Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
26 Dec. 1964, 8 March – 28 April 1966 / “An Unearthing,” Adams House & Lowell Houser Printers (May 1965); Poetry 110.5 (Aug. 1967)
389.1 An unearthing / my valentine…: this opening lyric through 390.8 was originally composed as a discrete poem in Dec. 1964, although drafted 6 Oct. 1964 (HRC 4.6), and published in a limited edition for a reading at Harvard: An Unearthing, Adams House and Lowell House Printers in Harvard Yard, May 1965.
390.12 who won’t sense upper case anymore: throughout this stanza and more irregularly in the rest of the movement, conventional capitalization at the beginning of sentences and proper names is suppressed. Ahearn points out that all movements of “A” written after 1963 drop the convention of capitalizing the beginnings of all lines (149).
390.12 iyyob (jōb): Heb. Job; LZ used Iyyob as the title for the opening Job section of “A”-15 when it was published as a separate booklet in 1965.
390.13 swift would have known sobbing it every birthday: Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) wrote birthday poems to Stella (Esther Johnson, 1681-1728) each year, which rhymes with LZ’s habit of writing valentines to CZ and PZ.
390.14 yovad yom: Heb. Let the day perish; from Job 3:3: yovad yom ivaled vo, veha’lailah amar horah gaver (Let the day perish wherein I was born, and the night in which it was said, There is a man child conceived).
390.19 typee: Herman Melville (1819-1891) describes the art of native tattooing in some detail in Chapter 30 of Typee (1846), in which the narrator observes the operation and refers to the tattoo “artist, with a heart as callous as that of an army surgeon.”
390.21 mentula: vulgar L. prick, cock. Mentula is the pseudonym for a decadent character that appears in a number of Catullus’ poems; see particularly Carmina 115 included in TP 10. See 8.50.9.
390.21 SWAN: see 407.24. The dirty sailor joke of lines 390.20-23, intermixed with some other materials, is wide-spread and there are different versions; the most frequent appears in William Gaddis, The Recognitions (1955): 657.
390.24 found in the debris of the acropolis / a long lost right leg…: from a 28 August 1963 letter from Cid Corman reporting on a discovery by his close friend, the archaeologist Judith Perlzweig Binder (1921-2013), who for many years taught at the American School of Classical Studies in Athens: “She’s found, on the Acropolis, among centuries of debris a long lost right leg of Athena from the Parthenon pediment!” (HRC 22.8).
390.31 I Sent Thee Late…: from the second stanza of Ben Jonson, “To Celia (‘Drink to me only with thine eyes’)”; qtd. Bottom 366, see also Anew 2 (CSP 77) and note at 391.2:
I sent thee late a rosy wreath,
Not so much honouring thee
As giving it a hope that there
It could not wither’d be;
But thou thereon didst only breathe,
And sent’st it back to me;
Since when it grows, and smells, I swear,
Not of itself but thee!
391.2 Vast, tremulous; / Grave on grave…: this short lyric was published independently as “I Sent Thee Late” by “LHS” of Harvard Yard in June 1965. As indicated at 390.33, the poem was originally written, without a title, when LZ was a student at Columbia, where it was part XXIV of a book-length sequence entitled The First Seasons (c. 1920-1924) under the pseudonym Dunn Wyth (= “done with”) (HRC 13.4). This sequence or selection was apparently made in 1940-1941 and never intended for publication; the exception for this poem made at CZ’s request. The poem would appear to echo Mathew Arnold’s “Dover Beach.”
391.9 Death not lived thru: from Ludwig Wittgenstein (1889-1951), Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus 6.4311 (qtd. Bottom 83 and 98): “Death is not an event of life. Death is not lived through. If by eternity is understood not endless temporal duration but timelessness, then he lives eternally who lives in the present. Our life is endless in the way that our visual field is without limit” (trans. C.K. Ogden & F.P. Ramsey).
391.9 big a sweeter fig…: from the concluding wedding hymn of Aristophanes’ anti-war comedy, The Peace (as qtd. Bottom 368):
Happy, happy, happy you,
And you well deserve it too.
Hymen, Hymensaeus O ! . . .
Go and dwell in peace . . .
He is stout and big.
She a sweeter fig. (trans. Benjamin Bickley Rogers)
391.10 greek gathering of early flowers: i.e. an anthology, < Gk. άνθολογία, a flower-gathering, hence a collection of small poems (CD). It is likely LZ is thinking here of his unpublished selection of very early poems, The First Seasons (see note at 391.2).
391.12 For a Thing / by Bach…: this is the title of an uncollected poem LZ published in Pagany (Oct.-Dec. 1930), although written 14 July 1926 according to the date on the surviving manuscript—in a letter to EP he states it was written in 1925 (EP/LZ 79). The following lines in italics (391.14-17), quote from the last of the four stanzas of this poem, which appears to be translated or adapted from the text of a Bach hymn. The first couple of phrases from this poem appear in lines 309 and 311 of “Poem beginning ‘The’” (CSP 19), and LZ indicated to EP in 12 Dec. 1930 letter that these were the seed of “A” (EP/LZ 79):
Our God, immortal, such Life as is Our God,
Our God, if like to errant stars we flutter
In our passage ever, of thy source—
(as to the immortelle,
Form, color, long after the gathering, is given) —give. Our wish:
Give measureless your urge that is our strength still increate.
391.19 at 90 and 81: if they lived that long, CZ would be 81 when LZ turned 90.
391.20 Weep—rather others: this apparently is a response to or reworking of the opening lines of a poem by Larry Eigner (1927-1996), “If you weep, I think that / others might cry / though it is no matter.” From On My Eyes (Highlands, NC: Jonathan Williams, 1960), which Eigner had sent LZ (HRC 4.6).
391.20 world’s a huge thing: from Shakespeare, Othello IV.3:
Desdemona: Wouldst thou do such a deed for all the world?
Emilia: The world’s a huge thing: it is a great price.
For a small vice.”
391.20 half / asleep: perhaps from Shakespeare, Othello IV.2:
Emilia: Alas, what does this gentleman conceive?
How do you, madam? how do you, my good lady?
Desdemona: ‘Faith, half asleep.
391.21 e.e.c. as a young man saw / an old man 3/3 dead: E.E. Cummings, who died in 1962; the reference is to the poem “suppose” from & [AND] (1925), about the perils of trying to impress a loved one with abstract talk:
Do you see
Life? he is there and here,
or that, or this
or nothing or an old man 3 thirds
asleep, on his head
flowers, always crying
to nobody something about les
roses les bluets
will He buy? […]
391.22 if one / third seems wandered for 2 left alone…: a recurring concern in “A”-18 is the fact that the now grown-up PZ is absent from home and pursuing his own separate life. LZ returns to this idea of incomplete thirds several times: see 401.13, 402.8.
391.26 ‘I have already met enough people’:
391.32 epicene stentorian: effeminately loud.
391.35 ‘the music saves / it’:
392.2 THRONGS OF / VIETNAMESE PILGRIMS VISIT POND…: this passage through 392.30 is from the New York Times for 1 Sept. 1963 (clipping in HRC 4.2), which LZ is slightly adapting. The passage refers to the Buddhist crisis of 1963 when there were wide-spread demonstrations against the religious persecution of Buddhists by the Catholic dominated government of South Vietnamese President Ngo Dinh Diem, who forcibly put them down (see 15.365.29). However, soon after the president was assassinated in Nov. 1963. Although LZ follows the article closely, some changes or additions to details are telling and the article itself is a curious piece of anthropological reportage, so it is worth reproducing complete:
“Tens of thousands of rural Vietnamese are reported to be making pilgrimages to a small pond to see a giant fish that they consider to be the miraculous reincarnation of a disciple of Buddha. The pond is in Quang Nam province, about 30 miles west of Danang in an area where animosity between Buddhists, who number about 80 per cent of the population, and Roman Catholics is strong. According to usually reliable sources, the ‘miracle’ began about two months ago, in the middle of the crisis precipitated when Buddhists accused the Government of discriminating against them. Word began to spread throughout the countryside that there was a giant fish, apparently a carp, swimming in a small pond, and that it was a Buddhist disciple. The fish was so big and could be seen so easily that it had attracted the attention of villagers. Soon Vietnamese from all over the region began going to the pond to see the fish. At this point the district chief, who is a Catholic, worried. The pilgrimage, he told one American, was an act of opposition. He decided to clean out the pond. With several troops from Col. Le Quang Tung’s special forces, he went to the pond to get the fish. The troops fired automatic weapons into the pond. Nothing happened. They placed 10 mines in the pond and set them off. ‘They blew up and killed everything in that pond except the fish. The fish kept swimming.’ Then they started feeding the fish bread, to train it to come to the surface. They followed the bread with a hand-grenade pitched into the water. Twice this was done, twice there were terrific explosions, and twice the fish continued to swim. This convinced the villagers that in fact a miracle was taking place. When an officer suggested another way of killing the fish the district chief said it had become too dangerous. He feared there might be a violent reaction among the population if the fish were killed. At this point the pilgrimage began in full force. People started coming from all over Vietnam. Buses from as far away as Saigon were chartered. The road to the pond was lined with people on bikes. The pilgrims carried away water from the pond. Army helicopters mysteriously landed, soldiers got out and filled their canteens with the magic water. One American said tens of thousands of people were visiting the little pond. To them the fish was a disciple of Buddha. The government, unable to kill the fish or stop the pilgrims, contented itself with printing in the local newspaper a report that the water in the pond was poisoned, and that many people died from drinking it.”
392.4 Quang Nam: province of central Vietnam within which Danang lies.
392.20 Col. Le Quang Tung: Director of the Presidential Liason Office and Commander of South Vietnamese Special Forces, was assassinated with President Ngo Dinh Diem (see 393.11).
