William Butler Yeats

The Second Coming

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at laSt,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Donald Judd

Martha Graham

There is a vitality, a life force, a quickening that is translated
through you into action, and there is only one of you in all time, this
expression is unique, and if you block it, it will never exist through
any other medium; and be lost. The world will not have it. It is not
your business to determine how good it is, not how it compares with
other expression. It is your business to keep it yours clearly and
directly, to keep the channel open. You do not even have to believe
in yourself or your work. You have to keep open and aware directly to
the urges that motivate you. Keep the channel open. No artist is
pleased. There is no satisfaction whatever at any time. There is only
a queer, divine dissatisfaction, a blessed unrest that keeps us
marching and makes us more alive than the others.


Mark Rothko

W. S. Merwin


for Wendell Berry

Each face in the street is a slice of bread
wandering on

somewhere in the light the true hunger
appears to be passing them by
they clutch

have they forgotten the pale caves
they dreamed of hiding in
their own caves
full of the waiting of their footprints
hung with the hollow marks of their groping
full of their sleep and their hiding

have they forgotten the ragged tunnels
they dreamed of following in out of the light
to hear step after step

the heart of bread
to be sustained by its dark breath
and emerge

to find themselves alone
before a wheat field
raising its radiance to the moon

Edgar Degas


W. S. Merwin


How long ago the day is
when at last I look at it
with the time it has taken
to be there still in it
now in the transparent light
with the flight in the voices
the beginning in the leaves
everything I remember
and before it before me
present at the speed of light
in the distance that I am
who keep reaching out to it
seeing all the time faster
where it has never stirred from
before there is anything
the darkness thinking the light

Wallace Stevens

The Emperor of Ice Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

William Carlos Williams

The Red Wheelbarrow

so much depends
a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Richard Misrach

A. R. Ammons


The sparrowhawk
flies hard to

stand in the
air: something

about direction
lets us loose

into ease
and slow grace.

Uta barth

A. R. Ammons


Like a single drop of rain,
the wasp strikes
the windowpane: buzzes rapidly
away, disguising

error in urgent business:
such is the
invisible, hard as glass,
unrenderable by the senses,

not known until stricken by:
some talk that
there is safety in the visible,
the definite, the heard and felt,

pre-stressing the rational and
calling out with
joy, like people far from death:
how puzzled they will be when

going headlong secure in "things"
they strike the
intangible and break, lost,
unaccustomed to transparency, to

being without body, energy
without image:
how they will be dealt
hard realizations, opaque as death.

Emmit Gowin

A. R. Ammons

Bees stopped

Bees stopped on the rock
and rubbed their headparts and wings
rested then flew on:
ants ran over the whitish greenish reddish
plants that grow flat on rocks
and people never see
because nothing should grow on rocks:
I looked out over the lake
and beyond to the hills and trees
and nothing was moving
so I looked closely
along the lakeside
under the old leaves of rushes
and around clumps of drygrass
and life was everywhere
so I went on sometimes whistling

Robert Penn Warren

Dead Horse in Field

In the last, far field, half-buried in barberry bushes, red fruited,
The thoroughbred lies dead, left foreleg shattered below knee,
A 30.06 in heart. In distance,
I see the gorged crows rise ragged in wind. The day after death
I went for farewell, and the eyes were already gone-
That the work of beneficent crows. Eyes gone,
The two-year-old could, of course, more readily see
Down the track of pure and eternal darkness.

I week later, I didn't get close. The sweet stink
Had begun. That damned wagon-mudhole, hidden
By leaves as we galloped-I found it.
Spat on it. Just as a child would.
Next day the buzzards. How beautiful in air,
Carving the slow and concentric downward pattern of vortex, glint
On wings. From the house, now with glasses, I see
The squabbles and pushing, the waggle of wattle-red heads.

At evening I watch the buzzards, the crows,
Arise. They swing black in Nature's flow and perfection
Against the sad carmine of sunset.
Forgiveness is not indicated. They are
What they are.

