the Teutonic knights, have extended their colonies along the coast of the Baltic as far as the Gulf of Finland. From the Gulf of Finland to the Eastern Ocean, Russia now assumes the form of a powerful and civilized empire. The plough, the loom, and the forge are introduced on the banks of the Volga, the Oby, and the Lena; and the fiercest of the Tartar hordes have been taught to tremble and obey. The reign of independent barbarism is now contracted to a narrow span; and the remnant of Calmucks or Uzbecks, whose forces may be almost numbered, cannot seriously excite the apprehensions of the great republic of Europe. Yet this apparent security should not tempt us to forget that new enemies and unknown dangers may possibly arise from some obscure people, scarcely visible in the map of the world. The Arabs or Saracens, who spread their conquests from India to Spain, had languished in poverty and contempt till Mahomet breathed into those savage bodies the soul of enthusiasm.
II. The empire of Rome was firmly established by the singular and perfect coalition of its members. The subject nations, resigning the hope and even the wish of independence, embraced the character of Roman citizens; and the provinces of the West were reluctantly torn by the barbarians from the bosom of their mother country. But this union was purchased by the loss of national freedom and military spirit; and the servile provinces, destitute of life and motion, expected their safety from the mercenary troops and governors who were directed by the orders of a distant court. The happiness of an hundred millions depended on the persona merit of one or two men, perhaps children, whose minds were corrupted by education, luxury, and despotic power. The deepest wounds were inflicted on the empire during the minorities of the sons and grandsons of Theodosius; and, after those incapable princes seemed to attain the age of manhood, they abandoned the church to the bishops, the state to the eunuchs, and the provinces to the barbarians. Europe is now divided into twelve powerful, though unequal kingdoms, three respectable commonwealths, and a variety of smaller, though independent states: the chances of royal and ministerial talent are multiplied, at least, with the number of its rulers; and a Julian, or Semiramis, may reign in the North, while Arcadius and Honorius again slumber on the thrones of the South. The abuses of tyranny are restrained by the mutual influence of fear and shame; republics have acquired order and stability; monarchies have imbibed the principles of freedom, or, at least, of moderation; and some sense of honour and justice is introduced into the most defective constitutions by the general manner of the times. In peace, the progress of knowledge and industry is accelerated by the emulation of so many active rivals: in war, the European forces are exercised by temperate and indecisive contests. If a savage conqueror should issue from the deserts of Tartary, he must repeatedly vanquish the robust peasants of Russia, the numerous armies of Germany, the gallant nobles of France, and the intrepid freemen of Britain; who, perhaps, might confederate for their common defence. Should the victorious barbarians carry slavery and desolation as far as the Atlantic Ocean, ten thousand vessels would transport beyond their pursuit the remains of civilized society; and Europe would revive and flourish in the American world, which is already filled with her colonies and institutions.
III. Cold, poverty, and a life of danger and fatigue fortify the strength and courage of barbarians. In every age they have oppressed the polite and peaceful nations of China, India, and Persia, who neglected, and still neglect, to counter-balance these natural powers by the resources of military art. The warlike states of antiquity, Greece, Macedonia, and Rome, educated a race of soldiers; exercised their bodies, disciplined their courage, multiplied their forces by regular evolutions, and converted the iron which they possessed into strong and serviceable weapons. But this superiority insensibly declined with their laws and manners: and the feeble policy of Constantine and his successors armed and instructed, for the ruin of the empire, the rude valour of the barbarian mercenaries. The military art has been changed by the invention of gunpowder; which enables man to command the two most powerful agents of nature, air and fire. Mathematics, chemistry, mechanics, architecture, have been applied to the service of war; and the adverse parties oppose to each other the most elaborate modes of attack and of defence. Historians may indignantly observe that the preparations of a siege would found and maintain a flourishing colony; yet we cannot be displeased that the subversion of a city should be a work of cost and difficulty; or that an industrious people should be protected by those arts which survive and supply the decay of military virtue. Cannon and fortifications now form an impregnable barrier against the Tartar horse; and Europe is secure from any future irruption of barbarians; since, before they can conquer, they must cease to be barbarous. Their gradual advances in the science of war would always be accompanied, as we may learn from the example of Russia, with a proportionable improvement in the arts of peace and civil policy; and they themselves must deserve a place among the polished nations whom they subdue.