392.30 Ich hub dir / in bud: a colorful Yiddish idiom, which is effectively translated in the following; more literal would be: I have you in the bathhouse, and more usually translated as something like: To hell with you.
392.31 Kentuckian: see 14.346.10-11.
392.36 Not that we digged original sin:
392.36 Gibbon’s / “an useful scavenger”: this phrase from Edward Gibbon, The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire in footnote 51 of Chap. 27: Civil Wars, Reign of Theodosius. Gibbon refers to Sébastien Le Nain de Tillemont (1637-1698), French ecclesiastical historian, who “has raked together all the dirt of the [church] fathers; a useful scavenger!” The main text is discussing the origins of persecution within Christianity under the reign of Theodosius: “The theory of persecution was established by Theodosius, whose justice and piety have been applauded by the saints: but the practice of it, in the fullest extent, was reserved for his rival and colleague, Maximus, the first, among the Christian princes, who shed the blood of his Christian subjects on account of their religious opinions.”
392.39 Rather: Dan Rather, CBS reporter who was assigned to cover the White House in 1964.
392.39 hump TV- / free: Hubert Humphrey (1911-1978) Lyndon B. Johnson’s Vice President.
393.1 For a roman à clef all resemblance to living…: presumably LZ has Little in mind, which he would soon return to and complete in 1967. Cf. epigraph to Little.
393.5 We warm us may ah Lesbia what cue / may maim us: homophonic rendition of the first line of Catullus, Carmina 5: Vivamus, mea Lesbia, atque amemus (Gordon, “Zuk on His Toes” 135). LZ’s rendering of this line in Catullus is: “May we live, my Lesbia, love while we may” (CSP 247), a rendering that echoes a famous poem by another Catullus enthusiast, Robert Herrick’s “To the Virgins, to Make Much of Time”: “Gather ye rosebuds while ye may”—a favorite of LZ’s.
393.7 a friend writes ‘the song preserves / recurring saves us’:
393.10 MacArthur: General Douglas MacArthur (1880-1964), U.S. military commander of Pacific theater during World War II, but dismissed by President Truman in 1951 as commander of U.S. forces during the Korean conflict.
393.11 killings per Diem Phu on Nhu: Dien Bien Phu was where Vietnamese communist forces under General Vo Nguyen Giap decisively defeated French colonial troops in May 1954. Ngo Dinh Diem (1901-1963), first president of South Vietnam from 1955-1963; his younger brother, Ngo Dinh Nhu was his chief political advisor and in charge of the secret police; both were assassinated in the 1963 coup. Per diem, L. per day.
393.12 unpacking from the supermarket ‘I / told him…: these three lines splice together an overheard remark about the bagging of groceries in the supermarket, in those days typically done by bag boys, with a quip by the great French cabaret singer, Édith Piaf (1915-1963): “When you are on top you have to send the elevator back down so that others may get to the top” (HRC4.6).
393.15 When I am dead in the empty ear…: the original draft of these five lines are among the same cluster of notes and evidently written at the same time as the original draft of the prelude.
393.24 non-sense like the great thing is not / to refuse…: from an interview with Jean Cocteau in Paris Review 32 (Sum-Fall 1964), which also included three of the Zukofskys’ Catullus renditions (see also 393.28): “It was Satie who said, later, the great thing is not to refuse the Legion of Honor—the great thing is not to have deserved it. Everything was turning about. All the old traditional order was reversing. Satie said Ravel may have refused the Legion of Honor but that all his work accepted it! If you receive academic honors you must do so with lowered head—as punishment.”
393.26 (N. ‘they will all think they deserved it’): the index indicates that the speaker is Napoleon (listed under “Bonaparte, N.”).
393.28 Man and Sheep: Odysseus with the Sacrifice… “Man with Sheep” (L’Homme au Mouton) (1943/44) is a major sculptural work by Pablo Picasso (1881-1973). Although it is not clear that the allusion to Odysseus was in fact a sub- or alternative title, the image of a man holding a struggling sheep is suggestive enough. The passage through 393.31 is from William Fifield, “Pablo Picasso: A Composite Interview,” Paris Review 32 (Sum-Fall 1964): 37-71 (see 393.24): “Picasso says—when we all react to his model of the L’Homme au Mouton—which stands in the marketplace square of Vallauris and with the chapel facing it is the center of Vallauris, but which in its moulage here serves as a clothes rack for his children and is hung strewn all over with his children’s clothes—laughs: ‘Art requires disrespect!’” (66). “[Fifield remarks:] I feel I am nibbling on the edges of this when I am capable of getting what Picasso means when he says to me—with a perfectly straight face—of computers: ‘But they are useless. They can only give answers.’” Elsewhere Picasso remarks: “Man goes to the moon, and then? Man does not change, always the same, always the same, always the same amount of good and the bad, like a horse or a bull in the field and that is why there is no progress, and can’t be. I hate to end things, you know, when I paint. How can anyone end anything.”
393.34 eight words a line for love: throughout most of “A”-18, LZ uses an eight-count line; there also happen to be eight letters in Zukofsky.
393.34 y-eye, yigh / pointed the kid, y-eyes…: apparently LZ hears in the inarticulate cry of the child his eyes theme elaborated extensively in Bottom.
393.35 light lights: cf. 7.40.17, 8.43.2, 12.136.29.
393.36 an order out of hiatus joining a chain: / “An”: faring no cause to an unowned end: these lines are a probable comment on the procedure and process of “A” itself. On “an,” see 14.314.1.
394.1 Doughty: ‘the Semites are like to man…: Charles M. Doughty (1843-1926), English traveler and poet, best known for Travels in Arabia Deserta (1888): “Two chiefly are the perils in Arabia, famine and the dreadful-faced harpy of their religion, a third is the rash weapon of every Ishmaelite robber. The traveler must be himself, in men’s eyes, a man worthy to live under the bent of God’s heaven, and were it without a religion: he is such who has a clean human heart and long-suffering under his bare shirt; it is enough, and though the way be full of harms, he may travel to the ends of the world. Here is a dead land, whence, if he die not, he shall bring home nothing but a perpetual weariness in his bones. The Semites are like to a man sitting in a cloaca to the eyes, and whose brows touch heaven. Of the great antique humanity of the Semitic desert, there is a moment in every adventure, wherein a man may find to make his peace with them, so he know the Arabs. The sour Waháby fanaticism has in these days cruddled the hearts of the nomads, but every Beduin tent is sanctuary in the land of Ishmael (so there be not in it some cursed Jael).” A cloaca is a sewer or latrine.
394.4 Schönberg Hollywood’s…: Arnold Schoenberg (1874-1951), Austrian composer, fled from Nazi Germany and settled in Hollywood in 1934. What source LZ is basing these lines on is unknown, but in 1935 the Hollywood producer Irving Thalberg of MGM offered Schoenberg the job of composing the music for the film version of Pearl Buck’s The Good Earth, but then would not agree to accept Schoenberg’s demands.
394.6 Shahnamah relegated to / tribesman…: from F. Hale, From Persian Uplands (1920) (also used at 15.369.23-39): “The Shahnameh is the Epic of Kings [by Firdosi, 940-1020], the finest book in the whole of Persian literature. […] You would think that this national epic would be read in Persia by all who can read, but it is not so. The pious Mohammedan fears to warm his heart at the Zoroastrian fire, and the present-day Persian prefers erotic verse, with which his unstable and degenerate mind is more in sympathy. The Shahnameh is relegated to tribesmen and dervishes. The former read it aloud amongst themselves in their encampments. The latter learn its episodes by heart and recite them in the coffee-shops of towns, striding up and down in the midst of the company as their hearts warm to the work” (111-113). See 12.227.17.
394.9 da capo: It. from the head; in music indicates repeat from the beginning.
394.11 Klamath floods: in Dec. 1964 the Pacific Northwest and northern California experienced particularly devastating floods of the Klamath and related rivers that nearly wiped out a number of towns.
394.16 the nation’s draft my window’s: the draft or military conscription rose dramatically in 1964 due to the Vietnam conflict. LZ was notoriously sensitive to drafty rooms, as he admits at the beginning of his Wallace Stevens lecture (Prep+ 24).
394.23 alter ego jünger ego: apparently puns on German: alt = Ger. old, älter = Ger. older, senior; jünger = Ger. younger, junior; with possible pun on Karl Jung.
394.26 fool horse Sophi: Sophie means wisdom.
394.26 if these lines were broken / down into such jewelled shorts…: the speaker of this quip is CZ suggesting that LZ could break up the long movements of “A” into haiku and single word lines, and he would end up with a multi-volumed work like Edward Gibbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire (HRC 4.6).
394.31 ‘overcome by / undue sense of right’: whistler: ‘no desire…: James McNeil Whistler (1834-1903), American artist; the full subtitle of his book The Gentle Art of Making Enemies (2nd ed. 1892) is: “As pleasingly exemplified in many instances, wherein the serious ones of this earth, carefully exasperated, have been prettily spurred on to unseemliness and indiscretion, while overcome by an undue sense of right.” The dedication of the book reads: “To the rare Few, who, early in Life, have rid Themselves of the Friendship of the Many, these pathetic Papers are inscribed.” And in the “Ten O’Clock Lecture,” he remarks: “Alas! Ladies and gentlemen, Art has been maligned. She has naught in common with such practices. She is a goddess of dainty thought—reticent of habit, abjuring all obtrusiveness, purposing in no way to better others.
She is, withal, selfishly occupied with her own perfection only—having no desire to teach—seeking and finding the beautiful in all conditions and in all times, as did her high priest Rembrandt, when he saw picturesque grandeur and noble dignity in the Jews’ quarter of Amsterdam, and lamented not that its inhabitants were not Greeks.”
