Entries in zodiac (6)
"Where the Music Comes From" words & music by LH
"Evening" from 'Evening without Angels' by Wallace Stevens
"Jabberwocky" by Lewis Carroll
Born on February 8, 1911, a hundred years ago last week, Elizabeth Bishop wrote about her sudden, sickening childhood identifications with the sky-permeating female scream, and the dizzying awareness of her unavoidable fate: being human, "one of them," accompanied by "the sensation of falling off / the round, turning world / into cold, blue-black space." Of this never forgotten inward trauma, her cosmic fall into identity and time, she solemnly notes the date in these lines from her poem "In the Waiting Room": "I said to myself: three days / and you'll be seven years old. . . ./ And it was still the fifth of February, 1918."
The poet's first conscious creative act, then, was to establish the birthdate as synecdoche of origin, identity and fate. This fetishistic attitude toward the birthdate is in a sense universal and unavoidable, and a source of both the attraction and the antipathy to astrology.
Thirty years later Bishop commemorated her orphan's birthday with a stoical dejection ode, pivoting hopefully only on the very last word.
I did a quick search for qualifiers to the term "Self" in some recent books about Elizabeth Bishop, and came across "dismantled," "disunified," "shipwrecked," "fluid and unfixed," "unstable," "only arbitrarily bounded," "denied," "questioned," "lost," "obfuscated," "decentered," "abnegated," and "fractured".
The poet's famous attentive objectivity originates in self-effacement. The motives for effacement are well-known: female, homosexual, alcoholic, chronically ill, the American gothic childhood. Fortunately, directly opposite confident, sun-ruled Leo, Aquarius deplores egotism. Not so much a self as a constellation of problems, Bishop dedicated herself at whatever cost to a true poet's life of "no regular hours, so many temptations," reading, writing (mostly letters), affections, drinking, and travel.
Bishop's cold-blooded menagerie, her semi-alive lichen and moss, her wraith-like atmospherics, measure alienation from a solid core of solar identity. With Aquarian Hugo Hofmannsthal she would agree "We are no more than dove-cotes." Her multi-hued mineral grains, the iridescences, her attention to every color playing no favorites, and the triple rainbow epiphany which is central to her reputation, are shining peripheries of hope, the refraction of unendurable singularity.
* * *
Aquarius, centrifugal of the autocratic heart, circulates democratically, directs the oxygenation of the blood, and identifies with all aspects of the atmospheric cycle Thus Bishop's asthma , which chronically threatened her life, but stimulated her highest identification. Her work is crafted in a death struggle and is as necessary as cortisone. She breathes easiest when uncrowded before the detailed panorama. Continents, rivers, waterfalls, harbors, mists, moonlight, cities are seen from the slopes.
--- Mark Shulgasser, The Blue Zenith
See Astrological Profiles there for my pieces on Sagittarian and Capricorn poets as well.
Here are some excerpts from James Dickey's wonderful long poem The Zodiac, published in 1976.
He moves among stars.
Sure. We all do, but he is star-crazed, mad
With Einfuehling, with connecting and joining things that lay their meanings
Over billions of light years
Eons of time--Ah,
Years of light: billions of them: they are pictures
Of some sort of meaning. He thinks the secret
Can be read. But human faces swim through
Cancer Scorpio Leo through all the stupefying design,
And all he can add to it or make of it, living or dead:
* * *
Only one way beyond
He must solve it must believe it learn to read it
No, wallow in it
* * *
He has to hold on to the chair: the room is pitching and rolling--
He's sick seasick with his own stars,
Seasick and airsick sick
With the Zodiac. . . .
He knows he's not fooling himself he knows
Not a damn thing of stars of God of space
Of time love night death sex fire numbers signs words,
Not much of poetry. But by God, we've got a universe
Those designs of time are saying something
Or maybe something or other.
Night tells us. It's coming--
Venus shades it and breaks it. Will the animals come back
Gently, creatively open,
Like they were?
The great, burning Beings melt into place
A few billion-lighted inept beasts
What else is there? What other signs what other symbols
Are anything beside these? If the thing hasn't been said
This way, then God can't say it.
* * *
What animal's getting outlined?
All space is being bolted
Together: eternal blackness
Studded with creatures.
Beasts. Nothing left but the void
Deep-hammering its creatures with light-years.
Years made of light.
* * *
Look, stupid, get your nose out of the sky for once.
There're things that are close to you, too. Look at that!
Don't cringe: look right out over town.
Real birds. There they are in their curves, moving in their great element
That causes our planet to be blue and causes us all
To breathe. Ah, long ghostly drift
Well, son of a bitch,
He sits and writes,
And the paper begins to run
But he can't get rid of himself enough
To write poetry. He keeps thinking Goddamn
I've misused myself I've fucked up I haven't worked--
I've traveled and screwed too much,
But but by dawn, now NOW
Something coming through-coming down-coming up
To me ME!
His hand reaches, dazzling with drink half alive,
For the half-dead vision. That room and its pages come in and
Of being. You talk about looking: would you look at that
Electric page! What the hell did I say? Did I say that?
You bastard, you. Why didn't you know that before?
Where the hell have you been with your head?
You and the paper should have known it, you and the ink: you write
With blackness. Night. Why has it taken you all this time?
All this travel, all those lives
You've fucked up? All those books read
Not deep enough? It's staring you right in the face. The
Is whiteness. You can do anything with that. But no--
The secret is that on whiteness you can release
The night sky. Whiteness is death is dying
For human words to raise it from purity from the grave
Of too much light. Words must come to it
Words from anywhere from from
Swamps mountains mud shit hospitals wars travels from
From the Zodiac.
You son of a bitch, you! Don't try to get away from yourself!
I won't have it! You know God-damn well I mean you! And you too,
Pythagoras! Put down that guitar, lyre, whatever it is!
You've driven me nuts enough with your music of the spheres!
* * *
You know that from the black death,
The forest of beast-
Symbols, the stars are beaten down by drunks
Into the page.
By GOD the poem is in there out there
Somewhere the lines that will change
Everything, like your squares and square roots
Creating the heavenly music.
* * *
the stars are gasping
For understanding. They've had Ptolemy,
They've had Babylon
But now they want Hubbell
They want Fred Hoyle and the steady-state.
But what they really want need
Is a poet and
I'm going to have to be it . . . .
In all this immensity, all this telescope-country,
Why this microscopic searching
Of the useless human heart?
The Buddha was exceptionally handsome. “The Brahmin Sonadanda described him as handsome, good-looking, and pleasing to the eye, with a most beautiful complexion. He has a godlike form and countenance, he is by no means unattractive.”
"It is wonderful, truly marvelous, the good Gotama's appearance . . just as the golden jujube in autumn is clear and radiant, just as a palm-tree fruit just loosened from the stalk is clear and radiant, just as an adornment of red gold wrought in a crucible by a skilled goldsmith, deftly beaten and laid on a yellow-cloth shines, blazes and glitters, even so . . . his complexion is clear and radiant."
“A disciple named Vakkali . . . was so obsessed by Buddha's physical presence that Buddha had to tell him to stop and reminded Vakkali to know Buddha through the Dhamma and not physical appearances.” (quotes from Wikipedia)
Buddha was a Taurus, and after years of restless seeking, with Taurean stubbornness he decided to sit under a tree until Enlightenment came, which it did after 49 days, at the Taurus full moon. So it’s interesting that Taurus Rob Pattinson had this profound Buddha experience – note the Taurean, fixed-earth emphasis on the vision’s concreteness, duration and practicality.