To belong? What's it mean? Is it creature of tense? Is it active or passive?
Is it cold set in bone, magma oozing to plate ocean floor, or explosive
Crackling reaction, plume clearing to flesh jacked into the massive?


Hussein's family had fled Iran in retreat from the Ayatollah muhajideen
But became the yard's only-good-one-is-a-dead-one once the hostage crisis went down.
Hussein had seen worse than punk clique kids.  He was like: "Bring that shit on!"


When your eyes learn to look beyond state, to peers beyond infinity,
Okigbo, Villon, Pound, Plath, sometimes you forget that misfit can grow to vanity.
I've come to grow into readiness for company, the scent and crinkled space of shared humanity.

My recital of my poem, "Growing up Misfit", from the Spring, 2010 TNB Literary Experience in New York, is the lead piece in this week's TNB Podcast Feature on The Nervous breakdown.

"TNBLE - Episode 7, Part I.  The Nervous Breakdown's Literary Experience, recorded live in New York City at Happy Ending Lounge on 26 March 2010. Featuring Uche Ogbuji, Daniel Roberts, Tod Goldberg and Kristen Elde. Produced by Aaron M. Snyder and Megan DiLullo. Music by Goodbye Champion."

I've revised the poem a bit since that recording, but it's nice to hear the audio so crisp.  Major props to Kimberly and her peeps at the event, and Megan and her peeps for the post-event production.  I don't think I've ever heard myself so clearly.


I say people, people come on and check it now
You see the mic in my hand now watch me wreck it now
What is a party if the crew ain't there?
(What's your name, kid?) Call me Guru; that's my man Premier
Now many attempts have been made to hold us back,
Slander the name and withhold facts.
But I'm the type of brother with much more game
I got a sure aim and if I find you're to blame,
You can bet you'll be exterminated, taken out, done.
It doesn't matter how many they'll go as easy as just one.
Bust one round in the air for this here
'Cause this year suckers are going nowhere,
'Cause my street style and intelligence level
Makes me much more than just an angry rebel.
I'm Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal
MCs that ain't equipped get flipped in my circle.
I'm aiming on raining on the bitch ass chumps
Cuz their rhymes don't flow and their beats don't pump;
And niggaz better know I've paid my dues and shit.
I'm 'bout to blow the fuck up because I refuse to quit.
I'm out to get the props that are rightfullly mine,
Yeah me and the crew think its about that time.
But on the DL you know that Gangstarr will conquer.
That's why you stare and point, and others cling on to
My Nautica, asking for a hook-up;
Well sorry but my schedule is all booked up.
Nobody put me on; I made it up the hard way;
Look out for my people but the suckers should parlay.
'Cause it's business kid, this ain't no free for all
You have to wait your turn, you must await your call.
So now, now it is my duty to
Eliminate and subtract all of the booty crews,
And suckers should vacate, before I get irate
And I'll kick your can from here to Japan
With force you can't withstand
'Cause I'm the motherfucking man.

—Guru's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"


When I heard yesterday morning that Guru had died, a sequence ran through my mind of classics rendered in that inimitable monotone.  "Just to get a Rep" and "Words I Manifest" were my introduction to Gang Starr and the group's charismatic MC.  I'm not one to dwell much on celebrity life milestones (though I do remark the excellent NY Times obit), not even in the tragic case of a quietus descended at young age. But it is certainly occasion to remember the music that kept me, my brothers, and my peers well entertained for a good while.  As you can see from the above verse, Guru never pushed the bounds of complexity too far.  His rap was mostly classic B-Boy swagger.  But classic B-Boy swagger is what drew so many of us to Hip-Hop in the first place, the rump-of-cold-war kids born of the first generation able to take full advantage of the global village, finding our way as far-flung misfits.  We didn't really know of any advantage to our polycultural dexterity, but we definitely understood the message of uncompromising personal expression, no matter how awful your personal ghetto.  The braggadocio was the gateway to something that became richer and more abstract as we brought that polycultural dexterity to bear, and one of the last pushers of that pure, gateway drug hit was the Gifted Unlimited Rhymes Universal.


