Z-siteA Companion to the Works of Louis Zukofsky
12 Feb. – 29 May 1966 / Poetry 111.2 (Nov. 1967)
The form of this movement is described by Kenneth Cox as a prelude of eight quatrains followed by 72 strophes of 13 lines each, except for the last which has 12 lines. Throughout LZ uses a two-count (word) line except that the final line of each strophe is three-words, although there are occasional irregularities. Based on the numbers 2 and 3, there are 2³ (= 8) quatrains of 2³ words each in the prelude, and 2³ x 3² (= 72) strophes of 3³ (= 27) words each in the main body. The final strophe has 2² x 3 (= 12) lines and 2³ x 3 (= 24) words (Cox, “Tribute to Mallarmé” 256, 260). Cox also claims that 13, the number of lines of each strophe, is the unlucky number which will be made good in the final strophe of 12 lines (260). More speculatively, Cox argues (258-259) that the predominate two-count line is meant to suggest the bowing of a violin and that the progression of the main part of the movement, following the prelude, is structured on Bach’s chaconne from the Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin (see 413.1).
408.4 I / hear back- / stage…: LZ’s working notebooks (HRC 4.2) indicate that the setting of this prelude section (408.1-409.6), which is returned to at the end of the movement (433.27-434.2), is Yaddo artists’ community in Saratoga Springs, NY where the Zukofskys were in residence from 14 Dec. 1965-26 Feb. 1966, which explains the appearance of the pine needles. The Zukofskys finished Catullus during this residency, then Zukofsky began worked on “A”-19.
409.5 an / other valentine: LZ wrote many Valentine poems, usually addressed to CZ, and as usual this was written at the appropriate time of year since he began “A”-19 in mid-Feb (see 434.2).
409.7 No ill-luck / if bonding…: through 411.24 taken largely or entirely from various poems of Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), from which LZ freely chooses and traduces words and phrases of the French text (Cox 261-263). This is among LZ’s most wildly improvisational efforts, freely skipping about the French text deploying a combination of translation and homophonic suggestion. Although no doubt incomplete, the following seem the most obvious stanzas or passages from which LZ is improvising, many identified by Cox:
409.7-18: No ill-luck / if bonding / tohu bohu / horsehair mends / azure mane / flogs cold / races rut / shards the / perverse desolate / with pride / who cure / misfortune, from “Le Guignon,” which means jinx, bad luck (such as a run of bad luck in gambling) or, as LZ has it, ill-luck. LZ’s “No” is quite possibly suggested by the non in Guignon:
Au-dessus du bétail ahuri des humains
Bondissaient en clarté les sauvages crinières
Des mendieurs d’azur le pied dans nos chemins.
Un noir vent sur leur marche éployé pour bannières
La flagellait de froid tel jusque dans la chair,
Qu’il y creusait aussi d’irritables ornières.
Vexés ne vont-ils pas provoquer le pervers,
Leur rapière grinçant suit le rayon de lune
Qui neige en sa carcasse et qui passe au travers.
Désolés sans l’orgueil qui sacre l’infortune,
Et tristes de venger leurs os de coups de bec,
Ils convoitent la haine, au lieu de la rancune.
409.18-23: Place / it futile range // less discreet / than her / lips dawned / on china, from “Placet Futile” (Futile Petition):
Princesse! à jalouser le destin d’une Hébé
Qui poind sur cette tasse au baiser de vos lèvres,
J’use mes feux mais n’ai rang discret que d’abbé
Et ne figurerai même nu sur le Sèvres.
409.24: benign day’s / first kiss, from “Apparition” (Apparition):
—C’était le jour béni de ton premier baiser.
409.26-30: the lips / not drinking / yet where / to tarry / is breath, from “Tombeau” (Tomb):
À ne surprendre que naïvement d’accord
La lèvre sans y boire ou tarir son haleine
Un peu profond ruisseau calomnié la mort.
409.31: arm even / the martyr’s assay, from “Apparition”; the line immediately following that quoted at 409.24:
Ma songerie aimant à me martyriser / S’enivrair savamment du parfum de tristesse […]
Early in this poem there is the image of viols being bowed (“l’archet aux doigts […] tiraient de mournates violes”) which would no doubt attract LZ’s attention and perhaps suggests his “arm.”
409.34-410.3: may be / soul owned / by time / illumine itself / primordial elect / penchant salute, from “Cantique de Saint Jean” (Canticle of Saint John):
Mais selon un baptême
Illuminée au meme
Principe qui m’élut
Penche un salut.
410.4-7: silk / play to / the balm / of time, from “Quelle soie aux baumes de temps” (What silk steeped in the balms of time):
Quelle soie aux baumes de temps
Où la Chimère s’exténue
Vaut la torse et native nue
Que, hors de ton miroir, tu tends!
410.10-13: bird one / hears once / of all / alive, from “Petit Air II” (Little Air II):
Voix étrangère au bosquet
Ou par nul écho suivie
L’oiseau qu’on n’ouït jamais
Une autre fois en la vie.
410.13-14: comber / naked jubilation, from “Petit Air” (Little Air):
Tel fugace oiseau si plonge
Exultatrice à côté
Dans l’onde toi devenue
Ta jubilation nue.
410.15: its story (see 410.18), from “M’introduire dans ton histoire” (To introduce myself into your story):
M’introduire dans ton histoire
C’est en héros effarouchê
S’il a du talon nu touché
Quelque gazon de territoire
410.16-17: cinder sparing / the fire, from “Toute l’âme résumée” (The entire soul evoked):
Atteste quelque cigare
Brûlant savamment pour peu
Que la cendre se sépare
De son clair baiser de feu
410.18: fierce shying, see 410.15.
410.19-20: idleness offense: from “Las de l’amer repos où ma pareses offence” (Weary of bitter sleep in which my indolence offends).
410.20: purchase, probably from “Éventail (de Madame Mallarmé)” (Fan (of Madame Mallarmé)): “Pouchassée en chaque grain.”
