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The Alternate Poetry Movement

I have been interested, for some time, in the phenomenology of cities, and the e
ver-widening gulf between them and their food supplies, between their inhabitant
s and every form of sustinence. When I discovered 'The Purse-Seine', it seemed
to me just perfect.
When I read the remarks by 'this thing here', over in the WalMart thread, it became more than perfect :

The poem which I discovered was merely a snippet, the fast-food version. If you enjoy Romantic Poetry, the complete poem is a satisfying meal. I include both.

When you have finished, read again Marcos' poem, 'HastaCuando?', posted by 'Migratory Bird'. Think about the Zapatistas, and the maquiladoras, about how silver was extracted from the great mine at Potosi, and about the ongoing project to strip the Pacific rain-forest.

** ** ** ** **

The Purse-Seine

We have geared the machines and locked all together
into interdependence

We have built the great cities;
now there is no escape.

We have gathered vast populations incapable of free survival

Insulated from the strong earth,
each person he himself helpless, on all dependent,

The circle is closed,
and the net is being hauled in.

-- Robinson Jeffers (1937)

** ** ** ** **

The Purse-Seine

Our sardine fishermen work at night in the dark
of the moon; daylight or moonlight
They could not tell where to spread the net,
unable to see the phosphorescence of the
shoals of fish.
They work northward from Monterey, coasting
Santa Cruz; off New Year's Point or off
Pigeon Point
The look-out man will see some lakes of milk-color
light on the sea's night-purple; he points,
and the helmsman
Turns the dark prow, the motorboat circles the
gleaming shoal and drifts out her seine-net.
They close the circle
And purse the bottom of the net, then with great
labor haul it in.

I cannot tell you
How beautiful the scene is, and a little terrible,
then, when the crowded fish
Know they are caught, and wildly beat from one wall
to the other of their closing destiny the
Water to a pool of flame, each beautiful slender body
sheeted with flame, like a live rocket
A comet's tail wake of clear yellow flame; while outside
the narrowing
Floats and cordage of the net great sea-lions come up
to watch, sighing in the dark; the vast walls
of night
Stand erect to the stars.

Lately I was looking from a night mountain-top
On a wide city, the colored splendor, galaxies of light:
how could I help but recall the seine-net
Gathering the luminous fish? I cannot tell you how
beautiful the city appeared, and a little terrible.
I thought, We have geared the machines and locked all together
into inter-dependence; we have built the great cities; now
There is no escape. We have gathered vast populations incapable
of free survival, insulated
From the strong earth, each person in himself helpless, on all
dependent. The circle is closed, and the net
Is being hauled in. They hardly feel the cords drawing, yet
they shine already. The inevitable mass-disasters
Will not come in our time nor in our children's, but we
and our children
Must watch the net draw narrower, government take all
powers--or revolution, and the new government
Take more than all, add to kept bodies kept souls--or anarchy,
the mass-disasters.

These things are Progress;
Do you marvel our verse is troubled or frowning, while it keeps
its reason? Or it lets go, lets the mood flow
In the manner of the recent young men into mere hysteria,
splintered gleams, crackled laughter. But they are
quite wrong.
There is no reason for amazement: surely one always knew
that cultures decay, and life's end is death.

-- Robinson Jeffers (1937)

** ** ** ** **

Jeffers was a bit of a social darwinist,
like almost everyone of his generation.

And perhaps of our own.
Bill! This is a great connection! Even our thoughts are crowded.... 08.Feb.2004 10:54

Migratory Bird

This is amazing... I am very impressed with these poems. The imagery creates a strength of argument that is amazing. It is almost like speaking to the author as your eyes stray about him and you suddenly grok it all exactly. Maybe.

I love it when you do this movement becuase suddenly my whole being is lit up by anothers research, anothers ideas, anothers soul scope poem.

Especially because you pick great poetry.

Blushing 08.Feb.2004 18:44


Thank you.

there are so many great poems
English Lit is such a wasteland
intellectual Agent Orange
spiritual shells DU incoming