Tuesday, 23 November 2010

Wider Reading | Gilbert Sorrentino's Shapes of Winter

Winter Moon, by William Preston

There be snow approach'n, by the sound of things. End of this week, starting in the north east (where I'll be, I'm overjoyed to say) and head'n south. Winter's acomin', and to celebrate, one of the most astonishing poems I've ever come across - perhaps I should say bits of a poem. This is part one of Gilbert Sorrentino's 'Shapes of Winter', from his 1964 collection Black and White - it reminds me of Hopkins with its grandiose, repetitive economy. Thank you to Ed Cottrell for introducing me to Sorrentino, who died in 2006 - here's the Guardian's obituary. I believe Peter Blegvad was a student of his, incidentally - to listen to Blegvad's Silkworms mixtape again, head this way.

Gilbert Sorrentino, obviously

Shapes of Winter


To believe in a world of beauty: O
says the moon. The screech of the
birds answering the belief, the interjection
of the moon. A world of beauty,

silv'ry moon behind all of it, the light
turns to measure the crying
of birds, their crying inches toward
light, when they mesh, what

will occur? What world of beauty
occur, those black daubings spattered
on the moon revolve around

a stately ugliness, churn, settle.
Flight. My eye reflects a simple

bird-like movement, dumb hanging
world, lost in its bitterness of white, a
sad man's face hacked out of it.

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