Tuesday, September 3, 2013

In Search of Craziness and Supper for a Cat Named Goldfarb

If you were closer to an Oxford English Dictionary, you would look up the word crazy, to see how its meaning has evolved since its earliest use and, indeed, when that first use was.  Such things, you are pleased to note, still matter.  Even though there is scant room for a set of the OED where you live, you would enjoy finding places to fit it in.

Instead, you have done what you often do, consult your American Heritage Dictionary of the American Language, unabridged, where the first definition of crazy speaks to derangement, which is somewhere within the parameters you consider when you talk about crazy.

You think a good deal about crazy and its meanings when something you have written comes out sounding too serious.  A friend of yours in India called you erudite, the other day, which somewhat scared you because you would rather be thought of as crazy in any of its permutations than erudite in most of its.

Often when things begin coming out as too serious or formal, you begin to think of some of the crazy poets you admire and of the few genuinely crazy ones you have known.

The first crazy poet you became aware of was William Butler Yeats, some of whose work seems to drip the kind of craziness that matters to you.  He was the one who went out to the hazel wood.  He also wrote this:

I whispered, "I am too young,"
And then, "I am old enough;"
Wherefore I threw a penny
To find out if I might love.
"Go and love, go and love, young man,
If the lady be young and fair."
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
I am looped in the loops of her hair.
O love is the crooked thing,
There is nobody wise enough
To find out all that is in it,
For he would be thinking of love.
Till the stars had run away
And the shadows eaten the moon.
Ah, penny, brown penny, brown penny,
One cannot begin it too soon. 

Which brings forth questions about whether such things come from or cause craziness.

A friend of his was also crazy.  You used to get drunk of Korbell brandy with a man named Peter, who wrote poetry , and taught courses in poetry at UC Berkeley.  Sometimes, when there was too much Korbell, he would disagree with your statements about Ezra Pound on the grounds that no one could recite things from him.  It was said of you that you had a bad influence on Peter because you could recall things Pound had written.  Pound in his way was as crazy as Yeats.  Among other things, he wrote this:

By Ezra Pound

For the Marriage in Cana of Galilee

O woman of my dreams,
Ivory sandaled,
There is none like thee among the dancers,
None with swift feet.         

I have not found thee in the tents,
In the broken darkness.
I have not found thee at the well-head
Among the women with pitchers.

Thine arms are as a young sapling under the bark;         
Thy face as a river with lights.

White as an almond are thy shoulders;
As new almonds stripped from the husk.

They guard thee not with eunuchs;
Not with bars of copper.         
Gilt turquoise and silver are in the place of thy rest.
A brown robe, with threads of gold woven in patterns,
                hast thou gathered about thee,
O Nathat-Ikanaie, “Tree-at-the-river.”

As a rillet among the sedge are thy hands upon me;         
Thy fingers a frosted stream.

Thy maidens are white like pebbles;
Their music about thee!

There is none like thee among the dancers;
None with swift feet.   

There was Kenneth Rexroth, who used to invite you over to eat the spicy pasta he made which he could no longer eat because of his hital hernia.  He had to have been crazy to write some of the wondrous poems, especially the translations from Japanese.      Or there was this:


There are sparkles of rain on the bright
Hair over your forehead;
Your eyes are wet and your lips
Wet and cold, your cheek rigid with cold.
Why have you stayed
Away so long, why have you only
Come to me late at night
After walking for hours in wind and rain?
Take off your dress and stockings;
Sit in the deep chair before the fire.
I will warm your feet in my hands;
I will warm your breasts and thighs with kisses.
I wish I could build a fire
In you that would never go out.
I wish I could be sure that deep in you
Was a magnet to draw you always home.

There are other crazy poets as well.  Ernest Dowsen, who went all crazy for a waitress named Adele, and who wrote for her:

Non sum qualis eram bonae sub regno Cynarae

Last night, ah, yesternight, betwixt her lips and mine
There fell thy shadow, Cynara! thy breath was shed
Upon my soul between the kisses and the wine;
And I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
   Yea, I was desolate and bowed my head:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

All night upon mine heart I felt her warm heart beat,
Night-long within mine arms in love and sleep she lay;
Surely the kisses of her bought red mouth were sweet;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
   When I awoke and found the dawn was gray:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I have forgot much, Cynara! gone with the wind,
Flung roses, roses riotously with the throng,
Dancing, to put thy pale, lost lilies out of mind;
But I was desolate and sick of an old passion,
   Yea, all the time, because the dance was long:
I have been faithful to thee, Cynara! in my fashion.

I cried for madder music and for stronger wine,
But when the feast is finished and the lamps expire,
Then falls thy shadow, Cynara! the night is thine;
And I am desolate and sick of an old passion,
   Yea, hungry for the lips of my desire:
I have been faithful to thee Cynara! in my fashion.

You are born into an upper middle class family in Santa Monica.  From the address on your birth certificate and verification from your sister, you were able to park in front of the house where you were taken as a mere infant, whence you grew seeking ways to track down adventure, craziness, insights, and some measure of ability to capture these things in story.  

From time to time, persons have called you that crazy Lowenkopf.

But not often enough.

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