Posts Tagged ‘James Schuyler’

De Dicto, De Re

October 4, 2010

I found this old picture of James Schuyler
in a book I got from the library.
I guess it was like a bookmark.
He’s sitting in a rocking chair in a little garden
and he’s looking pretty good today, thanks,
fresh pressed khakis, a new cardigan that
he’s trying on just to try it out, you know?
He’s got a nice view of a nice garden.
It’s October, though, so the plant life is
all dying off—like in that poem he wrote
—what’s it called?—Korean Mums.
Eternity is part of dying. Look.


Somebody wrote the year 1963 on
the back of the picture. Then, in big block letters—
Kind of brings you back, right? The Crystals,
the summer of ‘63. Da Do Ron Ron
was their biggest hit. I met him on a Sunday
and my heart stood still.
It had a good beat,
and you could dance to it. Somebody told me
that his name was Bill
. Music for kids.
—da do ron ron ron, da do ron ron—
Bet you can’t even say it without singing it.


So poetry is like a song, is it?
Take, for example, Schuyler’s Korean Mums.
It hovers over us like an owl in
a barn: the dogs are barking, the
music is playing, Bob and Darragh are painting in
the barn, I am scribbling…
‘The Airedale snapped its neck
and left it lying.’

James, dogs have killed owls for centuries.
Here’s a lesson.
You can understand a statement
either in terms “of what is said” (de dicto)
or in terms “of the thing” (de re).
You can see it in the sunlight as
it screeches through the woods,
or you can see it as it forms the words.

So, James, please send us another poem,
The sunlight needs to be transformed
into a big hand so prehensile that it grabs
too many words, gobs of them…

This one needs to say, ’Your certainty is certainly misplaced.’
It needs to say: De dicto, de do ron, de do re re.