394.38 Emanuel’s 4 Angels with Hats / on their Heads: Emanuel Swedenborg (1688-1772), Swedish mystical philosopher and theologian. LZ is thinking of a quotation from EP, “Epstein, Belgion and Meaning” (Criterion, April 1930), where he speaks of similarities between mystic and surrealist visions: “The surrealists are making a fresh start with a hitherto undigested content. ‘I saw three angels,’ wrote Swedenborg, ‘they had hats on their heads'” (Ezra Pound and the Visual Arts, ed. Harriet Zinnes (1980): 165). In a 1932 letter to EP, LZ mentions that he made a few apparently comic illustrations while reading this article, including one relating to the Swedenborg quotation, which he sent to EP (EP/LZ 140). EP also includes this Swedenborg quotation in Guide to Kulchur (1938): 73-74.
394.40 Old Tacit: EP who in the 1960s fell into his silence; see index.
395.7 B’s Notenbuch: there are two manuscript books compiled by J.S. Bach compiled with and dedicated to his second wife referred to as Notenbuch von Anna Magdalena Bach. LZ is referring to the second dated 1725, which has her initials printed on the cover in gold and consists predominately of keyboard works, mostly composed by Bach but also by others copied out mainly by Anna Magdalena.
395.9 ‘between order and sensibility in its power at / once to suggest all complexity…: from Roger Fry on “American Art” in Last Lectures (1939); in this particular instance speaking about a Mayan head carved from stone: “I do not know whether even in the greatest sculpture of Europe one could find anything exactly like this in its equilibrium between system and sensibility, in its power at once to suggest all the complexity of nature and to keep every form within a common unifying principle, i.e. each form taking up and modifying the same theme” (87).
395.14 ‘Horses, horses I’m / crazy about horses’:
395.15: Luvah doth renew his: from William Blake (1757-1827), The Book of Thel (1789). Luvah represents the Sun and the context indicates that the immediately following “brings” is suggested by Blake’s “springs.” In the following, the Cloud is speaking to Thel:
“O virgin, know’st thou not our steeds drink of the golden springs
Where Luvah doth renew his horses? Look’st thou on my youth,
And fearest thou, because I vanish and am seen no more,
Nothing remains? O maid, I tell thee, when I pass away
It is to tenfold life, to love, to peace and raptures holy: […]”
(See Prep+ 42 where the same phrase is quoted in LZ’s piece on Blake).
395.16 The Horses of Lu: in the Confucian Book of Odes (Shi Jing), one of the subsections of Part IV is entitled “The Horse Odes of Lu” (EP’s translation in Shih-ching: The Classic Anthology Defined by Confucius, 1964). Lu was the ancient state where Confucius was born, south of the Yellow River in what is now Shandong Province.
395.17 “Lou” (her voice) my name: the mention in the following line of 40 years later, aside from being a Biblical period of time, indicates the voice is probably that of LZ’s mother, although there are other possibilities.
395.17 God’s my life: from A Midsummer Night’s Dream III.ii, Bottom’s exclamation on waking up from his “dream” and also the first words of Bottom (9), see also 22 and 378. Compare the phrase in the early poem, “For a Thing by Bach,” at 391.14 which was quoted in “Poem beginning ‘The,’” written in 1926, 40 years prior to “A”-18.
395.18 The Adirondack Trust Company of / Saratoga (Drive-in Banking…: the source for this passage through “Horses” two lines later is a matchbook cover preserved among LZ’s papers (HRC 4.2), which has the motto of Saratoga Springs—Health, History, Horses—on the cover with an image of a horse. Saratoga Springs, in upper-state NY, became famous in the 19th century for the medicinal qualities of its springs and still is today for horse racing (see 405.29). The inside cover of the matchbook advertises the Adirondack Trust Company with the information LZ quotes. LZ would have picked this up while he was in residence at the Yaddo artist retreat in Saratoga Springs from Dec. 1965 through Feb. 1966, from which he had just returned when he composed the main body of “A”-18.
395.21 Bottom a weaver: the character in Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Night’s Dream, after which Bottom: on Shakespeare is named; see 12.133.20. This is also the title LZ used for a short publisher’s blurb on Bottom written in 1961 and included in Prep.+ 167.
395.22 ‘we laugh at that elixir…: through 396.17 from Samuel Johnson (1709-1784), Preface to the Dictionary of the English Language (1755):
“Of the event of this work, for which, having laboured it with so much application, I cannot but have some degree of parental fondness, it is natural to form conjectures. Those who have been persuaded to think well of my design, require that it should fix our language, and put a stop to those alterations which time and chance have hitherto been suffered to make in it without opposition. With this consequence I will confess that I flattered myself for a while; but now begin to fear that I have indulged expectation which neither reason nor experience can justify. When we see men grow old and die at a certain time one after another, from century to century, we laugh at the elixir that promises to prolong life to a thousand years; and with equal justice may the lexicographer be derided, who being able to produce no example of a nation that has preserved their words and phrases from mutability, shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his language, and secure it from corruption and decay, that it is in his power to change sublunary nature, or clear the world at once from folly, vanity, and affectation.
With this hope, however, academies have been instituted, to guard the avenues of their languages, to retain fugitives, and repulse intruders; but their vigilance and activity have hitherto been vain; sounds are too volatile and subtile for legal restraints; to enchain syllables, and to lash the wind, are equally the undertakings of pride, unwilling to measure its desires by its strength. […]
This recommendation of steadiness and uniformity does not proceed from an opinion, that particular combinations of letters have much influence on human happiness; or that truth may not be successfully taught by modes of spelling fanciful and erroneous: I am not yet so lost in lexicography, as to forget that words are the daughters of earth, and that things are the sons of heaven. Language is only the instrument of science, and words are but the signs of ideas: I wish, however, that the instrument might be less apt to decay, and that signs might be permanent, like the things which they denote. […]
To explain, requires the use of terms less abstruse than that which is to be explained, and such terms cannot always be found; for as nothing can be proved but by supposing something intuitively known, and evident without proof, so nothing can be defined but by the use of words too plain to admit a definition. […]
My labour has likewise been much increased by a class of verbs too frequent in the English language [….] If of these the whole power is not accurately delivered, it must be remembered, that while our language is yet living, and variable by the caprice of every one that speaks it, these words are hourly shifting their relations, and can no more be ascertained in a dictionary, than a grove, in the agitation of a storm, can be accurately delineated from its picture in the water. […]
Words are seldom exactly synonimous; a new term was not introduced, but because the former was thought inadequate: names, therefore, have often many ideas, but few ideas have many names. […]
These complaints of difficulty will, by those that have never considered words beyond their popular use, be thought only the jargon of a man willing to magnify his labours, and procure veneration to his studies by involution and obscurity. But every art is obscure to those that have not learned it: this uncertainty of terms, and commixture of ideas, is well known to those who have joined philosophy with grammar; and if I have not expressed them very clearly, it must be remembered that I am speaking of that which words are insufficient to explain. […]
Such is the exuberance of signification which many words have obtained, that it was scarcely possible to collect all their senses; sometimes the meaning of derivatives must be sought in the mother term, and sometimes deficient explanations of the primitive may be supplied in the train of derivation. […]
My purpose was to admit no testimony of living authours, that I might not be misled by partiality, and that none of my contemporaries might have reason to complain; nor have I departed from this resolution, but when some performance of uncommon excellence excited my veneration, when my memory supplied me, from late books, with an example that was wanting, or when my heart, in the tenderness of friendship, solicited admission for a favourite name. […]
To deliberate whenever I doubted, to enquire whenever I was ignorant, would have protracted the undertaking without end, and, perhaps, without much improvement; for I did not find by my first experiments, that what I had not of my own was easily to be obtained: I saw that one enquiry only gave occasion to another, that book referred to book, that to search was not always to find, and to find was not always to be informed; and that thus to persue perfection, was, like the first inhabitants of Arcadia, to chace the sun, which, when they had reached the hill where he seemed to rest, was still beheld at the same distance from them. I then contracted my design, determining to confide in myself, and no longer to solicit auxiliaries, which produced more incumbrance than assistance: by this I obtained at least one advantage, that I set limits to my work, which would in time be finished, though not completed. […]
I have not promised to myself: a few wild blunders, and risible absurdities, from which no work of such multiplicity was ever free, may for a time furnish folly with laughter, and harden ignorance in contempt; but useful diligence will at last prevail, and there never can be wanting some who distinguish desert; who will consider that no dictionary of a living tongue ever can be perfect, since while it is hastening to publication, some words are budding, and some falling away; that a whole life cannot be spent upon syntax and etymology, and that even a whole life would not be sufficient; that he, whose design includes whatever language can express, must often speak of what he does not understand; that a writer will sometimes be hurried by eagerness to the end, and sometimes faint with weariness under a task, which Scaliger compares to the labours of the anvil and the mine; that what is obvious is not always known, and what is known is not always present; that sudden fits of inadvertency will surprize vigilance, slight avocations will seduce attention, and casual eclipses of the mind will darken learning; and that the writer shall often in vain trace his memory at the moment of need, for that which yesterday he knew with intuitive readiness, and which will come uncalled into his thoughts to-morrow. In this work, when it shall be found that much is omitted, let it not be forgotten that much likewise is performed; and though no book was ever spared out of tenderness to the authour, and the world is little solicitous to know whence proceeded the faults of that which it condemns; yet it may gratify curiosity to inform it, that the English Dictionary was written with little assistance of the learned, and without any patronage of the great; not in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow: and it may repress the triumph of malignant criticism to observe, that if our language is not here fully displayed, I have only failed in an attempt which no human powers have hitherto completed. […] I have protracted my work till most of those whom I wished to please, have sunk into the grave, and success and miscarriage are empty sounds: I therefore dismiss it with frigid tranquility, having little to fear or hope from censure or from praise.”