"Dwyck" was the anthem around when I arrived in the US as my family immigrated.  Daily Operation is probably my favorite album, with killer tracks such as "Take it Personal" and "Ex to the Next."  I also enjoyed a lot of Guru's creative collabos in the Jazzmatazz series, and being a Soul junkie, I definitely dug the likes of "Keep your Worries" with Angie Stone and "Plenty" with Erykah Badu.

Guru always surrounded himself with talent that complemented his skill and curiosity, and in a later verse to this Quotīdiē's track, for a cameo that straight flipped my wig (and those of many others), Guru introduced a young bridge from that B-Boy classic style to the emerging abstract/black-power style, Jeru the Damaja.

I'll tap your...jaw; you probably heard it before
step to the Bedlamite I'll prove my word is law
Drugstore worth more, dope rhyme vendor,
Not partial to beef, the chief ambassador
Niggaz get mad 'cause they can't score
Like a wild west flick they wish to shoot up my door
But I incite to riot, don't even try it
Bust up chumps so crab kids keep quiet
Like I said before, I tap jaws, snatch whores
Kill suckers in wars, vic a style you said was yours.
Money grip want to flip, but you're fish;
House the mic like your hooker and did tricks on the bitch
Dirty Rotten Scoundrel and my name is Jeru
Utilizing my tools in '92
MCs step up in mobs to defeat us
When we rock knots and got props like Norm Peterson;
Lot's of friends, lot's of fun, lots of beers
Got the skills, kreeno, so I always get cheers.
Troop on like a trooper, no tears for fears.
I'm a get mines 'cause the crew will get theirs.
Cut you up like Edward Scissorhands
you know the program I'm the motherfucking man.

—Jeru the Damaja's verse, Gang Starr - "I'm the Man"

By the way, when a friend confirmed for me that Jeru had thrown in a word of New Testament Greek ("κρίνω" or "krino"), I thought it helped confirm him as the motherfucking man, but if so, that became the case under the mentoring of Guru, and the same can be said of a fair number who now make up hip-hop royalty.

Unfortunately, mad drama has started immediately in the wake of Guru's death.  All the reports are dominated by an unseemly spat between different factions from the man's life.  Despite that ugliness and indignity, no drama can take away the essence of Guru's legacy, which lives its part in my collection of three Gang Starr CDs and all four Jazzmataz joints.  The hard monotone in which the Words Manifest.

Just a friendly game of mailbox baseball

Baseball was never for Blacks
It used to be a pastime for Whites
Now it has mad Puerto Ricans
But that's not the point of this song.
The point of this song, and I make it mad simple when I be flipping this script
Is that the industry is all over the mound pitching but nobody's making any hits.

—Natural Resources—Negro League Baseball

Yeah. Mailbox baseball. That game of legend (I've never seen it played) where a pack of stereotypical American teenage lombards drives down the boulevard whacking at mailboxes with Louisville sluggers from the car windows until they hit one with unclaimed mail, enjoying the resulting shower of fluttering letters. I did something like that to myself today, quite unwittingly. (I'm amazed there's room in my cheek for the tongue after a day like today).

I've been completely retooling my e-mail habits, in part to use uche@ogbuji.net more for professional correspondence that does not have immediate bearing on my day job. I the process I managed to completely kill my fourthought.com address today, and as I hear it, it's all been bouncing to hell. Sorry folks. Unless you work for a company that writes checks to Fourthought, Inc., I'll probably be asking you politely to start using my ogbuji.net address from now on anyway, so you might as well start now (that address wasn't affected by the outage). Meanwhile I've straightened out the config problems, and as soon as DNS has a chance to propagate, my fourthought.com address should be working again.

