Tuesday, August 26, 2008

On Alvin Feinman’s “True Night”

I am in the hospital for the fourth time in the past five months, this time for excruciating abdominal pain that turned out to be due to a partial bowel obstruction which has still not cleared up. I have had a tube down my throat and have been unable to eat for over a week. I spend most of my days trying to sleep through the pain and nausea.

In the course of the various tests to try to determine the cause of the obstruction, my surgeon found several large masses on my liver which, after a blood test and a liver biopsy, have turned out to be a fast-growing resurgence of my colon cancer. Thus I am in the hospital cancer ward for the foreseeable future, starting chemotherapy again (it had been on hold during my assorted medical crises of the past few months), before I have had time to fully recover from my recent illnesses and surgeries.

Despite all this, and to remind myself that I am not a bundle of symptoms and sicknesses, I am posting (or rather, having my darling Robert post) this final tribute to my recently deceased mentor Alvin Feinman, a discussion of his poem “True Night.” This is an excerpt from a piece on Feinman’s work in general that is included in the anthology Dark Horses, edited by Kevin Prufer and Joy Katz, and in my essay collection Orpheus in the Bronx.


True Night


So it is midnight, and all
The angels of ordinary day gone,
The abiding absence between day and day
Come like true and only rain
Comes instant, eternal, again:

As though an air had opened without sound
In which all things are sanctified,
In which they are at prayer—
The drunken man in his stupor,
The madman’s lucid shrinking circle;

As though all things shone perfectly,
Perfected in self-discrepancy:
The widow wedded to her grief,
The hangman haloed in remorse—
I should not rearrange a leaf,

No more than wish to lighten stones
Or still the sea where it still roars—
Here every grief requires its grief,
Here every longing thing is lit
Like darkness at an altar.

As long as truest night is long,
Let no discordant wing
Corrupt these sorrows into song.


“True Night” is a lovely example of what Bloom calls “a central sensibility seeking imaginative truth without resorting to any of the available evasions of consciousness,” whose temptations are both acknowledged and refused The poem opens at midnight, “The abiding absence between day and day,” a present absence which is both instant (and an instant) and eternal, because it is no given day and no single time, but rather the moment between dates. This no-time is all times, both everlasting and utterly ephemeral. It is (or rather, it is “As though”—what we know is not the thing itself, but only its appearance, our own knowing of it) an air which has opened soundlessly, an air which we take into ourselves with every breath. Particularly within the precincts of a poem, the phrase “an air” in conjunction with the evocation of sound calls up a pun on the Renaissance sense of an “air” as a song. Here, it is a song without sound; it was Keats who wrote that unheard melodies are sweetest, and this soundless air is sweeter than any song one could ever hear.

Here in this time which is no time, the polarity of identity and difference is suspended, and opposites meet. Things are beside themselves, at peace with their own restlessness and discontent, their own failure to be identical with themselves: they are “Perfected in self- discrepancy,” like the off-rhyme of the words “perfectly” and “discrepancy.” All wrongs are posed in the perfection of a still-life, no less wrong but now transfigured into necessity and equipoise: “Here every grief requires its grief.” The poet’s task is both to capture this momentless moment and to leave it undisturbed, to touch its untouchability into art without marring or altering it. The line “I should not rearrange a leaf” can be read either as “I wouldn’t rearrange a leaf even if I could, all is perfect as it is” or as “I should abandon any desire to rearrange a leaf, to insert my own will into the seen/scene.” For this poem, paradise is paradox, where longing (the source of suffering, according to the Buddha) is illumination, and to be lit is to be like darkness “at an altar,” at prayer, prayed to, or both.

The poem’s last stanza insists that no discordant wing (shattering the harmony of the soundless air) should be allowed to corrupt the sorrows the poem presents into song, at least “As long as truest night is long.” That is to say, this admonition holds both forever and only for the most fleeting of (non-) moments. And yet the poem itself, unavoidably, is a song (“lyric,” after all, comes from “lyre”), voiced and heard. The poem both “mystically” asserts a paradoxical concord (echoing and amplifying Stevens’s avowal that “The imperfect is our paradise”) and takes a potentially ironic stance toward it: the poem is both entranced and undeluded.

The inescapable paradox of “True Night,” the truth that it both embodies and struggles against in the name of truth, is that the poem’s discordant wing has corrupted the scene into song: it is helpless not to do so, for otherwise there would be no poem. But the poem has also acknowledged and honored the difference between scene and song: it has reminded us that is remains is however much mind and music might wish it otherwise, however much metaphor and song might wish to translate being into seeming.

64 comments:

seanag said...

