First Movement: "And out of olde bokes, in good feith"

by Louis Zukofsky

Voice of Jesus I. Rush singing
in the wilderness
A boy's best friend is his mother.
It's your mother all the time.
Residue of Oedipus-faced wrecks.
Creating out of the dead, —
From the candle flames of the souls of dead mothers
Vide the legend of thin Christ sending her out of the temple, —
Books from the stony heart, flames rapping the stone,
Residue of self-exiled men
By the Tyrrhenian.
But everywhere only the South Wind, the sirocco, the broken Earth-face.
The broken Earth-face, the age demands an image of its life and contacts,
Lord, lord, not that we pray, are sure of the question,
But why are our finest always dead?
And why, Lord, this time, is it Mauberly's Luini in porcelain, why is it Chelifer,
Why is it Lovat who killed Kangaroo,
Why Stephen Daedalus with the cane of ash,
But why les neiges?
And why, if all of Mary's Observations have been made
Have not the lambs become more sapient drinking of the spring;
Kerith is long dry, and the ravens that brought the prophet bread
Are dust in the waste land of a raven-winged evening.
And why if the waste land has been explored, traveled over, circumscribed,
Are there only wrathless skeletons exhumed new planted in its sacred wood,
Why — heir, long dead — Odysseus, wandering of ten years
Out-journeyed only by our Stephen, bibbing of a day,
O why is that to Hecuba as Hecuba to he!

You are cra-a-zee on the subject of babies, says she,
That is because somehow our authors have been given a woman's intuition.
Il y a un peu trop de femme in this South Wind.
And on the cobblestones, bang, bang, bang, myself like the wheels —
The tram passes singing
O do you take this life as your lawful wife,
I do!
O the Time is 5
I do!
O the Time is 5
I do!
O do you take these friends as your loves to wive,
O the Time is 5
I do!

For it's the hoo-doos, the somethin' voo-doos
And not Kings onelie, but the wisest men
Graue Socrates, what says Marlowe?
For it was myself seemed held
Beating — beating —
Body trembling as over an hors d'oeuvres —

And the dream ending — Dalloway! Dalloway —
The blind portals opening, and I awoke!

Let me be
Not by art have we lived,
Not by graven images forbidden to us
Not by letters I fancy,
Do we dare say
With Spinoza grinding lenses, Rabbaisi,
After living on Cathedral Parkway?

Last updated April 28, 2023