October 09, 2008

On the tendency toward solipsism in literature

Where am I in your poems?
How can you be there without
the boundary defining you—the place
we are accomplishing? Are you
a blob, unmanageable endless omnivore,
a science fiction fact, the total topographical
of earth, a mobile constellation, quirky quasar,
voluminous vegetal omniscient—
how about that?
Where are you leading—except
to Parmenides, his circle
spherically flat?

          The unimpassioned poem is retrospective of a flight
          responsible only to
          its own hovering images that link
          Ming vases with the tense
          of made things, of mental surfaces, and with feelings
          shaped to the fixed glaze of a tight, washable glisten.
          Feathers can dust the unimpassioned poem
          where nothing
          importunately clings

          but the poem whose rude textures
          grapple with the live space
          around the self
          can grip the air
          and hold light, and fly
          as the earth flies

—D. H. Melhem
from “Children of the House Afire”, in New York Poems (Syracuse Univ. Press, 2005)

Posted by dwaber at October 9, 2008 04:56 PM