Ich weiss nicht, was soll es bedeuten dass ich so traurig bin


Lyric Poetry

Sung to the lyre, it has a certain fascination. American lyrics from Irish ballads to Emily Dickinson to Annie Finch. Whitman, that lyric maelstrom. What about Heine? Could any man write these lyrics now? Is lyric poetry only written by women today? And then there’s Dylan (Bob) with the “lowest form” of lyric: the song lyric.

Most poetry is lyric, isn’t it?




………………………………….What happens to a dream deferred?

………………………………….Does it dry up
………………………………….like a raisin in the sun?
………………………………….Or fester like a sore—
………………………………….And then run?
………………………………….Does it stink like rotten meat?
………………………………….Or crust and sugar over—
………………………………….like a syrupy sweet?

………………………………….Maybe it just sags
………………………………… like a heavy load.

………………………………….Or does it explode?

………………………………………………………………..Langston Hughes



  1. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2010 at 11:17 am

    FINALLY (slowly, in D minor)

    Finally, your heart decides.
    Finally, you try all the rides.
    Finally, you love in the spring.

    Finally, it all makes sense,
    Finally, there’s no coincidence.

    Finally, you catch her eye.
    Finally, your lips say, ‘hi.’
    Finally, you love in the spring.

    Finally, you have your say.
    Finally, she looks your way.

    Finally, you jump right in.
    Finally, you play to win.
    Finally, you love in the spring.

  2. Danteday said,

    March 28, 2010 at 11:25 am


    This is the one song everyone
    would like to learn: the song
    that is irresistible:

    the song that forces men
    to leap overboard in squadrons
    even though they see beached skulls

    the song nobody knows
    because anyone who had heard it
    is dead, and the others can’t remember.
    Shall I tell you the secret
    and if I do, will you get me
    out of this bird suit?
    I don’t enjoy it here
    squatting on this island
    looking picturesque and mythical
    with these two feathery maniacs,
    I don’t enjoy singing
    this trio, fatal and valuable.

    I will tell the secret to you,
    to you, only to you.
    Come closer. This song

    is a cry for help: Help me!
    Only you, only you can,
    you are unique

    at last. Alas
    it is a boring song
    but it works every time.

    ………………………………. Margaret Atwood

  3. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2010 at 11:44 am

    Die Lorelei

    What does it denote,
    This terrible sadness in me,
    This old story of a boat
    Which sailed near rocks in the sea,
    When the late day merely lay
    On the sea that was gentle,
    With its heaving, foaming brine,
    In the dying sunshine?

    The lovely young girl,
    The kind love never possesses,
    Is sitting on a rock,
    Combing her golden tresses.
    She holds a golden comb,
    She sings a song with a free
    Rhythm that aspires to roam
    With a beautiful melody.

    A man steering the boat
    Hears the song with a wild ache,
    Does he see the boat might break
    On the rocks? No, for the sake
    Of the song, his boat, turns, lo!
    And now it makes its run.
    And now it can’t be long
    Before I see what the Lorelei has done.

    –Heinrich Heine

  4. Danteday said,

    March 28, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    “I will tell the secret to you,
    to you, only to you.
    Come closer. This song

    is a cry for help: Help me!
    Only you, only you can,
    you are unique

    at last. Alas
    it is a boring song
    but it works every time.”

  5. Anonymous said,

    March 28, 2010 at 12:19 pm

    Mother to Son

    Langston Hughes

    Well, son, I’ll tell you:
    Life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.
    It’s had tacks in it,
    And splinters,
    And boards torn up,
    And places with no carpet on the floor —
    But all the time
    I’se been a-climbin’ on,
    And reachin’ landin’s,
    And turnin’ corners,
    And sometimes goin’ in the dark
    Where there ain’t been no light.
    So boy, don’t you turn back.
    Don’t you set down on the steps
    ‘Cause you finds it’s kinder hard.
    Don’t you fall now —
    For I’se still goin’, honey,
    I’se still climbin’,
    And life for me ain’t been no crystal stair.

    • wfkammann said,

      March 30, 2010 at 5:53 pm

      Thanks for some more great poetry. There’s a flow to great lyrics. Climbing up those crystal stairs.

  6. Bob Tonucci said,

    March 28, 2010 at 12:27 pm

    Sea Bed

    Lewis Buzbee

    there is water at the bottom of the ocean
    – Talking Heads

    On the surface of the storm-torn sea giant ships
    toss about like yellow boats in a bathtub.
    Waves, tall and steep as the Matterhorn,
    crash and cleave the enormous steel hulls of industry,
    and sailors, screaming, die in the tumult and drown.
    When the bloodless corpses sink below the roil, the teeming
    ceases and all is calm, quiet as a California evening.
    Down the blue hushed fathoms of ocean the sailors’
    violated bodies cradle and rock, falling like leaves
    of a Japanese plum – sweet, serene in the death of autumn.
    And that is where I live, in a shell house
    on the moonscape ocean bottom, tucked safe
    in my sea bed, counting the soft rain of dead sailors.