BTW, those who have ever sent me e-mail at my ogbuji.net account and learned how infrequently I get around to checking it will notice a marked improvement in my attention (I should temper that promise by mentioning that I haven't been able to keep up with even my fourthought.com address in years. It's no fun being afflicted by chronic Scrolliosis).

Back-to-off-topic note w.r.t. my silly intro: If you're an underground hip-hop head and haven't heard the song whose lyrics I used you'd best get up out there and find that single. It's a classic from 1997, and it was the first time I heard the M.C. then known as "What What?" and now recognized as the great Jean Grae (repping South Africa—she runs through your hood with her middle finger up.). It's a great romp of a song that refuses to take itself too seriously, and has the tickly lounge piano in the background loop to match. It's da Jawn!

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

Hip-Hop in its essence is Palestinian

This is a hunting season the prey is one more home
Of a dove trying to survive under the hawk’s regime
(page ripped) lets try something more optimistic:
each day I wake up and see like a 1000 cops
maybe they came to arrest a dealer…(he’s ever here, over here, oh no
they came to destroy his neighbor’s home)
what is happening here? A hate bubble surrounding the ghetto
why is it hard for him? And who’s going to answer him? Anywhere
I go, excuses are there to greet me
I broke the law? No no the law broke me
enough, enough (enough, enough) gentlemen (gentlemen)
I was born here, my grandparents were also born here, you will not sever me
From my roots (you will not sever me from my roots) understand, even if
I have faith in this “if you wish it is not a legend” regime
You still haven’t allowed me to build a porch to stand on and express it

—Tamer Nafar of DAM—"Born Here" translated lyrics

When explaining Hip-Hop to people my motto has always been: "Hip-Hop in its essence is regional", based, of course, on the word play at the heart of one of Hip-Hop's greatest songs, Common's "I Used to Love H.E.R.". I'm always blown away at how kids the world over take the basic art form, and make it so emphatically theirs. The quickest way to get clowned in many countries is to try to rap just like 50 Cent, or even just like Talib Kweli. Same goes for DJing and the other elements. It's already been the case in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Texas, Illinois, East Great Lakes, Los Angeles, the Bay area and more places within the U.S. Hip Hop was born in New York (with much courtesy from Jamaican immigrants), but anywhere it's picked up, it takes on an instant regional flavor. This is the strength of Hip-Hop.

I personally look out for the different Hip-Hop flavors of Paris, Lyon Zürich, Toronto, Dakar, Lagos, Havana, Tokyo, and many such places. It looks as if I'll have to add the West Bank to that listing.

Via Ethan Zuckerman I learned about a precious blossoming of Hip-Hop in Palestine. I've listened to a bunch of the linked tracks and watched a bunch of the videos. This shit is mad hot. The kids are articulate, angry and yet extraordinarily circumspect. Like many very sad observers of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, I've found too little distinction made between Israeli, hard-line Zionist, Palestinian, terrorist, refugee, etc. These Palestinian rappers vent their frustration with the heavy-handed tactics of Israeli security forces without succumbing completely to the "annihilate Israel" logic of extremists. Sure there are parts of the Israeli side of the story that you're never going to get a fair hearing from in Palestinian rap, but no one could reasonably expect any more in such a polarized situation.

I personally believe that it's the "keep it real" ethic of Hip-Hop that makes it possible and even essential in such horrible conflicts for people to speak their mind without losing their minds. "Keep it real" is the same ethic that allows Hip-Hop to adapt so completely in wide-ranging locales. It can have negative consequences, from glorifying violence and sexism to causing smaller-scale conflict such as the Tupac/Biggie feud, but you rarely have to strain your ears before you find the culture quite willingly criticizing itself. And there is plenty of karma to balance out the negatives. Just last month (1) (2) there was a U.S. release of an amazing hip-hop collaboration between a Emmanuel Jal, a Sudanese Christian former child soldier and Abdel Gadir Salim, a Sudanese Muslim bandleader. This is a conflict that has risen to levels of total war and genocide. I don't expect the release of Ceasefire will end the very deep-seated Sudanese strife, but it is just another example of how Hip-Hop brings people and cultures together even while it thrives on authentic cultural identity. Hip-Hop in its essence is Sudanese.

