RIP Franz Wright
Franz Wright, Pulitzer-Prize winning poet and son of James Wright (also a Pulitzer winning poet), died last week at the age of 62. Here are two of his poems:
Thoughts of a Solitary Farmhouse
And not to feel bad about dying.
Not to take it so personally—
it is only
the force we exert all our lives
to exclude death from our thoughts
that confronts us, when it does arrive,
as the horror of being excluded— . . .
something like that, the Canadian wind
coming in off Lake Erie
rattling the windows, horizontal snow
appearing out of nowhere
across the black highway and fields like billions of white bees.
To tell you the truth I’d have thought it had gone out of use long ago;
there is something so 19th-century about it,
with its absurd reverse Puritanism.
Can withdrawal from reality or interpersonal commitment be gauged
by uneasiness at being summoned to a small closed room to discuss
ambiguously sexual material with a total stranger?
Alone in the presence of the grave examiner, it soon becomes clear
that, short of strangling yourself, you are going to have to find a way
of suppressing the snickers of an eight-year-old sex fiend, and feign cu-
riosity about the process to mask your indignation at being placed in
Sure, you see lots of pretty butterflies with the faces of ancient Egypt-
ian queens, and so forth—you see other things, too.
Flying stingray vaginas all over the place, along with a few of their
male counterparts transparently camouflaged as who knows what pil-
lars and swords out of the old brain’s unconscious.
You keep finding yourself thinking, “God damn it, don’t tell me that
isn’t a pussy!”
But after long silence come out with, “Oh, this must be Christ trying
to prevent a large crowd from stoning a woman to death.”
The thing to do is keep a straight face, which is hard. After all, you’re
supposed to be crazy
(and are probably proving it).
Maybe a nudge and a chuckle or two wouldn’t hurt your case. Yes,
it’s some little card game you’ve gotten yourself into this time, when
your only chance is to lose. Fold,
and they have got you by the balls—
just like the ones you neglected to identify.
Do not forget that a poem, although it is composed in the language of information,
is not used in the language-game of giving information.
—Ludwig Wittgenstein: Zettel