Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Disjecta membra

Reading the poetry of Charles Wright (Negative Blue).
Reading the long poem, "Disjecta membra," I am pulled in. Disconcerted by words I do not know, I remember the thick black dictionary in our home where I looked up the words I didn’t know. I wrote them down in a tiny loose-leaf notebook, a tiny black binder with tiny pages, tiny holes and narrow lines. I wrote in ink and sometimes used the words in sentences, in paragraphs.

Wright's words here: “the soothing words, the sleights-of-hand to hoodwink the Paraclete.”

[paraclete: an advocate, an intercessor. 2. cap. the Holy Spirit, the Comforter (“person called in to help”)]

“Under the arborvitae, The squirrels have buried their winter dreams, and ghosts gather, close to home.”

[arbor vitae: a treelike appearance in a vertical section of the cerebellum, due to the arrangement of the white and gray nerve tissues.]

I thought the Paraclete was the Holy Spirit but wasn’t certain. And arbor vitae. I had no idea what it meant. How could I possibly have understood what he was saying, what he meant, if I hadn’t looked it up?

This poem is long, several pages...

The title “Disjecta membra” is probably Latin.

[disjecta membra:
scattered members; disjointed portions or parts: applied to fragments of poetry or fragmented quotations. From the Latin, an alteration of: : limbs of a dismembered poet, a phrase in Horace]

“Love is more talked about than surrendered to. Lie low, Meng Chiao (A.D. 751--814) advises -- beauty too close will ruin your life.”