Saturday, April 08, 2006

La Chute


This and the next two posts show Charles Olson (1910-1970) in 1949 working through three takes on similar themes: the mythic foundations underpinning our everyday reality; the musical legacy of Modernism (form as rhythm, "my drum"); and the meaning (or meaninglessness?) of civilization in "the guilty present," in the aftermath of the Holocaust.

Like the Objectivists, his interests look backward to the high Modernism of figures like Pound, Eliot, Williams, and H.D. (the interest in periplum, the world from where I stand, a map made while moving; myth as reality's fundamental armature; form as an aspect of content rather than a tidy, predetermined metrical shape; history as "simultaneously present, i.e. the ancient as something available for use, not something we've progressed beyond, like H.D.'s use of myth to understand WW II; the poem and page as a field of action, etc.); but also point forward to whatever that something after Modernism (literally Post-Modern) will be. What sense of that "something" do you get from these poems?

La Chute

my drum, hollowed out thru the thin slit,
carved from the cedar wood, the base I took
when the tree was felled

o my lute, wrought from the tree's crown

my drum, whose lustiness
was not to be resisted

my lute,
from whose pulsations
not one could turn away

They
are where the dead are, my drum fell
where the dead are, who
will bring it up, my lute
who will bring it up where it fell in the face of them
where they are, where my lute and drum have fallen?

--Charles Olson (1910-1970), May 1949

1 comment:

Ava said...

this poem SUCKS!!!!!!!!!!!! i suggest that you stop right here and read what i am telling you. after you read this you should go right ahead and x out of the tab and never come back or even think about this poem again i am saving your mind from having to takein reding this absolutely horrible poem. i can even write a poem better than that right now and i am not even a poet. so all i am sayig is NEVER READ THIS POEM!!!!!