410.20-24: woman / child broth / quarryman cut out // for his / marriage, from “La femme de l’ouvrier” (The Workman’s Wife):
La femme, l’enfant, la soupe
En chemin pour le carrier
Le complimentent qu’il coupe
Dans l’us de se marier.
410.25-29: cobbler / who’d recreate / shoes (feet / if you / will), from “Le savetier” (The Shoemaker):
Il recréerait des souliers,
O pieds! si vous le vouliez!
(LZ’s typescript indicates that the parenthesis should be closed as indicated).
410.29-30: revive / everyday’s amities, from “Sonnet (Dame sans trop d’ardeur à la fois enflammant)” (Sonnet (Lady, without too much ardour at once enflaming)):
A raviver du peu qu’il faut ici d’émoi
Toute notre native amitié monotone.
410.31-36: his live / eye separate / him from / his togs / so he / walk naked god, from “La marchande d’habits” (The Old-Clothes Woman):
Le vif oeil don’t tu regardes
Jusques àleur contenu
Me sépare de mes hardes
Et comme un dieu je vais nu.
410.36-411.3: song of / his wood / the truth / of a / face, from “Feuillet d’album” (Album Leaf):
Tout à coup et comme par jeu
Mademoiselle qui voulûtes
Ouïr se révéler un peu
Le bois de mes diverses flûtes
Il me semble que cet essai
Tenté devant un paysage
A du bon quand je le cessai
Pour vous regarder au visage (this stanza qtd. Bottom 231)
411.3: of / it hymn / work patience / atlas herb / science ritual…, through 411.24 from “Prose (Pour Des Esseintes)” (Prose (for Des Esseintes)):
Car j’installe, par la science,
L’hymne des cœurs spirituels
En l’œuvre de ma patience,
Atlas, herbiers et rituels. […]
while insensible / authority trouble / to humiliate / ore and motility // their impalpable / conscionable double / when no / eye’ll hallucinate / air with / divisions:
L’ère d’autorité se trouble
Lorsque, sans nul motif, on dit
De ce midi que notre double
Que, sol des cent iris, son site
Ils savent s’il a bien été,
Ne porte pas de nom que cite
L’or de la trompette d’Été.
Oui, dans une île que l’air charge
De vue et non de visions
Toute fleur s’étalait plus large
Sans que nous en devisions. […] (this stanza qtd. Bottom 231)
sage / sprig the / litigious who / tease but / till the / blossom grow / too large / for their reasons:
Oh! sache l’Esprit de litige,
À cette heure où nous nous taisons,
Que de lis multiples la tige
Grandissait trop pour nos raisons
409.9 tohu bohu: <Heb. without form and void, chaos; see Genesis 1:2 and Jeremiah 4:23. In Fr. means hubbub or disorder (Cox 260).
409.10 horsehair […] mane: horsehair is used for making violin bows (see 13.85.31), while manes alludes back to “A”-7. In Bottom 426 LZ mentions horsehair used in bows in connection with Paganini imitating the sound of neighing (see below 413.2). See also 23.537.8 where a type of plant, “field horsetail,” is mentioned, and also in the original version of “American Poetry 1920-1930” (1931), LZ mentions caudae equinae (L. horsetail), which designates the bundle of nerves at the lower end of the spinal cord (70).
410.8 an anti-matter: among LZ’s papers is a clipping on anti-matter, from which he made a few notes included among those for “A”-19: “The existence of an antideuteron, the counterpart to the nucleus of deuterium, teaches us in much more intimate detail about the symmetry of the world and the antiworld. In deuterium, the neutron and proton constituents are tied together by a strong force between them—which physicists call the Nuclear Force—responsible for the stability of all nuclei. […] Thus the knowledge that an antideuteron exists means that all of these properties are closely mirrored in the antiworld. It is no longer possible to question the basic physics part of the cosmological conception of a literal antiworld populated by stars and planets . . . and made up of atoms of antimatter: negative nuclei surrounded by positive electrons. It is not possible now to disprove the grand speculation that these antiworlds could be populated by thinking creatures—perhaps now excited by the discovery of deuterium!” The clipping appears to be cut out of an alumni magazine, since the article is reporting on the discovery of antideuteron by a team from the Columbia Physics Department.
411.25 fierce shyness: see 410.18 and 434.9.
411.27 Don / Quixote: protagonist of Don Quixote by Miguel Cervantes (1547-1616).
412.4 Asked him / 4-year old / ‘why the violin?’…: this anecdote about PZ was recounted in a 14 April 1948 letter to Lorine Niedecker (Penberthy 104).
412.14 PAGANINI PRIZE: the following through 416.15 replicates the announcement and rules, including typos and awkward translation, for the annual Premio Paganini violin competition in which PZ, aged 19, participated in Sept.-Oct. 1963, placing fourth (Ahearn 141). The competition was founded in 1954 and takes place in Nicolò Paganini’s hometown of Genoa, the winner giving a performance on 12 Oct., the day of the Columbus celebrations, with Paganini’s favorite violin, the “Guarneri del Gesù,” also known as the “Cannone.”
412.37 Porpora (Carisch): Nicola Porpora (1686-1768), Italian composer; Carisch is a major producer of sheet music.
413.1 Bach Ciaconna: the final movement of the Partita No. 2 in D Minor for solo violin; ciaconna or chaconne is a form with origins in rustic dance that evolved into a slow, stately composition.
413.2 Paganini Capriccio n. 23: the 24 “Caprices” (1820) by Paganini (1782-1840) are considered among the most technically difficult compositions for solo violin. PZ would make a recording of the Caprices in 1970; see 23.56312-15.
413.4 Paganini / two “Capricci” / (excluded the / one n. / 23): see 413.2.
413.8 Prokofieff / Scherzo: Sergei Prokofieff (1891-1953), Russian composer. Scherzo is a lively movement, usually in minuet form.