    When did we move here? I can’t remember; the water’s
    always been our home – such ease and calm.
    The sea grasses wave hello, goodbye, ceaseless
    in the blue-green and chill ripples; we mow the sea grass
    once every seven years with our coral scythes. Piperfish
    swim in and out of our shell house door, kiss our puckered
    flesh and swallow the parasites who live there. School
    of dolphin coast past the window, laughing mouths. Eel,
    squid, octopus – an abundance of food. Days (hardly
    decipherable from night) I stay in the house alone and
    play with the dogfish, I talk to the dogfish, only
    she can hear me; we invent stories of the land
    Sea night falls in minutes, stirring of electric eels.

    The sea mother floats in the kitchen;
    the sea father floats in his chair. We eat the lush crab
    in the lights of the blue fire. The sea mother knits kelp
    blankets, drifts off, nods away. The sea father drinks
    from a bottle, drinking underwater a trick he learned in the navy before we
    came here. He drinks from the bottle
    and floats out of the shell house, buoyed. Eight bells
    and all is calm. I paddle down the sea hall, dogfish
    at my heels, and fall to my sea bed, pull the otter pelts
    close to my chin and count through the open window
    the falling leaves – the sailors, the cannons, the ships
    of the tumultuous air world. Eight bells; all is well.
    We are the only five-fathom family; we’ve pearls for eyes.

  7. Danteday said,

    March 28, 2010 at 12:51 pm

    Stop it, Bob — you’re destroying Scarriet with the clutter. What does this have to do with anything but your March Madness?

    Pay attention!

  8. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2010 at 1:27 pm

    The Drowned Mariner by Elizabeth Oakes Smith

    A mariner sat on the shrouds one night;
    The wind was piping free;
    Now bright, now dimmed was the moon-light pale,
    And the phosphor gleamed in the wake of the whale,
    As he floundered in the sea;
    The scud was flying athwart the sky,
    The gathering winds went whistling by,
    And the wave as it towered, then fell in spray,
    Looked an emerald wall in the moonlight ray.

    The mariner swayed and rocked on the mast,
    But the tumult pleased him well;
    Down the yawning wave his eye he cast,
    And the monsters watched as they hurried past
    Or lightly rose and fell;
    For their broad, damp fins were under the tide,
    And they lashed as they passed the vessel’s side,
    And their filmy eyes, all huge and grim,
    Glared fiercely up, and they glared at him.

    Now freshens the gale, and the brave ship goes
    Like an uncurbed steed along;
    A sheet of flame is the spray she throws,
    As her gallant prow the water ploughs,
    But the ship is fleet and strong:
    The topsails are reefed and the sails are furled,
    And onward she sweeps o’er the watery world,
    And dippeth her spars in the surging flood;
    But there came no chill to the mariner’s blood.

    Wildly she rocks, but he swingeth at ease,
    And holds him by the shroud;
    And as she careens to the crowding breeze,
    The gaping deep the mariner sees,
    And the surging heareth loud.
    Was that a face, looking up at him,
    With its pallid cheek and its cold eyes dim?
    Did it beckon him down? did it call his name?
    Now rolleth the ship the way whence it came.

    The mariner looked, and he saw with dread
    A face he knew too well;
    And the cold eyes glared, the eyes of the dead,
    And its long hair out on the wave was spread.
    Was there a tale to tell?
    The stout ship rocked with a reeling speed,
    And the mariner groaned, as well he need;
    For, ever, down as she plunged on her side,
    The dead face gleamed from the briny tide.

    Bethink thee, mariner, well, of the past,—
    A voice calls loud for thee:—
    There’s a stifled prayer, the first, the last;—
    The plunging ship on her beam is cast,—
    Oh, where shall thy burial be?
    Bethink thee of oaths that were lightly spoken,
    Bethink thee of vows that were lightly broken,
    Bethink thee of all that is dear to thee,
    For thou art alone on the raging sea:

    Alone in the dark, alone on the wave,
    To buffet the storm alone,
    To struggle aghast at thy watery grave,
    To struggle and feel there is none to save,—
    God shield thee, helpless one!
    The stout limbs yield, for their strength is past,
    The trembling hands on the deep are cast,
    The white brow gleams a moment more,
    Then slowly sinks—the struggle is o’er.

    Down, down where the storm is hushed to sleep,
    Where the sea its dirge shall swell,
    Where the amber drops for thee shall weep,
    And the rose-lipped shell her music keep,
    There thou shalt slumber well.
    The gem and the pearl lie heaped at thy side,
    They fell from the neck of the beautiful bride,
    From the strong man’s hand, from the maiden’s brow,
    As they slowly sunk to the wave below.

    A peopled home is the ocean bed;
    The mother and child are there;
    The fervent youth and the hoary head,
    The maid, with her floating locks outspread,
    The babe with its silken hair;
    As the water moveth they lightly sway,
    And the tranquil lights on their features play;
    And there is each cherished and beautiful form,
    Away from decay, and away from the storm.

  9. Danteday said,

    March 28, 2010 at 1:31 pm

    You too, Tom — you’re Bob’s clone.

    Stop it.

    Read a bit instead of talking and repeating. See if any of it clicks.

  10. Wfkammann said,

    March 28, 2010 at 9:42 pm

    Who is the “I” in the last line of your ‘translation’?

  11. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2010 at 9:48 pm


    The poet.

