Robert Pinsky

(October 20, 1940 / New Jersey)

The Refinery


". . . our language, forged in the dark bycenturies of violent
pressure, underground,out of the stuff of dead life."

Thirsty and languorous after their long black sleep
The old gods crooned and shuffled and shook their heads.
Dry, dry. By railroad they set out
Across the desert of stars to drink the world
Our mouths had soaked
In the strange sentences we made
While they were asleep: a pollen-tinted
Slurry of passion and lapsed
Intention, whose imagined
Taste made the savage deities hiss and snort.

In the lightless carriages, a smell of snake
And coarse fur, glands of lymphless breath
And ichor, the avid stenches of
Immortal bodies.

Their long train clicked and sighed
Through the gulfs of night between the planets
And came down through the evening fog
Of redwood canyons. From the train
At sunset, fiery warehouse windows
Along a wharf. Then dusk, a gash of neon:
Bar. Black pinewoods, a junction crossing, glimpses
Of sluggish surf among the rocks, a moan
Of dreamy forgotten divinity calling and fading
Against the windows of a town. Inside
The train, a flash
Of dragonfly wings, an antlered brow.

Black night again, and then
After the bridge, a palace on the water:

The great Refinery--impossible city of lights,
A million bulbs tracing its turreted
Boulevards and mazes. The castle of a person
Pronounced alive, the Corporation: a fictional
Lord real in law.

Barbicans and torches
Along the siding where the engine slows
At the central tanks, a ward
Of steel palisades, valved and chandeliered.

The muttering gods
Greedily penetrate those bright pavilions--
Libation of Benzene, Naphthalene, Asphalt,
Gasoline, Tar: syllables
Fractioned and cracked from unarticulated

Crude, the smeared keep of life that fed
On itself in pitchy darkness when the gods
Were new--inedible, volatile
And sublimated afresh to sting
Our tongues who use it, refined from oil of stone.

The gods batten on the vats, and drink up
Lovecries and memorized Chaucer, lines from movies
And songs hoarded in mortmain: exiles' charms,
The basal or desperate distillates of breath
Steeped, brewed and spent
As though we were their aphids, or their bees,
That monstered up sweetness for them while they dozed.

Submitted: Monday, January 20, 2003

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  • Sangnam Nam (6/13/2009 8:17:00 AM)

    The poem below was translated into Korean from German
    and Ahmad retranslates into German again; ; ; ; ;

    it means the Koreans know it very well
    but the Germans? ? ? ? ? ? ? ?

    Never know. (Report) Reply

  • Sangnam Nam (6/13/2009 8:13:00 AM)

    Herbsttag

    Herr, es ist Zeit. Der Sommer war sehr groß.
    Leg deinen Schatten auf die Sonnenuhren,
    und auf den Fluren laß die Winde los.

    Befiehl den letzten Früchten voll zu sein;
    gib ihnen noch zwei südlichere Tage,
    dränge sie zur Vollendung hin und jage
    die letzte Süße in den schweren Wein.

    Wer jetzt kein Haus hat, baut sich keines mehr.
    Wer jetzt allein ist, wird es lange bleiben,
    wird wachen, lesen, lange Briefe schreiben
    und wird in den Alleen hin und her
    unruhig wandern, wenn die Blätter treiben.

    Rainer Maria Rilke

    Aus 'Das Buch der Bilder'

    by Ahmad Shiddiqi(In German He translated Rainer Maria Rilke)
    =Robert Pinsky (Report) Reply

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