Wildern Green

by Rodney Nelson

At park’s foot the beached
of Amundsen who having followed
                 ice blink
                 water sky
through arctic route had given sloop to city, we would meet at it or Stow Lake or columbarium or Moon Bridge or many a time the arboretum an old-world garden within the park, to her joy
                 eine Linde
white linden tree imported like everyone everything awaiting huge on main-lawn rim, but farther in toward mulch end of tiny atascadero where salvia made aroma next to our shade, I was young and oft wore hippie vizard had donned a tatty-sportcoat mailboy one to work in money district where she happened to, German married pretty almost young, find with her a love that had to thrive on Saturday morning, even a
poet’s woman or the very
dryad had to leave the noonlight park to join a mate at home, was not a
                 sex woman
anyway she told me which did not hinder a love that fed on poems I brought who had read the language been a recent winter while in Munich Würzburg Rhineland knew what to seek at library and in the office I would jot a line to her from Karl Krolow
                 sie flieht vorüber, in sich gekehrt
that made me think of her a working-woman goddess in preoccupied flight, or Thomas Bernhard
                 das Jahr ist wie das Jahr vor tausend Jahren
that sang of half-dead country men gone medieval, or Hans Magnus Enzensberger
                 lass mich heut nacht in der gitarre schlafen
that put the love we had to a crooked sleep-tune, I had seen them all in a new anthology and other I did not quote the work of Wilhelm Lehmann a name I meant to return to the two poems
                 Auf sommerlichem Friedhof
what had been written of him in introduction having caught at me, for now we met at great bronzen one in Japanese teagarden and it was only spring were flowers in his hand that children had laid there we wanted to think would begin in moment’s afternoon making poems each alone to the other, to exchange at office where she would type them send them back as confidential memo every intimate word in defiance of the ub ub ubub hubbub hubbaboo ballyhoo hullabaloo with which the manic charming city tried to drown the air even in park, hosing it out of moving speaker diesel breath
                 is a modern bus the kind of modern bus that San Francisco needs and
                 San Francisco deserves
on hippie hill de Young Museum alike yet not much penetrated thick disciplined foliage of arboretum to our
secret nookery that I a tumid potrero a toucher now del pecho de la white woman from Masuria had sought, having known immense but tamed monotony of the
                 Great American
desert plain I had wanted garden a fragrant contriven walled presidio to shut out trade racket the words of youth on move, a beauty that did not sprawl had met one here with her and in the anthology two poems I had not quoted an introductory hint of what had looked at me out of meadow the trim main lawn perhaps that nodded to the love I felt yet seemed beyond, the
               Tag ist süss und ladet ein
invitation to enter green expanse rhymed neat with other line, I had come to reject such, nor Williams nor Snyder did it, along with any
               belief in an inherently meaningful reality
that was
                 reflected in traditional poetic forms
as man introducing anthology Victor Lange had written of some few of the Germans that had worked on into splintered unmeaningful time, but could see in Lehmann that rhyme did not vend convention sentimentality or hide uninventiveness, no
                 Nur ein Klirren
                 Wie von goldnen Reitgeschirren
                 Wenn der Wind die Häferkorner reibt
showed deft word musician at play who avoided the mere atmospheric, while indeed it
                 meaningful reality
                 apostrophe of nature as a realm of meaning
that transcended in a manner the
                 business of everyday living
was the one reality to him, and I knew that my own intolerant generation had room in heart for rhymers it agreed with, say a record ardiz from Hibbing Minnesota the look the quirks of Lee Harvey Oswald who could set
like James Whitcomb Riley whatever he wanted if done in neoapocalyptic vein, toward noon would hear the hoarse clang drum-driven rhymes of Moby Grape or Big Brother and the Holding Company metro din that enfiladed east park, write
                 beware of the dispossessed
                 the irate balding young
                 with their dreams and pounding-sticks
when I got to room on Church and Duncan fearing myself in them the dirt the violence my younger mind that city magnified, I needed shelter, took it in word garden a poetry for which mere naming
                 of natural objects, of birds, stones, and flowers
was an
                 act of poetic evocation, conveying a truth somewhere between natural
                 science and magic
I read in Lange’s introduction, Wilhelm Lehmann had found in nature