Sidebar. I went to watch Mos Def (purportedly), Talib Kweli, Pharoahe Monch and Jean Grae at the Ogden Theater in Denver on Thursday. Mos Def was a no-show due to illness, but Talib Kweli is the one I wanted to see the most, anyway, and it would be my first time watching Pharoahe in concert. All the performers held it down solid, and as often happens when I go to such ensemble concerts, I had a pleasant surprise. K'naan, front man of The Dustyfoot Philospher, is a Toronto-based Somali rapper I'd never heard of. He did a superlative set rapping and singing while playing a traditional drum, with two other drummers working beside backup strings, organ, and a DJ. It was all-out boom-bap with unmistakable East African flavor. He moved the crowd to near hysteria (not bad for the act with leftover billing). He didn't get much into the simmering disputes between Somalia and Eritrea, but he definitely waxed eloquent about how real it is just to keep life and limb together in so much of his Motherland, and the many international and home-grown outrages that fuel the tragedies (keeping it real: he's as hard on Black warlords as he is on White colonists). Yeah. Hip-Hop in its essence is also Somalian.

As my peeps used to say in the early 90s: "Peace in the Middle East".

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


The only reason I'm influential is that I say what's on my mind.... Think about it. I make [movies]. You couldn't possibly be worrying about a film career and sit up and be saying the stuff I say on radio. You'd be like: Oh wow, what if they don't put me on the next movie... I don't care. I don't care about these records, these movies. I don't care. I've have to live my life from point A to point B and saying what's on my mind. That's what I care about: being in tune with myself, and people respect that. That's why I'm on a college lecture tour. I'm on my way to Harvard or some place, to teach people how to be real. Isn't that stupid?

—Ice T—Fresh Air interview, originally 1992, re-aired on hip-hop week 2005

Ice-T in that quote, provides one of the best definitions of hip-hop I've heard. Overall, this is a great interview for anyone who wants to break through all the media circus that has ever surrounded Ice-T and get a sense of what the man is really about. In fact, for anyone who really wants to get a sense of Hip-Hop's essence, whether you're down like Foxy Brown, or one of the many who has no earthly idea how a genre as horrible as Rap has flourished for three decades, you need to check out Fresh Air's Hip-Hop week . (Click the "Listen" then "Next Story" links until you've heard Monday through Friday. One hour each, all trimmed to the choicest segments). I do wish she'd had more on grafitti, break-dancing and even beat-boxing, which are among the core elements of Hip-Hop culture, but MCing and DJing are well covered.

I like the bit at the end about Ice-T taking it to college campuses to teach some realness. From what I gather, US Academia needs a heavy dose of realness. There are attacks on academic freedom coming from all directions, with sanctions and threats taking the place of debate. Whether they're fundamentalist Christian/Muslim/Jewish, atheist, gay, straight, white supremacist, black revolutionary, Communist, Neocon, Democrat, Republican, Libertarian, or whatever, it's all about students and faculty choosing to be conventional, surprising, or even shocking in their ideas. Universities only thrive under Hip-Hop's first principles: "speak your clout"; "show and prove". Sad that it takes a sometime controversial rapper to put it down like that.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


To bring the dead to life
Is no great magic.
Few are wholly dead:
Blow on a dead man's embers
And a live flame will start.

Let his forgotten griefs be now,
And now his withered hopes;
Subdue your pen to his handwriting
Until it prove as natural
To sign his name as yours.

Limp as he limped,
Swear by the oaths he swore;
If he wore black, affect the same;
If he had gouty fingers,
Be yours gouty too.

