Charles Olson

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What does not change / is the will to change

Charles Olson (December 27, 1910January 10, 1970) was an influential American poet, credited as one of the thinkers who coined the term postmodern.

Quotes[edit]

The Kingfishers (1950)[edit]

The legends are
legends.
Not one death but many,
not accumulation but change, the feed-back proves, the feed-back is
the law
Around an appearance, one common model, we grow up
many.
The message is
a discrete or continuous sequence of measurable events distributed in time
As published in The Collected Poems of Charles Olson (1987), edited by George F. Butterick · Full text online, at the Poetry Foundation
  • What does not change / is the will to change
    • Part I, 1
  • When I saw him, he was at the door, but it did not matter,
    he was already sliding along the wall of the night, losing himself
    in some crack of the ruins. That it should have been he who said, “The kingfishers!
    who cares
    for their feathers
    now?”

    His last words had been, “The pool is slime.”

    • Part I, 2
  • The legends are
    legends.
    Dead, hung up indoors, the kingfisher
    will not indicate a favoring wind,
    or avert the thunderbolt. Nor, by its nesting,
    still the waters, with the new year, for seven days.
    It is true, it does nest with the opening year, but not on the waters.
    • Part I, 2
  • And all now is war
    Where so lately there was peace,
    and the sweet brotherhood, the use
    of tilled fields.
    • Part I, 3
  • When the attentions change / the jungle
    leaps in     even the stones are split
            they rive
    • Part I, 3
  • Not one death but many,
    not accumulation but change
    , the feed-back proves, the feed-back is
    the law
Into the same river no man steps twice
When fire dies air dies
No one remains, nor is, one
Around an appearance, one common model, we grow up
many. Else how is it,
if we remain the same,
we take pleasure now
in what we did not take pleasure before? love
contrary objects? admire and / or find fault? use
other words, feel other passions, have
nor figure, appearance, disposition, tissue
the same?
To be in different states without a change
is not a possibility
  • Part I, 4
  • We can be precise. The factors are
    in the animal and / or the machine the factors are
    communication and / or control, both involve
    the message. And what is the message? The message is
    a discrete or continuous sequence of measurable events distributed in time

    is the birth of the air, is
    the birth of water, is
    a state between
    the origin and
    the end, between
    birth and the beginning of
    another fetid nest

    is change, presents
    no more than itself

    And the too strong grasping of it,
    when it is pressed together and condensed,
    loses it

    This very thing you are

    • Part I, 4
  • with what violence benevolence is bought
    what cost in gesture justice brings
    what wrongs domestic rights involve
    what stalks
    this silence
    • Part II

External links[edit]

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