Last week was the birthday of the remarkable, yet remarkably little known poet Robert Duncan (1919-1988). A defining member of the San Francisco Renaissance, along with Jack Spicer and Robin Blaser, among other greats. I encountered Duncan’s work during my Jr. year at Naropa University and have been a fan ever since. Just this week I grabbed his book, Bending the Bow off my shelf and thumbed through to find the poem of the same name...
Duncan always had a precise cadence. Developed by exacting line breaks and punctuation, the poem reads like a dream or a voice drawing the reader into deep trance. Although Duncan’s vocal style never had the power of Ginsberg or Amiri Baraka, his words are best spoken aloud (as is the case of any poem). So if your curious to hear him, check out his reading of My Mother Would Be a Falconress, I think you’ll find the power lies in the exact nature of his words and rhythms rather than in his shear instrumental force, but see for yourself. And for anything poetic including recordings of Duncan’s Poems and Lectures check out the Naropa Archive Project, one of the largest collections in the country.
Wherefrom fall all architectures I am
She it is Queen Under The Hill
whose hosts are a disturbance of words within words
It is only a dream of the grass blowing
whose secret we see in a children’s game
Often I am permitted to return to a meadow
that is a place of first permission,
hot on elephant
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