The Sunne Rising
Busie old foole, unruly Sunne,
Why dost thou thus,
Through windowes, and through curtaines call on us?
Must to thy motions lovers seasons run?
Sawcy pedantique wretch, goe chide
Late schoole boyes, and sowre prentices,
Goe tell Court-huntsmen, that the King will ride,
Call countrey ants to harvest offices;
Love, all alike, no season knowes, nor clyme,
Nor houres, dayes, moneths, which are the rags of time.
Thy beames, so reverend, and strong
Why shouldst thou thinke?
I could eclipse and cloud them with a winke,
But that I would not lose her sight so long:
If her eyes have not blinded thine,
Looke, and to morrow late, tell mee,
Whether both the’India’s of spice and Myne
Be where thou leftst them, or lie here with mee.
Aske for those Kings whom thou saw’st yesterday,
And thou shalt heare, All here in one bed lay.
She’is all States, and all Princes, I,
Nothing else is.
Princes doe but play us; compar’d to this,
All honor’s mimique; All wealth alchimie.
Thou sunne art halfe as happy’as wee,
In that the world’s contracted thus;
Thine age askes ease, and since thy duties bee
To warme the world, that’s done in warming us.
Shine here to us, and thou art every where;
This bed thy center is, these walls, thy spheare.
John Donne [c.1601]
A TRUE ACCOUNT OF TALKING TO THE SUN AT FIRE ISLAND
The Sun woke me this morning loud
and clear, saying “Hey! I’ve been
trying to wake you up for fifteen
minutes. Don’t be so rude, you are
only the second poet I’ve ever chosen
to speak to personally
aren’t you more attentive? If I could
burn you through the window I would
to wake you up. I can’t hang around
here all day.”
“Sorry, Sun, I stayed
up late last night talking to Hal.”
“When I woke up Mayakovsky he was
a lot more prompt” the Sun said
petulantly. “Most people are up
already waiting to see if I’m going
to put in an appearance.”
to apologize “I missed you yesterday.“
“That’s better” he said. “I didn’t
know you’d come out.” “You may be
wondering why I’ve come so close?“
“Yes” I said beginning to feel hot
wondering if maybe he wasn’t burning me
“Frankly I wanted to tell you
I like your poetry. I see a lot
on my rounds and you’re okay. You may
not be the greatest thing on earth, but
you’re different. Now, I’ve heard some
say you’re crazy, they being excessively
calm themselves to my mind, and other
crazy poets think that you’re a boring
reactionary. Not me.
Just keep on
like I do and pay no attention. You’ll
find that people always will complain
about the atmosphere, either too hot
or too cold too bright or too dark, days
too short or too long.
If you don’t appear
at all one day they think you’re lazy
or dead. Just keep right on, I like it.
And don’t worry about your lineage
poetic or natural. The Sun shines on
the jungle, you know, on the tundra
the sea, the ghetto. Wherever you were
I knew it and saw you moving. I was waiting
for you to get to work.
And now that you
are making your own days, so to speak,
even if no one reads you but me
you won’t be depressed. Not
everyone can look up, even at me. It
hurts their eyes.“
“Oh Sun, I’m so grateful to you!”
“Thanks and remember I’m watching. It’s
easier for me to speak to you out
here. I don’t have to slide down
between buildings to get your ear.
I know you love Manhattan, but
you ought to look up more often.
always embrace things, people earth
sky stars, as I do, freely and with
the appropriate sense of space. That
is your inclination, known in the heavens
and you should follow it to hell, if
necessary, which I doubt.
speak again in Africa, of which I too
am specially fond. Go back to sleep now
Frank, and I may leave a tiny poem
in that brain of yours as my farewell.”
“Sun, don’t go!” I was awake
at last. “No, go I must, they’re calling
“Who are they?”
Rising he said “Some
day you’ll know. They’re calling to you
too.” Darkly he rose, and then I slept.
Frank O’Hara 
An Extraordinary Adventure Which Befell Vladimir Mayakovksy In A Summer Cottage
A hundred and forty suns in one sunset blazed,
and summer rolled into July;
it was so hot,
the heat swam in a haze—
and this was in the country.
Pushkino, a hillock, had for hump
Akula, a large hill,
and at the hill’s foot
a village stood—
crooked with the crust of roofs.
Beyond the village
gaped a hole
and into that hole, most likely,
the sun sank down each time,
faithfully and slowly.
And next morning,
to flood the world
the sun would rise all scarlet.
Day after day
this very thing
to rouse in me
And flying into such a rage one day
that all things paled with fear,
I yelled at the sun point-blank:
Stop crawling into that hellhole!”
At the sun I yelled:
“You shiftless lump!
You’re caressed by the clouds,
while here—winter and summer—
I must sit and draw these posters!”
