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MUSES1
William Rimmer's Evening, or The Fall of The Day
I follow the circumference of Old
so slowly--and await my time

when, smiled upon by all th'little mistrals
plagues as are dreams!... I'll sail delight

& sever my gravity unqualified, rude & lusty
from this underfoot Tradition of

the vocables-black World trained to bars

stretching my Song-wings
of wind-whorling lines: human

flaws ever to the unwavering equator
of some Socrates-like attitude to a dot:

I am Icarus! mounting my fountain pen

and I wear a size Medium shirt ...
I can walk into any men's shop & order
(a) pair of pants This size & shorts

Size That! (hat: Such & Such) & socks
& suits & stuffs, & stuffs right off the

racks which will fit me O as well
as they'll fit a thousand other men my size!

O Euterpe,               

       even these poems of mine
(my All) ... even these poems are not
absolutely my own

&

               anybody my size
wears them as well...   

though cold-- 2

^{1} opus [email protected]

^{2} Be Aware that this collection is all-inclusive. That is, I include both 'nursery rhymes' and works with adult language & situations. Note that I use the end of the line as another punctuation mark.

The sculpturing of the poem on the page involves more than merely centering lines, as you will see from the fact that not all lines are perfectly centered.

A collection of the smaller works in this collection might easily have been subtitled, "Lyrics Mostly Innocuous & Mostly Brief & Rhymed," though many of them aren't any one of these. What constitute minor (vs major) compositions? We almost always want to make the judgment by inches, pages, minutes, number of lines (because it's such a tricky call that we'd rather not make it at all). Are Beethoven's Op.126 Bagatelles 'minor?' Are Schubert's songs his 'minor' achievement? This theoretical subtitle might lead one to believe these are 'minor' pieces --And one would be wrong. Even the most casual glance at the manuscript reveals these are very carefully-considered works even if not yet final drafts. The poet is most fastidious when it comes to his poems.

The source manuscripts come out of the sixties, up to the middle of 1974, when I pretty much ceased creating new poems. Why? My poems were all written in Paradise (look deeply enough into them and this becomes inescapably apparent), and that's about the time I was kicked out of Paradise: I landed in Purgatory after that, and there one only has the heart to stare (maybe revise a line or two here and there). Will I ever write another poem? That depends on whether it's Heaven or Hell next (and I don't have any idea which of the two places is the one where they allow you to write poems). In many cases the links between pieces printed on the same page or in close proximity are associated in some ways. Like all works of art, poems are neither good nor bad, not even competent, or illiterate, they're either for you or they're not for you. You walk into a book of poems as you might walk into a nudist colony: If you feel comfortable in there then that's the place for you. And it has little to do with whether we agree on usage, grammar, the intelligence of either author (or reader), or anything else other than our respective personalities: As author I cannot judge my readers without such a judgment becoming a mere prejudice; and, as reader, you can but misjudge me from the way I misuse my apostrophes. Finals drafts are those which cannot and/or should not be further 'improved' (I can't honestly call any work here a final draft --leastwise not while I'm still kicking). All the works in this volume are chronologically identified by Roman numerals (by which it is always possible to tell which piece was finished before or after the other pieces (within this sequence).

I don't suppose it adds much to say that if you pull these works to their roots you will bring up the Elizabethan soil out of which they spring (just about all English-language poems written since then could be identically described). It's the most obvious place of departure. As a stylist I am never so much a leveller as a builder (even if you may not see this from the git-go). Were it not for the many signposts that immediately alert us that these are 20th Century pieces --one can find here echoes of Jonson, Marlowe, Shakespeare, Campion, Herrick & their English descendants Marvell, Blake, Wordsworth, Swinburne (their American counterparts, Longfellow, Poe, Dickinson, Frost, etc.). At this writing these are not poets in the greatest of favor. Tough cookies. Life is short, and I can't waste it seeking the approval of others (and not even of some). I have pursued the path I thought the right one... even if it was only the right one for me: And I wouldn't give it up to save the world.

