Monday, May 15, 2006

Stanley Kunitz (July 29, 1906 - May 14, 2006)

The parentheses close -- as he might have said.

Beyond grief. Yes, grief, an ever distant chain of regrets.

Odd, but fitting, I spend these days in the garden. Saturday night, early sunday morning, I woke up, alert from a dream I couldn't recall. I couldn't go back to sleep -- unusual for me, so I got up and engaged in some serendipitous and downright miraculous surfing until way past dawn having to do with my other hero and mentor from afar, Memphis Minnie and this screenplay I'm writing about her. The prior morning, I had posted about Bill Stafford, to whom Kunitz once introduced me. I spent the rest of the time in the garden, not thinking of Stanley, but I had been as I wrote about Bill. Fitting, so fitting, and odd, too, after so long, to return to my garden (or rather, the promise of a garden) with a new found energy.

Yes, he's been here. He was there. He said good-bye.

And now he's in the flowers. My flowers. Fitting. Flor y canto, flowers and a song, the only things we humans can ever hope to leave behind -- besides the love embodied in the ones left.

Adios, Tlamatini


All the earth is a grave and nothing escapes it, nothing is so perfect
that it does not descend to its tomb. Rivers, rivulets, fountains and
waters flow, but never return to their joyful beginnings; anxiously
they hasten on the vast realms of the rain god. As they widen their
banks, they also fashion the sad urn of their burial.

Filled are the bowels of the earth with pestilential dust once flesh and bone, once animate bodies of man who sat upon thrones, decided cases, presided in council, commanded armies, conquered provinces, possessed treasure, destroyed temples, exulted in their pride, majesty, fortune, praise and power. Vanished are these glories, just as the fearful smoke vanishes that belches forth from the infernal fires of Popocatepetl. Nothing recalls them but the written page.

King of Texcoco (1431-72)
Trs. John Curl

Thanks to Anne Haines for the sad news, and for posting the link to this obituary from today's Provincetown newspaper.

I have to type up the rest of the long bio I wrote for my other blog, for LDC scholarship; it has a long section about Stanley and his influence on my career, my avocation, which is to say, my life.


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