Thank you.

tyrone said...

Get well, my friend.

Tyrone

Joseph Hutchison said...

Reginald, it breaks my heart to hear that you're back in the hospital. Here's wishing you a complete recovery.

ReggieH said...

Thinking of you and praying for a speedy and complete recovery!

Nada said...

Reginald, I'm so sorry to hear your news. I'm amazed that you can engage poetry to this extent at the moment. Please feel better soon.

Rethabile said...

Get well soon. And thank you for this post, as well as for past and future ones.

Alfred said...

Dear Reginald, Very sorry to hear about the relapse. But you'll pull through again, as you have before. Writing under these circumstances reminds me of Mandelshtam composing poems in his head at the prison camp in Voronezh.

A good reading of the Feinman poem. One of the most striking paradoxes is the "madman's lucid shrinking circle." A less good poet would have put osmething like "furious" instead of "lucid."
I notice that there are departures here and there from the overall tetrameter, though the expressive reason isn't clear. And the concluding rhymes, with "wing" as a discordant near-rhyme. No doubt this wing belongs to one of the angels mentioned in stanza one, but here unwelcome, bringing a lyric comfort in some ways disloyal to the sorrow it means to relieve and therefore not fully condoned. And yet the poet will inevitably sing, no matter what.

JimK said...

Your commitment to verbal art
in this new trial says so much.
Thanks for sending your signals.
It's all in the way you say it..

Mark Granier said...

Reginald, so sorry to hear you're back in hospital. I wish you wellness, a proper, long overdue recovery. And bravo for keeping at the writing, and giving us such a wonderful poem and commentary (again).

Omyma said...

This is my first visit to your site, and what an amazing discovery! But how sad to hear about your illness. I wish you a recovery more amazing than my finding you & your blog - but similar in being an unthought-of lift from a general sinking state - in your case, that state seems to be only physical, and your spirit and intellect obviously are rising above it. Thank you for your sharing your wonderful mind.

John Gallaher said...

My thoughts to you right now, my friend.

scotland said...

Dear Reginald, I'd worry about you if I believed any part of your beauty could really be bought or sold. God, I love ya.
SPH

Eachan said...

Reginald: It has been a long time. Even in sickness, you write like a dream. Here's to your strength.
-
Eachan

Christopher Hennessy said...

I just heard that you are gone, dear friend. I dind't know what to do but wanted to say good bye to you. This seemed like an appropriate place to say how much your thoughts, poetry and support meant to me. I'll miss you.

As you always signed your emails

Peace, poetry...rest in both, Reginald.

You will be remembered.

C. Dale said...

Reginald,

I, too, wanted to say good bye. It seems like just yesterday I got that letter from you, the one where you tried to introduce yourself to me, which made me laugh because I knew who you were, had read your two books (at the time) and felt as if you were a real poet, unlke me. That seems like yesterday, but it wasn't. It was almost 13 years ago.

Thank you, Reginald, for all the times you reminded me what poetry was for, what it did. It is very difficult for me to believe you are not here with us, but I know you are here with us. I can never thank you enough for all the good words we have shared over these years.

Robert said...

This is so sad. The word tragic is overused, but surely this is a tragic loss. I knew Reginald only through his writings, but it was clear that his spirit was rare, the intensity of his quest for truth and beauty, and his extraordinary generosity and respect for everyone he encountered on that quest.

Ivy said...

I didn't know you, but your reach was far. Goodbye, Reginald.

tr said...

farewell, this most extraordinary friend.

joanna said...

I took a workshop with Reginald several years ago, and I am so very sorry to hear of his passing. He was a fine, sensitive teacher, and a brilliant poet.

Lee Herrick said...

Peace and blessings, Reginald.

Mark Granier said...

Goodbye Reginald, this it terribly sad news, a tragedy. May your excellent poetry and prose live for as long as you wished to.

Brian Campbell said...

May you rest in well-deserved peace. You had all my admiration and respect.

Hedgie said...

I've come to know him only through this blog and Fata Morgana, despite which I feel as if I've lost a close and valued friend.

Sleep well and peacefully, Reginald.

Didi Menendez said...

Reginald - You were kind and sweet to me when I published you and I will always remember you that way.

Didi

Peter said...

Reginald--
You will be missed.
Peace.

Diane K. Martin said...

Sending my farewell--out to the universe.

Oliver de la Paz said...

Goodbye, Reginald. You are missed.

John Gallaher said...

You always started your emails "Greetings from Redneckistan".

Thanks for that.

Don Share said...

Peace be on your soul, Reginald, esteemed colleague and friend. Thank you for fighting the good fight without faltering.

