Jerome Rothenberg

Poems and poetics

Pierre Joris: From 'DIS/ASTER' [Part 3 of 'RIGWRECK'], with an author's note

Disaster: not thought gone awry

when all this first started
            my body broke out into real bad rashes
                        my eyes my face my neck my chest my back my shoulders
big giant holes on the back of my legs,
            holes the size of a #2 pencil
                        looked just like the holes
                                    in the fish
                                               in the lab
                                                on the slab

Diane Rothenberg: 'On the Insanity of Cornplanter' (part two) [redux]

Four Iroquois chiefs painted from life, circa 1710
Four Iroquois chiefs painted from life, circa 1710

[Part One was posted on May 31 and is available here.]

The existence of the content of Cornplanter’s visions is serendipitous.  A copy of the manuscript (or the original) was in the collection of the Cornplanter family aand was found and recopied by  a young man, Charles Aldrich, in 1849, and sent to Lyman C. Draper who had expressed an interest in collecting memorabilia relevant to a project on the Revolutionary War.  Aldrich offered himself as a reliable local scholar who had access to a series of documents in the possession of William O’Beale, one of Cornplanter’s sons.  Aldrich apologized to Draper for the legibility of the manuscript he sent because, he explained, he was rushed in producing it, but “it is about as legible from the ms from which it is taken.”

Bruce Stater: From ‘The Journey of Metaphor & Remembrance’ in 'Labyrinth of Vision' (redux)

Say the poem is a journey

taken with silent walking sticks

on a path strewn with memories

deaf, dumb,

blind & beyond measure.

Its mouth filled with words

its pockets filled with stale bread.


Say it is an elixir derived from chlorophyll

From Daichidoron: '32 Ways of Looking at the Buddha,' with '13 Buddhas of My Own'

For Hiromi Ito

(1) When the Buddha walks. his feet are so close to the ground that there is not even a hair’s space between his soles & the earth;

(2) the imprint of a wheel appears on the soles of the Buddha’s feet;

(3) the Buddha’s fingers are exceptionally long & slender;

(4) the Buddha’s heels are broad, round & smooth;

(5) the Buddha has a web-like membrane between his fingers & toes;

(6) the skin of the Buddha’s hands & feet is soft & smooth;

(7) the Buddha’s feet have unusually high insteps;

Heinrich Heine: Two poems, after the French transcreations by Gerard de Nerval

H. Heine (1797 – 1856) on cover of Die Jugend, 1906
H. Heine (1797– 1856) on cover of Die Jugend, 1906

[To be noted: the high credit that Heine gave to Gerard de Nerval for his French prose versions after the German rhymed verses, much as Goethe found Nerval’s prose transcreations of Faust its perfect translation.] 

The Castaway 

Longing & love!  

It’s all broken: I’m lying here sprawled on the shore, deserted & naked, a corpse that the sea has spit up with contempt.