Heart Happy (cathy_edgett) wrote,
Heart Happy

Nathaniel Tarn

Today I was reading the poetry of Nathaniel Tarn. His poem Ins and Outs of the Forest Rivers by the book of the same name is exquisite.

It is too long to put here tonight when I am tired, so I give you the end of an article by Brenda Hillman.

You can read the whole article at: http://jacketmagazine.com/28/hill-tarn.html

Brenda Hillman:

Finally, the goal is to bring together in one life acts of imagination that involve choice. Creation involves the disappointment of having to be selective. The poet accepts that life is made of particulars and we must choose among them. It is partly this tension between the ‘everything’ and the ‘something’ that lends so much energy to his writing; The ecstatic pushes against the need to hold back. Tarn has written dynamically about how much creation itself has to do with selection, the giving up on the all-inclusive:
“I take the aim of art to be the creation of an order so surprising that it cannot fail to be perceived by receivers as new and different from what went before. ...While there may be an urge to be all-inclusive, or as all-inclusive as possible (few creators immediately attain the desirable level of selectivity), the new order is little by little forced to give up on totality. Personally, my whole life has been haunted by the urge to totality, to the incorporation of what the Chinese call the Ten Thousand Things, on the one hand, and the radical pain of the obligation to select on the other. Totality probably continues to haunt the ongoing process in any poetic production.”
Almost everything that can be said of a terrific book of poetry can be said of this one. When reading Tarn’s poems, I am reminded about the big scope of poetry, about what it can truly do. Both deeply sustaining and pleasurable, it is an awe-inspiring Selected? that a poet knows the importance of living at this level:

For those who continue to wish to work down here,
life has to provide some means of ending.
It switches the powers off one by one:
our needs, the joy one takes in them.
Eventually most of the things that have pleasured us
are wearied by rubbing away
or deadness of desire in the marrow.
Then we lie down and prepare ourselves
to be transformed entirely into light
in order that we might be devoured by no other life.


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