George S said...

I echo Don Share above. We never met, Reginald, but I thought you were a real beacon, a proper poet and a good man. - George Szirtes

aimee said...

peace to you and Robert. your poems were small gifts to me.

jennifer said...

I'm so sorry. It was only a few months ago that I found this blog and learned that he had been so ill.

Reginald was a year ahead of me at Iowa. I have never met Robert, but I want him to know that my thoughts are with him.

Kristin said...

Our bodies can never do justice to our minds and souls. That your body broke down much too early, that your intellect shone through despite this, are testiments to the need for poetry in a world that needs to lift its spirit. Robert, bless you as you move forward through your loss. You and Reginald will be in my thoughts and prayers.

Anne said...

Such grace and intelligence. Rest in peace.

JimK said...

Thank you for the clear-eyed
meaning you left.

Ron Slate said...

Take if you will this boy made out
of wish and will-not-ever-be, made out
to be something he's not, breeze
through the trees. Puzzle his riddling
skin, his irrigated desert
body couched in eroding
mountains. Ride out the rustling sibilants
and make a man into an effigy:
of summer skin, the last exemplar.

Final lines from Reginald's "Along With Whatever Has not Been Named"

Reginald was an exemplar. In a business of trivialists, he showed us how to open further to what matters. His standards were challenging, his tastes were broad, his opinions were equal to the savoring of his tastes. And he could write. Here's to his memory, and the long life of his poetry.

David Groff said...

When I heard that Reginald was gone, I came here and reread the Alvin Feinman poem he posted, and Reginald's acute and loving introduction to it, which he posted just two weeks ago. It reads as an apt valicdictory for Reginald as well.

Thank you, Reginald, for your engagement, talent, and commitment.

Robert, I know our thoughts are with you.

David

Rethabile said...

Farewell, and rest well.

Nicolette Bethel said...

Walk good, Reginald. Walk good.

seanag said...

Like a few others here, I am a newcomer to Reginald's thought and work, but that doesn't take away the sting from his death or my sadness at the loss of someone whose words I was starting to follow and whose writing I greatly respect. My thoughts go out to all of you who were close to him. I know it must be very hard right now.

ReggieH said...

Reginald:

How thankful we all are to have known you. How glorious to have your words so that you truly can live forever.

Love always

Reginald

January said...

Rest in Peace.

Montgomery Maxton said...

we'll make sure your poetry lives.

rest in peace, trooper.

Neil Aitken said...

Farewell Reginald. I've been an avid reader of this blog for some time and will greatly miss your insights and commentary, the humor and passion you had for our shared craft of poetry, and most of all the way you always brought us back to what was important, human, and ultimately vital in the work. Rest well and know you are remembered.

Joseph Duemer said...

I only met you once, Reginald, though I have read your written words. In person & on the page, your beauty came through. Peace.

Eshuneutics said...

I shall miss the comments you sent to my blog and the ever-interesting posts on yours. You always had that rare ability to combine humanity and intellect with humility. I wish you peace in that eternal world of myth.

Glenn Ingersoll said...

Grateful to have had the opportunity to visit your work, Reginald (never Reg) Shepherd.

Nick said...

I was touched by your comment on my blog and am saddened that I will never get to hear or meet the author of those words.

Peace

cool said...

團體服團體服T恤圍裙POLO衫班服團體服創意熱轉印團體服訂做宜蘭民宿關鍵字廣告seo網路廣告網路行銷seo網站設計seo線上客服seo網頁設計seo網頁設計公司網路行銷網路行銷桃園室內設計室內設計作品室內裝潢裝潢室內設計室內設計公司裝潢設計豪宅空間設計店面設計豪宅設計桃園室內設計公司別墅外觀設計室內裝潢設計台北室內設計新竹室內設計法拍屋中古車二手車環保袋環保袋肉毒桿菌健檢醫學美容淨膚雷射汽車美容法拍屋水餃清潔公司實驗動物到府坐月子坐月子坐月子中心坐月子餐孕婦月子餐到府坐月子坐月子坐月子中心坐月子中心台中坐月子中心台北月子餐月子中心坐月子餐月子餐外送

cool said...

月子餐食譜找工作統一發票7 8月求職1111求職人力銀行104求職人力銀行104人力銀行統一發票5 6月104人力銀行104求職人力銀行塑膠袋統一發票1 2月塑膠袋批發塑膠袋工廠金價黃金價格統一發票3 4月1111人力銀行1111人力銀行求職黃金價格查詢中古車買賣塑膠袋統一發票3 4月塑膠袋批發中古車中古車買賣台北人力銀行金價查詢sum中古車中古車貸款信用貸款房屋貸款剖腹生產 命理網 姓名學 姓名配對 星座 星座運勢 算命 開運印章 風水 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 外遇 徵信 徵信社 搬家公司 搬家公司 台北搬家公司 新竹搬家公司

cool said...