    The ‘I’ in the last line is the same as the ‘I’ in the first line… ich weiss nicht…

    We should put the German poem up, shouldn’t we? I took a few liberties with my translation…


  12. thomasbrady said,

    March 28, 2010 at 10:51 pm

    Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
    Daß ich so traurig bin,
    Ein Märchen aus uralten Zeiten,
    Das kommt mir nicht aus dem Sinn.
    Die Luft ist kühl und es dunkelt,
    Und ruhig fließt der Rhein;
    Der Gipfel des Berges funkelt,
    Im Abendsonnenschein.

    Die schönste Jungfrau sitzet
    Dort oben wunderbar,
    Ihr gold’nes Geschmeide blitzet,
    Sie kämmt ihr goldenes Haar,
    Sie kämmt es mit goldenem Kamme,
    Und singt ein Lied dabei;
    Das hat eine wundersame,
    Gewalt’ge Melodei.

    Den Schiffer im kleinen Schiffe,
    Ergreift es mit wildem Weh;
    Er schaut nicht die Felsenriffe,
    Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’.
    Ich glaube, die Wellen verschlingen
    Am Ende Schiffer und Kahn,
    Und das hat mit ihrem Singen,
    Die Loreley getan.

  13. Wfkammann said,

    March 29, 2010 at 1:12 am

    Take Germany out of the poem and you take Heine out. In effect this eliminates the poet and replaces him with???

    • thomasbrady said,

      March 29, 2010 at 1:43 am


      I agree with you that translation is problematic.

      You take the German language out of the poem and you take Germany out and even Heine out. That’s very strongly put, and I think some might disagree with you there, but I’ll accept that.

      Even if Heine is transcending, he’s doing it through the German language, through the very specific sound-thoughts of his poem.


  14. Danteday said,

    March 29, 2010 at 1:13 am

    Thomas Brady wrote in the parody called “Margaret Atwood “Bores” into Franz Wright’s “Bright:”

    The poet’s like the spider sitting in her web, and you, the little fly, get stuck in those words covered up in the stickiness of obligation. The poet will cry and you’ll be a mean man, and if you don’t like the poem all the mothers and the grandmothers and the children will hate you forever.

    The critic, however, eats grandmothers for breakfast.

    No, the reality’s different. The truth is quite, quite different.

    The handsome critic gives you no obligation to like what he or she is saying. The critic doesn’t trick you with ambiguous meanings and lure you in with confusing words all smothered with the stickiness of horrid obligation. The critic explains it and you take it or leave it. There’s no trickery. The critic’s whole purpose is to untangle trickery and wash away the stickiness of endless obligation in Letters and polite society. The critic says there’s a web here and a web there and here’s the flower upon which you want to land. And we agree or disagree–without any sticky obligation to love something.


    Wfkammann asks on “Ich weiß nicht, was soll es bedeuten,
Daß ich so traurig bin:”

    Who is the “I” in the last line of your ‘translation’?

    Thomas Brady replies:

    ”The ‘I’ in the last line is the same as the ‘I’ in the first line… ich weiss nicht…”

    Oh no, the critic doesn’t trick you with ambiguous meanings and lure you in with confusing words all smothered with the stickiness of horrid obligation. The critic explains it and you take it or leave it. There’s no trickery.

    Only the critic can’t read the question anymore than the critic can read the answer or the poem. This critic is, by his own admission, Wittgenstein on Youtube. http://scarriet.wordpress.com/2010/03/21/margaret-atwood-bores-into-franz-wrights-bright-in-fight-which-will-cut-it-to-eight/#comment-1320

  15. thomasbrady said,

    March 29, 2010 at 1:55 am

    In Heine’s poem, there’s two things going on: first, the poet reflecting on his sadness and second, the story of the Lorelei itself. The poem does not tell the story; the poet within the poem tells the story. I think that’s very important.

    • Wfkammann said,

      March 29, 2010 at 4:50 pm

      And just why is that so important?

  16. Danteday said,

    March 29, 2010 at 2:00 am

    The whole thrust of the poem is in the “Ich weiß nicht…Ich glaube” movement — “und das hat mit ihrem Singen, Die Loreley getan.”

    That’s what Margaret Atwood plays on so brilliantly in her poem, “Siren Song,” and why it’s so applicable to what is happening on Scarriet right now as it goes on singing on the rocks.

    I will tell the secret to you,
    to you, only to you.
    Come closer. This song

    is a cry for help: Help me!
    Only you, only you can,
    you are unique

    at last. Alas
    it is a boring song
    but it works every time.”

    It’s a boring song but it works every time.

  17. Wfkammann said,

    March 29, 2010 at 4:46 pm

    That’s right: Ich weiss nichtIch glaube.

    Tom takes out the Rhine and puts in the ocean. The old Maerchen is not Odysseus but the syphilitic German prostitute (sweetheart). The mesmerizing lure (Lurelei) of gold. The seven echoes in the Rhine: the powerful disorientation that sends you wrecked below the waves. The last sunlight on the peak at twilight. A glass too many of Liebfraumilch.

    Tom, if you want to post the German, get the words right “aus alten Zeiten.” You are hardly a scholar!

    And, could you take down those two long poems; not to the point.

    “I don’t know” is the prerequisite to “I believe.” But what he believes is a final destruction brought about by the singing.

    The vowels, Tom! Das hat mit Ihrem Singen die Lorelei getan.