                 an inexhaustible arsenal of animals and plants, of images, fragrances,
                 associations, and impressions
that linked man
                 to a demonic nether world
                 salamanders, vultures, hedge sparrows, grasshoppers, yellowhammers,
                 swallowwort, poplar blossoms, aconite, darnel, and pimpernel, an
                 astounding assortment of creatures and botanical specimens
to Lange suggested a
                 nature handbook rather than any immediacy of experience
a world that man wanted to sink to from which he could
                 in any case seldom escape
but I did not whiff the demonic in it except old Latin sense nor did I get the nether, Lehmann a nonsubterranean poet to me, when Lange turned to
                 the success
of the
nature poet
                 the term is an ambiguous and misleading one
that he attributed to a
                 refusal to indulge either in bucolic genre sketches or in pseudometaphysical
and noted not
                 sentimentality but a high degree of artifice
in their work, I was caught again but had meager two poems to look at, even so with lines that gave and held almost enough
                 Durch den warmen Lehm geschnitten
                 Zieht der Weg
to keep me, in arboretum I did not read him to loved one who favored Rilke Günter Eich as in our latening radiant time we hid by
to make sex then both skipped work for a
                 lifelong afternoon
I would write, at Church and Duncan, I hunted the oeuvre on my own to learn that except a poem or few no one had translated Lehmann the botany zoology compression wit too hard to set over I thought whose German did not run too well, might have thrown me into the job an important one had I been schoolish, he needed reading a mind that had seen full everything in nature with
                 Menschen als Wesen unter Wesen, nicht ihr Vormund
man creature among creatures not their guardian yet doing what none other could when foliage had gotten so ripe that it seemed to want to talk
                 ich nehme ihm sein Schweigen ab
man poet relieving it of its silence in trying to rhyme the unrhymed world, had announced
                 eine Revolution von der Einsamkeit, vom Einsamen her
revolution to come of solitude by the solitary, no news connotation, no hippie judeochristian hortative, and left me a green cabbala to live on no matter what in the moment I did the moment’s evening phone call now when love took its death cut, she had
but I did not feel it as such would take thirty years to bleed out a period when each would not see other nor often have an address to write to, she mistaking too I think a continued mutual reverence for what had died I would learn in the year of Lehmann’s death, dreaming like me a transcendent reunion to close the wound of a choice she had only been made to make, memory of arboretum green god that had nodded from meadow the words we had read kept live bound up in sound of her German until at many years’ end I went to her an older mystic teaching woman in rain city married to faith not man and we knew it, did not blame other, knew it all that weekend shying around the remains which no did not include the
                 heidnischer Naturlyriker Naturmagier
heathenish nature poet magician whose work had had not everything to do with our love and that I had begun to read in park time needed interpretive aid of young academic
                 David Scrase
                 Wilhelm Lehmann
paper I came on in
                 Essays in Contemporary German Literature
the year when Norway reclaimed the Amundsen sloop that city had not maintained and I left San Francisco with not on the
would reread it along my many miles with more written matter they took me to the work the man as well the rigid passionate neophyte north German
who had studied awhile in Berlin met
                 Moritz Heimann
                 E. R. Weiss
                 Oskar Loerke
                 Martin Buber
                 Walter Rathenau
                 Emil Orlik
                 Julius Levin
                 Hans Kyser
                 Eduard Stucken
                 Gerhard Hauptmann
                 Emil Strauss
of socalled
                 Donnerstag Gesellschaft
Thursday Club that gathered at Steinerts Weinstube
                 Kurfürstindamm und Joachimstrasse
I did not know every name but the few I did let me conjure an oaken smoky lamplit room with educated chortle Wilhelmian cravats the wine talk rich in wording that inkled Weimar Republic, where he found a guide the literary
                 Moritz Heimann
                 Oskar Loerke
friend poet his own age but he moved home was teaching could meet him only in exmas vacation too young on leash that mother-mate jerked a proctress Wilhelmian world, my own humiliant recent role, married kid wanted to write but acted the husband worker whom woman America yanked in line would not let visit a writing friend except at holiday slack, the Lehmann pupa stage included the fiction a story
