It was also fun to have Paul Valéry posit that he “seeks friends to feel solitude more keenly” or Petrarch complain that he “has a bad dose of stove and freezerburn,” and suggest a re-examination of the big themes by playing thinkers off each other. I hope that these alternating riffs are as serious in their intertextual picking and weaving as they are blithe and oblivious, my getting a kick from the very jouissance of the exercise, and hopefully passing that buzz on to the reader.
The footnotes are posted as a kind of solution to the game of knowledge and/or remembrance the poems play, and they create a kind of sub-sonnet, or a lower-room, a basement maybe, for the upper supper of the sonnets proper. Like a table with a too-big table-cloth, the footnotes are the footsie going on that I was in two minds about exposing.
Has made his mind up you must change your life. 1 Is back in Thebes to halt the Bacchic dance. 2 Urges OMG, take the gentle path. 3 Holds there is no sin but ignorance. 4 Joys that death doth touch the resurrection. 5 Has done his twice twentieth pilgrimage. 6 Finds fire a depressing destination. 7 Forgets distance. Comes to the water’s edge. 8 Forgives the Lord Thy great big joke on me. 9 Is downloading Shake off the Dust... Arise. 10 Seeks friends to feel solitude more keenly. 11 Gives thanks to God for dappled things — for skies. 12 Likes Gretchen’s post. Asks does not He sustain Himself? 13 Wonders who can be more wonderful than myself? 14
1 Rainer Maria Rilke (1875-1926), Archaic Torso of Apollo 2 Euripides (c. 480-406 BCE) from The Bacchae, Pentheus condemns Dionysus 3 George Herbert (1593-1633), Discipline 4 Christopher Marlowe (1564-1593), The Jew of Malta 5 John Donne (1572-1631), Hymn to God, My God, in My Sickness 6 Farid ud-Din Attar (c. 1120-1220), The Conference of the Birds 7 Muhammad (570-632) attributed, the Qur’an 8 Wang Wei (699-759), untitled 9 Robert Frost (1874-1963), Forgive, O Lord 10 Matisyahu (1979-), title of album, genre Hasidic Reggae 11 Paul Valéry (1871-1945), Tel Quel 12 Gerald Manley Hopkins (1844-1889), Pied Beauty 13 Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (1749-1832), Faust 14 Walt Whitman (1819-1892), Song of Myself
Has heard the mermaids singing, each to each. 1 Is building a heaven in hell’s despair. 2 Thinks a kiss a trick designed to stop speech. 3 Wants to sing what a beautiful Pussy you are. 4 Is sipping a cup of Camomile tea. 5 Would none had ever loved but you and I. 6 Is going to some lips of sweeter melody. 7 Will luve thee still till a’ the seas gang dry. 8 Admits no impediments to marriage. 9 Will persist. Has boundless desire. Infinite ache. 10 Plans to arrive in a horse-drawn carriage. 11 They flee from me that sometimes did me seek. 12 Has a bad dose of stove and freezerburn. 13 Will love when nothing’s looked for in return. 14
1 T.S. Eliot (1888-1965), The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock 2 William Blake, (1757-1827), The Clod and the Pebble 3 Ingrid Bergman (1915-1982), Interview 4 Edward Lear (1812-1888), The Owl and the Pussy-Cat 5 Katherine Mansfield (1888-1923), Camomile Tea 6 W.B. Yeats (1965-1939), The Ragged Wood 7 Oscar Wilde (1854-1900), Silentium Amoris 8 Robert Burns (1759-1796), A Red, Red Rose 9 William Shakespeare (1564-1616), Sonnet 116 10 Pablo Neruda (1904-1973), Cuerpo de Mujer 11 Lady Kathleen, Cherished Moments 12 Sir Thomas Wyatt (1503-1542), They flee from me that sometime did me seek 13 Francesco Petrarca (1304-1374), I Find no Peace 14 Antoine de Saint-Exupéry (1900-1944), Le Petit Prince