  18. thomasbrady said,

    March 29, 2010 at 8:50 pm

    I would love to see your translation, Bill!

  19. Wfkammann said,

    March 29, 2010 at 10:56 pm

    I would love to believe you had actually understood the German.

  20. thomasbrady said,

    March 29, 2010 at 11:03 pm

    Translation, please.

  21. wfkammann said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:36 am

    The Lorelei

    I can’t untangle a meaning.
    Deep sadness hems me in.
    An ancient folk song’s keening
    Enchants my soul again.
    The air is cool in the evening
    And gently flows the Rhine.
    The cliffs and the precipice beaming
    In gasps of twilight sunshine.

    The loveliest virgin sits listening
    Up there, so young; so fair.
    Her golden jewels are glistening;
    She combs her golden hair.
    Her golden comb moves slowly.
    She sings a song to the sea.
    It echoes a plaintive; holy
    Hypnotic melody.

    The sailor below in the river
    Is flooded with feelings of pain.
    The rocks and the shoals are a shiver.
    Look up! Can’t you see? All is vain.
    I’ve faith that the waves will uncover
    The ship and the sailor at dawn.
    The Lorelei’s song was his lover;
    The Lorelei’s singing goes on.

  22. thomasbrady said,

    March 30, 2010 at 2:36 am

    Nice, Bill. I really like it. sehr gut!

    • Wfkammann said,

      March 30, 2010 at 3:15 am

      Don’t try to be nice. Please take those Ancient Mariners down and think before you post here. Thanks

  23. thomasbrady said,

    March 30, 2010 at 10:43 am


    I’m confused. What sorts of things may and may not be posted here, in this lyric poetry thread? What criteria, exactly, are you laying down? It might help everyone if you provided a list of do’s and don’ts. Thanks.


  24. Wfkammann said,

    March 30, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    Tom: a bad leader and worse follower. Dealing with you is like asking Narcissus to look up from the water for a moment. Carry on! That was only a suggestion to you, and, it seems, you don’t take suggestions.

  25. wfkammann said,

    March 30, 2010 at 4:29 pm

    Nothing Gold Can Stay

    Nature’s first green is gold,
    Her hardest hue to hold.
    Her early leaf’s a flower;
    But only so an hour.
    Then leaf subsides to leaf.
    So Eden sank to grief,
    So dawn goes down to day.
    Nothing gold can stay.

    Like the golden lure of the Lorelei: that spectacular moment when only the mountain tops are lit or like the time when people valued substance over splash. When yearning turns to death and mating plumage is frayed and gray at the edges. Spring comes again, the vermillion fly catcher starts his spectacular mating flight again and again- a soaring and plummeting dash of crimson for all to see. Like the flash of lightning in the night sky, that little hope of goodness momentarily defeats the darkness. Great lyric poems, like a rich Tokaji wine are best savored by those who can appreciate them. Please post or comment on great lyric poetry here.

  26. thomasbrady said,

    March 30, 2010 at 6:14 pm

    Thanks, Bill. Not one of my favorite Frost poems, but OK…

    Frost compares “gold” to “leaf” and the “gold of dawn” to the “day,” but is “leaf” or “day” a good example of: “splash” not “substance?”

    Also, the trope of “nothing gold can stay” is trumped by “nothing can stay.”

    Your post mentions “lyric” and “ballad” and “song” up there in the heading, but this Frost poem, while lyrical, isn’t really a ballad. The Heine is performed as a song. I thought that’s where you were going.

    But thanks for the Frost.

    I really do love your Heine translation, by the way.


    • wfkammann said,

      March 30, 2010 at 7:21 pm

      FOX news has taught us that we can ignore anything we don’t like. Repeat our opinion endlessly and be assured that many will share it in the end.

      early leaf’s a flower (substance) The beauty of the leaf which is a flower subsides to the leaf which is infertile but produces sustenance.
      leaf subsides to leaf (splash)
      dawn (substance) The variety and promise of the “rosy fingered” dawn goes down to the glaring heat of day. The subtileties of light must always give way.
      goes down to day (splash)
      The splash is the common wit; the arrogance to leave Heine out of his own poem and put his name at the bottom. Read the Buch der Lieder again and you’ll see what I mean. Not everyone is a sunflower, Tom. Yes, nothing can stay but some don’t even notice the changes. Lyric Poetry explores the subtle and profound flow of those changes. This is not bridge. There is no trump card!

      Die Lotosblume

      Die Lotosblume ängstigt
      Sich vor der Sonne Pracht
      Und mit gesenktem Haupte
      Erwartet sie träumend die Nacht.
      Der Mond, der ist ihr Buhle
      Er weckt sie mit seinem Licht,
      Und ihm entschleiert sie freundlich
      Ihr frommes Blumengesicht,
      Sie blüht und glüht und leuchtet
      Und starret stumm in die Höh’;
      Sie duftet und weinet und zittert
      Vor Liebe und Liebesweh.

      Compare the lines

      Er schaut nur hinauf in die Höh’
      Und starret stumm in die Höh’

      Why does Heine use this image of looking upward and equate it with the pain of love and death? Some are Lotuses, Tom. Are you? Some feel the pain, Tom. Do you? The Germans have the expression “Stubenrein.” Children are not allowed into the parlor until they pass this test.

