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What’s Been Going on This Summer

September 4, 2016

And to think this movement (18 from Louis Zukofsky’s “A”) started out as an epistolary hypothesis about (hypothetical?) separation (death?) from (his?) the narrator’s beloved (Celia Zukofsky?)


“Who shall imagine that his dictionary can embalm his                                                              language, that it is in his power to                                                                                                         change sublunary nature.  Sounds are too volatile for                                                                   legal restraints.  To enchain syllables and to lash                                                                              the wind are equally undertakings of pride unwilling                                                                             to measure its desires by its strength.  That                                                                                        signs might be permanent…like the things?                                                                                         to explain requires the use of terms less                                                                                           abstruse than that which is to be explained                                                                                       and such terms cannot always be found.  Words                                                                             hourly shifting, names have often many ideas, few                                                                     ideas many names.  But every art is obscure                                                                                           to those that have not learned (?)  it. The                                                                             exuberance of words, to admit no testimony of                                                                             living authors, but when my heart in the                                                                              tenderness of friendship solicited admission fo a favorite                                                        name—to persue perfection was like the first                                                                    inhabitants of Arcadia to chace the sun, which                                                                              when they had reached the hill where he                                                                                     seemed to rest, was still beheld at some                                                                                    distance from them: that I set limits to                                                                                                 my work which would in time be ended                                                                                               tho not completed, that he whose design includes                                                                whatever language can express must often speak of                                                                    what he does not understand: writes hurried by                                                                   eagerness to the end—that the English Dictionary                                                                                  was written with little assistance of the learned,                                                                             and without any patronage of the great; not                                                                                          in the soft obscurities of retirement, or under                                                                                    the shelter of academick bowers, but amidst inconvenience                                                       and distraction, in sickness and in sorrow—success and                                           miscarriage…empty sounds…having little to fear                                                                         from censure or from praise’”


From → Poetics, Poetry

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