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The poet has said of himself and his work: "I am not an experimentalist or an inventor, but a derivative poet, drawing my art from the resources given by a generation of masters––Stein, Williams, Pound; back of that by the generations of poets that have likewise been dreamers of the Cosmos as Creation and Man as Creative Spirit; and by the work of contemporaries: Zukofsky, The poet has said of himself and his work: "I am not an experimentalist or an inventor, but a derivative poet, drawing my art from the resources given by a generation of masters––Stein, Williams, Pound; back of that by the generations of poets that have likewise been dreamers of the Cosmos as Creation and Man as Creative Spirit; and by the work of contemporaries: Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley and Denise Levertov."


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The poet has said of himself and his work: "I am not an experimentalist or an inventor, but a derivative poet, drawing my art from the resources given by a generation of masters––Stein, Williams, Pound; back of that by the generations of poets that have likewise been dreamers of the Cosmos as Creation and Man as Creative Spirit; and by the work of contemporaries: Zukofsky, The poet has said of himself and his work: "I am not an experimentalist or an inventor, but a derivative poet, drawing my art from the resources given by a generation of masters––Stein, Williams, Pound; back of that by the generations of poets that have likewise been dreamers of the Cosmos as Creation and Man as Creative Spirit; and by the work of contemporaries: Zukofsky, Olson, Creeley and Denise Levertov."

30 review for Roots and Branches: Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Mat

    Tremendous. At first glance, many might think Robert Duncan was a bit of an anachronism considering how he wrote in an old, traditional lyrical way but at closer look you will see that he in fact successfully blended the lyrical metres of ancient bards such as Shakespeare, Blake and Shelley and wove them into more modern experiments first seen in the works of Pound, H.D., Williams, Zukofsky, Creeley and others. Not only that, but in my humble opinion, he does it even better than they did. His poem Tremendous. At first glance, many might think Robert Duncan was a bit of an anachronism considering how he wrote in an old, traditional lyrical way but at closer look you will see that he in fact successfully blended the lyrical metres of ancient bards such as Shakespeare, Blake and Shelley and wove them into more modern experiments first seen in the works of Pound, H.D., Williams, Zukofsky, Creeley and others. Not only that, but in my humble opinion, he does it even better than they did. His poems are mysterious but he gives you enough to return to without too much head-scratching as you will get sometimes in Zukofsky and without the need for a guidebook or a book of annotations and exegeses constantly at your beck and call as you do need with Pound. This is a very, very strong collection and the play Adam's Way, which features towards the end of this book, is a nice take on the old Adam-and-Eve story, in a manner somewhat similar to Milton's Paradise Lost (much shorter of course) and highlights some of Duncan's metaphysical philosophies. Highly recommended if you don't mind lyrical poetry.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Joe

    "Apprehensions" reads like a poem I've been looking for-- How they ploughd the given field in rows, / prose and / versus . and brought landscape / into being, ... I found a monument of what I am around me as if waking were a dream, a house built in the ancient time when man like a salmon swam ... the orders of the dead and the unborn that swarm in the floods of a man embracing his companion. -- Even interested in the mythos outlined by the play that ends this book, "Adam's Way." And that's saying somethin "Apprehensions" reads like a poem I've been looking for-- How they ploughd the given field in rows, / prose and / versus . and brought landscape / into being, ... I found a monument of what I am around me as if waking were a dream, a house built in the ancient time when man like a salmon swam ... the orders of the dead and the unborn that swarm in the floods of a man embracing his companion. -- Even interested in the mythos outlined by the play that ends this book, "Adam's Way." And that's saying something. Great poets usually write shitty plays. Anyway, this is as good as an introduction to Duncan as I could have asked for. At 176 pages it's not as intimidating as a selected or collected while capturing Duncan working successfully in various modes. What next from him?

  3. 5 out of 5

    univocity

    Grasps you by the soul, dances with you, drops you. Duncan studied his Sitwell and Helen Adam: the poems sing themselves to you. "There are echoes" of every syllable of every word, endless sonic reflection; wonderful assonance, slightly shifting tones, shames Stevens and betters even Pound. And all of this dwelling in an intricate, largely Neoplatonist ontology that I cannot help but find agreeable. Grasps you by the soul, dances with you, drops you. Duncan studied his Sitwell and Helen Adam: the poems sing themselves to you. "There are echoes" of every syllable of every word, endless sonic reflection; wonderful assonance, slightly shifting tones, shames Stevens and betters even Pound. And all of this dwelling in an intricate, largely Neoplatonist ontology that I cannot help but find agreeable.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Jim Gardner

    Robert Duncan's masterful Roots and Branches includes the Passages series (The Torso: Passages 18, The Spelling, The Architecture). Duncan's syncretic touch spans mid-20thc-life with a healing touch. The Torso presses the reset button on human sexuality (from a gay male's perspective) while The Architecture and The Spelling do similarly for building and philology respectively. Robert Duncan's masterful Roots and Branches includes the Passages series (The Torso: Passages 18, The Spelling, The Architecture). Duncan's syncretic touch spans mid-20thc-life with a healing touch. The Torso presses the reset button on human sexuality (from a gay male's perspective) while The Architecture and The Spelling do similarly for building and philology respectively.

  5. 5 out of 5

    John

    "The angel was of the gesture, appeard as the lure of flesh, muscular invested, a pure emblematic physique, standing for what scripture? Who are you? where again you go as ever attendant and guardian of all verdant thought." "The angel was of the gesture, appeard as the lure of flesh, muscular invested, a pure emblematic physique, standing for what scripture? Who are you? where again you go as ever attendant and guardian of all verdant thought."