  27. wfkammann said,

    April 8, 2010 at 4:57 pm


    It is no night to drown in:
    A full moon, river lapsing
    Black beneath bland mirror-sheen,

    The blue water-mists dropping
    Scrim after scrim like fishnets
    Though fishermen are sleeping,

    The massive castle turrets
    Doubling themselves in a glass
    All stillness. Yet these shapes float

    Up toward me, troubling the face
    Of quiet. From the nadir
    They rise, their limbs ponderous

    With richness, hair heavier
    Than sculptured marble. They sing
    Of a world more full and clear

    Than can be. Sisters, your song
    Bears a burden too weighty
    For the whorled ear’s listening

    Here, in a well-steered country,
    Under a balanced ruler.
    Deranging by harmony

    Beyond the mundane order,
    Your voices lay siege. You lodge
    On the pitched reefs of nightmare,

    Promising sure harborage;
    By day, descant from borders
    Of hebetude, from the ledge

    Also of high windows. Worse
    Even than your maddening
    Song, your silence. At the source

    Of your ice-hearted calling —
    Drunkenness of the great depths.
    O river, I see drifting

    Deep in your flux of silver
    Those great goddesses of peace.
    Stone, stone, ferry me down there.



    Even than your maddening
    Song, your silence.”

    “O river, I see drifting

    Deep in your flux of silver
    Those great goddesses of peace.
    Stone, stone, ferry me down there.”

    Not lured by passion, but by silence and peace.

    “With richness, hair heavier
    Than sculptured marble. They sing
    Of a world more full and clear

    Than can be. Sisters, your song
    Bears a burden too weighty
    For the whorled ear’s listening”

    Compelled by a mad beauty. An insanity underlying the orderly German life. Not Liebestod only der Tod.

  28. wfkammann said,

    April 8, 2010 at 5:05 pm


    You’ll find — it when you try to die —
    The Easier to let go —
    For recollecting such as went —
    You could not spare — you know.

    And though their places somewhat filled —
    As did their Marble names
    With Moss — they never grew so full —
    You chose the newer names —

    And when this World — sets further back —
    As Dying — say it does —
    The former love — distincter grows —
    And supersedes the fresh —

    And Thought of them — so fair invites —
    It looks too tawdry Grace
    To stay behind — with just the Toys
    We bought — to ease their place —

    -Emily Dickinson

    “You’ll find–it when you try to die–“
    -Emily Dickinson

    When there are no words left to live, 

    I have elected hers

    to haunt me till my margins give

    around me, web and bone.

    Her voice has vanished through my own.

    She makes me like a stone

    the falling leaves will sink and stay

    not over, but upon.

    -Annie Finch

  29. thomasbrady said,

    April 8, 2010 at 7:09 pm


    Your defense of “Nothing Gold Can Stay” is not convincing.

    Your whole approach is too pedantic. It shows in your schoolmaster tone with me and also here in your translation of Heine’s poem, which I have praised, but if there is a fault, it is this voice which is a little to eager to tell the reader what to think:

    Look up! Can’t you see? All is vain.
    I’ve faith that the waves will uncover
    The ship and the sailor at dawn.
    The Lorelei’s song was his lover;
    The Lorelei’s singing goes on.

    I do like this, as I’ve said. The assonance of ‘song,’ ‘lover,’ ‘goes on’ is lovely. But Heine never says “The Lorelei’s song was his lover,” which is OK, because after all, no translation is precise, but this is highly didactic; comparing a ‘song’ to a ‘lover’ is metaphoric straining; the line, and the whole passage, sounds more like a professor than a poet under a puzzling, melancholy spell.


    • Wfkammann said,

      April 8, 2010 at 10:43 pm

      The way you write, I’m surprised you know what a professor sounds like.

    • Wfkammann said,

      April 8, 2010 at 10:45 pm

      Also, if the poet were under a puzzling melancholy spell he wouldn’t be able to write poetry like this.

  30. Wfkammann said,

    April 8, 2010 at 10:41 pm

    Good thing I didn’t thank you for your earlier praise. The schoolmaster in me sensed your inherent insincerity. We have your translation up front. I won’t waste ink on it. Go back to sports writing, Marla!

  31. wfkammann said,

    April 9, 2010 at 3:31 am

    Here’s a Bob Dylan lyric for you, Tom.

    Nobody feels any pain
    Tonight as I stand inside the rain
    Ev’rybody knows
    That Baby’s got new clothes
    But lately I see her ribbons and her bows
    Have fallen from her curls.
    She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
    She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
    And she aches just like a woman
    But she breaks just like a little girl.

    Queen Mary, she’s my friend
    Yes, I believe I’ll go see her again
    Nobody has to guess
    That Baby can’t be blessed
    Till she sees finally that she’s like all the rest
    With her fog, her amphetamine and her pearls.
    She takes just like a woman, yes, she does
    She makes love just like a woman, yes, she does
    And she aches just like a woman
    But she breaks just like a little girl.

    It was raining from the first
    And I was dying there of thirst
    So I came in here
    And your long-time curse hurts
    But what’s worse
    Is this pain in here
    I can’t stay in here
    Ain’t it clear that–

    I just can’t fit
    Yes, I believe it’s time for us to quit
    When we meet again
    Introduced as friends
    Please don’t let on that you knew me when
    I was hungry and it was your world.
    Ah, you fake just like a woman, yes, you do
    You make love just like a woman, yes, you do
    Then you ache just like a woman
    But you break just like a little girl.

