Friday, July 12, 2013


Today we have poetry by Alfred Kreymbourg, 1883–1966. A New Yorker with a knack for connecting with artists of all kinds, Kreymbourg knew photographer Alfred Steiglitz, artist Man Ray, mobile-inventor/sculptor Alexander Calder, artist Fernand Léger, poets Wallace Stevens, Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Marianne Moore, and Carl Sandburg, among others.

by Alfred Kreymborg

Ladislaw the critic
is five feet six inches high,
which means
that his eyes
are five feet two inches
from the ground,
which means,
if you read him your poem,
and his eyes lift to five feet
and a trifle more than two inches,
what you have done
is Poetry—
should his eyes remain
at five feet two inches,
you have perpetrated prose,
and do his eyes stoop
—which Heaven forbid!—
the least trifle below
five feet two inches,
are an unspeakable adjective.


A poem for (Dr.) William Carlos Williams:

To W.C.W. M.D.
by Alfred Kreymborg

There has been
Another death.
This time
I bring it to you.
You are kind,
You know
How to lower
I ask only
That the rope
Isn't silk,
(Silk doesn't break)
Nor thread,
(Thread does.)
If it lifts
And lowers
Common things,
It will do.


Old Manuscript
by Alfred Kreymborg

The sky
Is that beautiful old parchment
In which the sun
And the moon
Keep their diary.
To read it all,
One must be a linguist
More learned than Father Wisdom;
And a visionary
More clairvoyant than Mother Dream.
But to feel it,
One must be an apostle:
One who is more than intimate
In having been, always,
The only confidant --
Like the earth
Or the sky.


by Alfred Kreymborg

AFTER we've had
our age of gold
and sung our song of brass,
fingers will brush
the age aside,
fingers and leaves
of grass.


I just found out that my book The Holocaust Survivors was listed as one of the "Top 100 Nonfiction Books Read by ATOS Book Level Range" in What Kids Are Reading: The Book-Reading Habits of Students in American Schools, 2013—Bonus Online Content. Very nice to see that it is still being read!

Michelle is our Poetry Friday round-up host.


Linda B said...

Congratulations about your book, Tabatha. That's wonderful news I'm sure. Kreymborg is a new poet to me. I like the way he seems to pause in his reflections, wanting us to think more about the topic. "Old Manuscript", the metaphor of the sky is beautiful, "the sun and the moon keep their diary"!

Michelle Heidenrich Barnes said...

Yes, great news about your book!

Lots of intriguing bits and pieces in these poems. I laughed at the "unspeakable adjective" line, and oohed and ahhed at Father Wisdom and Mother Dream.

Author Amok said...

Hi, Tabatha. I'm a huge fan of WCW, but the first poem is the one that spoke to me. What a spot-on portrait! I love the image of this critic passing judgement with his eyes. Thanks for sharing these.

Tara @ A Teaching Life said...

I am going to find your book, Tabatha, congratulations!
And these lines will stay with me of a long time:
The sky
Is that beautiful old parchment
In which the sun
And the moon
Keep their diary.
Just beautiful!!

Bridget Magee said...

Congrats on your book, Tabatha! Kreymborg is new to me - thank you for introducing me to his work. =)

Becky Shillington said...

Thanks for sharing the great poetry, Tabatha! And congratulations--Top 100 is an excellent achievement!

Keri said...

Old Manuscript is my favorite of the set -- you picked well for your audience of writers.

Mary Lee said...

When I read your link in the roundup, I said to myself, "Oh, goodie! Tabatha is going to introduce us to another new poet!" You did not disappoint! My only sadness is that, now that you've caused me to fall in love with his work (at least this excellent selection), I find that most of his books are out of print and our local libraries have nothing by him. Sigh. I'll have to make due with the ones you've chosen! "Poetry" is my favorite of the lot.

Where DO you find these fascinating but obscure poets?!?!

Diane Mayr said...

Tabatha, congratulations!

Where do you find these fabulous, yet forgotten, poets? I love Kreymborg's brevity. A man after my own heart!