reading ‘September sky’

DSC_0838_flat_Michael Fried at nonsite:

Some further observations: the two-ness of the moon and Orion is reflected in the basic structure of the poem, by which I refer to the fact that just under half of “September Sky” is between parentheses; what emerges, of course, is that the specific content of that parenthesis isn’t at all parenthetical to the basic situation — rather the parenthesis is a rhetorical or say structural device that that enables the juxtaposition of the actual scene and Cendrars’ poem, with the eventual aim of bringing the second to bear on the first — to illuminate it from beyond, we might say, as if the empirical constellation was at one and the same time Cendrars’ “étoile,” which is also to say his missing hand. (This, I’m suggesting, is the poem’s aim; I’m in no position to judge whether or not the aim is realized.) And once again it matters that the shift to the French language and Cendrars’ poem begins not at the beginning of the third stanza but in line two of the second — as with the placement of “A half-moon has risen” at the end of the first stanza the interlocking of stanzas in this respect turns out to be vital to the poem’s effectiveness. Which is not to insist on that effectiveness, only to invite you to confirm the intuition that “September Sky” would be much less effective than it is if each of the three stanzas were confined to a particular subject matter: deck, half-moon, Cendrars’ poem (and Orion).

One more observation: note how the word “form” at the end of the penultimate line manifestly refuses the alternative word “shape,” which would make a rather close off-rhyme with “sleep” three lines before. (This sort of refusal is something else poems sometimes do.) “Form,” of course, bears an alliterative relation to the pairing “favorite French” of two lines before. And it echoes the word “forme” in Cendrars’ poem. In any case, the wager of “September Sky” is that coming where it does it is a better word than “shape.”

more here.