Exhorts: Fie! Shame! How long will ye slumber? 1 Would not talk with such high zest. The old lie. 2 Notes: never in one day died such a number. 3 Roars, at break o’ day, let us do or die! 4 Too loves jeans and jazz and Treasure Island. 5 Can’t find his own name in letters like smoke. 6 Does a great cover of this land is my land. 7 Is washing armor in Chiao-chi Lake. 8 Sees the sky in the crater where you died. 9 Knows what strengthened me, for you was lethal. 10 Walks up and down in her gown. Boned and stayed. 11 Let the Hero crush the serpent with his heel. 12 Loves the smell of Napalm in the morning. 13 Car bomb. 40 minutes. Coded warning. 14
1 Callinus (mid-7th century BCE), Exhortation to Battle 2 Wilfred Owen (1893-1918), Dulce et Decorum Est 3 Aeschylus (524-455 BCE), The Battle of Salamis 4 Robert Burns (1759-1796), Bannockburn 5 Saadi Youssef (1934- ), America, America 6 Yusef Komunyakaa (1947- ), Facing It 7 Woody Guthrie (1912-1967), This Land is Your Land. Then Dylan, Springsteen, etc. 8 Li Po (701-762), Nefarious War 9 Lam Thi My Da (1949- ), A Piece of Sky Without Bombs 10 Czeslaw Milosz (1911-2004), Dedication 11 Amy Lowell (1874-1925), Patterns 12 Julia Ward Howe (1819-1910), The Battle Hymn of the Republic, 1861 13 Kilgore in Apocalypse Now, dir. Francis Ford Coppola, 1979 14 IRA operative, Harrods bombing, London, Dec. 17, 1983
Is thankful that he kindly stopped for me.1 Is scared more of the inadequate life.2 Wants no sad songs, no shady cypress tree.3 Appreciates that phone calls taper off.4 Considers it, like life, a beautiful law.5 Keeps on wanting. Death is satisfaction.6 Will never find the life you’re looking for.7 Finds the report an exaggeration.8 Wonders will it be the same in heaven.9 Has gone over to the majority.10 Doesn’t want to be there when it happens.11 Would hate the photos below the balcony.12 Hears the curfew toll the knell of parting day.13 Holds up his lamp to light you on your way.14
1 Emily Dickinson (1830-1886), Because I could not stop for Death 2 Bertolt Brecht (1898-1956), The Jewish Wife 3 Christina Rossetti (1830-1894), When I am Dead, My Dearest 4 Johnny Carson (1925-2005) 5 Henry David Thoreau (1817-1862), letter to Emerson, March 11, 1842 6 George Bernard Shaw (1856-1950), Overruled 7 from Gilgamesh, c. 2500 BCE 8 Mark Twain (1835-1910), New York Journal, June 2, 1897 9 Eric Clapton (1945- ), Tears in Heaven, 1991 10 Gaius Petronius Arbiter (27-66), The Satyricon 11 Woody Allen (1935- ), Without Feathers 12 Brigitte Bardot (1934- ), Interview 13 Thomas Gray (1716-1771), Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard 14 Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941), Peace my heart
Aidan Rooney was born in Monaghan, Ireland in 1965 and educated at Maynooth College, National University of Ireland. Since 1988, he has taught at Thayer Academy and lived in Hingham, Massachusetts. A past winner of the Guinness Literary Award and the NY Yeats Society Competition, he received the Hennessy Literary Award for New Irish Poet in 1997. His collections, Day Release (2000) and Tightrope (2007), are published by The Gallery Press in Ireland. Widely published in Europe and North America, his work has appeared in various anthologies — Staying Alive (Bloodaxe) and 180 More (Random House) among them — and new poems have appeared recently or are pending in The Rialto, Horizon Review, Salamander, Poetry Ireland Review, The Shop, The Recorder, and Prairie Schooner.