Assemble tokens intimate of him —
A seal, a cloak, a pen:
Around these elements then build
A home familiar to
The greedy revenant.

So grant him life, but reckon
That the grave which housed him
May not be empty now:
You in his spotted garments
Shall yourself lie wrapped.

Robert Graves—"To bring the dead to life"

It has been a sad long while since I've posted a Quotīdiē, and an even sadder long while since I've had time for contemplation of the choicest art, but few spirits raise raise me from a poetic torpor as well as Robert Graves, one of my favorite poets and critics.

Robin Hamilton used the first stanza of the above poem in a message on the New-Poetry mailing list. I couldn't place it, but when I asked Robin kindly provided the source.

I've invoked Graves myself on that mailing list. The man never seems far from modern meditation on the numinous qualities of poetry. He himself sometimes went overboard in his mysticism, and sometimes it even clogged up his verse (Robin put it very aptly: "God preserve us from Graves' Goddess Poems."), but overall, there are few writers that surpass Graves for impressing upon students the divine essence of poetry.

See for yourself. Visit the Robert Graves Archive. Some of the links therefrom are broken, but overall, it's a very useful compilation.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


I don't know her name, but she works for MSNBC. My apologies for my wordage, but this wench didn't know what the hell was going on. She made up 75% of what she was saying and exaggerated about 95% of everything that she did know. The message: do you want to be a reporter? All you need to do is have a pretty face and buy a Thesaurus!

From Alvaro R. Morales Villa's amazing photo diary (via Eve Maler).

The caption for the next picture is also telling:

Mr. Brian Williams... you know, I've always been a fan of news reporters. After this "event", however, I'm a lot more skeptical about what they say. In this photo he had just gotten into an argument witht the lady in the light blue shirt. She couldn't find out if West Esplanade Avenue (which is in Metaire) and Esplanade Ave. (which is in the French Quarter) were the same.

The U.S. press has become an institution that is completely useless in its complacency and venality. Besides the widespread bungling that is wryly noted in these captions, what amazes me is that the U.S. loves to lecture other countries about freedom of the press, and yet it's widely admitted that the U.S. press never found the backbone to criticize the current government until Katrina.

Much thanks to Alvaro for pluck and resourcefulness to document all that he did, and for sharing it so generously with us (minor note: grand theft auto is not usually just "a minor misdemeanor", although extenuating circumstances in this case might possibly make up that difference).

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia

"The Triumph of Bullshit"

"Bullshit: invented by T.S. Eliot in 1910?"—Mark Liberman, Language Log

This entry discusses one of the conjectures for the origin of the word "bullshit", including discussion of a characteristically phlegmatic poem by T.S. Eliot. Eliot has always been a very nasty sort, and you can perceive that from far less than a reading of "Burbank with a Baedeker: Bleistein with a Cigar" or accounts of his treatment of his first wife, Vivienne. As with most student poets, I'm in awe of his genius, and intend to learn as much from him as possible in a literary sense, but I find him in many ways a personally despicable figure. Even Ezra Pound, who paid dearly for his own egotistic sense of mores, is a far more sympathetic figure. His punishment was excessive (especially considering the general hypocrisy of his prosecution), and he did repent much of his petty bigotry late in life.

I don't remember having ever seen the Eliot poem quoted in the above article, though I've found a lot of Eliot rarities. It's likely that if I did, I shrugged it out of my memory. It uses classic Ballade structure, three stanzas and an envoi, with an unconventional rhyme scheme (for the classic overall effect, see, for example, Villon's "L'Épitaph (Ballade des pendus)". Eliot translates the passion of Ballade into plain spite.

Ladies, who find my intentions ridiculous
Awkward insipid and horribly gauche
Pompous, pretentious, ineptly meticulous
Dull as the heart of an unbaked brioche
Floundering versicles feebly versiculous
Often attenuate, frequently crass
Attempts at emotions that turn isiculous,
For Christ's sake stick it up your ass.