I yelled at the sun again:
instead of going down,
why not come down to tea
What have I done!
Toward me, of his own good will,
spreading his beaming steps,
the sun strode across the field.
I tried to hide my fear,
and beat it backwards.
His eyes were in the garden now.
Then he passed through the garden.
His sun’s mass pressing
through the windows,
in he rolled;
drawing a breath,
he spoke deep bass:
“For the first time since creation,
I drive the fires back.
You called me?
Give me tea, poet,
spread out, spread out the jam!”
Tears gathered in my eyes—
the heat was maddening,
but pointing to the samovar
I said to him:
“Well, sit down then,
The devil had prompted my insolence
to shout at him,
I sat on the edge of a bench;
I was afraid of worse!
But, from the sun, a strange radiance
I sat chatting
with the luminary more freely.
and that I talked,
and of how I was swallowed up by Rosta,
but the sun, he says:
look at things more simply!
And do you think
I find it easy
Just try it, if you will!—
You move along,
since move you must;
you move—and shine your eyes out!”
We gossiped thus till dark—
Till former night, I mean.
For what darkness was there here?
We warmed up
to each other
and very soon,
openly displaying friendship,
I slapped him on the back.
The sun responded!
“You and I,
my comrade, are quite a pair!
Let’s go, my poet,
in a gray tattered world.
I shall pour forth my sun,
and you—your own,
A wall of shadows,
a jail of nights
fell under the double-barreled suns.
A commotion of verse and light—
shine all your worth!
Drowsy and dull,
wanting to stretch out
for the night.
shone in all my might,
and morning ran its round.
Always to shine,
to shine everywhere,
to the very deeps of the last days,
and to hell with everything else!
That is my motto—
and the sun’s!
Vladimir Mayakovsky 
Cy Twombly, Untitled [from Blooming. A Scattering of Blossoms And Other Things], 2007
The Cloud Corporation
By Timothy Donnelly
The clouds part revealing a mythology of clouds
assembled in light of earliest birds, an originary
text over water over time, and that without which
the clouds part revealing an apology for clouds
implicit in the air where the clouds had been
recently witnessed rehearsing departure, a heartfelt phrase
in the push of the airborne drops and crystals
over water over time—how being made to think
oneself an obstruction between the observer
and the object or objects under surveillance or even
desired—or if I am felt to be beside the point
then I have wanted that, but to block a path is like
not being immaterial enough, or being too much
when all they want from you now is your station
cleared of its personal effects please and vanish—
not that they’d ever just come out and say it when
all that darting around of the eyes, all that shaky
camouflage of paper could only portend the beginning of the
end of your tenure at this organization, and remember
a capacity to draw meaning out of such seeming
accidence landed one here to begin with, didn’t it.
The clouds part revealing an anatomy of clouds
viewed from the midst of human speculation, a business
project undertaken in a bid to acquire and retain
control of the formation and movement of clouds.
As late afternoons I have witnessed the distant
towers borrow luster from a bourbon sun, in-box
empty, surround sound on, all my money made
in lieu of conversation—where conversation indicates
the presence of desire in the parties to embark on
exchange of spirit, hours forzando with heartfelt phrase—
made metaphor for it, the face on the clock tower
bright as a meteor, as if a torch were held against
likelihood to illuminate the time so I could watch
the calm silent progress of its hands from the luxury
appointments of my office suite, the tumult below
or behind me out of mind, had not my whole attention
been riveted by the human figure stood upon
the tower’s topmost pinnacle, himself surveying
the clouds of the future parting in antiquity, a figure
not to be mistaken, tranquilly pacing a platform
with authority: the chief executive officer of clouds.
The clouds part revealing blueprints of the clouds
built in glass-front factories carved into cliff-faces
which, prior to the factories’ recent construction,
provided dorms for clans of hamadryas baboons,
a species revered in ancient Egypt as attendants
of Thoth, god of wisdom, science, and measurement.
Fans conveying clouds through aluminum ducts
can be heard from up to a mile away, depending on
air temperature, humidity, the absence or presence
of any competing sound, its origin and its character.
It is no more impossible to grasp the baboon’s
full significance in Egyptian religious symbolism
than it is to determine why clouds we manufacture
provoke in an audience more positive, lasting
response than do comparable clouds occurring in nature.
Even those who consider natural clouds products
of conscious manufacture seem to prefer that a merely
human mind lie behind the products they admire.
This development may be a form of self-exalting
or else another adaptation in order that we find
the hum of machinery comforting through darkness.
