August 31, 2010

Rexroth Rexcerpts

A bit disappointed to learn over the weekend that one of the best Columbus antiquarian bookstores (noted here and here) is going out of business. They had a sale, 75% off everything, and so, natch, I gobbled up what I could joined with a host of fellow book vultures. Many of the books were cheap to begin with, from $3-$8, so it's mostly storage space that limited my buying. (Ironically, I picked up the Pope John XXIII: Letters to His Family, and he advises a nephew to buy fewer books and concentrate on the ones he has!)

Another of the books purchased was, unfortunately, Sheer Joy by Matthew Fox. Turns out Fox is heretical. Great idea though to imagine a conversation with Thomas Aquinas in today's language.

The poem from before was from one of those books, as is the following, from The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth:

I lay aside the Diurnal
At the light drenched poetry
Of St. Ambrose that converted
St. Augustine to a world
More luminous and more lucid
Than one where light warred with dark.


The tops of the higher peaks
Of the Sierra Nevada
Of California are
Drenched in the perfume of
A flower which grows only there --
The blue Polemonium
Confertum eximium,
Soft, profound blue, like the eyes
Of impregnable innocence;
The perfume is heavy and
Clings thickly to the granite
Peaks, even in violent wind;
The leaves are clustered,
Fine, dull green, sticky, and musky.
I imagine that the scent
Of the body of Artemis
That put Endymion to sleep
Was like this and her eyes had the
Same inscrutable color.
Lawrence was lit into death
By the blue gentians of Kore.
Vanzetti had in his cell
A bowl of tall blue flowers
From a New England garden.
I hope that when I need it
My mind can always call back
This flower to its hidden senses.


Bureau of Public Secrets said...

Many more of Rexroth's poems (and other writings) are online at


Bob the Ape said...

I'm afraid you're doing it wrong. You don't let your storage space govern your book-buying; your book-buying should govern your storage space.

TS said...

Bob, true dat, but that can get expensive.

Thanks BPS!