    They brought the Ecce Homo out of the Santa Escuela for Good Friday. This ancient talisman is called “The Rain Maker” and tonight the first rain fell. The figure is an ancient Indian with gnarled fingers and a look to stop a clock or start a gusher. The figures of Christ at the pillar, Mary and John went past the house last night on their way back to Atotonilco. The street was full of drumming and Indian dances. The crowds walk the seven miles they walked two weeks ago to bring the figures in to the San Juan de Dios Church. They passed us at quarter to one in the morning. When they came they passed at sunrise although Akshobya blue was still in the sky.

    • thomasbrady said,

      April 9, 2010 at 2:37 pm

      Thanks, Bill.

      ‘Blonde on Blonde’ is perhaps one of the best records ever made.

      I always liked this, too:

      It’s only a paper moon
      Over a cardboard sea,
      But I’ll believe in make-believe
      If you’ll believe in me

      Zimmerman was a sponge, absorbed all the tricks of popular song, took out the cute, embraced stanzaic virtuosity. Boil down Dylan and 90% of it is tin pan alley love song. Dylan’s an antidote to all those modernist nincompoops who decided to make poetry out of “thes,” “ands,” and “buts.”


  32. thomasbrady said,

    April 9, 2010 at 11:10 am

    I still love your translation, Bill. But nothing gold can stay.

    It’s not that you didn’t defend the Frost poem admirably; it just that the poem is tin. The poem refuses to be defended.

    The poem is a poorly worked-out conceit and as a sound-product it’s boring; it sounds like an advertisement: nothing gold can stay…fish on sale today

    You have to be critical to really enjoy poetry…most people just don’t get that, they’re so eager to…to like everything….and it betrays the fact that they don’t really like anything at all…it’s why they get so terrifically rude when you don’t agree with them…

    • Wfkammann said,

      April 9, 2010 at 11:21 pm

      Doubt that you ever observed Spring foliage. The poem is based on a close observation of the way plants grow. If you watch leaves bud out (e. g. Forsythia) you would see bright gold give way to green. Then we associate “Golden Age=Eden). Leaf subsides to leaf. Both the flower and leaf are leaves. The golden Adam decks himself in green leaves. And golden dawn goes down to the harsh light of day. It’s a fine poem. Compare it to your translation if you want to see just how “golden” it is. You misquote “Paper Moon” you’re not careful when you write. You should be!

    • Wfkammann said,

      April 9, 2010 at 11:25 pm

      Loved the way you handled Desmond’s Customer Service request. You ARE a professional; no doubt.

  33. Christopher Woodman said,

    April 9, 2010 at 4:59 pm



    Thomas Brady and Robert Mitcham. They get so angry when you don’t agree with them. But will they explain their prejudices, will they let you in on their dark secrets?

    Did you see the film on Scarriet? And you still ask?

  34. wfkammann said,

    April 10, 2010 at 1:39 am

    That great lyric maelstrom, Walt Whitman. A Buddha of a poet.

    When Lilacs Last in the Dooryard Bloom’d

    from Memories of President Lincoln

    When lilacs last in the dooryard bloom’d,
    And the great star early droop’d in the western sky in the night,
    I mourn’d, and yet shall mourn with ever-returning spring.
    Ever-returning spring, trinity sure to me you bring,
    Lilac blooming perennial and drooping star in the west,
    And thought of him I love.

    O powerful western fallen star!
    O shades of night — O moody, tearful night!
    O great star disappear’d — O the black murk that hides the star!
    O cruel hands that hold me powerless — O helpless soul of me!
    O harsh surrounding cloud that will not free my soul.

    In the dooryard fronting an old farm-house near the white-wash’d palings,
    Stands the lilac-bush tall-growing with heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    With many a pointed blossom rising delicate, with the perfume strong I love,
    With every leaf a miracle — and from this bush in the dooryard,
    With delicate-color’d blossoms and heart-shaped leaves of rich green,
    A sprig with its flower I break.

    In the swamp in secluded recesses,
    A shy and hidden bird is warbling a song.
    Solitary the thrush,
    The hermit withdrawn to himself, avoiding the settlements,
    Sings by himself a song.
    Song of the bleeding throat,
    Death’s outlet song of life, (for well dear brother I know,
    If thou wast not granted to sing, thou would’st surely die.)

    Over the breast of the spring, the land, amid cities,
    Amid lanes and through old woods, where lately the violets peep’d from the ground, spotting the gray debris,
    Amid the grass in the fields each side of the lanes, passing the endless grass,
    Passing the yellow-spear’d wheat, every grain from its shroud in the dark-brown fields uprisen,
    Passing the apple-tree blows of white and pink in the orchards,
    Carrying a corpse to where it shall rest in the grave,
    Night and day journeys a coffin.