The clouds part revealing there’s no place left to sit
myself down except for a single wingback chair
backed into a corner to face the window in which
the clouds part revealing the insouciance of clouds
cavorting over the backs of the people in the field
who cut the ripened barley, who gather it in sheaves,
who beat grain from the sheaves with wooden flails,
who shake it loose from the scaly husk around it,
who throw the now threshed grain up into the gently
palm-fanned air whose steady current carries off
the chaff as the grain falls to the floor, who collect
the grain from the floor painstakingly to grind it
into flour, who bake the flour into loaves the priest will offer
in the sanctuary, its walls washed white like milk.
To perform it repeatedly, to perform it each time
as if the first, to walk the dim corridor believing that
the conference it leads to might change everything,
to adhere to a possibility of reward, of betterment,
of moving above, with effort, the condition into which
one has been born, to whom do I owe the pleasure
of the hum to which I have been listening too long.
The clouds part revealing the advocates of clouds,
believers in people, ideas and things, the workers
of the united fields of clouds, supporters of the wars
to keep clouds safe, the devotees of heartfelt phrase
and belief you can change with water over time.
It is the habit of a settled population to give ear to
whatever is desirable will come to pass, a caressing
confidence—but one unfortunately not borne out
by human experience, for most things people desire
have been desired ardently for thousands of years
and observe—they are no closer to realization today
than in Ramses’ time. Nor is there cause to believe
they will lose their coyness on some near tomorrow.
Attempts to speed them on have been undertaken
from the beginning; plans to force them overnight
are in copious, antagonistic operation today, and yet
they have thoroughly eluded us, and chances are
they will continue to elude us until the clouds part
in a flash of autonomous, ardent, local brainwork—
but when the clouds start to knit back together again,
we’ll dismiss the event as a glitch in transmission.
The clouds part revealing a congregation of bodies
united into one immaterial body, a fictive person
around whom the air is blurred with money, force
from which much harm will come, to whom my welfare
matters nothing. I sense without turning the light
from their wings, their eyes; they preen themselves
on the fire escape, the windowsill, their pink feet
vulnerable—a mistake to think of them that way.
If I turn around, the room might not be full of wings
capable of acting, in many respects, as a single being,
which is to say that I myself may be the source of
what I sense, but am no less powerless to change it.
Always around me, on my body, in my mouth, I fear them
and their love of money, everything I do without
thinking to help them make it. And if I am felt to be
beside the point, I have wanted that, to live apart
from what depends on killing me a little bit to keep
itself alive, and yet not happily, with all its needs
and comforts met, but fattened so far past that point
I am engrossed, and if I picture myself outside of it
it isn’t me anymore, but a parasite cast out, inviable.
The clouds part revealing the distinction between
words without meaning and meaning without words,
a phenomenon of nature, the westbound field
of low air pressure developing over water over time
and warm, saturated air on the sea surface rising
steadily replaced by cold air from above, the cycle
repeating, the warm moving upward into massive
thunderclouds, the cold descending into the eye
around which bands of thunderclouds spiral, counter–
clockwise, often in the hundreds, the atmospheric
pressure dropping even further, making winds
accelerate, the clouds revolve, a confusion of energy,
an incomprehensible volume of rain—I remember
the trick of thinking through infinity, a crowd of eyes
against an asphalt wall, my vision of it scrolling
left as the crowd thinned out to a spatter and then
just black until I fall asleep and then just black again,
past marketing, past focus groups, past human
resources, past management, past personal effects,
their insignificance evident in the eye of the dream
and through much of the debriefing I wake into next.
Cy Twombly, Untitled, 2007
Timothy Donnelly was on campus Friday April 26th, 2013 for “Lament of the Makers: Conceptualism and Poetic Freedom” a symposium on conceptual poetry organized by the Contemporary Poetry Colloquium. “The Cloud Corporation” is from his collection The Cloud Corporation, Wave Books, 2010.
George Innes, The Lackawanna Valley, 1855
Forgotten American Poets of the 19th Century
by Kent Johnson
—for John Bradley, in the 21st
Absalom William Moore is a poet who thought poetry was an anchor in the drift of the world.
Adelaide Mary Brown is a poet who inspired strong feelings among the bachelors of her town.
Bartholomew Derrick Taylor is a poet who spoke to us intimately, from an almost suffocating nearness.
Obedience Sophie Walker is a poet who believed there’s another world where we will read to each other high on a mountain in the wind.
Cuthbert Eli Morgan is a poet who always seemed to connect with the choir.
Abiah Charlotte Sanders is a poet who spun her gold down through the moving deep laurel shade all day.
Chauncey Thaddeus Powell is a poet who believed that there are no grounds for belief.
Lucretia Florence Jenkins is a poet who believed they will have to believe it as we believed it.
Cornelius August Parker is a poet who thought he was lit up like morning glories and was showered by the rain of his symbols.
Cyrus Wiley Butler is a poet who believed long poems are “much closer to a whole reality” than shorter poems, but too late.
