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James Schuyler: finding the extraordinary in the ordinary

His immediate and vivid imagery was in contrast to the “Confessionalist” movement

  • October
  • Books litter the bed,
  • leaves the lawn. It
  • lightly rains. Fall has
  • come: unpatterned, in
  • the shedding leaves.
  • The maples ripen. Apples
  • come home crisp in bags.
  • This pear tastes good.
  • It rains lightly on the
  • random leaf patterns.
  • The nimbus is spread
  • above our island. Rain
  • lightly patters on un-
  • shed leaves. The books
  • of fall litter the bed. 
  • Faure’s Second Piano Quartet
  • On a day like this the rain comes
  • down in fat and random drops among
  • the ailanthus leaves—”the tree
  • of Heaven”—the leaves that on moon-
  • lit nights shimmer black and blade-
  • shaped at this third-floor window.
  • And there are bunches of small green
  • knobs, buds, crowded together. The
  • rapid music fills in the spaces of
  • the leaves. And the piano comes in,
  • like an extra heartbeat, dangerous
  • and lovely. Slower now, less like
  • the leaves, more like the rain which
  • almost isn’t rain, more like thawed-
  • out hail. All this beauty in the
  • mess of this small apartment on
  • West 20th in Chelsea, New York.
  • Slowly the notes pour out, slowly,
  • more slowly still, fat rain falls.
  • Poem (I Do Not Always Understand What You Say)
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • Once, when you said, across, you meant along.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • Words’ meanings count, aside from what they weigh:
  • poetry, like music, is not just song.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • You would hate, when with me, to meet by day
  • What at night you met and did not think wrong.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • I sense a heaviness in your light play,
  • a wish to stand out, admired, from the throng.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • I am as shy as you. Try as we may,
  • only by practice will our talks prolong.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • We talk together in a common way.
  • Art, like death, is brief: life and friendship long.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
James Schuyler

James Schuyler (1923-1991) was an American poet and a central figure of the New York School of art and literature which, during the 1950s and 1960s, rose to prominence through a unique blend of the surreal, jazz and the avant-garde. Like most poets of the New York School, Schuyler relied on immediate and vivid imagery – in contrast to the “Confessionalist” movement of the same time period, which delved into personal history and private reminiscence for inspiration. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1980 for The Morning of the Poem. Working in his early years as a secretary for the poet W.H. Auden, Schuyler eschewed the more formal elements of the elder writer. His poems are often focused on finding the extraordinary in ordinary things through a conversational style.

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  • October
  • Books litter the bed,
  • leaves the lawn. It
  • lightly rains. Fall has
  • come: unpatterned, in
  • the shedding leaves.
  • The maples ripen. Apples
  • come home crisp in bags.
  • This pear tastes good.
  • It rains lightly on the
  • random leaf patterns.
  • The nimbus is spread
  • above our island. Rain
  • lightly patters on un-
  • shed leaves. The books
  • of fall litter the bed. 
  • Faure’s Second Piano Quartet
  • On a day like this the rain comes
  • down in fat and random drops among
  • the ailanthus leaves—”the tree
  • of Heaven”—the leaves that on moon-
  • lit nights shimmer black and blade-
  • shaped at this third-floor window.
  • And there are bunches of small green
  • knobs, buds, crowded together. The
  • rapid music fills in the spaces of
  • the leaves. And the piano comes in,
  • like an extra heartbeat, dangerous
  • and lovely. Slower now, less like
  • the leaves, more like the rain which
  • almost isn’t rain, more like thawed-
  • out hail. All this beauty in the
  • mess of this small apartment on
  • West 20th in Chelsea, New York.
  • Slowly the notes pour out, slowly,
  • more slowly still, fat rain falls.
  • Poem (I Do Not Always Understand What You Say)
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • Once, when you said, across, you meant along.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • Words’ meanings count, aside from what they weigh:
  • poetry, like music, is not just song.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • You would hate, when with me, to meet by day
  • What at night you met and did not think wrong.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • I sense a heaviness in your light play,
  • a wish to stand out, admired, from the throng.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • I am as shy as you. Try as we may,
  • only by practice will our talks prolong.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
  • We talk together in a common way.
  • Art, like death, is brief: life and friendship long.
  • I do not always understand what you say.
  • What is, is by its nature, on display.
James Schuyler

James Schuyler (1923-1991) was an American poet and a central figure of the New York School of art and literature which, during the 1950s and 1960s, rose to prominence through a unique blend of the surreal, jazz and the avant-garde. Like most poets of the New York School, Schuyler relied on immediate and vivid imagery – in contrast to the “Confessionalist” movement of the same time period, which delved into personal history and private reminiscence for inspiration. He won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1980 for The Morning of the Poem. Working in his early years as a secretary for the poet W.H. Auden, Schuyler eschewed the more formal elements of the elder writer. His poems are often focused on finding the extraordinary in ordinary things through a conversational style.

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4S Ranch Allied Gardens Alpine Baja Balboa Park Bankers Hill Barrio Logan Bay Ho Bay Park Black Mountain Ranch Blossom Valley Bonita Bonsall Borrego Springs Boulevard Campo Cardiff-by-the-Sea Carlsbad Carmel Mountain Carmel Valley Chollas View Chula Vista City College City Heights Clairemont College Area Coronado CSU San Marcos Cuyamaca College Del Cerro Del Mar Descanso Downtown San Diego Eastlake East Village El Cajon Emerald Hills Encanto Encinitas Escondido Fallbrook Fletcher Hills Golden Hill Grant Hill Grantville Grossmont College Guatay Harbor Island Hillcrest Imperial Beach Imperial Valley Jacumba Jamacha-Lomita Jamul Julian Kearny Mesa Kensington La Jolla Lakeside La Mesa Lemon Grove Leucadia Liberty Station Lincoln Acres Lincoln Park Linda Vista Little Italy Logan Heights Mesa College Midway District MiraCosta College Miramar Miramar College Mira Mesa Mission Beach Mission Hills Mission Valley Mountain View Mount Hope Mount Laguna National City Nestor Normal Heights North Park Oak Park Ocean Beach Oceanside Old Town Otay Mesa Pacific Beach Pala Palomar College Palomar Mountain Paradise Hills Pauma Valley Pine Valley Point Loma Point Loma Nazarene Potrero Poway Rainbow Ramona Rancho Bernardo Rancho Penasquitos Rancho San Diego Rancho Santa Fe Rolando San Carlos San Marcos San Onofre Santa Ysabel Santee San Ysidro Scripps Ranch SDSU Serra Mesa Shelltown Shelter Island Sherman Heights Skyline Solana Beach Sorrento Valley Southcrest South Park Southwestern College Spring Valley Stockton Talmadge Temecula Tierrasanta Tijuana UCSD University City University Heights USD Valencia Park Valley Center Vista Warner Springs
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