Reviewing a new book on The Sonnets of Shaks,
In the sonnets, Shakespeare’s incomparable awareness and capacity for expression has a physical effect. Like the sun at its zenith it casts no shadows, makes no weather. The last couplets of two great modern sonnets — E. E. Cummings’s “turning from the tremendous lie of sleep / i watch the roses of the day grow deep” and Weldon Kees’s “These speculations sour in the sun. / I have no daughter. I desire none” — make the sound of a guessable soul in a seeable place, fading into a spot of time. Someone is there.
Struck by this from Maxwell, I have looked out these two sonnets he fancies, and here they are now…(still digesting them so not adding my own comment)…
(hoping transmission doesn’t wreck their layout. Max)
First the cummings, then the Kees
It Is At Moments After I Have Dreamed
it is at moments after i have dreamed
of the rare entertainment of your eyes,
when(being fool to fancy)i have deemed
with your peculiar mouth my heart made wise;
at moments when the glassy darkness holds
the genuine apparition of your smile
(it was through tears always)and silence moulds
such strangeness as was mine a little while;
moments when my once more illustrious arms
are filled with fascination, when my breast
wears the intolerant brightness of your charms:
one pierced moment whiter than the rest
—turning from the tremendous lie of sleep
i watch the roses of the day grow deep.
For My Daughter
BY WELDON KEES
Looking into my daughter’s eyes I read
Beneath the innocence of morning flesh
Concealed, hintings of death she does not heed.
Coldest of winds have blown this hair, and mesh
Of seaweed snarled these miniatures of hands;
The night’s slow poison, tolerant and bland,
Has moved her blood. Parched years that I have seen
That may be hers appear: foul, lingering
Death in certain war, the slim legs green.
Or, fed on hate, she relishes the sting
Of others’ agony; perhaps the cruel
Bride of a syphilitic or a fool.
These speculations sour in the sun.
I have no daughter. I desire none.