Should these speculations be found doubtful or fallacious, there still remains a more humble source of comfort and hope. The discoveries of ancient and modern navigators, and the domestic history or tradition of the most enlightened nations, represent the human savage naked both in mind and body, and destitute of laws, of arts, of ideas, and almost of language. From this abject condition, perhaps the primitive and universal state of man, he has gradually arisen to command the animals, to fertilise the earth, to traverse the ocean, and to measure the heavens. His progress in the improvement and exercise of his mental and corporeal faculties has been irregular and various; infinitely slow in the beginning, and increasing by degrees with redoubled velocity: ages of laborious ascent have been followed by a moment of rapid downfall; and the several climates of the globe have felt the vicissitudes of light and darkness. Yet the experience of four thousand years should enlarge our hopes and diminish our apprehensions: we cannot determine to what height the human species may aspire in their advance towards perfection; but it may safely be presumed that no people, unless the face of nature is changed, will relapse into their original barbarism. The improvements of society may be viewed under a threefold aspect. 1. The poet or philosopher illustrates his age and country by the efforts of a single mind; but these superior powers of reason or fancy are rare and spontaneous productions; and the genius of Homer, or Cicero, or Newton, would excite less admiration if they could be created by the will of a prince or the lessons of a preceptor. 2. The benefits of law and policy, of trade and manufactures, of arts and sciences, are more solid and permanent; and many individuals may be qualified, by education and discipline, to promote, in their respective stations, the interest of the community. But this general order is the effect of skill and labour; and the complex machinery may be decayed by time, or injured by violence. 3. Fortunately for mankind, the more useful, or, at least, more necessary arts, can be performed without superior talents or national subordination; without powers of one, or the union of many. Each village, each family, each individual, must always possess both ability and inclination to perpetuate the use of fire and of metals; the propagation and service of domestic animals; the methods of hunting and fishing; the rudiments of navigation; the imperfect cultivation of corn or other nutritive grain; and the simple practice of the mechanic trades. Private genius and public industry may be extirpated, but these hardy plants survive the tempest, and strike an everlasting root into the most unfavourable soil. The splendid days of Augustus and Trajan were eclipsed by a cloud of ignorance; and the barbarians subverted the laws and palaces of Rome. But the scythe, the invention or emblem of Saturn, still continued annually to mow the harvests of Italy; and the human feasts of the Laestrigons have never been renewed on the coast of Campania.
Since the first discovery of the arts, war, commerce, and religious zeal have diffused among the savages of the Old and New World these inestimable gifts: they have been successively propagated; they can never be lost. We may therefore acquiesce in the pleasing conclusion that every age of the world has increased and still increases the real wealth, the happiness, the knowledge, and perhaps the virtue, of the human race.”
373.33 No lady Rich is very poor…: cf. Shakespeare, King Lear I.i: “France: Fairest Cordelia, that art most rich being poor.”
373.35 kneecheewoe—: a multiple pun homophonically rendering nichevo, Russian for “don’t worry” or “never mind” (see next note). LZ’s notebooks also suggest that this combines a reference to CZ bruising her knee with a pun on Nietzsche (HRC 3.16).
373.37 first lady astronaut…: Valentina Tereshkova of the USSR became the first female in space in June 1963; several months later in Nov. 1963 she married fellow cosmonaut, Andrian Nikolayev, who is alluded to at 14.347.4. The New York Times for 20 June 1963 reported on her landing: “2 Russians Land in Central Asia After Space Trip; First Woman Astronaut Gets Bruised Nose Bykovsky Sets Record of 81 Orbits.”
374.6 hill near town the little cemetery…: describing WCW’s funeral on 6 March 1963 in Rutherford, NJ, which LZ attended; see 361.17.and 14.337.25-29. See also description of WCW’s funeral in 6 March 1963 letter to Mary Ellen Solt (SL 290-292). Erie in the next line refers to the Erie railway station in Jersey City, NJ, which LZ would often pass through on his way to visit WCW in Rutherford. In his 1958 “A Citation” for WCW, LZ states that his “preferred” way to visit was to take the ferry then the train from the Erie station and mentions the “iron girders and vaulting of the station” (Prep+ 47). See also 8.76.21 and 17.380.5-6.
374.12 button into the / rest of it: this particular expression is almost certainly from Helen Kane’s 1929 hit song “Button Up Your Overcoat”, the title stanza of which WCW quotes in his review of EP’s first thirty Cantos (see 14.349.18), which WCW sent to LZ for feedback (WCW/LZ 80-82). Both WCW and LZ were fans of Kane’s: LZ told EP that Song 1 (“Madison, Wis., remembering the bloom of Monticello (1930)”) was his “Helen Kane-Jefferson poem” (EP/LZ 98-99); for WCW see WCW/LZ 34, 35). LZ’s notebooks appear to indicate that this was a query by WCW about the early movements of “A” and perhaps “A”-3 in particular (HRC 3.16), which is an elegy to Ricky Chambers and thus buttons into this elegiac segment on WCW (see note at 361.17).
374.14 the life of the fugue of it: cf. Samuel Butler, The Way of All Flesh: “Life is like a fugue, everything must grow out of the subject and there must be nothing new.” Qtd. Bottom 210, 266.
374.17 The dog as the old friend lay dead / would not cross his threshold…: WCW’s Shetland sheep-dog, Stormy, refusing to enter his death-room, which LZ heard about from Floss Williams the day of WCW’s funeral; see LZ’s description of WCW’s funeral and this anecdote about Stormy in a letter to Mary Ellen Solt (SL 290-292) and Paul Mariani, William Carlos Williams: A New World Naked (McGraw-Hill, 1981): 767. The 50th anniversary issue of Poetry 101.1-2 (Oct.-Nov. 1962) published the poem “Stormy” about his dog (Collected Poems II, 380), which as far as Floss could discern was the last poem WCW finished (Mariani 766), and LZ would have seen this poem since he also appeared in the same issue.