桃園搬家公司 台北搬家公司 整形 韓風整形 整形 韓風整形 老人癡呆症 情緒管理 微整型美容 失眠 疝氣 憂鬱症 瘦身減肥 看護 安養中心 精神分裂症 清潔公司 清潔公司 壁癌 屋頂防水 屋頂隔熱 抓漏 油漆 浴室 漏水 屋頂防水 屋頂隔熱 抓漏 油漆 浴室 漏水 舊屋翻新 裝潢 防水工程 舊屋翻新 裝潢 防水工程 壁癌 健康飲食 台北素食餐廳 吃素 團購美食 水餃 素食 素食料理 素食水餃 素食食譜 素食餐廳交友 婚友 婚友社 婚友聯誼 婚友聯誼社 愛情 愛情公寓 相親 相親銀行 聯誼 Hook and Loop 婚禮佈置 情人花束 新竹花店 會場佈置 氣球佈置 玫瑰花束 盆栽 網路花店 花店

cool said...

蘭花 台北旅遊 台北旅遊景點 台北民宿 坪林 坪林茶葉博物館 宜蘭民宿 木柵動物園 深坑老街 真情民宿 貓空 台北旅遊 台北民宿 坪林 坪林茶葉博物館 宜蘭民宿 木柵動物園 化糞池 抽化糞池 抽水肥 水管不通 洗水塔 消毒 通水管 通馬桶 馬桶 馬桶不通 上順旅行社 五福旅行社 大興旅行社 天喜旅行社 天福旅行社 日本旅行社 日本旅遊 日本機票 日本自由行 日本訂房 包通 抽化糞池 抽水肥 水管不通 洗水塔 清水溝 通水管 通馬桶 馬桶 馬桶不通 便宜機票 國內旅遊 國外旅遊 國外機票 團體旅遊 直航機票 簽證 自由行 訂房 雄獅旅遊 汽車美容 汽車美容 三久太陽能 太陽能 太陽能熱水器 三久 櫻花牌熱水器 熱水器 省電熱水器 衛浴設備 節能減碳 電熱水器

s said...

喜餅禮盒 喜餅價格 訂婚禮盒 訂婚喜餅
素食月子餐 飛梭雷射 柔膚雷射 獸醫師 創業鞋之澡堂 洗鞋子 洗包包加盟彌月禮盒 彌月禮 玻尿酸 皮膚科 皮膚科診所 肉毒桿菌 肉毒桿菌瘦臉 脈衝光 除斑 Flex PCB PCB Electronic PCB 衝孔網 菱型網 不鏽鋼 壯陽 成人用品春藥 壯陽藥品 持久 手工水餃 中華湯包 mini usb 催情 增大 模具廠 104法拍網 信義房屋 房屋買賣 台北法拍屋 塑膠射出成型 模具 Odm 塑膠射出模具 Oem代工廠 塑膠射出 塑膠射出廠 模具設計 Precision Mold加盟創業 冷凍宅配 宅配美食 Light guide panels Plastic Products Mold design 沖孔網

s said...

喇叭網 金屬擴張網Plastic injection Mold developmentInjection Mold Plastic injection molding Injection molding ISO9001認證 射出成形 塑膠製成品塑膠模具設計 模具開發 精密射出 縫衣機塑件Industrial PCB Heavy Copper PCB Microwave PCB Medical PCB Telecom PCB 泡菜 團購美食 創業加盟 水餃 壯陽食品 早洩 情趣用品 湯包 DC Jack tact switch Slide switch Phone Jack USB connector RCA Jack開 關 製網 菱形網 不鏽鋼網 金屬網 無塵室射出 膠框導光板 房屋仲介 法拍屋 法拍 法拍屋查詢系統板橋法拍屋 大台北法拍屋 原裝進口燈飾 流行燈飾 3D立體印刷 印刷服務回收 照明 彩盒 回收電腦 水晶燈

s said...

進口燈飾 吊燈 led燈 燈飾 磁鐵 消毒 抽水肥 抽化糞池通水管 水管不通 水管不通 化糞池清理 洗水塔 加盟創業 創業加盟 冬令營禮盒包裝 電腦回收 資源回收 禮盒 化妝品盒 藥盒 燈具 禮盒 印刷供應商 彩色盒 禮盒 設計 網版印刷 紙盒工廠 印刷公司 印刷 彩色印刷 包裝 設計pe膜 冬令營 冬令營breading machine food processing equipment frying machine 創業 加盟 早餐店加盟 meat processing equipment food processing mixers 化糞池 通馬桶

s said...