413.20 PAGANINI Concerto / in D / Major first tempo: Violin Concerto No. 1 (1817).
415.33 Palazzo Tursi: built in 1565 on Genoa’s Via Gibraldi, it is now the town hall and has on display three letters by Christopher Columbus and Paganini’s favorite violin (see 417.16), which he willed to the city. Both were natives of Genoa.
415.34 October / 12 in / the evening / on occasion…: 12 October is the date when Christopher Columbus first landed in the New World in 1492; annually celebrated in Genoa.
416.11 Teatro Comunale / dell’ Opera: in Genoa.
416.16 love’s labour’s lost / we (?) four / indeed confronted…: from Shakespeare, Love’s Labour’s Lost V.ii.383-389:
Rosaline: In courtesy gives undeserving praise.
We four indeed confronted were with four
In Russian habit: here they stay’d an hour,
And talk’d apace; and in that hour, my lord,
They did not bless us with one happy word.
I dare not call them fools; but this I think,
When they are thirsty, fools would fain have drink.
Cf. the section on Love’s Labour’s Lost in the “Definitions” chapter of Bottom, referring to this same general passage, the Son remarks: “I especially like the forecast of the diplomatic war of nerves of our day in this play….” (281).
416.27 spit in / the hole, / man, and / tune again: from Shakespeare, The Taming of the Shrew III.i.41 (qtd. Bottom 395).
416.35 honor of / 1.st Prize / warm by / 4’s Mozart / an honest / Russian wish…: this passage alludes to the fact that the 1st Prize winner of the Paganini competition was Russian, or more precisely the Ukrainian Oleh Krysa, while PZ came fourth. The honorable winner apparently remarked to PZ, “c’est un concours, otherwise you should have got it” (see 417.10) (15 Oct. 1963 letter to Robert Kelly (Buffalo)). The Paganini Prize, like all such musical competitions at the time, was dominated by Soviets, so inevitably had a strong Cold War element (see note at 421.30).
417.10 concours: Fr. contest or competition; see note at 416.35.
417.13 segretly: conflated Italian-English: It. segreto = secret.
417.14 let 4.th / play the / Paganini’s violin: that is, PZ was allowed to play on Paganini’s favorite violin, the “Cannone” (see note at 415.14).
418.1 Whitman on / Jenny Lind / for “all / her blandishments…: Jenny Lind (1820-1887) was an enormously popular singer from Sweden, who toured the U.S. under the sponsorship of P.T. Barnum (see 12.189.24). The source of Whitman’s remark is a review in the New York Times Book Review for 8 Dec. 1962 preserved among LZ’s papers (HRC 4.2) of Jenny Lind: The Swedish Nightingale by Gladys Denny Shultz: “‘The Swedish Swan,’ he wrote, ‘with all her blandishments, never touched my heart in the least. I wondered at so much vocal dexterity; and indeed, they were all very pretty, those leaps and double somersaults. But even in the grandest religious airs . . . executed by this strangely overpraised woman in perfect scientific style, let critics say what they like, it was a failure, for there was a vacuum in the head of the performance.’”
418.18 tanglewoods: the Tanglewood estate in Lenox, Massachusetts has been the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra since 1937 and also since 1940 a summer academy for young professional musicians.
418.23 fools good / for their money: see “Poetry/For My Son When He Can Read”: “[…] people parted in those months with everything in the spirit of a fool and his money” (Prep+ 3).
418.29 “Rondeau”: or rondo is a musical form in which one section intermittently recurs.
419.2 Pythagoreans’ Four / justice the / first perfect…: four is the number of justice for the Pythagoreans, the highest virtue. The following passage through 420.2 is from Tobias Dantzig, Number: The Language of Science, 4th ed. (1954), which was among PZ’s books:
“But let us return to number worship. It found its supreme expression in the philosophy of the Pythagoreans. Even numbers they regarded as soluble, therefore ephemeral, feminine, pertaining to the earthly; odd numbers as indissoluble, masculine, partaking of celestial nature.
Each number was identified with some human attribute. One stood for reason, because it was unchangeable; two for opinion; four for justice, because it was the first perfect square, the product of equals; five for marriage, because it was the union of the first feminine and the first masculine number. (One was regarded not as an odd number, but rather as the source of all numbers.) […]
‘Bless us, divine number, thou who generatest gods and men! O holy, holy tetraktys, though that containest the root and the source of the eternally flowing creation! For the divine number begins with the profound, pure unity until it comes to the holy four; then it begets the mother of all, the all-compromising, the all-bounding, the first-born, the never-swerving, the never tiring holy ten, the keyholder of all.’
This is the prayer of the Pythagoreans addressed to the tetraktys, the holy fourfoldness, which was supposed to represent the four elements: fire, water, air and earth. The holy ten derives from the first four numbers by a union of 1, 2, 3, 4. There is the quaint story that Pythagoras commanded a new disciple to count to four:
‘See what you thought to be four was really ten and a complete triangle and our password.’”
419.7 holy holy / tetraktys…: 1+2+3+4=10; see 15.368.30. The tetraktys was for the numerological Pythagoreans the source of all. The tetraktys arranged as dots form a perfect triangle with four on each side—the Triangle of Four at 419.26, thus “four really ten” (419.23-24):
• • •
• • • •
In Pythagorean cosmology, of which the tetraktys is a sacred representation, fire is at the center (419.25). LZ is quoting from the Pythagorean prayer to the tetraktys, see preceding note.
419.25 central fire: Pythagorean cosmology proposed a central fire around which were the sacred number of ten heavenly bodies: earth, sun, moon, 5 planets and an unseeable counter-earth.
419.27 boundless breath: “The Pythagoreans held, [Aristotle] tells us, that there was ‘boundless breath’ outside the heavens, and that it was inhaled by the world. […] We are told that, after the first unit had been formed—however that may have taken place—the nearest part of the Boundless was first drawn in and limited; and that it is the Boundless thus inhaled that keeps the units separate from each other. It represents the interval between them. This is a primitive way of describing discrete quantity” (108). John Burnet, Early Greek Philosophy (1920).