Eliot—second stanza of "The Triumph of Bullshit"

Horrid genius. Eliot attaches several senses to "ladies", including (and this is the sense that does find best concord with the poem), the society matrons who influenced popular, and hence critical, taste. But Eliot is also a bit of a coward here. What is it that he did finally offer the "ladies", that made his fortune?

Time for you and time for me.
And time yet for a hundred indecisions,
And for a hundred visions and revisions,
Before the taking of a toast and tea.

In the room the women come and go
Talking of Michelangelo.

And indeed there will be time
To wonder, "Do I dare?" and, "Do I dare?"
Time to turn back and descend the stair,
With a bald spot in the middle of my hair—

Sure he's still lampooning the Society of Taste, but he doesn't in public dare not to put himself under the glass as well, and seeks indulgence and sympathy as an object of ridicule.

There is also his extraction of Ophelia from Vivienne (or was that Viv doing herself?) from "A Game of Chess": Good night, ladies, good night, sweet ladies, good night, good night. Spoken with a knowing wink.

No, when it's time for brave, open sally, Eliot prefers weak targets. My thanks to Mark, though, for finding a poem that is as interesting as a badge of character and illustration of craft as it is an etymological marker.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia


Rap snitches
Telling all their business
Sit in the court and be their own star witness
"Do you see the perpetrator"
"Yeah, I'm right here"
Fuck around, get the whole label sent up for years
True. There's rules to this shit
Fools dare care
Everybody wants to rule the world with tears for fear
Yeah yeah tell 'em—tell it on the mountain hill
Running up their mouth bill
Everybody doubting still.
Informer, keep it up and get tested
Pop pleated bubble vest or double breasted.
He keep a lab down south in the little beast
So much heat you would have thought it was the Middle East.
A little grease always keeps the wheels a spinning
Like sitting on 23s to get the squealers grinning,
Hitting on many trees feel real linen,
Spitting on enemies enemies get the skill for ten men.
With no brains but gum flap
You said there's gun clap,
Then you fled after one slap
Son, shut your trap save it for the bitches
Mmmm. Delicious. Rap snitch knishes.

MF Doom—from "Rapp Snitch Knishes"—MM..Food?

[Note: "with tears for fear" is Doom's pun, not my typo]

This song is nothing but wicked, but in a sly way. I get an image of Berry Gordy leading his famous Motown quality control sessions. "Rapp Snitch Knishes" drops on the platter. The focus group looks around at each other and wonders "what is this weirdness"? What's with the over-tightened electric guitar loop followed offset by the sauntering bass riff? What's with the staccato flow. Maybe? Maybe? Nah. Dump it. Then later on as they're on their way to the car, they all realize that one song from the day's session is firmly lodged in their heads. And they're still replaying it to themselves the next day, and all that week. What do you know? They should not have dumped that song? I think that's the major label attitude to a lot of genius of the Metal Face Doom sort. Fly but too risky.

"Rapp Snitch Knishes" sounds as if it shouldn't be any good, but it's actually a mini masterpiece of abstract hip-hop. And I just love the subject matter. MF Doom is mocking all the superbadass MCs who like to boast on how many people they've killed, how much drugs they've sold, and how many hoes they've pimped. Any sensible person figures that:

  1. Either they're fronting Vanilla Ice type punks or
  2. They're frank but stupid, saving the feds a lot of investigative budget to build a case against them

A lot of MCs make fun of category 1, but it took Doom's audacity to pull cards on category 2. And if people don't believe he has a case, they need look no further than Murder Inc. and Death Row, both record labels that had to change their names because of the effects of Rap Snitching. And while 50 cent's G Unit is busy reveling in Murder Inc.'s misfortune, their fans should reflect on the fact that there is no bigger Rap Snitch Knish right now than 50 cent (well, The Game is making quite a run at that title).

