The Mind-Body Problem: Poems by Katha Pollitt

By Katha Pollitt

Within the Mind-Body challenge, Katha Pollitt takes the normal occasions of life–her personal and others’–and turns them into magnificent, poignant, and infrequently humorous poems which are jam-packed with surprises and originality. Pollitt’s mind's eye is stirred through clash and juxtaposition, by way of the distinction (but additionally the relationship) among good judgment and feeling, among the true and the transcendent, among our outer and internal selves: Jane Austen slides her manuscript less than her blotter, bewildered younger moms chat courteously at the playground, the straightforward traces of a chinese language bowl in a thrift shop remind the poet of the one obvious simplicities of her formative years. The identify poem hilariously and ruefully depicts the friction among ardour and repression (“Perhaps / my physique could have cherished to make a few of our dates, / to return domestic at 4 within the morning and resolution my scowl / with ‘None of your business!’ ”). In a series of 9 poems, Pollitt turns to the Bible for idea, reworking many of the oldest stories of Western civilization into subversive sleek parables: What if Adam and Eve couldn’t wait to go away Eden? What if God wishes us greater than we want him?

With those relocating, vibrant, and completely detailed poems, Katha Pollitt reminds us that poetry might be either profound and available, and reconfirms her status within the first rank of contemporary American poets.

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In fact, we can see the transition clearly in the half-anastomosed, half-threadlike leaves found in this plant (figures 3, 4). 19 The Metamorphosis of Plants Images a and b: Two varieties of coltsfoot displaying intraspecies differences in leaf morphology at different altitudes. Top: Petasites frigidus var. nivalis from 5,000-foot elevation in the Cascade Mountains; bottom: Petasites frigidus var. palmatus from 2,400-foot elevation in the Cascade foothills 20 The Metamorphosis of Plants Figure : Water buttercup (Ranunculus aquaticus) displaying fully formed aerial leaves and threadlike submerged ones Figure : Floating leaves of water buttercup representing transitions to submerged leaves 21 The Metamorphosis of Plants 26 Experiments have shown that the leaves absorb different gases, and combine them with the liquids they contain; there is little doubt that they also return these refined juices to the stem, and thereby help greatly in the development of the nearby eyes.

Goethe, “Later Studies and Collections,” in Goethe’s Botanical Writings, 97. xxxi The Metamorphosis of Plants (Goethe poem) The rich profusion thee confounds, my love, 0f flowers, spread athwart the garden. Aye, Name upon name assails thy ears, and each More barbarous-sounding than the one before— Like unto each the form, yet none alike; And so the choir hints a secret law, A sacred mystery. Ah, love could I vouchsafe In sweet felicity a simple answer! Gaze on them as they grow, see how the plant Burgeons by stages into flower and fruit, Bursts from the seed so soon as fertile earth Sends it to life from her sweet bosom, and Commends the unfolding of the delicate leaf To the sacred goad of ever-moving light!

17 We will ignore for the moment the quite unformed, individual nuclei of those plants that sprout with but a single leaf. 18 We will, however, note that even the most leaflike cotyledons are always rather undeveloped in comparison to the later leaves of the stem. Their periphery is quite uniform, and we are as little able to detect traces of serration there as we are to find hairs on their surfaces, or other vessels2 peculiar to more developed leaves. II. Development of the Stem Leaves from Node to Node 19 Now that the progressive effects of nature are fully visible, we can see the successive development of the leaves clearly.

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