419.30 The / Golden Words / and you / shall know / nature is / one…: the Golden Words or Verses of Pythagoras are a poeticized set of moral aphorisms ascribed to Pythagoras. LZ is working from the translation by Thomas Davidson in Charles Bakewell, Source Book in Ancient Philosophy, rev. ed. (1907, 1939):
These precepts having mastered, thou shalt know
The system of the never-dying gods
And dying men, and how from all the rest
Each thing is sundered, and how held in one:
And thou shalt know, as it is right thou shouldst,
That nature everywhere is uniform,
And so shalt neither hope for things that lie
Beyond all hope, nor fail of any truth.
420.8 my / luck is / 13: except for the prelude and last stanza, all stanzas of “A”-19 have 13 lines.
420.13 Demetrius ‘Egypt / . . singing harmonies / of seven vowels / hymning gods’…: through 420.36 from Demetrius, On Style (De Elocutione), an important treatise on rhetoric probably from the 1st or 2nd century BC; not to be confused with Demetrius Phalereus (c.345-283 BC), although this misattribution has a long tradition:
“In Egypt the priests, when singing hymns in praise of the gods, employ the seven vowels, which they utter in due succession; and the sound of these letters is so euphonious that men listen to it in preference to flute and lyre. To do away with this concurrence, therefore, is simply to do away entirely with the music and harmony of speech.—But perhaps this is not the right time to enlarge on these matters.
It is the concurrence of long vowels which is most appropriately employed in the elevated style, as in the words: ‘that rock he heaved uphillward’ (anô hôtheske, Homer Odyssey 11.595). The line, it may be said, is longer through the hiatus, and has actually reproduced the mighty heaving of the stone. The words of Thucydides ‘that it may not be attached to the mainland’ (mê hêpeiros) furnish a similar example (Thucydides Bk. 6.1.2). Diphthongs also may clash with diphthongs, e.g. ‘the place was colonised from Corcyra; of Corinth, however, was its founder’ (Kerkuraioi oikistês, Thucydides Bk.1.24.2).
Well then, the concurrence of the same long vowels, and of the same diphthongs, contributes to elevation of style. On the other hand, the concurrence of different vowels produces, through the number of sounds employed, variety as well as elevation, an instance being the word hêôs. In the word oiên not only are the letters different but also the breathings, one being rough and the other smooth, so that there are here many points of unlikeness.
In songs, too, trills can be made on one and the same long letter, songs being piled (so to say) on songs, so that the concurrence of like vowels may be regarded as a small part of a song and as a trill.—These remarks must suffice on the question of hiatus and of the kind of composition appropriate to the elevated style” (Para. 71-74; trans. W. Rhys Roberts).
421.1 ‘Die Elenden / sollen essen’ / Bach’s first / music (Leipzig Cantorate): Cantata No. 75, first performed 30 May 1723 (the title means “the wretched shall eat”). This is the first cycle of cantatas Bach composed in his position as Cantor of Saint Thomas School, the most important musical position in Leipzig, which included responsibility for the music at the four main churches of the city. This cycle was performed at the Nikolaikirche (Terry 149). The entire text of the cantata is relevant as it is concerned with spiritual versus material poverty/wealth.
421.5 Paganini’s / spidery legs…: the source of this description of Paganini is uncertain, but LZ may be adapting it from Heinrich Heine’s highly impressionistic account of a performance in Florentine Nights, which is extensively quoted in Bottom 217-218. Famously Paganini snapped several strings in the course of a performance until he was reduced to playing, brilliantly, on just two or, in some versions, even one, and he subsequently worked this feat deliberately into his act. He also composed a piece for one string.
421.14 I / had no / patience with / another who forecast / me hungry…: possibly EP, who not only warned LZ about the professional hazards of being a poet, but claimed his Cantos were intended as “the tale of the tribe” (Guide to Kulchur 194), a phrase he ascribes to Rudyard Kipling, although better known in Mallarmé’s formulation from “Le Tombeau d’Edgar Poe”: “donner un sens plus pur aux mots de la tribu” (to give a purer sense to the words of the tribe).
421.21 drudging / professing to / make pure / the speech / of a / scrawling race: LZ, like Stéphane Mallarmé (1842-1898), supported himself by teaching English most of his life. Here LZ is evidently alluding to his composition students while playing off of Mallarmé’s famous line in “Le tombeau d’Edgar Poet”: “donner un sens plus pur sux mots de la tribe.” See also 422.2-3.
421.27 Sun no / hay State / exchanges’ rolling: this may be a condensed parody of Pound’s “Sun up; work / sundown; to rest…” section of Canto 49 (Cantos 245), although it also has the look of a homophonic translation.
421.30 mention distinguée: Fr. with distinction. This actually alludes to another violin competition in which PZ participated shortly after the Paganini Prize competition (see 412.14), in this case the Long-Thibaut Competition in Nov. 1963 (just a week before JFK’s assassination), where he received a “mention distinguée.” PZ had been invited to this competition at the urging of the State Department, which is apparently obliquely alluded to in the preceding lines.
421.37 Le Livre / de Mallarmé…: Le “Livre” de Mallarmé gathers together the highly fragmentary notes by Stéphane Mallarmé for his ultimate but never realized project to create “The Book,” intended to fulfill the prophetic claim that “everything exists in order to end up as a book” (see 423.12). The surviving notes, about 200 pages, edited with a lengthy and comprehensive introduction by Jacques Scherer, were published by Gallimard in 1957, and this volume was given to LZ by PZ, as indicated at 421.31-34 (Rieke 188). Mallarmé worked on this project for 30 years and the notes imagine something less abstract than the much better known idea of “Le Livre” outlined in “The Book: A Spiritual Instrument” (1895), entailing elaborate performances, as well as a grandiose publication scheme with detailed attention to audience and financing. The “book” itself was to be unbound and thus readable in any number of permutations.
422.2 professor by / subsistence hazard…: see note at 421.21. The mention of “hazard” most likely refers to Mallarmé’s last major work, the typographically innovative “Un Coup de Dés” (first published 1897), whose full title and key words are “Un coup de dés jamais n’abolira le hazard” (A throw of the dice never abolishes chance).