    Coffin that passes through lanes and streets,
    Through day and night with the great cloud darkening the land,
    With the pomp of the inloop’d flags with the cities draped in black,
    With the show of the States themselves as of crepe-veil’d women standing,
    With processions long and winding and the flambeaus of the night,
    With the countless torches lit, with the silent sea of faces and the unbared heads,
    With the waiting depot, the arriving coffin, and the sombre faces,
    With dirges through the night, with the thousand voices rising strong and solemn,
    With all the mournful voices of the dirges pour’d around the coffin,
    The dim-lit churches and the shuddering organs — where amid these you journey,
    With the tolling bells’ perpetual clang,
    Here, coffin that slowly passes,
    I give you a sprig of lilac.

    (Nor for you, for one alone,
    Blossoms and branches green to coffins all I bring,
    For fresh as the morning, thus would I chant a song for you O sane and sacred death.
    All over bouquets of roses,
    O death, I cover you with roses and early lilies,
    But mostly and now the lilac that blooms the first,
    Copious I break, I break the sprigs from the bushes,
    With loaded arms I come, pouring for you,
    For you and the coffins all of you, O death.)

    O western orb sailing the heaven,
    Now I know what you must have meant as a month since I walk’d,
    As I walk’d in silence the transparent shadowy night,
    As I saw you had something to tell as you bent to me night after night,
    As you droop’d from the sky low down as if to my side, (while the other stars all look’d on,)
    As we wander’d together the solemn night, (for something I know not what kept me from sleep,)
    As the night advanced, and I saw on the rim of the west how full you were of woe,
    As I stood on the rising ground in the breeze in the cool transparent night,
    As I watch’d where you pass’d and was lost in the netherward black of the night,
    As my soul in its trouble dissatisfied sank, as where you sad orb,
    Concluded, dropt in the night, and was gone.

    Sing on there in the swamp,
    O singer bashful and tender, I hear your notes, I hear your call,
    I hear, I come presently, I understand you,
    But a moment I linger, for the lustrous star has detain’d me,
    The star my departing comrade holds and detains me.

    O how shall I warble myself for the dead one there I loved?
    And how shall I deck my soul for the large sweet soul that has gone?
    And what shall my perfume be for the grave of him I love?
    Sea-winds blown from the east and west,
    Blown from the Eastern sea and blown from the Western sea, till there on the prairies meeting,
    These and with these and the breath of my chant,
    I’ll perfume the grave of him I love.

    O what shall I hang on the chamber walls?
    And what shall the pictures be that I hang on the walls,
    To adorn the burial-house of him I love?
    Pictures of growing spring and farms and homes,
    With the Fourth-month eve at sundown, and the gray smoke lucid and bright,
    With floods of the yellow gold of the gorgeous, indolent, sinking sun, burning, expanding the air,
    With the fresh sweet herbage under foot, and the pale green leaves of the trees prolific,
    In the distance of the flowing glaze, the breast of the river, with a wind-dapple here and there,
    With ranging hills on the banks, with many a line against the sky, and shadows,
    And the city at hand with dwellings so dense, and stacks of chimneys,
    And all the scenes of life and the workshops, and the workmen homeward returning.

    Lo, body and soul — this land,
    My own Manhattan with spires, and the sparkling and hurrying tides, and the ships,
    The varied and ample land, the South and the North in the light, Ohio’s shores and flashing Missouri,
    And ever the far-spreading prairies cover’d with grass and corn.
    Lo, the most excellent sun so calm and haughty,
    The violet and purple morn with just-felt breezes,
    The gentle soft-born measureless light,
    The miracle spreading bathing all, the fulfill’d noon,
    The coming eve delicious, the welcome night and the stars,
    Over my cities shining all, enveloping man and land.

    Sing on, sing on, you gray-brown bird,
    Sing from the swamps, the recesses, pour your chant from the bushes,
    Limitless out of the dusk, out of the cedars and pines.
    Sing on dearest brother, warble your reedy song,
    Loud human song, with voice of uttermost woe.
    O liquid and free and tender!
    O wild and loose to my soul — O wondrous singer!
    You only I hear — yet the star holds me, (but will soon depart,)
    Yet the lilac with mastering odor holds me.