馬桶不通 food forming patty machine boiling machine 化妝品包 裝 紙盒 breading machine vegetable machine日立冷氣 教育訓練 品質管理 Ohsas 18001casino gaming machine 泰國清邁 iso認證 iso團體旅遊簽證 slot game machine slot machine cabinet 便宜機票展場設計 二手車 中古車 Bmw 中古車買賣 汽車借款gaming machine manufacturer gaming machine 大陸直航彌月禮盒團購美食油飯麻糬

部落格資訊站 said...

喜餅禮盒 喜餅價格 訂婚禮盒 訂婚喜餅
素食月子餐 飛梭雷射 柔膚雷射 獸醫師 創業鞋之澡堂 洗鞋子 洗包包加盟彌月禮盒 彌月禮 玻尿酸 皮膚科 皮膚科診所 肉毒桿菌 肉毒桿菌瘦臉 脈衝光 除斑 Flex PCB PCB Electronic PCB 衝孔網 菱型網 不鏽鋼 壯陽 成人用品春藥 壯陽藥品 持久 手工水餃 中華湯包 mini usb 催情 增大 模具廠 104法拍網 信義房屋 房屋買賣 台北法拍屋 塑膠射出成型 模具 Odm 塑膠射出模具 Oem代工廠 塑膠射出 塑膠射出廠 模具設計 Precision Mold加盟創業 冷凍宅配 宅配美食 Light guide panels Plastic Products Mold design 沖孔網

部落格資訊站 said...

喇叭網 金屬擴張網Plastic injection Mold developmentInjection Mold Plastic injection molding Injection molding ISO9001認證 射出成形 塑膠製成品塑膠模具設計 模具開發 精密射出 縫衣機塑件Industrial PCB Heavy Copper PCB Microwave PCB Medical PCB Telecom PCB 泡菜 團購美食 創業加盟 水餃 壯陽食品 早洩 情趣用品 湯包 DC Jack tact switch Slide switch Phone Jack USB connector RCA Jack開 關 製網 菱形網 不鏽鋼網 金屬網 無塵室射出 膠框導光板 房屋仲介 法拍屋 法拍 法拍屋查詢系統板橋法拍屋 大台北法拍屋 原裝進口燈飾 流行燈飾 3D立體印刷 印刷服務回收 照明 彩盒 回收電腦 水晶燈

部落格資訊站 said...

進口燈飾 吊燈 led燈 燈飾 磁鐵 消毒 抽水肥 抽化糞池通水管 水管不通 水管不通 化糞池清理 洗水塔 加盟創業 創業加盟 冬令營禮盒包裝 電腦回收 資源回收 禮盒 化妝品盒 藥盒 燈具 禮盒 印刷供應商 彩色盒 禮盒 設計 網版印刷 紙盒工廠 印刷公司 印刷 彩色印刷 包裝 設計pe膜 冬令營 冬令營breading machine food processing equipment frying machine 創業 加盟 早餐店加盟 meat processing equipment food processing mixers 化糞池 通馬桶

部落格資訊站 said...

馬桶不通 food forming patty machine boiling machine 化妝品包 裝 紙盒 breading machine vegetable machine日立冷氣 教育訓練 品質管理 Ohsas 18001casino gaming machine 泰國清邁 iso認證 iso團體旅遊簽證 slot game machine slot machine cabinet 便宜機票展場設計 二手車 中古車 Bmw 中古車買賣 汽車借款gaming machine manufacturer gaming machine
新竹餐廳下午茶特色餐廳景觀餐廳親子餐廳
大陸直航彌月禮盒團購美食油飯麻糬

dreaz said...

araç sorgulama
sorgulama
ehliyet
açıköğretim
bağkur sorgulama
ssk sorgulama
emekli sandığı
cinsel bilgiler
radyo dinle
korku
evlilik
ssk hizmet dökümü
ssk emeklilik sorgulama
hikaye
bağkur hizmet dökümü
gazeteler
ilan
ssk
evlilik sitesi
ehliyet sınav sonuçları
iş ilanları
bağkur
gazete oku

finding said...

徵信社
徵信

blog for steveLi said...

Reginald, it breaks my heart to hear that you're back in the hospital. Here's wishing you a complete recovery.cheap electronics

Jual Obat Bius said...

nice article...

Obat Bius | Obat Bius Wanita | Jual Obat Bius


thank you for the information regards success only father / mother