The Pale Impromptu: Samuel Greenberg poems
American second wave modernist Greenberg was born in 1893 and died in 1917
The first publication of Samuel Greenberg's poetry was Poems from the Greenberg manuscripts: a selection from the work of Samuel B. Greenberg, ed. James Laughlin (New Directions, 1939). Laughlin carefully transcribed from Greenberg's notebooks the best – as he put it – of Greenberg's poems. He also including a holograph reproduction of "Conduct." Laughlin called Greenberg's work "pure poetry":"The poetry of Greenberg is not great poetry, and it is not even important minor poetry ... and yet ... poetry it is, pure poetry, to the extent equal to few other writers."
In a 2010 issue of Larry's Fagin's Sal Mimeo no. 9, there was a selection of poems by Greenberg. Fagin explains: "I had collected some of the Greenberg poems in the past, having run across the New Directions  annual, Spearhead, in an U.S. military library in Frankfurt in 1954. Laughlin kept the original spellings and forms. Like many, I was disappointed in the Holt edition and generally avoided it." Spearhead contains an almost exact republication of Poems from the Greenberg manuscripts, from nine years ealier. I include here the poems published by Fagin, following Laughlin's versions, that are not already on the web at the Greenberg site.
I have had to approximate the shape of "Ruins of Prince Qulachrim" for this HTML version. And I have redone "The Pale Impromptu" based on the manuscript, which is provided befow, thanks to Marvin Taylor at NYU's Fales Collection.
The key source for Greenberg's poems is Michael's Smith extradorianry site LOGOPOEIA; you can read the poem in a web browser or in pdf reading copies.
Thanks to Michael Carr for his work on the Samuel Greenberg and his advise on these postings.
Nurse brings me medicine! Medicine! Medicine?
For me? God, 20 years old!
Medicine!? I’ll leave it to thee!
The truth is a draught!
She left me. the tinkling glasses
lent me her distance!
The Hurried call I’ll disdain for ever!
She shook the pulse
Like Samson the vaults
I’m still proud! yes proud!
Though charity is aiding me!
This future painter
does not hinder
What is going on—or shall be!
Ruins of Prince Qulachrim
DRAMA PERSONA Synopsis
Qulachrim The Prince The night in a cave – Benfeld, Shay – Szatleo. Shay
Faston The Poet & Soothsayer sings at the calm night – Benfeld speak of the Ruins
Talven – a faithful winekeeper on the Hill. They talk on Taking Possession of it.
Hindo Valet Dalkurz Dalkurz and the Prince in comes Faston who speaks
Surleton – Lute & Strang Player of the Beauty of grace and pulsation – Kalbone’s
The dreamer – Kalbone Fantasie is placed before the princes desposal. Terfed
Terfed – The Thespian (acter) and Talven at the Ruins. They see the waste of Perfect
Pauly – Coach Driver Labor pon an admirale mount. The Shepard Surleton
Benfeld The Haunts of with his lute neath an ugly Bark of Foliage. Surelton
Shay The Ruined Castle meets Terfed and Talven. tells that some one duells at
Szatleo night in the lower cellars of the ruins. – Pauly and
dancers: inheriters – Officers the town maids of Sunday. Dalkurz is sent to
the castle. news of the reck by the tempestous Heavens a week ago – Prince arrives – He go mongst
the broken rock to seek for the lost safe – Build tents for night camping – the light in the cellar –
Kalbone Dreamts a Horrible scorching eterity. The Poet Faston begs them not to venture forth.
Perhaps bandits enfest the ruins – second days search. Dalkurz the Brave is sent to reconioter. The
loss of the papers of confiscation – Terfed meets Benfeld – the Shay overhears them talk – that the
prince is camping not far from her – the warning of play – The Haunt of the cellars, Surleton’s fright.
Qulachrim and his lovers – Inheriters to the prince – a great loss – Pauly Drives the Prince about the
town, – talven – Terfed – Dalkurz – Kalbone’s Scheme to trap the ghosts – The scare crow – Kalbone
ventures to entrap him with a net – Terfed acts well his scare crow part – Surleton well with his lute.
the capture of Shay and Szatleo – the Bonds and paper of the prince restored – departure – end –
The “East River’s” Charm
Is this the river “East,” I heard
Where the ferrys, tugs and sailboats stirred
And the reaching warves from the inner land
Out stretched, like the harmless receiving hand
And the silvery tinge, that sparkles aloud
Like brilliant white demons, which a tide has towed
From the rays of the morning Sun
Which it doth ceaselessly Shine upon
But look! at the depth of the dripling tide
That dripples, reripples Like locusts astride
As the Boat turns upon the silvery spread
It leaves strange – a shadow dead
And the very charms from the reflective river
And from the stacks of the flowting Boat
There seemeth the quality ne’er to dissever
Life the ruffles from the Mystified smoke
SBG, 1913 Nov. 25,
The Street Lamp and the Eyelid
Close near my eyelid,
The golden threads were damp,
That moved like a fairy cobweb
Beneath the orbly chant
Gradation was it woven,
At it ruse from the puzzle-box,
To the highest place was proven,
As the lid would shut and relax
Below and above
A godly stride
Like stalks in a fairy dream
While lightning in the sky did hide
That shimmering tearful gleam
I closed mine eyes, the struggling heart,
That held like the clouded sun
While my hands grew cold, a tear did part
From the soul that glanced thereon.
Where sweepest thou, this earth Jehovah!
Like a windmill turnest thou a mortal’s schemes—
And the winds that flure the renew a gust
That lies sunken in Thy Palm, it seems.
Thy Palm? a stricken creature I am
The truth I fain, would but a gurgle be
And all the truest brakers of space
Assume the Like, E’re dividedly.
O! that ever burning seasoned warmth
It seems like an opening—of they careful retuirns
And behind it hide this divide announce
A web of hues guard they turns
And Thy shadow that doth repose a nature
That giveth brightness to the Spirit, pure
Love! The only youthful stain
That shall ever rein
O what a cheat is love, love invisible
Which doth float and disappears like a puff,
And the earth a growth for an age,
Will at last drop like a star aloof.
My thought shall be as wide as this,
My love still wider seem
The eminence of this daily Charm
Shall clomb above—eternal Bliss.
The Pale Impromptu
Silver mourned gray. Slepted the greenlight
Pale neath coil of rock and clay
Stirred the tasted belt, such flower sighed tears
Kept lewd powers away - by
The Easthern lute
The forgotten pallete
Thus of eye. lived low beyond colours earned retreat
But dared not show - a vampires rath
Can you forget this wreap
Hidden winds perspired foul - as
a palmed rose
The well shade
and here, the ash tray was Blown
Blue turned white, gave the earth
a coating balzomized sooth
Though naked light shealds the trail of love
The fold metal granite doth move
In - Waves of skin
Shapes of tale
Therein I but tarry, as the yoke of Helium tinge
Unmatched, foriegn, alien to the shrine of beauties cringe
Leaness will but crave
Skulls of saints
His wooB? hath yet night its breath
Clover sank to iron heat, stole the
lilies of pale mat gold
The hearse in ghosts, where black
jet black - driven in Frail - By
pearls from tissue
There sat the minstrel, bent in leagues of Frozen charm
Though lightly, fettered, as perfect calm Thawing melancholy
tale of lamps
O soul! enlivened from dire perfume,
Thanks to the Fales collection of New York University, who has given me permission, I am able to post the holograph of this poem. Go to "view image" to see full size.