My poems draw to their conclusions from aspects of glimpses, bits of dialogue, a summation of their components, etc. where most contemporary poems draw to theirs as if from curt and snug short stories, astonishingly domestic sentiments, descriptions or some straightforward retelling of incidents realistic to the point of being not much more than journalistic accounts. My own interpretations are always balancing acts, theirs undisguised attempts to involve the reader in one or another subject via some sympathetically emotional appeal! To me, their approach seems exhausted, repetitive, those are prose writers. If I have a statement to make, you'll find it plainly made somewhere in the poem. This is the only honest path for me. I'm not trying to 'enlighten' anyone --mine is simply another quest: Read my poems & get on with your life, your own quest.

I am a reader & admirer of Spanish (and Spanish-American) poets in their original Spanish, of the English and American poets, of Spanish poets (Lope de Vega, Quevedo, Dario, Gongora, Cervantes, Becquer, Calderon de la Barca, etc.). I am not trying to recapture their manner, but I must acknowledge that my humanity was shaped by that of the human beings who have come before me. One wants to make the connection between oneself and one's 'roots' more than merely implicit... sometimes by strictly emphasizing antique structures (I emphasize only the idea that there is 'a' structure). I use 'quaint' contractions for the sake of the meter, to help make my rhythmic intentions unavoidable. I seldom allow archaic devices or fads to constrain my narrative, but I do not tell stories (my poems live in them, sometimes without even acknowledging it). I have no hesitation about using any & all available devices that have shaped Western Poetry: With it I reach as far as I'm able... to create the poetic form that shapes me.

I use my own 'peculiar' italics (printed in a Script font here [see Wordperfect MSS]) with a critical or pivotal word or phrase to make multiple the meaning, create a further implication/connection. One always runs a common risk of not immediately making sense, but that's the risk with all human communication. Maybe this is the true hallmark of originality, as opposed to trying to pass off mere eccentricity for it --With me, even when one must strain to catch the subtlest meanings, it's possible to follow at least one straightforward meaning in every one of these works: But take the time, I've not cheated meaning anywhere.

Not always will you agree with me (especially my approach): Here, an otherwise somber, serious work concludes with a jarring pun! Who could agree always? Samuel Johnson could not forgive Shakespeare his quibbles either. These are poems that I don't believe I can ever again reconsider and revise, and I have had them before me for over twenty years now without doing much with them (except enjoy them again and again). You will have to take them or leave them as they stand.

The above 'subtitle' goes to the point: It is always better that readers approach a writer first through that writer's most 'innocuous' pieces, which is why this collection includes a lot of nursery verse. 'Nature' poetry in the early part of the last century didn't turn to propaganda until after the French Revolution. You may accuse my poetry of being a return to Nature in the sense that I abhor propagandistic art: In any picture there is a lesson and, many times, a moral, the painter need not spell it out in internal placards. My works are no less societally meaningful. Here I included those works most likely to be appreciated/understood; if they offend I believe such offense is inferred from incomplete knowledge, and that when the reader reconsiders the complete purpose (understands)... he/she will appreciate.

Many of these poems express powerful personal views on subjects most people rather would remain undiscussed, or in some way or another they confront prejudices --Worst: Some parts or portions of these poems present such prejudices in the manner of a mirror, that we may look on it as if to see ourselves from the outside and there to be made self-conscious enough to perhaps consider that they are indeed ours. Unprepared by either predisposition for poet, poem, or extensive studies, a reader may find it hard to separate meaning from art (most especially where the art is mostly in the way the something quite meaningful is presented... Literature is the most vulnerable to misinterpretation, ironically, and in these few concentrated works it's the meaning that should be innocuous (either by subject, treatment, or approach).

I cannot claim complete success with conciseness (most of my works are anything but brief). Many are not framed by a whole-hearted strict commitment to rhyme, or any other traditional idiosyncracy of poetry (if I need something I use it when I need it, I am not anything's eternal priest). The pieces that are rhymed are not constricted by it. Most offending of all, a few of these works (by subject, treatment, or approach) appear superficially troubling in these our politically correct times (to the 'new' Neo-Victorianism, in light of the quirky way we try to correct past social injustices by producing new ones). But that is why the word 'mostly' is in the 'subtitle.' Keep in mind that most of these works were written during the Viet Nam War period. Naturally I had as many deep-felt concerns as anyone else; and perhaps more than the fair share of personal problems. For balance, those works seek a more universal (objective) meaning while at the same time reaching for a more (subjectively) precise art (precision, rather than perfection: One can precisely make a most imperfect apparatus). If these works are never perfectly the classical forms, they are yet their own forms precisely. The greatest possible harmony is internal, the emphasis is on content, but I am not necessarily trying to be immediately understood (there's always time enough for that): My aim is to arouse the interest and hold it just long enough. This will unquestionably doom me to failure with most people, since most people's interest is first aroused by the arousal of interest in others.

