POEM

Feet Last

 

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All Things Ornamental

EXHIBITION Sun Ra at the ICA

POEM From Norman MacAfee C’65’s Selected Poems

EXCERPT Pull over. Harry Truman’s Excellent Adventure

IMAGE Elizabeth Osborne FA’59’s Woman with Red

BOOKS Inescapable truth. Memory Lessons

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Harbor Mountain Press: One Class: Selected Poems 1965-2008, by Norman MacAfee

 

 

Among the works that Norman MacAfee C’65 included in his recent One Class: Selected Poems 1965-2008 is a nine-part series of short poems titled “The Song of the Earth.” He describes them as “considerably and freely transformed from various sources in notes from classes in Chinese poetry, painting, and opera” at the University of Iowa; each is now accompanied by drawings he made some 30 years later (which did not make it into the book).

The eighth poem in the series, he adds, represents “several commentaries about the poet Li Po (701–762) with a line by him: ‘the Milky Way came down to earth.’ ‘Last seen: feet’ means he became a Taoist immortal, disappearing into the heavens. Li Po wrote poems that in German translation Gustav Mahler set to music for Das Lied von der erde, which is one of the inspirations for this sequence and its title. Ezra Pound [C1905 G1906] translated a number of Li Po’s poems, calling him Rihaku, in his groundbreaking Cathay of 1915.”

8
Li Po’s concubine
was so prized because
she wouldn’t let him
pass out till he’d
finished his
latest verses
and the Milky Way
came down to earth.
Last seen: feet.

 


Reprinted by arrangement with Harbor Mountain Press from One Class: Selected Poems 1965-2008, by Norman MacAfee. Copyright © 2008 by Norman MacAfee.

 


 
     
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Last modified 6/26/09