396.19 ‘Thou that do cover’: from a poem by PZ, “oh ivy green,” quoted in full in “A”-20 (436).
396.20 as T / answered echoing the ugly lady…: an anecdote about Madame de Stael: “It was one of the weaknesses of Madame de Stael’s mind to wish for the distinction of beauty. […] In quest of a compliment, she once tried, when in company with Talleyrand and a lady of great beauty, to make him show a preference. But in vain she put such questions as she thought inevitable; he parried all. At last she said, ‘Now, if both of us were drowning, which would you try to save?’ ‘O Madame!’ he replied, bowing to her, ‘you swim so well.’” Uncertain where LZ found this often repeated anecdote, but the original source is Laetitia Matilda Hawkins, Memoirs, Anecdotes, Facts and Opinions (1824).
396.24 L (who?) ‘witness his hand’…: Charles Lamb (1775-1834), British essayist, wrote a brief autobiographical sketch dated 18 April 1827, which concludes:
He died _____ 18__, much lamented.
Witness his hand,
396.29 ‘there is / a march of science…: from Charles Lamb, 20 Dec. 1830 letter to George Dyer.
396.33 ‘seed-time till fire purge…: though 396.37 from John Milton, Paradise Lost
396.33-34: ‘seed-time till fire purge / nor let the sea surpass nor rain to drown: Paradise Lost XI (the concluding lines):
yet those remoov’d,
Such grace shall one just Man find in his sight,
That he relents, not to blot out mankind,
And makes a Convenant never to destroy
The Earth again by flood, nor let the Sea
Surpass his bounds, nor Rain to drown the World
With Man therein or Beast; but when he brings
Over the Earth a Cloud, will therein set
His triple-colour’d Bow, whereon to look,
And call to mind his Covenant: Day and Night,
Seed-time and Harvest, Heat and hoary Frost,
Shall hold their course; till fire purge all things new,
Both Heaven and Earth, wherein the just shall dwell.
396.35: sleep hand in hand who to blot out’: scattered words and phrases:
Book XII.611: For God is also in sleep […]
Book XII.648 (final lines): They hand in hand with wandring steps and slow, / Through Eden took thir solitarie way.
Book XI.891: That he relents, not to blot out mankind, […]
396.36 ‘o’er the marish glides / to the subjected plain’: from Paradise Lost XII.624-640:
So spake our Mother Eve, and Adam heard
Well pleas’d, but answer’d not; for now too nigh
Th’ Archangel stood, and from the other Hill
To thir fixt Station, all in bright array
The Cherubim descended; on the ground
Gliding meteorous, as Ev’ning Mist
Ris’n from a River o’re the marish glides,
And gathers ground fast at the Labourers heel
Homeward returning. High in Front advanc’t,
The brandisht Sword of God before them blaz’d
Fierce as a Comet; which with torrid heat,
And vapour as the Libyan Air adust,
Began to parch that temperate Clime; whereat
In either hand the hastning Angel caught
Our lingring Parents, and to th’ Eastern Gate
Led them direct, and down the Cliff as fast
To the subjected Plaine; then disappeer’d.
396.38 “eloquence” that is old Latin / past participle merely declaims: eloquence < L. eloquentia, < eloquen(t-)s, speaking, having the faculty of speech; ppr. [present participle] of eloqui, speak out, < e, out, + loqui, speak (CD).
396.39 syllabicate: to form or divide into syllables (CD).
397.3 Lincoln (who said of the preacher’s sermons…: Abraham Lincoln apparently made this remark while an Illinois state legislator in response to a long-winded colleague: “It’s like the lazy preacher that used long sermons and the explanation was he got to writin’ and he was too lazy to stop.”
397.5 Twenty minutes to whittle one / peg…: the chairmaker paraphrased here is Chester Cornett (1913-1981), a self-taught and poor craftsman, who came to national attention in 1965 for his traditionally made rocking chairs. Poor Fork, Kentucky is near Hazard (see 14.346.10). LZ was at the University of Kentucky for a few days in Sept. 1965 at the invitation of Guy Davenport. See Chris Beyers, “Louis Zukofsky in Kentucky in History,” College Literature 30.4 (2003).
397.16 ‘gathers ground fast’: from Milton, Paradise Lost XII.631: see quotation at 396.36.
397.18 (Hen Adams): presumably this identifies the “A” of the preceding line, which possibly is a remark of PZ’s.
397.18 schlissel to key: schlissel is Yiddish for key or wrench.
397.20 60 gone, my son…: LZ turned 60 in 1964, the year “A”-18 was begun; PZ turned 20 in 1963.
397.20 Ives 20: Charles Ives (1874-1954), American composer, who worked American themes into his compositions. PZ has made various recordings of Ives’ compositions, including the four Sonatas for Violin and Piano with Gilbert Kalish on piano released in 1964.
397.24 Eric The Red: 10th century Norwegian Viking exiled with his father to Iceland, from where he was the first European to discover and colonize Greenland. LZ’s notebooks indicate this is a reference to PZ returning from Iceland, where he would eventually establish a lengthy musical relationship (HRC 4.6). The first chapter of WCW’s In the American Grain (1925) is on “Red Eric.”
397.28 The Great Fugue: J.S. Bach’s Fantasia and Fugue for organ in G minor (1708).
397.29 look back, an, a, the–: LZ recalling his poetic work backwards from “An” songs (see 14.314.1) to “A” to “Poem beginning ‘The.’”
397.32 Savage: Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), probably referring to the concluding sentence of “The Poems of Catullus” (see quotation at 402.12).
397.34 Celtiberia still Spain: L. designation for general area of central Spain; mentioned by Catullus, Carmina 37 and 39.
397.35 I cannot / teach-in, sit-in, orgy-for nor will in obscurity malinger…: these and the next few lines are in part LZ’s response to a review by Gerald Malanga (< malinger) (b. 1943), best known as a photographer and filmmaker and his association with Andy Warhol during the 1960s. “Some Thoughts on ‘Bottom’ and ‘After I’s'” appeared in Poetry 107.1 (Oct. 1965) which featured LZ, including “A”-14, his “essay” on Blake and commentary by Robert Creeley, Tom Clark and Malanga. The latter remarks : “But one searches the pages of Mr. Zukofsky’s book in vain for the ineffable, for the beauty that passes understanding. In this sense, then, the spiritual reality of Louis Zukofsky’s ‘structure’ remains on a fairly complicated level […] Here the instinct to the intelligent and discriminating general reader is sounder than that of the specialist. The consolation that the specialist may take in labor arduous and obscure is that, though as for as the great critic-scholar of our modern age is concerned, ‘we look for another,’ yet when that other comes if he have the curiosity and the passion for learning that seem to mark the great teacher of man, he will find abundant lessoning in the theories and ideas of Louis Zukofsky” (60-64).
398.1 marron glacés: candied chestnuts.
398.3 the theologian’s pastorate “two / Xians both Jews”: apparently this is the Protestant theologian Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971) who early in his career took up a pastorate in Detroit, about which he made the remark that there were only two Christians in Detroit, both Jews.
398.5 cigs medicines certain tissue ought not be taxed…: from New York Times for 18 June 1965 on an economic stimulus package: “Congress Passes Excise Tax Cuts; Johnson Indicats He’ll Sign $4.6 billion Bill Quickly.”
398.7 West / Less Land: < Westmoreland; General William Westmoreland (1914-2005) became the leading U.S. military commander in Vietnam in June 1964 and dramatically raised troop levels. He was relieved of his Vietnam command in 1968 following the Tet Offensive.
398.8 Ia Drang: first major conflict between the US Army and the North Vietnamese Army (as opposed to the Viet Cong) that took place over a five week period in Oct.-Nov. 1965, culminating in a fierce battle on 14-18 Nov. Ia Drang marked a major escalation in the conflict and a sharp jump in US casualties with 240 dead, three times more than any previous weekly total. The date in LZ’s working notes (HRC 4.2) indicate that he watched a CBS Special Report, “The Battle of Ia Drang,” aired on 30 Nov. 1965 presented by Morley Safer and introduced by Walter Cronkite, who declared that Ia Drang confirmed that the US was now engaged in a full-fledged war in Vietnam. The report includes statements by General Westmoreland and other high ranking officers congratulating the troops and insisting Ia Drang was a major victory despite the high cost. At one point Col. William Lynch remarks: “Well, it appears that the little bastards have had enough and bugged off,” which is likely the source of the quote at 398.10.
398.8 more less safe: < Morley Safer (b. 1931) opened CBS News office in Saigon in 1965 and become one of earliest and most prominent US reporters on the Vietnam War.
398.10 ‘but / we’ve stopped the little bastard VC’s’: see note at 398.8.
398.12 Secretary Offense: < Secretary of Defense, Robert McNamara from 1961-1968 was a key architect of U.S. military involvement in Vietnam.
398.14 “The stupid war…: remark by General Charles de Gaulle (1890-1970), then President of France, widely reported in late 1965. The “earlier stupid / Frogs thought” alludes to France’s colonial legacy in Indo-China. De Gaulle had been instrumental in reclaiming Vietnam for France with the defeat of Japan at the end of World War II, but a protracted war of independence, during which the French military were largely underwritten by the US, ended in France’s defeat and withdrawal in the summer of 1954.
398.17 Mac—gee! Resigned for a “Cadillac” job…: McGeorge “Mac” Bundy (1919-1996), National Security Advisor under both Presidents Kennedy and Johnson (1961-1966) and was a strong advocate of escalating American involvement in Vietnam. He left to take over as head of the Ford Foundation, which he headed from 1966-1979. “President’s basement” < Cabinet.