422.16 a stretto: It. draw together or draw close; a musical term for the overlapping of fugal subjects or motifs, an intensifying of the contrapuntal density that usually indicates the fugue’s conclusion.
422.21 Pegasus / from Medusa: when Perseus decapitated Medusa, the winged horse Pegasus sprang forth from her bloody neck. Pegasus has associations with inspiration because Athena tamed and presented him to the Muses. The winged Pegasus was also a prominent logo for the Mobile Oil Company.
422.23 his / century’s dice…: see note at 422.2
423.12 ‘What book? / what book? / entire enough / to take / the place / of all / the books…: through 423.21 from Jacques Scherer’s introduction to Le “Livre” de Mallarmé (see 421.37): “Mallarmé cherchait visiblement la structure d’un livre. Quel livre? Quel livre assez total, assez parfait pour tenir lieu de tous les autres livres et du monde même? Ce ne pouvait être, de toute évidence, que le Livre, l’Œuvre, la somme à laquelle il disait avoir travaillé une bonne partie de son existence et que la mort l’empêcha d’achever” (3).
423.22 . . Piece or / that play / with concert…: through 423.34 from Le “Livre” de Mallarmé (see 421.37) Folio 171(A), although much of this passage is also quoted in Scherer’s discussion (38):
cette représentation avec concert
dialogue poème et symphonie
pour scène et orch
—occupe le fond de l’Œ [Oeuvre]—
et comme publiIée en livre
journal et vers
s’adapte – à un journal régulier
une fois pour toutes , et,
toutes les questions traitées,
par quelqu’un qui les réduit à son
chapeau façon de tout rendre
vierge – ce qui est exté-
rieur au poème
___ et comme publication
c’est, par fragments de [see continuation of note at 423.37]
423.29 towards (?) ‘(vers): see preceding note; in French vers as a noun means verse (poetry), as a preposition it means towards.
423.36 Eureka: long speculative, cosmological essay (1848) by Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849). Mallarmé was a great admirer as well as translator of Poe. Also an interjection expressing the exultation at a sudden discovery, from Gk. meaning “I’ve found it.”
423.37 ‘each fractioning / fragment the / ensemble’s rhythm’: from Le “Livre” de Mallarmé Folio 172 (A), note continuing from 171 (A) quoted at 423.22:
la représentation — chacun en donnant
le rythme d’ensemble — selon sa fraction
[Laquelle est — soit 1/8e?]
424.3 Wherever / we put / our hats / is our / home: see 4.12.13; also 423.33.
424.14 Blaise Pascal’s / candle pleaded…: (1602-1674) from Pascal, Pensées (1669) Sec. I.9: “When we wish to correct with advantage and to show another that he errs, we must notice from what side he views the matter, for on that side it is usually true, and admit that truth to him, but reveal to him the side on which it is false. He is satisfied with that, for he sees that he was not mistaken and that he only failed to see all sides. Now, no one is offended at not seeing everything; but one does not like to be mistaken, and that perhaps arises from the fact that man naturally cannot see everything, and that naturally he cannot err in the side he looks at, since the perceptions of our senses are always true” (trans. W.F. Trotter). This is not, however, put in the mouth of a candle, but LZ is making a pun on paschal candle, which is put on the altar the day before Easter and typically decorated with a cross and the Greek letters alpha and omega signifying the beginning and the end (see 425.31).
424.21 Leonov first / to float / in space…: Alsksei Leonov (b. 1934) became the first person to walk in space on 18 March 1965, flying in Voskhod 2 with P. Belyayev. Among LZ’s papers (HRC 4.2) is a clipping from the New York Times dated 22 March 1965 reporting on their landing: “Two Soviet Astronauts Return From Remote Area,” in which Leonov “was asked how it had felt to step out into space. ‘I didn’t experience any fear,’ he replied. ‘Only a sense of infinite expanse and depth of the universe.’ With a laugh he added: ‘I knew I would not meet anyone I know up there.’”
424.27 ‘The loan / from above / in favor / of all…: through 424.33 from Le “Livre” de Mallarmé Folio 62 (B); also quoted by Scherer in a section on “Le financement du Livre” (119):
c’est comme un emprunt
dessus — si ceci fait
en faveur du monde
— à restituer au
peuple – en exemplaires
à bon marché
mon humble gain —
424.38 sowing of / flourishes: from Mallarmé on Coup de dés: “un semis de fioritures” (a sowing of flourishes), found in Schere’s introduction (58).
425.3 ‘Man / does not / write with / light on / black crystal / night…: through 425.11 from Scherer’s introduction to Le “Livre” de Mallarmé, in a section on “Symbolisme du noir et du blanc.” Reike (174) identifies this passage as from Mallarmé’s Quant au livre, which includes “The Book: A Spiritual Instrument” and other writings on “The Book” that anticipate the notes in Le “Livre” de Mallarmé, although LZ actually finds these quotations in Scherer’s discussion and very freely selects from both Mallarmé and Scherer:
“«Sait-on ce que c’est qu’écrire?» Mallarmé a répondu à cette question, sur le plan de la physique, en réfléchissant sur la matérialité de l’acte d’écrire et en cherchant à en dégager le sens. On écrit, en général, sur du papier blanc et avec de l’encre noire. Tout au moins Mallarmé, à partir de l’époque de sa maturité n’utilise-t-il d’encre que noire. Il n’envisage l’écriture qu’en noir sur blanc, parce que seule cette disposition a pour lui une valeur symbolique. Elle est inverse, en effect, de l’écriture des étoiles: le livre du ciel est écrit blanc sur noir. «Tu remarquas, insiste-t-il, on n’écrit pas, lumineusement, sur champ obscur, l’alphabet des astres, seul, ainsi s’indique, ébauché ou interrompu; l’homme poursuit noir sur blanc.» L’encre dont se servent les homes est ténèbre, obscurité; c’est avec ce noir qu’il faut créer. L’homme trouve ce noir—autre contraste—dans la clarté de sa conscience, symbolisée par un encrier de verre blanc ou de cristal : «L’encrier, cristal comme une conscience, avec sa goutte, au fond, de ténèbres relative à ce que quelque chose soit.» A la constellation céleste correspond la noire écriture humaine, «pli de sombre dentelle qui retient l’infini». L’écriture est une création inversée.