How long before I go back to find
An intricate piece of fake modern sculpture,
White now by weather and sun, assuming in stasis
New beauty. Then,
Say two years after that, the green twine of vine,
Each leaf heart-shaped, soft as velvet,
Or a baby's kiss, beginning
Its benediction.

It thinks it is God.

Richard Misrach

Carel Fabritius

Louis Kahn

John Cage

Rainer Maria Rilke

The deep parts of my life pour onward,
as if the river shores were opening out.
It seems that things are more like me now,
That I can see farther into paintings.
I feel closer to what language can't reach.
With my senses, as with birds, I climb
into the windy heaven, out of the oak,
in the ponds broken off from the sky
my falling sinks, as if standing on fishes.

J. M. W. Turner

Richard Diebenkorn

A.R. Ammons

Easter Morning
A. R. Ammons

I have a life that did not become,
that turned aside and stopped,
I hold it in me like a pregnancy or
as on my lap a child
not to grow old but dwell on

it is to his grave I most
frequently return and return
to ask what is wrong, what was
wrong, to see it all by
the light of a different necessity
but the grave will not heal
and the child,
stirring, must share my grave
with me, an old man having
gotten by on what was left

when I go back to my home country in these
fresh far-away days, its convenient to visit
everybody, aunts and uncles, those who used to say,
look how hes shooting up, and the
trinket aunts who always had a little
something in their pocketbooks, cinnamon bark
or a penny or nickel, and uncles who
were the rumored fathers of cousins
who whispered of them as of great, if
troubled, presences, and school

teachers, just about everybody older
(and some younger) collected in one place
waiting, particularly, but not for
me, mother and father there, too, and others
close, close as burrowing
under skin, all in the graveyard
assembled, done for, the world they
used to wield, have trouble and joy
in, gone

the child in me that could not become
was not ready for others to go,
to go on into change, blessings and
horrors, but stands there by the road
where the mishap occurred, crying out for
help, come and fix this or we
cant get by, but the great ones who
were to return, they could not or did
not hear and went on in a flurry and
now, I say in the graveyard, here
lies the flurry, now it cant come
back with help or helpful asides, now
we all buy the bitter
incompletions, pick up the knots of
horror, silently raving, and go on
crashing into empty ends not
completions, not rondures the fullness
has come into and spent itself from

I stand on the stump
of a child, whether myself
or my little brother who died, and
yell as far as I can, I cannot leave this place, for
for me it is the dearest and the worst,
it is life nearest to life which is
life lost: it is my place where
I must stand and fail,
calling attention with tears
to the branches not lofting
boughs into space, to the barren
air that holds the world that was my world

though the incompletions
(& completions) burn out
standing in the flash high-burn
momentary structure of ash, still it
is a picture-book, letter-perfect
Easter morning: I have been for a
walk: the wind is tranquil: the brook
works without flashing in an abundant
tranquility: the birds are lively with
voice: I saw something I had
never seen before: two great birds,
maybe eagles, blackwinged, whitenecked
and headed, came from the south oaring
the great wings steadily; they went
directly over me, high up, and kept on
due north: but then one bird,
the one behind, veered a little to the
left and the other bird kept on seeming
not to notice for a minute: the first
began to circle as if looking for
something, coasting, resting its wings
on the down side of some of the circles:
the other bird came back and they both
circled, looking perhaps for a draft;
they turned a few more times, possibly
risingat least, clearly resting
then flew on falling into distance till
they broke across the local bush and
trees: it was a sight of bountiful
majesty and integrity: the having
patterns and routes, breaking
from them to explore other patterns or
better ways to routes, and then the
return: a dance sacred as the sap in
the trees, permanent in its descriptions
as the ripples round the brooks
ripplestone: fresh as this particular
flood of burn breaking across us now
from the sun.

Andreas Gursky

Mark Rothko