Tuesday, October 18, 2005

open (door & book) [boomerang]

I open the door   of speaking words to you
& there you sit   within the room of words
the window has   a green & vernal view
one notices   a sense of trees & birds
your presence &   your absence keep a table
it's set with china   & a glass of dew
beside the glass?   a book perchance of fable
I open the book   it's speaking words to you

within the book of   speaking words to you
rest many a tale   difficult to parse
a woodblock picture   is the picture new?
the river flows   with images though sparce
perchance a boat?   perhaps a folkish flute
a horizontal   happenstance of blue?
a sky for hints of cloud   a bough for fruit
amid the book of   speaking words to you


Blogger ~River~ said...

This has a rather nice beat to it and very pretty images.

I'll have to go back and look up your notes on the boomerang.

Tue Oct 18, 05:58:00 AM PDT  
Blogger david raphael israel said...

To me, it borrows the beat of classical Chinese shi -- the very basic form of a poem with 8 lines and 5 characters per line -- a form that was the most pervasive in poetry for many, many centuries, and is generally thought to have been "perfected" in the Tang dynasty [618-906 AD] (although it went on being used expressively & creatively up into the 20th [and who knows? perhaps 21st] century. Mao Tse-Tung of course wrote in this form (as well as other forms). But not the boomerang version of it (far as I've seen); that's much more rarely seen.

The division of the 5 syllables = 5 words in Chinese [which, in the English becomes 5 beats = generally 5 double-syllable- or occasionally triple-syllable beats] into sections of 2/3 is the most comon division in Chinese shi; just as, for a 7-character line [the 2nd most common classical form], it's divided 4/3.

These 2 poems [in Chinese terms they would be considered a series of 2 linked poems] keep to the 2/3 division in every line except the penultimate "a sky for hints of cloud," which has a 3/2 division instead.

In the antecedent Chinese poetry, 2/3 is definitely the norm, but I'm not sure it's an absolute rule (though it might be so in more strictly "regulated verse"; but the latter also had more rigorous rules regarding things we have no equivalent for in English -- involving what "tone"-category word could be placed in each position. The results of that regulation would be a musically [in terms of actual tone = directionality of a spoken syllable, as rising or falling etc.] that seems hard to imagine; the pronunciations changed between Tang & modern times . . . but I digress ;-)

This last arcane [& highly tangential] thing involves midaeval Chinese poetics, regarding which only experts are aware. One such expert was my late professor at UC Berkeley, the late Edward Schafer. His book The Divine Woman: Dragon Laides and Rain Maidens in Tang Literature (1973) suddenly springs to mind. I'd not thought of this book in so many years. But thanks to this tangent & musing, I've just now ordered a used copy (via Amazon.com). This spurl of a footnote is wandering like the wind.

The poet Gary Snyder wrote a preface to that book. He had studied with Shafer in the 1950s; I studied with the prof. inthe '70s. At the time, Snyder seemed like an ancient figure from another time; but now he and I (both alive) remember this now bygone, eccentric professor; neither of us really became scholars in that line. Still, we both enjoyed some nutrition from the well of olden Chinese poetry.

/ / /

I think dividing the lines visually with the caesura [space] helps bring forth the inherent rhythm of the lines, no? I'm maybe going to work with this [the caesura] a bit more. I've not really brought out (exemplified), in thess 2 little linked poems, some other beautiful formalisms of Chinese 5-beat poetry that it would be fun to show. Perhaps in another blogo-whimsy another day.

Tue Oct 18, 06:38:00 AM PDT  

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