Mr. Fantastik (who's 'dro is the stickiest, he says) guests lovely on the track, and the playful back and forth is enough fun that I hope Doom and Fantastik (whom I'd never heard from before) team up more often in future. It's always worth checking for MF Doom, a true hip-hop veteran, one third, as "Zev Love X", of classic group KMD, which also included Doom's brother Subroc. KMD met their demise because they said exactly what they thought, and MF Doom continues the tradition. His all time classic is Madvillainy which is ingenious lunacy. I also recommend Spitkicker's The Next Spit, volume 3, a mix CD hosted by Doom, and featuring a couple of tracks from MM..Food?

MM..Food? and Madvillainy are two of the top ten albums of 2004. If you've been sleeping, wake up and cop that underground goodness...early. And the next time you hear some MC killing hundreds of victims on wax, just think quietly to yourself. Mmmm. Delicious. Rap snitch knishes.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia



God banish from your house
The fly, the roach, the mouse

That riots in the walls
Until the plaster falls;

Admonish from your door
The hypocrite and liar;

No shy, soft tigrish fear
Permit upon your stair,

Nor agents of your doubt.
God drive them whistling out.

Let nothing touched with evil,
Let nothing that can shrivel

Heart's tenderest frond, intrude
Upon your still deep blood.

Against the drip of night
God keep all windows tight,

Protect your mirrors from
Surprise, delirium,

Admit no trailing wind
Into your shuttered mind

To plume the lake of sleep
With dreams. If you must weep

God give you tears, but leave
You secrecy to grieve,

And islands for your pride,
And love to nest in your side.

God grant that, to the bone,
Yourself may be your own;

God grant that I may be
(my sweet) sweet company.

Stanley Kunitz—"Benediction"

Stanley Kunitz turns 100 today. I can't say that he ranks among my favorite poets, but in the above he certainly wrote a piece that ranks among my favorite poems. And to write one great poem in a lifetime is quite an achievement. Many people are celebrating Kunitz's milestone, but as an NPR fan, I'll naturally wave at the coverage on All Things Considered, which is almost entirely taken up by what sounds like a new poem of his, "The Long Boat". It's a nice piece (the text is on the page I just linked to) using the viking funereal boat as its central metaphor, offering some very palpable images and a finely balanced ending that can only come from the quiet wisdom of long years contemplating that sepulchural voyage.

As I said in my piece on Richard Eberhart:

I meant to link to "Benediction" but I can't find a respectable transcription of on-line. It deserves its own entry, so some other day I'll type it in for Quotīdiē. But I do want to mention that I found "A Young Greek, Killed in the Wars", "The Fury of Aerial Bombardment" and "Benediction" all in my favorite small poetry book, John Wain's Anthology of Modern Poetry (Hutchinson, 1963), ISBN 0090671317. It's out of print and not easy to find, even used (here are the listings on Amazon UK Marketplace). I bought it in 1988 at the University of Nigeria and it has been one of my most treasured books all this time. It's a superb collection, and if you can lay your hands on a copy, I suggest you do so.

Well, I've put in that promised labor, and here is "Benediction" on line. And yes, I've gone on about that Wain book, mentioning it yesterday as well. What can I say? It's worth all the repeated mention, except that you can't buy it anymore, it seems. But I had an idea yesterday. Soon, I'll post the table of contents here, with links to on-line versions of the poems where possible. This way you can at least enjoy Wain's marvelous selection without suffering through my Quotīdiē ramblings into the fathomless future.

Here is Wain on Kunitz:

"Benediction" and "The War against the Trees" are good examples of Stanley Kunitz's open, lyrical style, and need no comment....

And surely you agree, reading "Benediction". Who says good poetry has to be inscrutable?

Watch this space for more from Wain. And read a Kunitz poem or two this weekend. It's quiet and very intelligent entertainment.

[Uche Ogbuji]

via Copia