It's useless to discuss meters because I seldom repeat them: I have tried to fashion each line to suit itself (over the greater body of the work) and the expression of mood and subject. Of course, accent is the needle-craft with which all poets weave their fabrics. Accent rules line length; the tone and temper of its voice. I cannot write casually; and this work is a great overview of what is to follow (as far as this book is concerned, and myself as well).

What category is a poetry's which explores the psychology of the poet's perspective against the prejudices of his education (sociology?) through means of the attitudes & actions he reflects on as his heritage (history)? Is the poet's study the embodiment of 'criticism' (whose job it is to comment on his/her times?), or enough to level an econo-political philosophy at the world? Are the poet's essays on a level with social anthropology?... the newspaper reporter?

Reviewing briefly the art, theology, biography of his contemporary historical scene, well, (an) "Earth-Journey" is also a philosophy, of course... one which may not be orthodox in presentation (existentialistic), but whose seriousness of intention can be well gauged, if nothing else, by the poet's care over the entire performance.

As a philosophy, poetry becomes a formalism demanding more than mere faithfulness to its line of propositions, explorations; more than a correct lexicon of facts (as its point of departure); more than just the sound of someone with the proper credentials: Poetry is the property of the mind (we are the only animals who use its language), while the poet's credentials are at the mercy of his own life's story. The poem stands on its own merits as the self- contained exploration of its own traditions (that ritual which explains The Self by bringing it in front of its own eyes --rather than just by having it talk about itself, yet the more prosaic approach). Content belongs to the individual poet, of course. A more orthodox philosophy may be too much the property of the philosopher's cultural prejudices. The Poem is no less thorough, although not necessarily more direct, or of more immediacy & impact, and yet the poem still points to the possibility of Truth, rather than demands that it be taken as truth. A number of poems historically have been taken as Truth, and the results are mixed.

Everyone is his own special case. I have cultivated no special audience. This was unplanned, but now that I find myself at this stage I might as well go ahead & tap dance, for I have no intention to get off. I have written to the level of my Tradition, rather than to the expectations of any given audience (you can see this from the ways I synthesize (incorporate) practically all I get my hands on, rather than trying to champion or perpetuate some one or another current fashion); playing it less for the respect of the hall than for the love of the stage: Art always has time on its side, even if that's not always true of the artist. I think I have learned my lessons well, in art if not in life, and that is motivation enough to live, and to create.

Let me say this much about the ending to any story: Just as any story must of necessity open already somewhere in the middle, the ending must come at a point where by the sheer act of closing the story the storyteller does not deny the future which should always be the promise of his endstory. This is just another way of saying that it should mirror reality. 'Real-life' fascinates us with a never- ending source of always something else new 'round the next bend. In order to approximate 'fiction' to real-life, the writer must create many novel, unexpected wonders throughout his narrative. Too many to outline, the meat & potatoes of the tale, not every single one of them completely & entirely resolved, not every single one of them absolutely assessable to understanding from the onset --so that perhaps a more careful reading or at least a going back over it, may yet keep the presence of the story in the imagination of its readers.

Need each & every baffling point be eventually resolved? Maybe, because all the answers to a mystery-novel must be included in the book or it's a fraud (and a story without a happy ending has not ended --it is merely a sign that its author has tried to give his work reality on the cheap). Maybe a point is only to be speculated upon (just as in real-life we must so often resign ourselves to the knowledge that we will never be quite certain of all our imagined answers). It may sound strange, but, with my poetry, I have often tried to fashion a mystery above the average. One which even after the entire book is read, always leaves enough of its sense of something-real (beyond the fully realized)... in the imagination, the memory of the reader --that its imaginative reality suffers not the fate of the throw-away 'news.'@

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