En choisissant «la goutte d’encre apparentée à la nuit sublime» pour satisfaire à son «devoir de tout recréer», Mallarmé se situe dans la grande tradition mystique de la Nuit qui s’était épanouie au XIXe siècle dans un certain romantisme et dans les tendances qui en découlent. A la parole divine : «Que la lumière soit», l’homme moderne a répondu, revendiquant sa propre existence, par une création d’ombre : «Que la nuit soit», qui retentit sur «le papier blême de tant d’audace». On voit que Mallarmé suit ses métaphores. Ce papier blêmissant devant l’audace de l’homme apporte une nouvelle justification, trop parfaite pour ne pas être ironique, de la blancheur du support de l’écriture. Mallarmé s’est amusé ici à appliquer un procédé d’imagination assez naïf, consistant à prêter à un élément de la nature un sentiment qui en expliquerait la réalité concrète. Ainsi Théophile de Viau disait d’un poignard ensanglanté qu’il rougissait de honte. Il n’est question ici que de montrer par une image qui est un sourire l’audace de l’écriture” (49-51).
425.15 ‘white / paper support’: see quotation at 425.3.
425.25 If the / ‘crowd buy’ / of the / inkwell what / ‘proof’ one / ear’s ‘reciprocal’?: from Le “Livre” de Mallarmé (see 421.37) Folio 114 (A), although also quoted by Scherer in a section on “La notion de preuve” (96):
établir que cela vaut 1000 francs (le fait : que
la foule achètera)
425.31 paschal: see 424.14. Pascal and paschal, meaning related to Easter, are both variant derivations from the Latin pascha, meaning Passover (< Heb. Pesach).
425.32 ‘The last / thing settled / writing a / book…: from Pascal, Pensées Sec. I.19: “The last thing one settles in writing a book is what one should put in first” (trans. W.F. Trotter).
426.2 play performed / the 20th / anniversary of / Hiroshima’s “A”…: this refers to the first performance of LZ’s play, Arise, Arise, written in the mid-1930s but not performed until 6 Aug. 1965, which happened to be 20th anniversary of the first atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The phrase “retched the pinnacle” at 426.9-10 is a typical quip by PZ, commenting on his father’s growing public recognition during this time.
426.10 pitiful / the world’s / lonely who / would love all: apparently at least in part a response a remark by Mallarmé found in Scherer’s introduction: “modernisé, c’est-à-dire mis à la portée de tous” (98; HRC 4.6).
426.17 ‘the book / however seeming / never begins / or ends…: from Le “Livre” de Mallarmé Folio 181 (A), also qtd. in Scherer’s introduction (24): “un livre ne commence ni ne finit : tout au / plus fait-il semblant[.]”
426.21 . . the crowd / other than / by silence…: through 426.26 from Scherer’s introduction to Le “Livre” de Mallarmé, from a section on “Le côté de la foule”: “Si la messe est aux yeux de Mallarmé un spectacle exemplaire, c’est, entre autres raisons, parce qu’elle permet à la foule qui y assiste d’y participer activement par les répons, donc autrement que par le silence : «Quiconque y peut de la source la plus humble d’un gosier jeter aux voûtes le répons en latin incompris, mais exultant, participe entre tous et lui-même de la sublimité se reployant vers le choeur.» Et c’est dans le même esprit que Mallarmé salue la construction d’un grand théâter populaire […]” (113).
426.27 proposing ‘the / State raise / a trifling / tax on / works in / the public / domain…: through 427.2 from Scherer’s introduction to Le “Livre” de Mallarmé, in the section on “Le financement du Livre”: “Et Mallarmé propose que l’État institue, sur les œuvres tombées dans le domaine public, une taxe minime, qui alimenterait une Caisse des Lettres; cette Caisse pourrait organiser comme il convient «diverses célébrations littéraires» et venir en aide aux jeunes écrivains, qui sont, pour les classiques, des «légataires idéals, substitutés à la filiation directe ou par le sang»” (117).
427.19 my / test love / of the / drudgery…: from Logan Pearsall Smith: “The test of a vocation is the love of the drudgery it involves.” The quilting refers to CZ. LZ used Smith’s Unforgotten Years extensively in “A”-13, but this remark is from elsewhere and widely available.
427.29 whose Book / prophecy say / his branch…: see 421.37. Quite possibly LZ has in mind the Old Testament use of “branch” to designate the Messiah, particularly Zechariah 3:8 where it is used as a proper name and is quoted at 12.229.23-25. See also Zechariah 6:13 and elsewhere the messianic branch stems from the family of David, see Isaiah 11:1 and Jeremiah 23:5 and 33:15.
428.3 ‘the art / of letters by / comprehension cures / a most / inactive disease…: as LZ indicates at 428.14, the source for the quoted passages through 430.2 is Against the Professors (Adversus Mathematicos), one of the three major surviving works by Greek skeptic philosopher, Sextus Empiricus (see 427.35) as translated by R.G. Bury for the Loeb Classical Library. This work consists of six books: Against the Grammarians, the Rhetoricians, the Geometers, the Arithmeticians, the Astrologers and the Musicians respectively.
I.51-52: “For it is plain that the end aimed at by every art is very useful for life. Some arts have been introduced mainly with the object of averting things hurtful, others with that of discovering things beneficial; medicine is an example of the first kind, being a curative and pain-relieving art, and navigation of the second, for all men are very much in need of assistance of the other nations. Since then ‘grammatistic’ [knowledge of letters] by its comprehension of letters cures a most inactive disease, forgetfulness, and contains a most necessary activity, memory, almost everything depends upon it, and without it it is impossible to teach any necessary thing to others, and it will be impossible to learn anything profitable from another. Thus the ‘grammatistic’ is one of the most useful arts.”