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jeff

    These are the poems of four years: March 1959 to March 1963. It's an unusually long book (176 pp.) because at just the moment that the Black Mountain writers were gaining attention from NYC publishing firms, Duncan decided to ask Scribners (who would publish the first edition of Roots and Branches) to accept, as well, Book of Resemblances (Roots and Branches is Book of Resemblances Book II); Letters; Foust Foutu; and The Cat and the Blackbird; an extant backlog that would within a year include a These are the poems of four years: March 1959 to March 1963. It's an unusually long book (176 pp.) because at just the moment that the Black Mountain writers were gaining attention from NYC publishing firms, Duncan decided to ask Scribners (who would publish the first edition of Roots and Branches) to accept, as well, Book of Resemblances (Roots and Branches is Book of Resemblances Book II); Letters; Foust Foutu; and The Cat and the Blackbird; an extant backlog that would within a year include also the Stein Imitations and As Testimony, as well. The point here was that the writer of The Opening of the Field went twenty years without NYC publishing attention and had some backlog to take care of. Duncan couldn't very well be creating in the wake of The New American Poetry (published September 1960) more backlog. Roots and Branches is a book of unusual poetics-pressures, then. Parts will seem responsive to The H.D. Book then emerging; parts to the craft-information from Minneapolis (Berryman and Wright; American Studies; Dylan) and Iowa of which Duncan had become aware; parts to the local scene of James Broughton and Kermit Sheets producing a friend, Helen Adam's, play, San Francisco Burning in a way of which Duncan did not approve; and throughout it all, a correspondence with Denise Levertov gently nudging Duncan into that mainstream of American verse practice that would encourage, e.g., in Duncan, the writing of sonnets for publication in the Levertov-edited poetry section of The Nation. (She said she needed short poems; he provided them.) Re-reading Roots and Branches for the I-don't-know-how-manyth-time, it has an appealingly lumpy feel to it, a they don't make books like this anymore-feel. One thing that's surely happening in it is that Duncan tries through the making to get a specific kind of ratio right, poetry's mycelium, let's call it the relation of melopoeia and logopoeia to phanopoeia. "Poetry is a centaur," Ezra Pound had said, leaning on a metonym, "The thinking, word-arranging, clarifying faculty must move and leap with the energizing, sentient, musical faculties. It is precisely the difficulty of this amphibious existence that keeps down the census record of good poets." What would one do with traditional images -- both one's own as well as an overpopulated century's? Wouldn't the images rightly impinge on word-arrangement, logic, grammar, as well, then, as on cadence, movement? "Wherever we watch, concordances appear. | From living apprehension, the given and giving melos, | melodies thereof--in what scale?" (42) "Things have roots and branches; affairs have scopes and beginnings. To know what precedes and what follows, is nearly as good as having a head and feet." This is Zhuangzi, whom both Pound (above), as well as Duncan (also, above), translate. Here's Lin Yutang's translation: "All things come from somewhere, but you cannot see their root; all things appear from somewhere, but you cannot see the door." (The Importance of Understanding, 1960) These, then, to return to the volume's first (title) poem, "are transports of an inner view of things." As Duncan, who played Samael in "Adam's Way," will say, as Samael, "Poetry thus most resembles the works of things," and he has in mind here not just Freud's dreamwork, but that toiling in images, "that pathway between reality and our souls, no longer searching for the peach tree and the murder in the toolshed where and when we've known it," as had his contemporary Confessionals, "but use the poem to react . . ." (RD to DL #289). The idea of persons bringing forth these images, bringing them forward, is crucial in this book to how Duncan views the rhetoric of Pound's ratio. Why verse drama? Why masques of polemical defense for his friend Helen Adam? Why sonnets of agape to his comrades Robin Blaser and Jack Spicer? etc. We sense these scopes and scales as they grasp their historicization. It's that sort of deep work in resemblancings that makes these roots and branches a door into the groundwork of ten years hence.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Matt

    Lovely, sturdy, accessibly experimental work from a poet who is underappreciated by everyone except modern poetry experts.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Dana

    Maybe I just didn't sit with these poems long enough, but I kind of felt like a lot of the poems drew on a lot of cliches of poetry and weren't very creative. Also seems to have a bit of a strong romantic element that I don't overly care for. Maybe I just didn't sit with these poems long enough, but I kind of felt like a lot of the poems drew on a lot of cliches of poetry and weren't very creative. Also seems to have a bit of a strong romantic element that I don't overly care for.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Fluor Beard

    My second book by Duncan (reading from "Collected Later Poems and Plays" anthology). It was a bit more difficult to get through than "Opening of the Field" because I felt it was a bit more self-indulgent, but the play "Adam's Way" is lovely. My second book by Duncan (reading from "Collected Later Poems and Plays" anthology). It was a bit more difficult to get through than "Opening of the Field" because I felt it was a bit more self-indulgent, but the play "Adam's Way" is lovely.

  10. 4 out of 5

    R.K. Cowles

  11. 4 out of 5

    Peter King

  12. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  13. 5 out of 5

    Ryan

  14. 5 out of 5

    Paul Killebrew

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Kilroy

  16. 4 out of 5

    Robert Yagley

  17. 5 out of 5

    Grant S

  18. 5 out of 5

    JJ Cross

  19. 4 out of 5

    Joseph

  20. 4 out of 5

    Craig Morgan Teicher

  21. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Reynolds

  22. 4 out of 5

    Katherine Factor

  23. 5 out of 5

    Norman

  24. 5 out of 5

    Matt Sackmann

  25. 5 out of 5

    Catherine Meng

  26. 5 out of 5

    Robert Costic

  27. 4 out of 5

    James

  28. 5 out of 5

    Peter

  29. 5 out of 5

    Audrey Zee Whitesides

  30. 5 out of 5

    Melissa

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