Monday, June 29, 2009

A Dark Star Passes

The other week I ordered James Tate's Selected Poems through Amazon. I was so delighted at the swift arrival of the small package! Three cheers for snail mail! I was even more delighted by what was inside... So thus to give you a break from my ongoing love of Edna St. Vincent Millay, I offer a little James Tate. His poetry is definitely the sort to be read out loud.
James Tate

Why should you believe in magic,
pretend an interest in astrology
or the tarot? Truth is, you are

free, and what might happen to you
today, nobody knows. And your
personality may undergo a radical

transformation in the next half
hour. So it goes. You are consumed
by your faith in justice, your

hope for a better day, the rightness
of fate, the dreams, the lies,
the taunts. —Nobody gets what he

wants. A dark star passes through
you on your way home from
the grocery: never again are you

the same—an experience which is
impossible to forget, impossible
to share. The longing to be pure

is over. You are the stranger
who gets stranger by the hour.
James Tate. Image From Famous Poets and Poems

This is one of Tate's more mellow poems. I'll post some crazier stuff on here one day. What I love about Tate is he does his own thing. His poems appear almost wacky. Yet amidst the wackiness he is able to express emotion purely through word choice. The words don't even have to make sense together, the plot need not exist, the poem doesn't even need to be understood to feel the passion of Tate's poetry. His poems, "The Radish" and "Distance From Loved Ones" made my heart ache for reasons completely unknown to me, especially "The Radish" which is about nothing more than a bizarre moment in the grocery store.

In "Consumed" I particularly love the second to last stanza. In his own words, Tate summarizes what his poetry is to me; "an experience which is impossible to forget, impossible to share." Try as I might, I don't have the words to fully share my experience with Tate's poetry. Thus, you will have to have your own experience and see just what he's all about. The greatest thing? He's hilarious. Who says poetry can't be fun?


Intuition said...

I met this poem years ago in one of those "I feel guided to randomly open this book" in a quaint bookstore years ago. Believe it or not it completely related to my life at that time. I bought the book, but didn't relate to any of the other poems, so I sold it in a moving sale, but regretted not jotting it down first and here it is! Thank you for sharing it.

Bev said...

Stranger by the hour, forr sure! If you have "A Friend Told Me," would you please post it? Would be ever so grateful. Thanks, either way. Glad you posted this.