Collected Poems (James Schuyler) pdf, epub, doc

Collected Poems ePub and PDF Available
§ James Schuyler’s The Morning of the Poem, consists of a series of poems placed in three sections, in which “New Poems” make up the first cycle. In “New Poems,” which include 14 poems of varying length, Schuyler’s eye inhabits a place that owes not so much to a camera eye, but to a roving, impressionistic sense of things as they are. When Louis Zukofsky wrote about the concept of “sincerity,” he was making reference to the physical object that was a poem, in other words, “the care for detail” in the rendering of an order that would essentially speak to all men, to paraphrase. While Schuyler’s poems certainly do render the objects of our common world with precision and care, it’s his rendering of human experience that places the poems in the realm of impression, physical and emotional sensation, and subjectivity. Perhaps, we still recall the overbearing questioning and assertions of the postmodern period regarding the status of the “I,” however, as Schuyler’s poems make clear, his sense of self is often constituted by a kind of inter-subjectivity that is carefully filtered through those people who surround him, his immediate landscape, and of course, his sense of the visual, as if he is always in the process of trying to respond to painting.

§ But all this talk is not to forget how Schuyler’s ear is well-attuned to spoken speech patterns. If we are to speak of the style of Schuyler’s rendering of human experience, of autobiographical information infused in the poems, it is important to note how many of his poems sound as if they are conversing with another. While this other may be difficult to locate, except when the poem directly addresses others from Schuyler’s life, it may also be useful in thinking how Schuyler’s poems become an epistolary event. Consider how “June 30, 1974” from “New Poems” begins:

Let me tell you
that this weekend Sunday
morning in the country
fills my soul
with tranquil joy:
the dunes beyond
the pond beyond
the humps of bayberry—

§ The voice contained in the poem cited above is emblematic of an address that seems common throughout The Morning of the Poem, especially in the longer poem of the same title. It also shows how Schuyler is skilled through his use of the catalogue, which acts as a mode that can serve his quick and fleeting gaze, often of a specific landscape and its physical contents. Many of Schuyler’s poems are rife with interruptions that can often act as commentary, or be suggestive of doubt as to what’s just been articulated by the speaker of the poem. These interruptions can also act as interrogative of a longer seam of thought, or simply act to shift the scene, to textually create spaciousness, in a collage-like manner, which would certainly echo his various projects as a reviewer for ARTnews and curator at the Museum of Modern Art.

§ The middle cycle of poems is titled, “The Payne Whitney Poems,” which chronicle the time Schuyler spent at a psychological clinic. They are shorter in length and the imagery is cautious as well as much more condensed than in other poems of longer length. The tone of the poems found here sometimes takes on the quality of being self-interrogative, in a way where critical self-reflection becomes, ironically, a hymn to life, with a moment to moment appreciation of the small things, say, found from a window view, or placed around Schuyler’s room. This is all to say that despite the emotional turmoil hinted at in the opening poem, “Trip,” there is a candor that’s refreshingly poignant as in closing lines of this poem:

When I think
of that, that at
only fifty-one I,
Jim the Jerk, am
still alive and breathing
deeply, that I think
is a miracle.

§ Better put, Barbara Guest has written about Schuyler’s work that he “translates the vagaries of inhabitancy, of wherever he is, his locale particularly his into poetry.” I can’t think of a more concise way to articulate the mode of Schuyler’s poetry, but especially within the poems that find him inhabiting “Payne Whitney.” Here, there is a curiosity and sense of the transient that perhaps mirrors that of human life, which act to carry out an inner dialogue that’s responsive to one’s surroundings. However, I think it’s important to note how his poems don’t some much record what’s given to his perceptions through language, but rather how the poems enact the process of thinking through the objects of his perception.

§ Equally, “The Morning of the Poem,” shows how Schuyler is skilled as a poet of the city as well as of country life. It is also a much more rigorous working, again in the mode of an epistle, as serving to make recollection/memory and immediate experience find a way to enter into dialogue. As in earlier poems in The Morning of the Poem, Schuyler’s sexual status is more on display, as he recollects past male lovers, sometimes in the form of a tribute, other times as an achingly potent account of loss. The overall effect of the poem has elsewhere been described by Joseph F. Conte as “kaleidoscopic,” as the poem “twists the lens of observation and reflection, continually revealing still another pattern no less fascinating than the last.” This textual movement is enacted through creating a fissure in the concept of time, by utilizing what I earlier called those interruptions, or in the case of this long poem, digressions that serve to amplify the process of recollection and statement. Among these movements, the cityscape is juxtaposed with the pastoral, the actual place of the writing, creating a constellation of voicing and speech acts, while finely attentive to the “rhythms of consciousness,” as has been noted by David Lehman. But above all, the poems present and think through a tremendous amount of information that’s seems autobiographical and inclined toward speculation, or a meditative quality. The role of the artist is drawn into question from the beginning by conjuring the image of “Baudelaire’s skull.” How this functions as whole for Schuyler is more than I can account for. Perhaps it’s in the line which reads: “The exhalation of Baudelaire’s image of/terror which is/Not terror but the artist’s (your) determination/to be strong/To see things as they are too fierce and yet/not too much…”

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Book info

  • Author:
  • Publisher:Farrar, Straus and Giroux
  • File: 4.5 Mb
  • Ganre: Poetry
  • Release: 03.09.1995
  • ISBN: 9780374524036
  • Pages 256
  • Rating: 4.49 (228 votes)

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