Copyright 2016 by Carrie Etter

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Cole Swensen's On Walking On (Nightboat, 2017), first selection

November 10, 2017

 

I'm relishing Cole Swensen's new book. Here is a first array of favourite passages:

 

 

The first walk: the first line: that so alone am I who loved     so is walking

always walking toward. I saw myself in shards. The drift that drives

 

the eye into time. 

 

*

 

Any walk     Rousseau once said     is endless where     the wild might seem

to have a name undone from within     the unanswered flaw     written out

 

by hand.

 

*

 

This I who ran adrift.     Should it rain.     Begin again.     The rain.

Kept me in all morning among my hands. 

 

*

 

                                      You can see me there wandering, ecstatic

in the green of it, the grove of it, the mind. 

 

 

Distilled     the soul is always found alone in the clearing of a grove.

And shivers in a crowd.   

 

*

 

I fell today as I walked     I was talking to myself     it was something I said

that broke the air     and kept on breaking it     down into smaller

and smaller pieces.

 

*

 

"In walking is the forgetting of the world" dissolved of body, small

 

in timing, sharp in lightning, and full of such abandon, hand in hand,

the heart rains from within, I think, the found, once trusted, veers.

 

from 'Rousseau: The Reveries of a Solitary Walker'

 

10:15, and a man is walking his cat. Unlikely, I know. He knows it, too. But it looks like an established routine. Man goes one way. Cat stays at corner; man comes back, making here-here noises; cat goes the other way; man follows. The street is calm.

 

end of 'A Walk on May 17'

 

                                                                                                                    And was

 

neither heard nor herded, although I sensed the gathering forces trying to

 

gather up the indeterminate group of all things headed forward. I will sort them.

 

end of first 'Wordsworth'

 

 

For whom there was no difference, to walk simply was to write

 

and vice-versa.     Rhythm as a mode of sight

 

from second 'Wordsworth'

 

 

You can purchase On Walking On in the UK from Blackwell's. 

 

 

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