Monday, March 31, 2014

"Happy Birthday, Rene."--ntodd

And how better to honor Descartes  than with a poem by Beckett?

Whoroscope / Samuel Beckett

What's that?
An egg?
By the brothers Boot it stinks fresh.
Give it to Gillot.

Galileo how are you
and his consecutive thirds!
The vile old Copernican lead-swinging son of a
We're moving he said we're off--Porca
the way a boatswain would be, or a sack-of-
            potatoey charging Pretender.
That's not moving, that's moving.

What's that?
A little green fry or a mushroomy one?
Two lashed ovaries with prostisciutto?
How long did she womb it, the feathery one?
Three days and four nights?
Give it to Gillot.

Faulhaber, Beeckman and Peter the Red,
come now in the cloudy avalanche or Gassendi's
            sun-red crystally cloud
and I'll pebble you all your hen-and-a-half ones
or I'll pebble a lens under the quilt in the midst
            of day.

To think he was my own brother, Peter the
and not a syllogism out of him
no more than if Pa were still in it.
Hey! pass over those coppers,
sweet milled sweat of my burning liver!
Them were the days I sat in the hot-cupboard
            throwing Jesuits out of the skylight.

Who's that? Hals?
Let him wait.

My squinty doaty!
I hid and you sook.
And Francine my precious fruit of a house-and-
            parlour foetus!
What an exfoliation!
Her little grey flayed epidermis and scarlet
My one child
scourged by a fever to stagnant murky blood--
Oh Harvey beloved
how shall the red and white, the many in the
(dear boodswirling Harvey)
eddy through that crack beater?
And the fourth Henry came to the crypt of the

What's that?
How long?
Sit on it.

A wind of evil flung my despair of ease
against the sharp spires of the one
not one or twice but…
(Kip of Christ hatch it!)
in the one sun's drowning
(Jesuitasters please copy).
So on with the silk hose over the knitted, and
            the morbid leather--
what am I saying! the gentle canvas--
and away to Ancona on the bright Adriatic,
and farewell for a space to the yellow key of
            the Rosicrucians.
They don't know what the master of them that
            do did,
that the nose is touched by the kiss of all foul
            and sweet air,
and the drums, and the throne of the faecal
and the eyes by its zig-zags.

So we drink Him and eat Him
and the watery Beaune and the stale cubes of
because He can jig
as near or as far from His Jigging Self
and as sad or lively as the chalice or the tray asks.
How's that, Antonio?

In the name of Bacon will you chicken me up
            that egg.
Shall I swallow cave-phantoms?

Anna Maria!
She reads Moses and says her love is crucified.
Leider! Leider! she bloomed and withered,
a pale abusive parakeet in a mainstreet window.

No I believe every word of it I assure you.
Fallor, ergo sum!
The coy old froleur!
He tolle'd and legge'd
and he buttoned on his redemptorist waistcoat.
No matter, let it pass.
I'm a bold boy I know
so I'm not my son
(even if I were a concierge)
nor Joachim my father's
but the chip of a perfect block that's neither old
            nor new,
the lonely petal of a great high bright rose.

Are you ripe at last,
my slim pale double-breasted turd?
How rich she smells,
this abortion of a fledgling!
I will eat it with a fish fork.
White and yolk and feathers.
Then I will rise and move moving
toward Rahab of the snows,
the murdering matinal pope-confessed amazon,
Christina the ripper.
Oh Weulles spare the blood of a Frank
who has climbed the bitter steps,
(Rene' du Perron….!)
and grant me my second
starless inscrutable hour.

The poem came with notes, of which this is my favorite: 

1. Rene Descartes, Seigneur du Perron, liked his omelette made of eggs hatched from eight to ten days; shorter or longer under the hen and the result, he says, is disgusting. He kept his own birthday to himself so that no astrologer could cast his nativity. The Shuttle of a ripening egg combs the warp of his days.


  1. So he liked to eat chicken embryos? Gross. Or does it mean that he liked his eggs to be about 9 days old? It takes about nine days for an egg to get to the stage when it will peel cleanly when you boil one, or so we were told by the old lady who ran the feed store. I've had to turn away customers who wanted to buy eggs to make deviled eggs because ours never stay unbought that long. Interesting poem, I suspect it would take a month to unpack it. Reminds me of some of Rilke's Elegies in that.

    Whenever being accused of believing in Descartian dualism, it's fun to say, Oh, no, two are too few.



  3. "Then I will rise and move moving

    toward Rahab of the snows..."

    Hey, isn't this putting Descartes before the whore?