374.24 later thruout the house he ruled…: describing WCW’s funeral in a letter to Cid Corman: “Floss asked us to go back to the house for coffee — there weren’t enough cars to take us to the grave — and when Lucy and the dog let us in we were alone for some time, waiting it seemed in the same house as when I first entered it in 1928, as it were for him to come back from a ‘call'[.] Thirty-five years — an age gone — but not really — passed into something” (dated 11 March 1963).
374.30 Nestor, ‘Odysseus—where…: the quoted lines through 375.2 from Homer, Iliad X.544-579 describing the return of Odysseus and Diomedes from their night-time raid, bringing back as booty the horses of Rhesos, King of Thracia:
“[Nestor speaking:] ‘Do tell me about it, Odysseus! I can’t praise you enough this is a feather in your cap! How did you get those horses? Did you really get into the Trojan camp, or did some god meet you and make you a present? Like the shining sun, I do declare! I am always about in the battle, and I don’t bide in the rear, old as I am; but I have never set eyes on any horses like these. I suppose a god met you and gave them to you; for you are both well loved by Almighty Zeus Cloudgatherer and his daughter Athena Brighteyes!’
‘Nestor Neleïdês, most illustrious King! It is easy for a god, if he will, to bestow even better horses than these; for the gods are almighty. But these horses which you ask of, sir, are newly come. They are Thracians, and the Thracian King has been killed by Diomedês, and twelve of his best men by his side. Then for a thirteenth we killed a scout near our lines, who had been sent to spy out the camp by Hector and his princes.’
Then laughing aloud for joy, he drove the horses across the moat. They went on to Diomedês’ quarters, and tethered them in the stable with his other horses, and gave them a feed of corn. Odysseus hung up the blood-stained spoils of Dolon on the stern of his own ship, until he could prepare a sacrifice for Athena.
Now he and Diomedês waded into the sea, and washed off the sweat from shins and thighs and neck. Then clean again, and refreshed, they bathed in their stone tubs. So bathed and well rubbed with oil they sat down to dine, and dipping their cups in a well-filled bowl of delicious wine, they poured the sacred grace for Athena” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
375.34 and he who with his wife / deceived even pride as she suffered: these interpolated lines apparently refer to the Odyssey, when Odysseus clandestinely returns home in disguise and tests the loyalty of Penelope.
375.4 . . o poor . . away from all baths . .: from Homer, Iliad XXII; as Andromeche prepares for Hector’s return home from battle, unaware that he has already been killed by Achilles: “She called to the servants to put a cauldron to boil on the fire, that Hector might have a warm bath when he came in from the battle. Poor creature, she knew not that he was far away from all baths, brought low by the hands of Achillês and the will of Brighteyes Athena” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
375.5 Hecuba with bare breast…: Hecuba is the wife of Priam, King of Troy, and mother of Hector. These three lines refer to Homer, Iliad XXII.77-89, when his parents plead with Hector not to return to the field of battle immediately before his fatal encounter with Achilles:
“As the old man [Priam] spoke he tore the white hairs from his head; but Hector would not listen. His mother stood there also, weeping; she loosened the fold of her dress, and with the other hand bared her breast, and through her tears cried out the secrets of her heart:
‘O Hector, my own child, by this I beseech you, have pity of me, if ever I gave you the soothing breast! Remember this, my love, and come behind these walls— let these walls keep off that terrible man!” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
375.9 Thetis / and the nymphs…: this catalog of Nereids appears in Homer, Iliad XVIII.35-48. They join Thetis, Achilles’ mother, in grieving with Achilles over the death of Patroclus, which they know anticipates his own death. They are “of the deepest bath” at 375.21 because they are in “the deep sea.”
375.22 negritude: an aesthetic and ideology insisting on the independent nature, quality and validity of Black culture (AHD) and affirming African cultural heritage. It first developed as a conscious movement in the 1930s in the work of the Francophone poets Aimé Césaire from Martinique and Léopold Senghor from Senegal.
375.23 African violet: common house flowers of the genus Saintpaulia, native to East Africa, having basal leaf rosette and a showy cluster of violet or sometimes pink or white flowers; grown as ornamentals (AHD).
375.25 Job: aside from referring back to the opening Job passage (359.7-360.14), this possibly refers to Job’s-tears (Coix lacryma-jobi), a grass that produces pearly white, tear-shaped seeds that have long been prized for beading, including for rosaries.
375.26 white pods of honesty / satinflower: honesty is Lunaria annua (see 14.356.12), an originally SW European plant cultivated for its fragrant purplish flowers and round flat, papery, silver-white seedpods; also called satinpod, satin flower or moonwort, although the latter also confusingly names the fern Botrychium lunaria. In any case, LZ associated these plants together due to their moon or lunar names, which in turn are due to their having moon image features, and so further associated with CZ since LZ associates various crescent images with C.