Fredonia Anna Ross is a poet who believed she had spent the afternoon blowing soap bubbles.
Obediah Virgil Foster is a poet who believed the day was gloves.
Hester Wilma Campbell is a poet who was suddenly covered at the party by the wasps of the doorsill.
Ebenezer Charles Freeman is a poet whose last words were “The pool is covered in slime.”
Permelia Margaret Holmes is a poet who believed that when a screen door banged in the wind it made one of her hinges come loose.
Epaphroditus Benjamin Warren is a poet who didn’t and doesn’t really care where poetry is now.
Prudence Alice Grant is a poet who rode a mule until the mule had to be carried.
Phineas Derrick Knight is a poet who thought of himself highly, believing the nature of what is personal imitates oblivion.
Temperance Clarissa Hamilton is a poet who wrote poems in French with the design that they be translated into the English of the Queen.
Hiram Josiah Hunt is a poet who dragged a rotten log from the bottom of a stagnant pond.
Jedediah Louis Mason is a poet who nested at the end of a tunnel, where he was discovered beneath a bank.
Elijah Aquilla Burns is a poet who loved Rochester, and who flows northward like two joined sewers.
Zachariah Thomas Hayes is a poet who believed we go back to poems as to a wife, leaving the boyfriend we desire.
Malvina Penelope Smith is a poet who shouted primitive slogans and shot symbolic smoke out her gills.
Olive Martha Weaver is a poet who believed she could simply choose to “wander away” from an optional apocalypse.
Nathaniel Edward East is a poet who wondered how the singing of the housefinch rings in finchskull, which wondering made him mad.
Electa Joan McCoy is a poet who believed it was a misunderstanding, mud sliding from the side where the thing was let in.
Mabel Ellen Greene is a poet who believed the whole brilliant mass comes spattering down.
Hezekiah Zander Fox is a poet whose two stalks pushed from the brain, through a series of miraculous infoldings to form optic cups.
Kesiah Relief Riley is a poet whose hair was black, and whose eyes were black, and from whose long fingers the spirits were conjured.
Newton Duncan Stone is a poet who believed Orpheus liked the glad personal quality of the things beneath the sky, which on that strange day began to rain frogs.
Isaac Davis Gibson is a poet who had a cow’s head on his shoulders and candles sprouting from his back.
Abigail Isabel Hicks is a poet who has disappeared into libraries, into microfilm.
Jeremiah Cross Shaw is a poet who went mad and had relations with Longfellow, his steed.
Tryphosia Sybrina Chapman is a poet who believed our jousting ends in music, like saplings do, after a typhoon.
Loretta Judith Porter is a poet who liked it when it was snowing in Paris, a city which does not exist.
Priscilla Elinamifia Woods is a poet who wrapped you in the burnoose of memories against the dark temptations of the flesh.
Francis Quiet Bryant is a poet who entered the forest, followed a path, and was eaten by The Bear, or The Witch.
Judah Robert Daniels is a poet who discovered a way to translate Eastern texts so that Western men could read Orientally, down at the beach of agates.
Lafayette Blessed Strongly is a poet who thought he was ahead of his time, but now he is regarded as apocryphal.
Pleasant Reunion Washington is a poet whose last line was “I don’t think the leeches are sucking anymore.”
Jackson Auction Black is a poet whose classical meters were all blasted to ruins in defense of Charleston.
Henrietta Troy Mills is a poet who was stolen by the Apache and became an Apache, it is rumored.
Edward Azariah Cole is a poet who knew he would show them, those who had laughed and mocked him, but alas.
Anne Liza Bishop is a poet who insisted on signing Anonymous and so forever does.
Martha Damaris Tucker is a poet who did not doubt that her hands or her whole body were hers, as the grain of sand to the haboob or the shrimp to the tsunami.
Winifred Fullest Hart is a poet who, like Thomas Jefferson, saw grass enough for myriads of oxen to grind between their teeth.
Kenward Linwood Johnson is a poet who at one end of his line had a knot, and at the other end a hook, and he sat fishing for a camel until he was called to come back.
Experience April Weaver is a poet whose sorrow was so wide you couldn’t see across it, if sorrow could be seen.
On Friday April 26th, 2013, Kent Johnson joins us in conversation with Timothy Donnelly, Jena Osman, Monica de la Torre and a keynote address by Vanessa Place. “Lament of the Makers: Conceptualism and Poetic Freedom” is a symposium on conceptual poetry organized by the Contemporary Poetry Colloquium with funding and support from the Lewis Center for the Arts, The Program in Latin American Studies, The Princeton University 250th Anniversary Fund, and the English Department. The event will take place at 127 East Pyne from 3Pm — 6:30PM.