The dark grammarian

Gerrit Lansing with Yukon Jack, October 2011. Photo by Jim Dunn.

The title is “wrong”; alchemically it is right; but the essence of purpose is not downward. It is upwards toward heaven. These books of poems reach that way; reach many ways.

It is not downwards; it is toward the sky, we go there if we are to reach heaven. These poems reach that way.

And the devil steps between each word.

The “poetic process” here is toward heaven; it is a cleansing of life so that we may strive toward perfection. Pound says the love of a thing consists in the understanding of its perfection.

For me to write with intelligence is a difficult thing. For Gerrit Lansing to write without it is even more difficult.


Metaphysics is a difficult subject; it springs out of the mind without control, much as passion does. It is a different arousal. It centers on different cells and causes a different action in the brain. Nothing else kindles such red-hot coals in the mind as a line of poetry. You will find quite a lot of them here. Dynamite.

You will be dismayed at the new. You will reject it; regret it.

The discontinuity of image, the “confused” mind you will think you will find here. You will not. The obtuse is clarity.

You will find the continuity of rhythms, of image without process; in the use of the words as bent spoons gash hounds bright cock flame, much as rain falls in different drops; these poems fall in the mind. As wind blows through the rain will you rhythm enmeshing these pieces.

Rhythm is the elegance of thought the Greeks called paradise in their apple orchards. It is that flowering of thought; so many petals blow through the mind; the wind of imagination.

This is not a book of poems to read by; it is to live with. The heavenly tree does grow downward. Into the mind, new thought.


It is a cleansing perfection we encounter, without the poet knowing it. Let us hope he continues. Complexity of perfection is found here, simple, pure, and purposeful.

The complications of formal statement, of familial relations would be diminished if we were to remain naked longer in our lives. Without them we would be naked too, but in a different way. These poems force us to this. I thank their presence and creator in my room.

Now I have to learn to carry them with me over the streets of the city; and dismay the madness of a nation with their magic.

Note: Preface to the first edition of Gerrit Lansing’s
The Heavenly Tree Grows Downward, published by Matter Books, 1966, not reprinted in subsequent editions of the book. — Kevin Gallagher