Monday, December 22, 2014

remembering rexroth







one of the leading poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, and he was considered a sort of father of the Beat movement, although he responded to this label by saying: "An entomologist is not a bug."  He said of San Francisco "It is the only city in the United States which was not settled overland by the westward-spreading puritan tradition, or by the Walter Scott, fake-cavalier tradition of the South. It had been settled, mostly, in spite of all the romances of the overland migration, by gamblers, prostitutes, rascals and fortune seekers who came across the Isthmus and around the Horn. They had their faults, but they were not influenced by Cotton Mather."

he loved California summer in the Sierra Nevada mountains, and almost every summer after that for the next 40 years. He said: "I have always felt I was most myself in the mountains. There I have done the bulk of what is called my creative work. At least it is in the mountains that I write most of my poetry. Life in the city in the winter seems too full of distractions and busy work. Who said poetry was emotion recollected in tranquility? I don't know about others, but I find most tranquility camped by a mountain lake at timber line.





Lying under the stars,
In the summer night,
Late while the autumn
Constellations climb the sky,
As the Cluster of Hercules
Falls down the west
I put the telescope by 
And watch Deneb
Move towards the zenith
My body is asleep. Only
My eyes and brain are awake.
The stars stand around me
Like gold eyes. I can no longer
Tell where I begin and leave off.
The faint breeze in the dark pines,
And the invisible grass,
The tipping earth, the swarming stars
Have an eye that sees itself.




~ Kenneth Rexroth



The Earth will be going on a long time
Before it finally freezes;
Men will be on it; they will take names,
Give their deeds reasons.
We will be here only
As chemical constituents—
A small franchise indeed.
Right now we have lives,
Corpuscles, Ambitions, Caresses,
Like everybody had once—

Here at the year's end, at the feast
Of birth, let us bring to each other
The gifts brought once west through deserts—
The precious metal of our mingled hair,
The frankincense of enraptured arms and legs,
The myrrh of desperate, invincible kisses—
Let us celebrate the daily
Recurrent nativity of love,
The endless epiphany of our fluent selves,
While the earth rolls away under us
Into unknown snows and summers,
Into untraveled spaces of the stars.



~ Kenneth Rexroth
from Sacramental Acts


3 comments:

Rebel Girl said...

I love this.

Miriam Louisa Simons said...

Blogger makes it very challenging for us Wordpress users to get a comment accepted and posted.

I'm being patient; this is my third attempt.

Dean, your post is a precious gift for me at this time of year -one that encourages me to try yet again to let you know .... thank you.

Dean Keller said...

Sorry it's difficult Miriam. Thanks for your comment and your patience.