Monday, December 31, 2012

Monday Poems: "At the New Year" -- by Kenneth Patchen

In the shape of this night, in the still fall
        of snow, Father
In all that is cold and tiny, these little birds
        and children
In everything that moves tonight, the trolleys
        and the lovers, Father
In the great hush of country, in the ugly noise
        of our cities
In this deep throw of stars, in those trenches
        where the dead are, Father
In all the wide land waiting, and in the liners
        out on the black water
In all that has been said bravely, in all that is
        mean anywhere in the world, Father
In all that is good and lovely, in every house
        where sham and hatred are
In the name of those who wait, in the sound
        of angry voices, Father
Before the bells ring, before this little point in time
        has rushed us on
Before this clean moment has gone, before this night
        turns to face tomorrow, Father
There is this high singing in the air
Forever this sorrowful human face in eternity’s window
And there are other bells that we would ring, Father

Other bells that we would ring.

Kenneth Patchen's first book of poetry, Before the Brave, was published by Random House in 1936. His earliest collections of poetry were his most political and led to his being championed, in the 1930s, as a "Proletariat Poet". This description, which Patchen rejected, never stuck since his work varied widely in subject, style and form. As his career progressed, Patchen continued to push himself into more and more experimental styles and forms, developing, along with writers such as Langston Hughes and Kenneth Rexroth, what came to be known as jazz poetry. He also experimented with his childlike "painted poems," many of which were to be published posthumously in the 1984 collection What Shall We Do Without Us. Patchen's Collected Poems, in which "At the New Year" appeared, was first published in 1969, just a few years prior to Patchen's death.

No comments:

Post a Comment