Friday, September 9, 2016


Pilgrim Heights

Something, something, the heart here
Misses, something it knows it needs
Unable to bless — the wind passes;
A swifter shadow sweeps the reeds,
The heart a colder contrast brushes.

So this fool, face-forward, belly
Pressed among the rushes, plays out
His pulse to the dune's long slant
Down from blue to bluer element,
The bold encompassing drink of air

And namelessness, a length compound
Of want and oneness the shore's mumbling
Distantly tells — something a wing's
Dry pivot stresses, carved
Through barrens of stillness and glare:

The naked close of light in light,
Light's spare embrace of blade and tremor
Stealing the generous eye's plunder
Like a breathing banished from the lung's
Fever, lost in parenthetic air.

Raiding these nude recesses, the hawk
Resumes his yielding balance, his shadow
Swims the field, the sands beyond,
The narrow edges fed out to light,
To the sea's eternal licking monochrome.

The foolish hip, the elbow bruise
Upright from the dampening mat,
The twisted grasses turn, nuthatch,
Light-headed blood renews its stammer —
Apart, below, the dazed eye catches

A darkened figure abruptly measured
Where folding beakers lay their whites;
The heart from its height starts downward,
Swum in that perfect pleasure
It knows it needs, unable to bless.


Alvin Feinman
The Complete Poems of Alvin Feinman
Corrupted into Song
Princeton 2016

Harold Bloom gives us a forward to this posthumous collection
and having had enough of Harold Bloom for now I skipped the introduction, took to James Geary's fine portrait of the poet, who is as inventive yet as sullen as he appears here in this poem, nicely working the language over the landscape, and returning after reading the book seeing that Bloom also merits this as one of Feinman's finest. He lived a long life and wrote sparingly and kept long to his teaching duties at Bennington College.