398.20 Ecumenical Council: the Second Vatican Council or Vatican II lasted from Oct. 1962-Dec. 1965 and implemented various reforms, including the use of the vernacular in the Mass; see also 15.369.14.
398.21 Unless a miracle, said Cyrus, rusk / (twice baked)…: Cyrus S. Eaton (1883-1979), a Canadian-American businessman and philanthropist, who was a prominent activist for world peace and a vocal critic of U.S. policy in the Cold War; his various initiatives at rapprochement with the U.S.S.R. were an annoyance to the U.S. government. Here LZ refers to a speech by Eaton given on his return from a trip to the U.S.S.R. in 1965 warning of imminent nuclear disaster and accusing the U.S. government of failing to properly inform the people.
Dean Rusk (1909-1994) was Secretary of State from 1961-1969 under both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Lyndon B. Johnson. He was a strong advocate of U.S. military action in Vietnam to combat communism. “Twice baked,” aside from the play on “half-baked,” may refer to the fact that Rusk served under two presidents involved in the war (JFK and LBJ) or to the fact that he had also been a strong advocate of military action in Korea as Assistant Secretary of State under President Truman.
398.22 Remorse…: Wayne Morse (1900-1974), Democratic Senator from Oregon, who was one of only two Senators who voted against the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution on 7 Aug. 1964, which allowed President Johnson to dramatically escalate U.S. involvement in Vietnam. Morse continued to challenge the legality of the resolution and American military involvement in the conflict. Poins calls Falstaff “Monsieur Remorse” in Shakespeare’s Henry IV, Part 1 I.ii.107.
398.23 ‘one Senator—imperialism?…: presumably quoting Senator Wayne Morse (see previous note), who condemned U.S. military involvement in Vietnam as “stark, ugly imperialism” and against international law.
398.25 Rock well:
398.28 ‘I understood whatever was unintelligible…: from Charles Dickens, American Notes:
“The fruits of the earth have their growth in corruption. Out of the rottenness of these things, there has sprung up in Boston a sect of philosophers known as Transcendentalists. On inquiring what this appellation might be supposed to signify, I was given to understand that whatever was unintelligible would be certainly transcendental” (Chap. 3).
Dickens describes a stroll along Broadway in NYC: “Here is a solitary swine lounging homeward by himself. He has only one ear; having parted with the other to vagrant-dogs in the course of his city rambles. But he gets on very well without it; and leads a roving, gentlemanly, vagabond kind of life, somewhat answering to that of our club-men at home” (Chap. 6).
398.30 ‘Bach / or the Devil’: the exclamation of someone who overheard Bach improvising on the organ (Terry 114).
398.31 laughed as to mastery ‘nothing / wonderful…: another Bach anecdote; his remark continues, “… and the organ does the rest” (Terry 115).
398.32 POWER / FAILURE…: there was a major power blackout that effected most of the northeast including NYC on 9 Nov. 1965.
398.35 Watts: a predominately African-American area of Los Angeles where there was almost a week of rioting in Aug. 1965.
398.35 Harlem: there was a major riot in Harlem, NYC in July 1964.
398.38 ‘Fond of listening to other players’: again Bach (Terry 115).
398.39 Life: weekly US magazine that highlighted photo journalism.
398.40 Lumumba: Patrice Lumumba (1925-1961) became the first Prime Minister of the Democratic Republic of Congo in June 1960; deposed in a coup in Sept. 1960 by Joseph Mobutu backed by Belgium and the CIA, and executed in Jan. 1961. This appears to refer to a photo of an early monument to Lumumba in Stanleyville consisting of a life-sized photo portrait in a glass case that might be mistaken for a wax figure. Constructed in 1961, the monument was completely destroyed in late 1964.
399.7 o son of the umbilical cord / of the Gemini capsule: on 3 June 1965 Major Edward White was the first American to walk in space during Gemini IV. The line or hose connecting the astronaut with the space capsule to supply oxygen and communications was commonly referred to as an umbilical cord or cable.
399.8 cryobiology mere cold / does not kill…: there is a clipping among LZ’s papers hand-dated 11/6/63 (HRC 4.2), but otherwise unidentified, that discusses cryobiology: “The study and science of the effects of ultra-low temperatures on biological materials, cryobiology, is still in its infancy, yet it application in the field of preservation of human flesh promises to radically alter surgery and geriatrics. […] Mere cold, [Dr. B. J. Luyet] discovered, cannot kill; it is the growth, aided and abetted by a slow freezing of the tissues, of microscopic ice crystals which ruptures the cell, killing the organism. Super-fast freezing would preserve tissues; it may one day be the basis of suspended animation—the only clear way at present for the human race to travel to the stars, due to the immense distances between them.”
399.11 Sumeria’s recipe / ‘Grind to a powder pear-tree wood…: from the New York Times dated 27 Sept. 1953: “Medical Practice of 2100 B.C. Is Told,” which reports the discovery of the oldest known medical handbook on a Sumerian clay tablet at the University of Pennsylvania Museum, with a remedy translated by Samuel Kramer and Martin Levey: “Grind to a powder pear-tree wood and the flower (?) of the ‘moon’ plant, then dissolve it in beer and let the man drink.” This clipping survives among LZ’s papers (HRC 4.2).
399.17 between Ti and Ki: punning on TV, Kon-Tiki, tea and key (?).
399.18 danang cryochore: Da Nang is the major city of central Vietnam and was a major base of U.S. military operations during the Vietnam War. Cryochore is an obscure technical term designating a region of perpetual cold or snow (cryo- < Gk. cold; see 399.8). The word also suggests a crying choir.
399.18 intervention in santo domingo: in April 1965 President Johnson ordered a U.S. military intervention into the civil war that had broken out in the Dominican Republic, claiming neutrality in the conflict, but also to prevent a communist takeover.
399.20 heard the astronauts would sleep if…: referring to space flight Gemini V in Aug. 1965; almost a week in duration, it was the longest flight thus far, which raised problems of sleeping patterns for the crew.
399.21 Lady Clio: Clio is the muse of history.
399.25 dong xoai: on June 10, 1965 the Viet Cong attacked Dong Xoai, 60 miles northeast of Saigon, inflicting heavy casualties on the South Vietnamese army.
399.27 roger allen la porte 5 a.m. at u.n. / (seminarian briefed chrystie street…: Roger Allen LaPorte immolated himself in front of the United Nations Building in NY to protest the Vietnam War on 9 Nov. 1965. Chrystie Street in the Lower East Side is where LZ was born and grew up. Ahearn quotes from the report on Roger LaPorte’s death in The New York Times: “[LaPorte] was a member of the Catholic Worker movement, a charitable and pacifist organization with headquarters at 175 Chrystie Street on the Lower East Side” (“Two Conversations” 120). See following.
399.29 norman morrison: on Nov. 2, 1965, Norman Morrison, a Quaker and father of three, burned himself to death outside Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara’s office at the Pentagon in Washington, D.C.
399.30 an older lady / whose name was hushed: Alice Herz was the first American to immolate herself in protest against the Vietnam War on 16 March 1965 and died ten days later; she was 82. Cf. 15.365.29-32.
399.33 honesty: see 14.356.12; 15.375.26.
399.38 spirits would not return…: this foreshadows the long passage beginning at 400.5, but here set in the context of the atrocities of the Vietnam War.
400.1 marine with the cigarette lighter: Morley Safer’s report on the burning of Cam Ne village showed U.S. soldiers destroying the village with flame throwers, and in one case a soldier setting a thatched roof alight with a cigarette lighter. The report was broadcast by CBS on 5 Aug. 1965, one of the earliest reports on the extent and nature of US military involvement in Vietnam, and it elicited widespread condemnation (see also 398.8)
400.3 the innocent child shamed by / the pain his birth caused: the child is PZ; see 14.335.10-13.
400.5 Here an old woman weeps / as in the Melanesian tale…: through 401.11 is taken from two early monographs by anthropologist Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), “Myth in Primitive Psychology” (1926) and “Baloma; the Spirits of the Dead in the Trobriand Islands” (1916), both collected in Magic, Science and Religion and Other Essays, ed. Robert Redfield (1948). Malinowski was famous for his “participant-observation” fieldwork among the Melanesian peoples of the Trobriand Islands, between Papua New Guinea and Australia, during World War I. LZ is using material concerned with the baloma or spirits of the dead, which return to their villages each year during the milamala festival.
400.5-22: from “Myth in Primitive Psychology”: “But although there was a time when people grew old and died, and thus became spirits, they yet remained in the villages with the survivors—even as now they stay around the dwellings when they return to their village during the annual feast of the milamala. But one day an old woman spirit who was living with her people in the house crouched on the floor under one of the bedstead platforms. Her daughter, who was distributing food to the members of the family, spilled some broth out of the coconut cup and burnt the spirit, who expostulated and reprimanded her daughter. The latter replied: ‘I thought you had gone away; I thought you were only coming back at one time in the year during the milamala.’ The spirit’s feelings were hurt. She replied: ‘I shall go to Tuma [island of the dead] and live underneath.’ She then took up a coconut, cut it in half, kept the half with the three eyes, and gave her daughter the other. ‘I am giving you the half which is blind, and therefore you will not see me. I am taking the half with the eyes, and I shall see you when I come back with other spirits.’ This is the reason why the spirits are invisible, though they themselves can see human beings” (133).
400.23-401.11 from “Baloma; the Spirits of the Dead,” specifically the section on the role of the baloma in conception: “When the baloma has grown old, his teeth fall out, his skin gets loose and wrinkled; he goes to the beach and bathes in the salt water; then he throws off his skin just as a snake would do, and becomes a young child again; really an embryo, a waiwaia—a term applied to children in utero and immediately after birth. A baloma woman sees this waiwaia; she takes it up, and puts it in a basket or a plaited and folded coconut leaf (puatai). She carries the small being to Kiriwina, and places it in the womb of some woman, inserting it per vaginam. Then that woman becomes pregnant (nasusuma).
