Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Poemquotes 8

"I was / offered refreshments, which I accepted. / I ate a sandwich of pure meat; an / enormous sandwich of human flesh, / I noticed, while I was chewing on it, / it also included a dirty asshole."
-Allen Ginsberg, "In Society", 1947, from Empty Mirror: Gates of Wrath (1947-1952) in Collected Poems: 1947-1980 (itself collected in its entirety within Collected Poems: 1947-1997)

"My people, what is intended / Let the cool martyr, whose distant head / Now seems a swimming dog's, explore, / Sustained in a vast disinterest. / But learn that distances are kindest / Not the correct sun striking the shore."
-John Ashbery, "A Sermon: Amos 8:11-14", 1947, from Uncollected Poems

"When you've got twelve belles in the flesh*, / Two duchesses and ten typists, / What more will you have gained / But a little lead, / A little lead in the wings**, / And not much in the brains-department."
[* A sly near-double of the French phrase “balles dans la peau” — “slugs/bullets in your flesh”. Gainsbourg is portmanteauing the idea of twelve beauties in the flesh as tantamount to being shot twelve times.]
[** “Avoir du plomb dans l’aile” refers to “being in a bad way,” say, on account of doing something that “doesn’t fly”; whereas “avoir du plomb dans la cervelle” suggests “having a good head on your shoulders.”]
-Serge Gainsbourg, "Douze belles dans la peau" [Twelve Belles in the Flesh], from Du chant à la une!... [Songs Torn from the Front Page!...], 1958, my translation

"(As if any man really knew aught of my life, / Why even I myself I often think know little or nothing of my real life, / Only a few hints, a few diffused faint clews and indirections / I seek for my own use to trace out here.)"
-Walt Whitman, "When I Read the Book", from Leaves of Grass, "Inscriptions", 1855-1892

"How explicit the coiffures became / The diamond point, the sapphire point, / The sequins / Of the civil fans! // Insinuations of desire, / Puissant speech, alike in each, / Cried quittance / To the wickless halls."
-Wallace Stevens, "The Ordinary Women", from Harmonium, 1923/1931


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