    Now while I sat in the day and look’d forth,
    In the close of the day with its light and the fields of spring, and the farmers preparing their crops,
    In the large unconscious scenery of my land with its lakes and forests,
    In the heavenly aerial beauty, (after the perturb’d winds and storms,)
    Under the arching heavens of the afternoon swift passing, and the voices of children and women,
    The many-moving sea-tides, and I saw the ships how they sail’d,
    And the summer approaching with richness, and the fields all busy with labor,
    And the infinite separate houses, how they all went on, each with its meals and minutia of daily usages,
    And the streets how their throbbings throbb’d, and the cities pent — lo, then and there,
    Falling upon them all and among them all, enveloping me with the rest,
    Appear’d the cloud, appear’d the long black trail,
    And I knew death, its thought, and the sacred knowledge of death.
    Then with the knowledge of death as walking one side of me,
    And the thought of death close-walking the other side of me,
    And I in the middle as with companions, and as holding the hands of companions,
    I fled forth to the hiding receiving night that talks not,
    Down to the shores of the water, the path by the swamp in the dimness,
    To the solemn shadowy cedars and the ghostly pines so still.
    And the singer so shy to the rest receiv’d me,
    The gray-brown bird I know received us comrades three,
    And he sang the carol of death, and a verse for him I love.
    >From deep secluded recesses,
    >From the fragrant cedars and the ghostly pines so still,
    Came the carol of the bird.
    And the charm of the carol rapt me,
    As I held as if by their hands my comrades in the night,
    And the voice of my spirit tallied the song of the bird.
    Come lovely and soothing death,
    Undulate round the world, serenely arriving, arriving,
    In the day, in the night, to all, to each,
    Sooner or later delicate death.
    Prais’d be the fathomless universe,
    For life and joy, and for objects and knowledge curious,
    And for love, sweet love — but praise! praise! praise!
    For the sure-enwinding arms of cool-enfolding death.
    Dark mother always gliding near with soft feet,
    Have none chanted for thee a chant of fullest welcome?
    Then I chant it for thee, I glorify thee above all,
    I bring thee a song that when thou must indeed come, come unfalteringly.
    Approach strong deliveress,
    When it is so, when you have taken them I joyously sing the dead,
    Lost in the loving floating ocean of thee,
    Laved in the flood of thy bliss, O death.
    From me to thee glad serenades,
    Dances for thee I propose saluting thee, adornments and feastings for thee,
    And the sights of the open landscape and the high-spread sky are fitting,
    And life and the fields, and the huge and thoughtful night.
    The night in silence under many a star,
    The ocean shore and the husky whispering wave whose voice I know,
    And the soul turning to thee O vast and well-veil’d death,
    And the body gratefully nestling close to thee.
    Over the treetops I float thee a song,
    Over the rising and sinking waves, over the myriad fields and the prairies wide,
    Over the dense-packed cities and all the teeming wharves and ways,
    I float this carol with joy, with joy to thee O death.

    To the tally of my soul,
    Loud and strong kept up the gray-brown bird,
    With pure deliberate notes spreading filling the night.
    Loud in the pines and cedars dim,
    Clear in the freshness moist and the swamp-perfume,
    And I with my comrades there in the night.
    While my sight that was bound in my eyes unclosed,
    As to long panoramas of visions.
    And I saw askant the armies,
    I saw as in noiseless dreams hundreds of battle-flags,
    Borne through the smoke of the battles and pierced with missiles I saw them,
    And carried hither and yon through the smoke and torn and bloody,
    And at last but a few shreds left on the staffs, (all in silence,)
    And the staffs all splinter’d and broken.
    I saw battle-corpses, myriads of them,
    And the white skeletons of young men, I saw them,
    I saw the debris and debris of all the dead soldiers of the war,
    But I saw they were not as was thought,
    They themselves were fully at rest, they suffer’d not,
    The living remain’d and suffer’d, the mother suffer’d,
    And the wife and the child and the musing comrade suffer’d,
    And the armies that remain’d suffer’d.

    Passing the visions, passing the night,
    Passing, unloosing the hold of my comrades’ hands,
    Passing the song of the hermit bird and the tallying song of my soul,
    Victorious song, death’s outlet song, yet varying ever-altering song,
    As low and wailing, yet clear the notes, rising and falling, flooding the night,
    Sadly sinking and fainting, as warning and warning, and yet again bursting with joy,
    Covering the earth and filling the spread of the heaven,
    As that powerful psalm in the night I heard from recesses,
    Passing, I leave thee lilac with heart-shaped leaves,
    I leave thee there in the door-yard, blooming, returning with spring.
    I cease from my song for thee,
    From my gaze on thee in the west, fronting the west, communing with thee,
    O comrade lustrous with silver face in the night.
    Yet each to keep and all, retrievements out of the night,
    The song, the wondrous chant of the gray-brown bird,
    And the tallying chant, the echo arous’d in my soul,
    With the lustrous and drooping star with the countenance full of woe,
    With the holders holding my hand nearing the call of the bird,
    Comrades mine and I in the midst, and their memory ever to keep for the dead I loved so well,
    For the sweetest, wisest soul of all my days and lands — and this for his dear sake,
    Lilac and star and bird twined with the chant of my soul,
    There in the fragrant pines and the cedars dusk and dim.

    Walt Whitman (1865)

    Try playing the song slowed down.


  35. Christopher Woodman said,

    April 10, 2010 at 6:21 am

    Mesmerizing — one of the most wonderful sound experiences of my life. And then to read the Whitman again right after, and get to that last stanza!

    Thanks, Bill — and even deeper thanks coming as it is from someone who is hardly able to breathe in the heat of the South East Asian Dry Season with the air full of smoke from the burning rice stubble, the dust and the riots.

    The slowed-down thrush is like water.


    [The English thrush is much bigger than any of these thrushes. At least I think I’m right. Am I?]

  36. Wfkammann said,

    April 10, 2010 at 4:22 pm

    If you look in Wiki you’ll find that the English robin is no longer considered a thrush and that they have a great size range. I like your comment about going round and round. The song, the lilac smell, and the moon and evening star.

  37. Wfkammann said,

    April 10, 2010 at 7:09 pm

    Bob has picked up on the poem but with no comment

  38. wfkammann said,

    April 12, 2010 at 9:56 pm

    Was soll es bedeuten eigentlich?

  39. December 30, 2010 at 5:49 am

    […] Scarriet survivor, and author of it’s all time most popular threads, Pop Goes the Weasel and Ich Weiss Nicht was soll es bedeuten dass ich so traurig bin. He was formerly a welfare activist, choirmaster, and leading member of the NY Tibet Society. […]