A bell rings in the middle of Dostoevsky's long story about a husband, a wife, and her lovers. Fast, energetic, moody types--and like Shakespeare, Dostoevsky is obsessed with types, the Suicidal Devil, the Crazy Karamazov, the Lovesick Idiot, and so on--I don't know how I've missed The Eternal Husband before, but I'm glad to find it again. It's a quick read to cover the kaleidoscope of human emotion: laughter and death, sweet admiration, friendship, hope, hate, beautiful lost love, fits of passion in a dream, and all as Mucholsky in his brilliant study of Dostoevsky's life and work asserts, in one of the most focused, and in the author's own words, "harmonic and balanced" structures he's ever been able to control.
It's fast and sweet. Boccherini's Quintet No. 4 in D, the fourth movement, a fandango for guitar and strings. Milos Karadaglic's recent recording. You can drink it in a day.
"The object in life of which he had had such a joyful glimpse had suddenly vanished into everlasting darkness."
Corral's poem recalls Robert Frost's "Desert Places" in that a speaker looking celestially outward, gazing at the midnight external, finds himself staring into the center of the mortal self, into the center of a human night. Simic, while writing about the work of Jane Kenyon in Orphan Factory has said about the short lyric of 10-20 lines that the proof is in its voice. His assessment of Kenyon reminds me of both Frost and Corral: "the distance to her at times appears infinite, and that is the cause of her meloncholy. . . . Lyric poetry for her, to paraphrase Chekhov, is that illness for which many remedies are prescribed and for which there's no cure."
The locomotive night is falling fast, oh fast, and in Corral's little coffin for cut moonlight the speed of the vision, and the allure of the poem, relies on the malleability of his metaphor. Like the poets of the deep image in the 60's, or as Bly preferred, the psychic image, Corral is invested in visionary description, and seeing the crescent moon through the midnight window becomes wringing out a ghostly dishrag on his face. The human fever is relieved by the cold rag, and the field of white appears. Like in the work of great romantics, sickness is sight. Transgressively, we find the speaker looking into this white, bare kingdom, the inner landscape of bone. He plucks the thorn. The only truth available to a poet in search of beauty is death. The distance the poet finds is not cosmic so much as it is infinitely small and inside. Like Corral, one has to climb into his grave, sit cross-legged and close his eyes to see The White Nothing. In its Emptiness, Nature is the white night of the self. Even the voice has no where to hide. The elliptical pace of the poem is as necessary to its success as the metaphor, the deep image, the psychic transformation, but I can't get it to copy here. The speed of Corral's lines, breaths, and image-making is true of most of what I've seen in his forthcoming Yale prize winning collection, Slow Lightning.
I'm going to steal it.
I think I now I'm moving on to some Beckett, something with ominous constellation.
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