Sunday, January 27, 2013


"Then he baptized the newly born, giving him the name that he immediately invented and which belongs to no saint in paradise:  CRONIAMANTAL.  He left the next day, after having arranged for his wife’s burial, written the letters necessary for the inheritance, and declared the child under the names Gaetan-François-Étienne-Jack-Amélie-Alonso des Ygrées.  With the infant whose putative father he was, he took the train for the principality of Monaco.

  Now a widower, François des Ygrées moved in near the principality in the district of Roquebrune; he took a room and board with a family, part of which was a pretty brunette named Mia.  There he bottle-fed the heir to his name.

  He often went for a stroll at dawn by the sea.  The road was bordered with guavas which, each time he saw them, he involuntarily compared to packages of dried cod. Sometimes, due to contrary winds, he turned to light an Egyptian cigarette whose smoke rose in spirals similar to the bluish mountains that blurred in distant Italy."


NOTE:  It was our bitter “I came to visit but decided to stay” cold weather that prompted my happy rediscovery of Guillaume Apollinaire’s Le Poéte Assassiné tonight. I had originally intended to consult another book in another room, but my mental reach exceeded my physical grasp and Jim Dine’s brilliant black & white cover fronting Ron Padgett’s hook-y translation called out to me from the shelf with RFID-like persistence and clarity, saying “Don’t move more than six to twelve inches, you fool.”  (Day Of The RFIDs?)  

Re-reading Apollinaire’s (and Padgett’s/ Dine’s) pages re-stirred important original teenage memories of subjects I still think about all the time, and eventually warmed the meat locker before dinner in our chilly kitchen and the evening's final dog walking.   

  Conjuring visuals for this post, I naturally thought first about Minamoto no Sanetomo, the Kamakura shogun/samurai poet (third image), assassinated 794 years ago this February 3 on the steps of the senior shrine at Tsurugaoka Hachiman-gū (final image). 

 “Research” (such as it was) led me also to the fine, recently unveiled daguerreotype double portrait said to depict Emily Dickinson (not assassinated) and her friend Kate Scott Turner.  The tomb of Hafez, the great Persian poet (not assassinated either, but immortal) seemed appropriately evocative, as did the unforgettable 1916 image of the author.  Shown with evidence of his grievous First World War shrapnel wounding, Apollinare seems as alive as ever -- energetic, finely-tuned, voluble. 

Two Jim Dine works inspired by this weird force-field of a book appear at top and immediately below these words.

Tonight’s fortune cookie read:  

Tomorrow your creative side will shine forth with exceptional ideas.”

As my mother used to say, “Pray, God.” 

From:  Guillaume Apollinaire, Le Poéte Assassiné (translation by Ron Padgett; illustrations by Jim Dine), London, Rupert Hart-Davis, 1968.

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