This is the story as I obtained it from the first informant who mentioned the subject to me. It implies two important psychological facts: the belief in reincarnation, and the ignorance of the physiological causes of pregnancy. I shall now discuss both these subjects in light of the details obtained on further inquiry.
First of all, everybody in Kiriwina knows and has not the slightest doubt about the following propositions. The real cause of pregnancy is always a baloma, who is inserted into or enters the body of a woman, and without whose existence a woman could not become pregnant; all babies are made or come into existence (ibubulisi) in Tuma” (216).
“Another cycle of beliefs and ideas about reincarnation implies a pronounced association between the sea and the spirit children. Thus I was told by several informants that after his transformation into a waiwaia, the spirit goes into the sea. The first version obtained (quoted above) implied that the spirit, after having washed on the seabeach and become rejuvenated, is taken up immediately by a female baloma and carried to Kiriwina. Other accounts state that the spirit, after being transformed, goes into the sea and swells there for a time. There are several corollaries to this version. Thus in all the coastal villages on the western shore (where this information was collected) mature unmarried girls observe certain precautions when bathing. The spirit children are supposed to be concealed in the popewo, the floating sea scum; also in some stones called dukupi. They come along on large tree trunks (kaibilabala), and they may be attached to dead leaves (libulibu) floating on the surface. Thus when at certain times the wind and tide blow plenty of this stuff towards the shore, the girls are afraid of bathing in the sea, especially at high tide. Again, if a married woman wants to conceive, she may hit the dukupi stones in order to induce a concealed waiwaia to enter her womb. But this is not a ceremonial action.
In the inland villages the association between conception and bathing is also known. To receive the waiwaia whilst in the water seems to be the most usual way of becoming pregnant. Often whilst bathing a woman will feel that something has touched her, or even hurt her. She will say, ‘A fish has bitten me.’ In fact, it was the waiwaia entering or being inserted into her” (217-218).
“Besides the belief in reincarnation by action of the sea, the view that the waiwaia is inserted by a baloma is prevalent. […] Such knowledge [of which waiwaia is responsible for conceiving the child] is possible only in the cases when the baloma actually appears in a dream to the woman and tells her that he will insert a waiwaia into her” (219).
“Beginning with ignorance of the father’s share, to direct questions as to the cause (u’ula) of a child being created, or a woman becoming pregnant, I received an invariable answer, ‘Baloma boge isatika [the baloma gave it]’” (221-222).
“When I asked who was the father of an illegitimate child, there was only one answer, that there was no father, as the girl was not married. If, then, I asked, in quite plain terms, who is the physiological father, the question was not understood, and when the subject was discussed still further, and the question put in this form: ‘There are plenty of unmarried girls, why did this one get with child, and the others not,’ the answer would be: ‘It is a baloma who gave her this child.’ And here again I was often puzzled by some remarks, pointing to the view that an unmarried girl is especially exposed to the danger of being approached by a baloma, if she is very unchaste. Yet the girls deem it much better precaution to avoid directly any exposure to the baloma by not bathing at high tide, etc., than indirectly to escape the danger by being too scrupulously chaste.
Illegitimate, or according to the Kiriwinian ideas, fatherless children, and their mothers are, however, regarded with scant favor. I remember several instances in which girls were pointed out to me as being undesirable, ‘no good,’ because they had children out of wedlock. If you ask why such a case is bad, there is the stereotyped answer, ‘Because there is no father, there is no man to take it in his arms’ (Gala taitala Cikopo’i)” (222-223).
Malinowski continues at considerable length concerning the disconnection in the Triobrianderian mind between physical copulation and conception, mentioning in passing a myth in which a woman is impregnated by “water dripping from the stalactites” (228) and another story of a woman impregnated by “digital manipulation” (229).
401.14 ‘I stumble you stumble Istanbul’: Woods points out that this is a mock conjugation, spoken by CZ (186). CZ was primarily responsible for PZ’s home schooling, which included Latin, Greek and other foreign languages, but also during the time “A”-18 was written, CZ and LZ were working on their Catullus translations.
401.15 ‘as when an upright woman holds her scale…: from Homer, Iliad XII.434-436: “But nothing could drive the Achaians back. The battle hung in the balance as truly as when an honest workwoman holds her scales in hand, weight in one and wool in the other, to earn a meager wage for her children” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
401.19 Isaac iliad: Old Testament story of the patriarch and Homeric epic.
401.19 ‘they live for memory: / with them in the sense that they think…: through 401.25 from Henry James’ story “Maud-Evelyn” (1900). Maud-Evelyn was an adolescent daughter who died, but whose parents continue to live as if she were still present:
“Well,” my young friend explained, “that’s just what he meant—they live for her memory. She is with them in the sense that they think of nothing else.”
I found matter for surprise in this correction, but also, at first, matter for relief. At the same time it left, as I turned it over, a fresh ambiguity. “If they think of nothing else, how can they think so much of Marmaduke?”
The difficulty struck her, though she gave me even then a dim impression of being already, as it were, rather on Marmaduke’s side, or, at any rate—almost as against herself—in sympathy with the Dedricks. But her answer was prompt: “Why, that’s just their reason—that they can talk to him so much about her.” […]
“Well,” he replied, positively gay in his black suit, his black gloves, his high hatband, “the more we live in the past, the more things we find in it. That’s a literal fact. You would see the truth of it if your life had taken such a turn.” […]
But I only said to Lavinia on this first occasion that I would immediately go; which was precisely what brought out the climax, as I feel it to be, of my story. “He’s not now, you know,” she turned round to admonish me, “in Westbourne Terrace. He has taken a little old house in Kensington.”
“Then he hasn’t kept the things?”
“He has kept everything.” She looked at me still more as if I had never understood.
“You mean he has moved them?”
She was patient with me. “He has moved nothing. Everything is as it was, and kept with the same perfection.”
I wondered. “But if he doesn’t live there?”
“It’s just what he does.”
“Then how can he be in Kensington?”
She hesitated, but she had still more than her old grasp of it. “He’s in Kensington—without living.”
“You mean that at the other place—?”
“Yes, he spends most of his time. He’s driven over there every day—he remains there for hours. He keeps it for that.”
“I see—it’s still the museum.”
“It’s still the temple!” Lavinia replied with positive austerity.
“Then why did he move?”
“Because, you see, there”—she faltered again—“I could come to him. And he wants me,” she said with admirable simplicity.
Little by little I took it in. “After the death of the parents, even, you never went?”
“So you haven’t seen anything?”
“Anything of hers? Nothing.”
401.26 face / like sudden night: from Homer, Iliad XII.462-464 (from the same passage as at 401.15-17): “Then Hector leapt within, his face like sudden night, his eyes blazing; light flashed from his armour, two spears were in his hands” (trans. W.H.D. Rouse).
401.28 ‘silences that cause the thought to flow’: apparently not a quotation but LZ’s condensation of a passage from Jonathan Swift, Gulliver’s Travels (1726), Book IV, Chap. 10: “[…] but I was infinitely delighted with the station of an humble auditor in such conversations, where nothing passed but what was useful, expressed in the fewest and most significant words […] They [the Houyhnhnms] have a notion, that when people are met together, a short silence does much improve conversation: this I found to be true; for during those little intermissions of talk, new ideas would arise in their minds, which very much enlivened the discourse.”
401.30 fireplace / with a window over it…: this describes a detail in the Mark Twain house in Hartford, Connecticut, which apparently had 18 fireplaces, one of which had a window over it as described.
401.34 Let The Hermit sing I do not know…: Hermit Songs (1953) is a cycle of ten songs for voice and piano by Samuel Barber (1910-1981), who used as texts translations of anonymous medieval Irish poems. LZ quotes the entire song entitled “Promiscuity” from A Celtic Miscellany (1951) translated by Kenneth Jackson. The “don’t” in the second line is more sensibly “do” in Jackson/Barber, and this may be a transcription error, although this is how LZ copied it into his notebooks (HRC 4.6).
401.38 Malbrook gone to war: this is the English version of a popular French ballad, “Malbrough [also Malbrouk and Marbough] s’en va-t-en guerre,” which mocks the English general Sir John Churchill, first Duke of Marlborough (1650-1722), who repeatedly defeated the French in the War of the Spanish Succession (1701-1714); see following note.
401.38 ‘bribing neighbors / to fight…: through 402.1 from Samuel Johnson, the life of Jonathan Swift in Lives of the Poets (1779). Detesting the Duke of Marlborough (see preceding note), who was of the pro-war Whig party and eventually fell from power in 1711 due to egregious war profiteering, Swift was active in the Tory campaign against the general (for his final word on Marlborough see “A Satirical Elegy on the Death of a Late Famous General”):
“Swift now attained the zenith of his political importance: he published (1712) the ‘Conduct of the Allies,’ ten days before the Parliament assembled. The purpose was to persuade the nation to a peace; and never had any writer more success. The people, who had been amused with bonfires and triumphal processions, and looked with idolatry on the General [Marlborough] and his friends, who, as they thought, had made England the arbitress of nations, were confounded between shame and rage, when they found that ‘mines had been exhausted, and millions destroyed,’ to secure the Dutch or aggrandize the Emperor, without any advantage to ourselves; that we had been bribing our neighbours to fight their own quarrel; and that amongst our enemies we might number our allies. That is now no longer doubted, of which the nation was then first informed, that the war was unnecessarily protracted to fill the pockets of Marlborough; and that it would have been continued without end, if he could have continued his annual plunder. But Swift, I suppose, did not yet know what he has since written, that a commission was drawn which would have appointed him General for life, had it not become ineffectual by the resolution of Lord Cowper, who refused the seal. […]
If it be said that Swift should have checked a passion [for “Vanessa”] which he never meant to gratify, recourse must be had to that extenuation which he so much despised, ‘men are but men’; perhaps, however, he did not at first know his own mind, and, as he represents himself, was undetermined.”