I.54: Referring to some remarks by the skeptic Timon: “[…] this does not refer to the uselessness of the art [of Grammar] which is found to deal with the elements and with employing them in writing and reading, but that which is boastful and needlessly inquisitive. […] Hence, while we not only have no fault to find with reading and writing, but even owe it the warmest thanks, we bring our critical weapons to bear on the rest of Technical Grammar.” A bit further on, Sextus speaks of “[…] all the other rules that are taught by the conceited Grammarians (are unprofitable proceedings).”
428.14 Against the / Professors…: see 428.3.
428.16 ‘the subject / taught does not / exist…: through 428.32 from Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors (see 428.3): “It is no part of our present task to pronounce upon the long and varied dispute regarding learning which has been carried on by the philosophers. It is sufficient to lay down that if any subject of learning exists, and if it is attainable by man, four things must first be agreed upon—the subject taught, the teacher, the learner, the method of learning. But, as we shall show, neither does the subject exist nor the teacher nor the learner nor the method of learning; therefore no subject of learning exists” (I.9). […]
“Now teaching takes place either by means of sense-evidence or by means of speech. But of these sense-evidence is concerned with ostensible things, and the ostensible is apparent, and the apparent, in so far as it appears, is perceptible by all alike, and what is perceptible by all alike is incapable of being taught; therefore what is shown by sense-evidence is not capable of being taught.—And speech either signifies or does not signify something. Now if it signifies nothing, neither does it teach anything. Now if it signifies nothing, neither does it teach anything; while it signifies, it signifies a thing either by nature or by convention. But it does not signify by nature since all men do not understand the speech of all,—Greeks that of barbarians and barbarians that of Greeks, or Greeks that of Greeks or barbarians that of barbarians. And if it signifies by convention, it is plain that those who have apprehended beforehand the objects to which the terms are conventionally applied will also understand those terms, not that they are taught by them what they did not know, but rather as reviving what they did know; but those who lack learning about the things not known will fail to do so.
If, then, the subject taught does not exist, nor the teacher, nor the learner, nor the method of learning, it is clear that neither does the subject learnt exist nor he who presides over that subject” (I.36-38).
429.2 nine tenths / of ills / from stubborn / intelligence…: from Marcel Proust (1871-1922), Within a Budding Grove, trans. C.K. Scott Moncrieff: “Nine tenths of the ills from which intelligent people suffer spring from their intellect. […] ‘He is a great admirer of your books,’ I replied. I saw that Bergotte knew this, and I decided that kindred spirits soon come together, that one has few really ‘unknown friends.’” See 18.407.23-25.
429.34 ‘wrong moment / foolish for / sobering frenzied / youths…: from Sextus Empiricus, Against the Professors VI.7-8: “First in order, let us state the views commonly expressed concerning Music by the majority of people. If, they say, we welcome Philosophy as regulating human life and repressing the passions of the soul, much more shall we welcome Music because it produces the same results as Philosophy not by commanding us in a violent manner but by means of a seductive persuasiveness. Thus Pythagoras, having noticed on one occasion that the youths who were in a state of Bacchic frenzy from drunkenness differed not at all from madmen, advised the flute-player who was with them the ‘spondean’ tune [editor’s note: the sort of slow, solemn melodies used at spondai ‘libations’]; and when he had done as instructed, they suddenly changed and became sober just as if they had been sober from the beginning.” Sextus later comments (VI.23): “And, as to Pythagoras, in the first place he was foolish in desiring to render drunkards sober at the wrong moment, instead of quitting the place; and secondly, by trying to reform them in this way he confesses that flute-players have more influence than philosophers for the reforming of morals.”
430.5 Aseptic doctor: Sextus Empiricus; see 427.35.
430.15 Lunik’s / hunch moon / surface desolate…: the unmanned Soviet space probe Luna or Lunik 9 achieved the first soft landing on the moon in Feb. 1966 sending back the first close-up photos of the surface. Both the Luna (Lunik) program and the U.S. Lunar Orbiter programs (as well as Ranger and Surveyor programs) sent various flights during the 1960s to photograph and land on the moon (for Ranger 7, see 14.315.12-316.3). LZ’s source is an 8 Feb. 1966 report in the New York Times: “A Moon Panorama Issued in Soviet; Wasteland Shown in Photos Across Full Izvesta Page”: “Standing on the moon and looking all around the scene is one of wasteland more desolate and forbidding than anything earth has to offer. The horizon a mile away is a clear curved line, and the pitch black sky begins immediately as the land falls off, for there is no atmosphere to diffuse the sunlight.”
430.22 Alighieri threading / a needle…: Dante Alighieri (1265-1321); there are several mentions of needles in the Divine Comedy, such as the following from the Inferno XV.17-21:
and each looked at us,
as in the evening men are wont
to look at one another under a new moon;
and towards us sharpened their vision,
as an aged tailor does at the eye of his needle.
However, a passage from Inferno XX.121-123 describing female fortunetellers appears more directly related to the following allusion to Catullus:
See the wretched women, who left the needle,
the shuttle, and the spindle, and made themselves divineresses;
they wrought witchcraft with herbs and images. (trans. J.A. Carlyle)
430.25 Gai’s / spindle: Gai is Catullus (Gaius Valerius Catullus), 1st century Latin poet, who in Carmina 64.306-322 describes the Parcae (Fates) spinning the threads of life: “the Parcae began to utter soothtelling chants […] while their hands duly plied the eternal task. The left hand held the distaff clothed with soft wool; then the right hand lightly drawing out the threads with upturned fingers shaped them, then with downward thumb twirled the spindle poised with rounded whorl; and so with their teeth they still plucked the threads and made the work even” (trans. F.W. Cornish). The Zukoskys had just finished Catullus 64, the last completed poem of Catullus, when LZ began on “A”-19, and both “spindle” and “whorl” appear in their version of this passage. The image of the spindle or whorl associated with the Fates or necessity clearly attracted LZ, which he also found in Plato; see “Pamphylian” (CSP 133), Bottom 83 and Prep+ 55.
