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Alvin Feinman: November Sunday Morning

November 25, 2012

As I have before in email, I am taking the opportunity of the last Sunday morning of November to present this poem by Alvin Feinman. And I will point out again that as originally published in his collection Preambles and Other Poems in 1964, and as I first read it, the poem did not have its final stanza. That came with the republishing of that book, with additions, as Poems in 1990. You can discuss amongst yourselves, or ponder in quiet meditation, the meaning and value of the change. I suspect that the final stanza was present in a late draft of the poem, then cut for publication, then returned to its place once again. But that is only speculation.

With only one slim volume to his name and and no apparent interest in self-promotion, Feinman has been sadly neglected, despite being strongly championed by Harold Bloom (and myself). His work is out of print and even Wikipedia, as promiscuous as it is, does not deign to recognize him. I included a short poem by him in my post Traces.

ADDENDUM: According to Feinman’s wife, Deborah Dorfman, the last stanza was part of the original conception of the poem, but left out of the first book at someone else’s suggestion.


November Sunday Morning

And the light, a wakened heyday of air
Tuned low and clear and wide,
A radiance now that would emblaze
And veil the most golden horn
Or any entering of a sudden clearing
To a standing, astonished, revealed . . .

That the actual streets I loitered in
Lay lit like fields, or narrow channels
About to open to a burning river;
All brick and window vivid and calm
As though composed in a rigid water
No random traffic would dispel . . .

As now through the park, and across
The chill nailed colors of the roofs,
And on near trees stripped bare,
Corrected in the scant remaining leaf
To their severe essential elegance,
Light is the all-exacting good,

That dry, forever virile stream
That wipes each thing to what it is,
The whole, collage and stone, cleansed
To its proper pastoral . . .
I sit
And smoke, and linger out desire.

And know if I closed my eyes I’d hear
Again what held me awake all night
Beside her breathing: a rain falling
It seemed into a distant stillness,
On broad low leaves beside a pond
And drop upon drop into black waters.

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One Comment
  1. That someone else was Harold Bloom, who was right! It’s a great stanza, but the poem is better without it.

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