402.4 Dart: introduced in 1960, the Dodge Dart was a popular and affordable car through the 1960s and beyond. The lines 402.2-7 describe a trip to Buffalo in Sept. 1964; the driver here is PZ, while the “valet” and “maid” are LZ and CZ respectively. The following lines 402.9-11 describe another family outing (HRC 4.6).
402.12 ‘What nature delights in’ says Savage ‘the observer…: through 402.17 from Walter Savage Landor (1775-1864), from the concluding remarks of a long review-essay, “The Poems of Catullus” (1842, 1853), from which LZ also quotes in Bottom 111. LZ’s source was an 1888 volume that included The Pentameron, Citation and Examinations of William Shakespeare, Minor Prose Pieces and Criticisms:
“Poets ought never to be vexed, discomposed, or disappointed, when the better is overlooked, and the inferior is commended: much may be assigned to the observer’s point of vision being more on a level with the object. And this reflection also will console the artist, when really bad ones are called more simple and natural, while in fact they are only more ordinary and common. In a palace we must look to the elevation and proportions; whereas a low grotto may assume any form and almost any deformity. Rudeness is here no blemish; a shell reversed is no false ornament; moss and fern may be stuck with the root outward; a crystal may sparkle at the top or at the bottom; dry sticks and fragmentary petrifactions find everywhere their proper place; and loose soil and plashy water show just what Nature delights in. Ladies and gentlemen who at first were about to turn back, take one another by the hand, duck their heads, enter it together, and exclaim, ‘What a charming grotto!’
In poetry, as in architecture, the Rustic Order is proper only for the lower story.
They who have listened, patiently and supinely, to the catarrhal songsters of the goose-grazed commons, will be loath and ill-fitted to mount up with Catullus to the highest steeps in the forests of Ida, and will shudder at the music of the Corybantes in the temple of the Great Mother of the Gods” (this final allusion is to Catullus’ Carmina 63).
402.17 ‘A / man who hates children…: W.C. Fields’ famous quip: “Any man who hates children and dogs can’t be all bad.” Mâle vicieuse, Fr. vicious or depraved male (but the adj. is feminine), mal = bad.
402.21 His Friday pun / Good: see 12.145.12.
402.23 ‘Bye-Bye Brook-a-leen-a’: LZ appears to be recalling a song from his youth, but the relevance here is that the Zukofskys, after more than 20 years in Brooklyn, moved to Manhattan in May-June 1964, which is referred to in subsequent lines: 402.27 and 29, 403.1 and 3-7.
402.28 ‘Kwanon, sine qua non’: kwanon is phonetic transliteration of qua non as found in many dictionaries; sine qua non = L. without which not, that is, an essential element or condition.
402.30 ‘Job’s city of Kratz…: Gratz or Graz, which can sound like Kratz, is the second largest city in Austria after Vienna. However, it seems likely there is some word-play here: Job was from Uz, which in Jerome’s Latin Bible (the Vulgate) is translated as Ausitis.
402.34 the seventh / decade comes…: LZ had turned 60 on 23 Jan. 1964, the year he began writing “A”-18.
402.37 ourari: same as curare and other variants; a resinous substance used by South American Indians for poisoning their arrows, especially small arrows shot from the blow-gun (CD).
402.38 Our Pickaninny painting…: by the Hungarian-American painter Dometer Guczul (b. 1886). In his essay on the painter, LZ mentions this title as among “his finest work” (Prep+ 153). The original publication of this essay in View 3.3 (Fall 1943) included photos of seven of Guczul’s paintings, including “The Pickanniny.” LZ met Guczul in 1942 at Diamond Point on Lake George in upstate New York, where the painter lived and where the Zukofskys spent the summer that year (see WCW/LZ 305-306). Pickaninny refers to a black child, usually disparagingly, so here “civil rites” < civil rights. For “civil rites behind her,” cf. 14.336.10-11.
403.13 “the one permanence change.” / ‘Think my dear of Heraclitus’ fee were he alive’: probably CZ’s witticism in response to the stock ad alluding to the pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus’ assertion of perpetual change: “you can’t step into the same river twice.”
403.19 in an areaway said ‘the spring’s / one white crocus Eden…: see Prep+ 170.
403.24 80 odd dwellings burnt…: through 404.4 predominately quotes from notes and letters by the Japanese painter and print-maker Katsushika Hokusai (1760-1849), with interpolations from elsewhere. LZ’s source is James A. Michener, The Floating World (1954), on Japanese prints and printmakers of the Edo period, which Lorine Niedecker gave to the Zukofskys for Christmas 1955 (HRC 25.3):
403.24: “At seventy-eight his eightieth-odd dwelling burned and not only left him literally naked in the street but also destroyed all remaining notes and sketches, to which he remarked, “I came into the world without much, whereupon he directed himself to new projects, posting in his home the admonition: ‘No compliments. No presents’” (193).
403.24: Imagery of the Poets is the title of one of Hokusai’s finest series of prints.
403.25-26: Hokusai complaining to his publisher: “I suggest that the engraver should add no lower eyelids where I did not draw them. As to noses: these are my noses (and he draws two examples) and the noses usually engraved are the noses of Toyokuni which I do not like at all and which are contrary to the laws of the art of drawing. It is also the fashion to draw eyes like this (he provides a sample with a black point in the center) but such eyes I like no more than such noses” (154-155).
403.27-28: see quotation at 403.24.
403.33: “From the age of six I had a mania for drawing forms of things. By the time I was fifty I had published an infinity of designs, but all I have produced before the age of seventy is not worth taking into account. At seventy-five I have learned a little about the structure of nature—of animals, plants and trees, birds fishes and insects. In consequence, when I am eighty I shall have made a little more progress. At ninety I shall penetrate the mystery of things. At a hundred I shall certainly have reached a marvelous stage, and when I am a hundred and ten, everything I do—be it but a line or a dot—will be alive. I beg those who live as long as I to see if I do not keep my word. Written at the age of seventy-five by me, once Hokusai, today The Old Man Mad about Drawing.” (194)
403.36-404.1: “His last letter sums up his life: ‘The King of Hell being very old is retiring from business, so he has built a pretty country home and asks me to go and paint a kakemono [a hanging scroll painting] for him. I am thus obliged to leave, and when I do go shall carry my drawings with me. I am going to take a room at the corner of Hell Street and shall be happy to see you whenever you pass that way.” (201)
403.30 mit fühlung: Ger., literally, with feeling; to be sympathetic or compassionate.
403.35 Katsuhika Hokusai…: see note and quotations at 403.25; also 14.333.7.
404.8 red / pipecleaner Valentine: see 13.263.29
404.17 f-holes of spruce: see 12.157.6.
404.21 “Ste. Maria”: Christopher Columbus’ flagship the Santa Maria.
404.22 Brancusi: Constantin Brancusi (1876-1957), Romanian modernist sculptor. LZ apparently visited Brancusi in Paris during his trip to Europe in the summer of 1933 (SL 108).
404.32 eskimo sold refrigerators: see 8.62.15.
404.37 Gay Street: small street in Greenwich Village between Christopher Street and Waverly Place that does indeed curve; original row houses, some still existing, were built in the early 19th century.
405.3 Cöthen . . the Schloss . . offered a more intimate setting for the first Brandenburg…: through 405.33 various details from J.S. Bach’s period at Cöthen or Köthen in eastern Germany from the end of 1717 until 1723, following his time at Weimar (see 15.366.13-367.20) and preceding his move to Leipzig (see 8.43.12-45.23). Again, LZ’s primary source is Charles Sanford Terry’s biography of Bach.
405.3-10: The “more intimate setting” of the Cöthen Schloss (Ger. palace) is compared with Weimar’s (118) and is where Bach first performed the Brandenburg Concertos as well as conducting the private orchestra for which he was paid “in seinem Hause” (Ger. at his home; “his” being Prince Leopold of Cöthen) (121). A “Comödien-Theatrum” (Ger. comedy theater) performed for a season in 1718-1719, and Terry comments on the meagerness of the music library that included work by Baldassare Galuppi (1706-1785) but not of Arcangelo Corelli (1653-1713), important in the development of the concerto (no mention is made of the absence of Claudio Monteverdi, although he is mentioned on the same page as pioneering developments that would result in the modern orchestra); on Stainer see 12.157.10 and 13.306.1; this and further details through 405.10 in Terry 122-123.
405.11-13: Terry makes the point that Bach’s greatest contemporary Georg Friederich Händel (1685-1759) enjoyed a degree of royal patronage and popularity that Bach never matched, and whereas Händel never seemed much interested in meeting Bach, the latter was always eager to meet his greatest peer. The remark at 405.11-13 was made by Count von Flemming in a 1719 letter to one of Bach’s students in an effort to arrange a meeting between the two masters; despite Händel’s apparent disinterest, Bach set out for Halle in an effort to meet him but Händel had already left for England (Terry 129-130).
405.14-18: details from Terry 123-124; the clatter of a water mill: see 8.104.9.
405.19-20: quotation, “‘the window .. behind the organ…,’” from a detailed report on the condition of and recommendation for an organ at the University Church in Leipzig quoted in full by Terry (125-126).