430.27 astronauts’ violent / spinning docking / “God? We / were busy”: the U.S. Gemini 8 was the first manned docking of two spacecraft in orbit on 16 March 1966, but a malfunction caused the Gemini capsule to roll violently and forced an emergency landing.
430.31 (West of / Vatican Belvedere / Apollo “By / God a Mohawk”): from Francis Parkman (1823-1893), The Oregon Trail (1849), Chap. 11, describing a Native American warrior: “There was one in particular, a ferocious fellow, named The Mad Wolf, who, with the bow in his hand and the quiver at his back, might have seemed, but for his face, the Pythian Apollo himself. Such a figure rose before the imagination of [Benjamin] West, when on first seeing the Belvedere in the Vatican, he exclaimed, ‘By God, a Mohawk!’” Benjamin West (1738-1820), American painter. As Parkman describes, the statue of the Apollo Belvedere in the Vatican depicts the god holding a bow from which he has just shot an arrow. The Apollo space program, which would land the first man on the moon in 1969, sent up its first mission in Feb. 1966 when LZ was beginning “A”-19.
430.35 Chatillon ‘fevered / with ivy / poison…: from Francis Parkman, The Oregon Trail, Chap. 14: “For my part, I was in hopes that Shaw and Henry Chatillon were coming to join us. I would have welcomed them cordially, for I had no other companions than two brutish white men and five hundred savages. I little suspected that at that very moment my unlucky comrade was lying on a buffalo robe at Fort Laramie, fevered with ivy poison, and solacing his woes with tobacco and Shakespeare.”
431.8 the map / India draw / the yellow pincers / of China / or our air cavalry…: this refers to Sino-Indian tensions that became entangled in India’s conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir, which reached one of its periodic crises in Sept. 1965. China, who backed Pakistan, had its own border disputes with India that had flared into a full-scale war when on 20 Oct. 1962 China launched offenses simultaneously on the northeast and northwest sectors of India’s border. These border disputes remain unresolved to this day.
431.21 tapestries / hang reverse /sides: from Cervantes, Don Quixote, Part II, Chap. 62: “[…] it appears to me that translating from one language into another, unless it be from one of those two queenly tongues, Greek and Latin, is like gazing at a Flemish tapestry with the wrong side out […]” (trans. Sam Putnam).
432.7 (the aged / Cardinal wishes…: a full performance of Mozart’s Requiem Mass for JFK was given on 19 Jan. 1964 at the Cathedral of the Holy Cross in Boston, presided over by Cardinal Richard James Cushing (1895-1970), who apparently did have a rough voice. The Boston Symphony Orchestra performed, conducted by Erick Leinsdorf (1912-1993), who was musical director of the BSO from 1962-1969; a couple months previous, he had interrupted a performance of the orchestra to announce the assassination of JFK. LZ’s source is the New York Times for 6 Feb. 1964: “Cardinal Cushing: Symbol of ‘New Boston,’” which includes various remarks by Cushing, including that he had “a voice like a fish peddler,” and an exchange with Pope John XXIII, in which “The Boston prelate said he confessed to having ‘bleeding ulcers.’ ‘Oh, that’s too bad,’ Pope John said, ‘Why don’t you take a little bicarbonate soda before you go to bed at night? I do and it’s marvelous.’ ‘Your Holiness, thank God you’re not infallible when prescribing medicine; that’s the worst thing you can take for ulcers,’ the Cardinal replied.” See also note at 433.13.
432.26 Viennese director / of opera / still thinks / Sacco/Vanzetti…: there was a story in the early 1960s that Rudolph Bing (1902-1997), the Viennese born director of the Metropolitan Opera in NYC, thought a proposed opera by Marc Blitzsten (1905-1964) entitled Sacco and Vanzetti, was about two lovers. Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti were two Italian-American anarchists, who became a cause célèbre when they were tried and convicted in 1921 of murder during an armed robbery. Both denied any knowledge of the crime, and it was widely believed they were convicted due to their radical politics. Despite intense international interest, protests and numerous delays, they were executed in Massachusetts on 23 August 1927.
432.36 schlemiel: bungler, dolt; Yiddish in origin (AHD).
433.1 ‘nectar of / heather-honey gathering / of herbs…: this is the “blarney” description on a bottle of Irish Mist (433.12), a liqueur made from whiskey, heather-honey and herbs and claiming to be an ancient recipe, as recounted in a letter by PZ to his parents dated 12 March 1966 (HRC 4.6).
433.12 Irish Mist: see 433.1.
433.18 like the / diver could / it walk /under water…: from an anecdote told by Cardinal Cushing from the same New York Times article used at 432.7f: “The prelate likes to tell of the day his father saw a diver emerge from Boston harbor and remarked, ‘If I knew you could do that, I would have walked over from Ireland myself.’”
434.10 From / thence sorrow / be ever / raz’d: raz’d = erased; from Shakespeare, Pericles I.i. Pericles is speaking on the entrance of the daughter of Antiochus (qtd. Bottom 432):
See, where she comes apparell’d like the spring,
Graces her subjects, and her thoughts the king
Of every virtue gives renown to men!
Her face the book of praises, where is read
Nothing but curious pleasures, as from thence
Sorrow were ever raz’d, and testy wrath
Could never be her mild companion.
You gods, that made me man, and sway in love,
That hath inflam’d desire in my breast
To taste the fruit of yon celestial tree
Or die in the adventure, be my helps,
As I am son and servant to your will,
To compass such a boundless happiness!
434.13 nine / so soon twenty: PZ would have been nine on 22 Oct. 1952 and twenty in 1963, more or less at the time he would have returned from the Paganini Prize competition (412.14). This concluding line points immediately to “A”-20, written prior to “A”-19 for PZ’s 20th birthday and incorporating a poem he wrote at age nine.