Collecte Works

Collecte Works by Lorine Niedecker

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Authors: Lorine Niedecker
Hill destroyed—
    carried off 30 slaves
    Were it to give them freedom
    he'd have done right
    Latin and Greek
    my tools
    to understand
    I rode horse
    away from a monarch
    to an enchanting
    The South of France
    Roman temple
    “simple and sublime”
    Maria Cosway
    on his mind
    white column
    and arch
    To daughter Patsy: Read—
    read Livy
    No person full of work
    was ever hysterical
    Know music, history
    (I calculate 14 to 1
    in marriage
    she will draw
    a blockhead)
    Science also
    Agreed with Adams:
    send spermaceti oil to Portugal
    for their church candles
    (light enough to banish mysteries?:
    three are one and one is three
    and yet the one not three
    and the three not one)
    and send salt fish
    U.S. salt fish preferred
    above all other
    Jefferson of Patrick Henry
    backwoods fiddler statesman:
    “He spoke as Homer wrote”
    Henry eyed our minister at Paris—
    the Bill of Rights hassle—
    “he remembers…
    in splendor and dissipation
    he thinks yet of bills of rights”
    True, French frills and lace
    for Jefferson, sword and belt
    but follow the Court to Fontainebleau
    he could not—
    house rent would have left him
    nothing to eat
    He bowed to everyone he met
    and talked with arms folded
    He could be trimmed
    by a two-month migraine
    and yet
                 stand up
    Dear Polly:
    I said No—no frost
    in Virginia—the strawberries
    were safe
    I'd have heard—I'm in that kind
    of correspondence
    with a young daughter—
    if they were not
    Now I must retract
    I shrink from it
    Political honors
                  “splendid torments”
    “If one could establish
                  an absolute power
    of silence over oneself”
    When I set out for Monticello
             (my grandchildren
                       will they know me?)
    How are my young
                            chestnut trees—
    Hamilton and the bankers
    would make my country Carthage
    I am abandoning the rich—
    their dinner parties—
    I shall eat my simlins
    with the class of science
    or not at all
    Next year the last of labors
    among conflicting parties
    Then my family
    we shall sow our cabbages
    Delicious flower
    of the acacia
    or rather
    Mimosa Nilotica
    from Mr. Lomax
    Polly Jefferson, 8, had crossed
    to father and sister in Paris
    by way of London—Abigail
    embraced her—Adams said
    “in all my life I never saw
    more charming child”
    Death of Polly, 25,
    My harpsichord
    my alabaster vase
    and bridle bit
    bound for Alexandria
    The good sea weather
    of retirement
    The drift and suck
    and die-down of life
    but there is land
    These were my passions:
    Monticello and the villa-temples
    I passed on to carpenters
    bricklayers what I knew
    and to an Italian sculptor
    how to turn a volute
    on a pillar
    You may approach the campus rotunda
    from lower to upper terrace
    Cicero had levels
    John Adams' eyes
    Tom Jefferson's rheumatism
    Ah soon must Monticello be lost
                        to debts
        and Jefferson himself
                                               to death
    Mind leaving, let body leave
    Let dome live, spherical dome
    and colonnade
    Martha (Patsy) stay
    “The Committee of Safety
    must be warned”
    Stay youth—Anne and Ellen
    all my books, the bantams
    and the seeds of the senega root

    The Ballad of Basil
    They sank the sea
         All land
    He saw his boats stand
         and he
                  off the floor
    of that cold jail
         (would not fight
                   their war)
    sailed anyway

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