405.20-25: Bach passed up a chance for a new position in Hamburg in 1720, declining to compete for the position or to pay the expected acceptance fee; his disappointed supporter, Erdmann Neumeister, supposedly made the sarcastic remark at 405.21 about the fairness of the competition unless a fee was paid (Terry 134). Bach performed “An Wasserflüssen Babylon” (By the Waters of Babylon) in 1720 for the elderly Jan Adam Reinken (1623-1722), the great organist who Bach had heard a number of times as a youth, eliciting the remark at 405.24-25. R at 405.23 can refer to Reinken, but LZ surely also alludes here to Charles Reznikoff, whose variation on the Biblical phrase, By the Waters of Manhattan, he used three times as the title for published volumes: an annual in 1929, a biographical novel in 1930 and finally for his selected verse published by New Directions in 1962.
405.25-27: Bach completed the Brandenburg Concertos in 1721 and attached a dedicatory note in French to Markgraf Christian Ludwig of Brandenburg who had commissioned them; Terry remarks that there is no record of acknowledgement from the Markgraf, and the work seems never to have been performed by its recipient (134-135). The phrase, “sometimes one purrs” (405.26), is added by LZ in response to Bach’s salutation in his letter, which LZ slightly abbreviates: A son altesse royale, Monseigneur Crétien Louis, Marggraf de Brandenbourg, &c., &c., &c. (Fr. To his highest noble…).
405.27-29: On first taking up his post at Cöthen, Bach composed a Serenade for the Prince’s infant son, which contains the lines, “Sight and seeing, breath and singing, / One and all together joining, / Loud exalt his splendid name” (Terry 128).
405.29-30: Prince Leopold’s trip to the waters of Carlsbad took place in 1720, accompanied by Bach, during which his first wife suddenly died, adding to his growing sense of wanting to leave his situation at Cöthen (Terry 127). LZ compares Carlsbad with Saratoga Springs in upstate NY, which also was world-famous for its mineral waters and spas (see 395.19).
405.31-33: Terry describes in some detail the exercise book Bach wrote for his eldest son (age 9 at the time), Wilhelm Friedemann, which is typically inscribed with scrupulous care by Bach (135-136).
406.1 torahs: the body of Jewish religious literature, law and teaching primarily contained in the Old Testament and Talmud; the parchment scrolls upon which these teaching are written.
406.2 see with her worries: see = C = Celia.
406.2 Chagall: Marc Chagall (1887-1985), Russian born Jewish artist whose fantastic paintings often feature levitating figures and flying objects, as well as fiddlers.
406.3 the trembling / string the lighted ha’: from Robert Burns, “Mary Morison,” second stanza:
Yestreen, when to the trembling string
The dance gaed thro’ the lighted ha’,
To thee my fancy took its wing,
I sat but neither heard nor saw:
Tho’ this was fair, and that was braw,
And yon the toast of a’ the town,
I sigh’d and said amang them a’:—
“Ye are na Mary Morison!”
406.4 red-head priest tempered / The Seasons Johann Sebastian his clavier: Antonio Vivaldi is the red-head priest and composed the Four Seasons (see 12.137.7, 12.158.10); J.S. Bach composed the Well-Tempered Clavier (see 12.130.4). In music, tempered refers to adjusting the musical intervals of an instrument to equal temperament (Bach’s “well-tempered”).
406.8 Pegasus: winged horse of the muses; see 19.422.21. Also the ubiquitous old logo for Mobilgas.
406.17 That death should sing: from Shakespeare, King John V.vii (last scene), spoken by Prince Henry: “’Tis strange that death should sing.”
406.18 Vietnamese story: Kung Buddha Christos…: all three religions have a strong presence in Vietnamese culture. Possibly refers to the Cao Dai religion founded in Vietnam in 1926 as a synthesis of Taoism, Buddhism, Confucianism and Roman Catholicism, claiming they were all worshiping the same underlying spirituality.
406.20 ‘If it be now, ’tis not to come / if it be not to come…: from Shakespeare, Hamlet V.ii (qtd. Bottom 46, 106, 302, 358 and Prep+ 46):
Hamlet: Not a whit, we defy augury: there’s a special providence in fall of a sparrow. If it be now, ’tis not to come; if it be not to come, it will be now; if it be not now, yet it will come: the readiness is all: since no man has aught of what he leaves, what is’t to leave betimes? Let be.
406.23 ‘As dry pumps will not play…: from Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet” (dated 1 Dec. 1720): “Or, if it be necessary, as the case is with some barren wits, to take in the thoughts of others in order to draw forth their Own, as dry pumps will not play till water is thrown into them; in that necessity, I would recommend some of the approved standard authors of antiquity for your perusal, as a poet and a wit; because, maggots being what you look for, as monkeys do for vermin in their keepers’ heads, you will find they abound in good old authors, as in rich old cheese, not in the new; and for that reason you must have the classicks, especially the most wormeaten of them, often in your hands. But with this caution, that you are not to use those ancients as unlucky lads do their old fathers, and make no conscience of picking their pockets and pillaging them. Your business is not to steal from them, but to improve upon them, and make their sentiments your own; which is an effect of great judgment; and, though difficult, yet very possible, without the scurvy imputation of filching; for I humbly conceive, though I light my candle at my neighbour’s fire, that does not alter the property, or make the wick, the wax, or the flame, or the whole candle, less my own.”
406.28 ‘of the great Scriblerus (works) made…: through 406.39 from the Memoirs of the Extraordinary Life, Works, and Discoveries of Martinus Scriblerus (1741), a collaborative work by the Scriblerus Club (John Arbuthnot, Alexander Pope, Jonathan Swift, John Gay, Thomas Parnell and Robert Harley). Through 406.39 from Chap. XVII, whose title reads: “Of the Discoveries and Works of the Great Scriblerus, made and to be made, written and to be written, known and unknown”:
“In the mean time, know what thou owest, and what thou yet may’st owe, to this excellent Person, this Prodigy of our Age; who may well be called The Philosopher of Ultimate Causes, since by a Sagacity peculiar to himself, he hath discover’d Effects in their very Cause; and without the trivial helps of Experiments, or Observations, hath been the Inventor of most of the modern Systems and Hypotheses.” In the index to “A”, LZ identifies “The Philosopher” as Aristotle, whose theory of causes is being satirized.
Among Scriblerus’ works: “A Demonstration of the natural Dominion of the Inhabitants of the Earth over those of the Moon, if ever an intercourse should be open’d between them. With a Proposal of a Partition-Treaty, among the earthly Potentates, in case of such discovery.”
“As to Music, I think Heidegger has not the face to deny that he has been much beholden to his [Scriblerus’] scores.” John James Heidegger was a Swiss impresario who became the manager of an opera house in the Haymarket, London.
407.1 Swift: ‘As / I have a tender Regard to Men of…: through 407.14 from the opening sentences of the short 1723 version of the Memoirs of the Life of Scriblerus published under Swift’s name (see 406.28). LZ’s ellipsis have left out “I” in the first instance and “in their Personal Appearance” in the third instance, while the second ellipsis appears to be a transcription error.
407.15 ‘For poetry’ (Scriblerus Aristotle) ‘to be a success’: the quoted phrase is from the opening sentence of Aristotle, Poetics, probably from Loeb Classical Library edition trans. W.H. Fyfe: “let us here deal with Poetry, its essence and its several species, with the characteristic function of each species and the way in which plots must be constructed if the poem is to be a success […].”
407.16 ‘as those in a Garden do from their own / Root and Stem…: through 407.21 from Jonathan Swift, “A Letter of Advice to a Young Poet.” The first phrases come from the sentences immediately preceding the passage quoted at 406.23, whereas the latter come a good deal later in the letter, although LZ links them via the gardening images: “I think flowers of wit ought to spring, as those in a garden do, from their own root and stem, without foreign assistance. I would have a man’s wit rather like a fountain, that feeds itself invisibly, than a river, that is supplied by several streams from abroad.”
“Furthermore, when you set about composing, it may be necessary for your ease, and better distillation of wit, to put on your worst clothes, and the worse the better; for an author, like a limbick, will yield the better for having a rag about him: besides, that I have observed a gardener cut the outward rind of a tree, (which is the surtout of it) to make it bear well: and this is a natural account of the usual poverty of poets, and is an argument why wits, of all men living, ought to be ill clad.”
407.21 The grapevine heard: / ‘Have fun Henry R.’: Henry Rago (1915-1969), editor of Poetry magazine from 1955-1969; the index confirms this identification. See 18 Jan. 1967 letter to Rago, in which LZ explains that the parenthetical interpolation humorously refer to Rago’s previous advice to keep secret the upcoming special Zukofsky issue of Poetry (Oct. 1965), which apparently LZ had already heard about from a “mutual friend” (SL 310-312). Throughout his editorship of Poetry, Rago was an enthusiastic advocate of LZ, frequently publishing work by, as well as reviews on his work, and instigated the issue dedicated to him. Particularly during the 1960s, LZ saw Poetry as the preferred venue for his major work, including “A” 14-19 complete (except “A”-16) and the first three acts of “A”-21 in two issues, which Rago noted was “probably the first occasion in Poetry’s long history for the serialization of a poem” (Aug. 1968: 369).
407.23 Swan read and considered / ‘we expect from others not to our latent powers / but to the position…: see “swan” at 390.23. The quotation is from Marcel Proust (1871-1922), Remembrance of Things Past, volume 3, The Guermantes Way. Although Charles Swann is a major character in the novel, he is hardly mentioned in this particular volume, and it is actually the narrator who “speaks” this quotation. The passage concerns Rachel, mistress of the narrator’s friend Robert de Saint-Loup, an aspiring actress whose genius is as yet unrecognized: “She was clearly aware that I must regard her as an indifferent actress, and on the other hand have a great regard for those she despised. But she shewed no resentment, because there is in all great talent while it is still, as hers was then, unrecognised, however sure it may be of itself, a vein of humility, and because we make the consideration that we expect from others proportionate not to our latent powers but to the position to which we have attained” (trans. C.K. Scott Moncrieff).
407.26 ‘the buoy exclaimed’: see 390.23.