Mark Young


The Collected Shorter Poems of Kenneth Rexroth

I am a man with no ambitions
And few friends, wholly incapable
Of making a living
Kenneth Rexroth: The Advantages of Learning

That quality. That white.
Kenneth Rexroth: Phronesis

In Aristotle’s ethics (phronesis) is the complete
excellence of the practical intelligence, the
counterpart of sophia in the theoretical sphere.
The Oxford Companion to Philosophy

In another time
he would spend long evenings reading
the works of Juvenal & Pliny in the
original Latin & later debate the authors
through until morning about what he had read.
For relaxation he would translate tanka,
working from obscure & often anonymous
scrolls & woodblock editions, a kind of literary
ukiyo-e, poems of the floating world. He
found a threefold pleasure in it — the shape
of the poems & their calligraphy; the gradual
unpeeling of the subtleties of a culture not
his own; the recognition of the inherent
universality of it all. Some kind of renaissance
man, as familiar with Gödel as he was with
goshawks, as experienced in climbing mountains
& describing their intricate geology
as he was with discoursing upon the similarities
that exist between all religions whether centred
on one or many gods. & all the time enamoured
of those twin daughters of Aristotle — Sophia
with whom he shared his life, & Phronesis whom he
desired more but was never able to bed. Twelve
thousand lines to one, twelve to the other. It is
the twelve that are the love song. Are the lemma.



They were alive and they spoke to me!
HENRY MILLER: The Books in my Life

No matter how large the library,
the book I wanted was never in
or else it was forbidden me.
HENRY MILLER: The Time of the Assassins

Years ago, in the belief
that it was a book of
short stories by Arthur Miller
whom I knew of as the author
of Death of a Salesman & the
husband of Marilyn Monroe,
I picked up a paperback
from amongst the detritus
left by the previous tenants
of a house into which friends
of mine were moving, & was half-
way through it before I realised
it was by a different Miller, first
name Henry, whom I didn’t
know existed until then.

The writing was alive & it
spoke to me! & the
titles! Someone
who could come up with
The Alcoholic Veteran with the Washboard Cranium
was someone I wanted to
read more of. But life
imitated art. Many of Miller’s
books were banned; most
of those that weren’t
were out of print; & I could find
nothing more of his until, in a
second-hand bookshop,
I unearthed The Time of the Assassins,
about some French poet, first
name Arthur, second name Rimbaud,
whom I also didn’t know
existed until then.