                 Michael Lippstock
so image-thick that wry kind Heimann had to ridicule, whereat
                 his work took on an increasingly conservative tone and found fewer and
                 fewer readers and finally no publisher—it was almost as if, stripped of
                 all its adventurous imagery
his fiction wrote Scrase had gone anemic, it had been winnowed to German equivalent
                 Reader’s Digest
                 The New Yorker
style of that day, the time in uniform its willed end a walk to captivity, and the decades’ work in Celtic Anglo Saxon a byplay with old and modern poetry in English a
objectual tongue that he would devote to, Lehmann went imago toward quiet middle age in
                 Bukolisches Tagebuch
country journal a statement of what who he had done been was and now saw in
                 green solitude
round Eckernförde Baltic port the taut sharp cuckoo-haunted lyrics acoming
                 Myrddin Merlinus
Arthurian gift the creative impellent in nature his imagery come home, a revolution of
by a solitary who did not have much reputation left to guard, seemed to want it need it that way, outlasted manmade cataclysm on walking watch neath
                 freiem Himmel
open sky where poems originated to achieve fame mid the rubble the damned half dead in it turning now to an
                 esoteric priest of the green god, a tireless conjurer of the panic and
                 chthonic powers
who tried
                 to distill human experience from the play and counterplay of natural
did not view man in
                 terms of his social relations, his metaphysical or religious attributes
to whom nature was
and time
in that they craved the touch of his wand knew nothing else would manumit return them at least to the
                 rustling vegetation of reality
they had deafened to in Nazi ub ub ubub hubbub hubbuboo ballyhoo hullabaloo language era the worse bombardment that followed, needing a pagan humanism that excluded
                 all abstractions and ideologies
any notion of
to rather keep eye on
                 fox, eel, red thrush, mole, grub, sheep, and goat
in nonjudeochristian mythic mode, evoke
                 a merlinesque shuddering
among those who had most forgotten
                 Sichtbare Zeit
visibility of time in
                 acorn, chestnut
samara, wanting to hear again or at last a nonangelic Orfeo that dwelt and flew with
                 denizens of the wild
I took these admiring words of
                 Hans Egon Holthusen
                 Günther Busch
                 Karl Krolow
                 Helen Adolf
along on my way had never quite known what it was about Lehmann that meant such world to me, I might have divined it in a Jungian von Franz I read on San Miguel de Allende mandarino garden rooftop her notion that if
                 an individual has wrestled seriously enough and long enough with
                 the anima or animus problem so that he or she is no longer partially
                 identified with it, the unconscious again changes its dominant
                 character and appears in a new symbolic form, representing the
                 self, the innermost nucleus of the psyche
which for a man
                 manifests itself as a masculine initiator and guardian, a wise old man,
                 a spirit of nature
have come aware that what I saw in him he had found in sylvestrian Merlin the green god, been ready to put to word the meaning bloomy ditch or swatch of tree-claim shelterbelt had held in prairie childhood that knew where evening was and I would age to renew it in redwood grove or among ponderosas mountain time, he too had inhaled an
                 Einsamkeit und Weite
solitude and breadth in the great German fen country had walked one haven patch to end of his life an olden honored misfit man that in
                 the true poet can be singled out by his close connection with natural
                 phenomena and his belief in the power of language
had defined own achievement having written in cranky rejection of anyone less who drunk on
                 sewage of civilization, politics, technology, commerce
polluted the
                 language and the intellect
he returned to
                 das All
the everything what something
he had been, a pagan death in the season I had noted a move over trim main lawn of arboretum, I rode the great plain of my life to derelict farmstead Minnesota an apartment in Saint Paul where I wrote
                 I am a poet far from home
                 And so I’ll go up to the tower
                 And following the way of leaves
                 I’ll come back down again
did not think to put or find any Lehmann in it whom I read reread and had to admit that the heart of his work the poems did not translate even a schooler would mangle, to
                 yellow had no name no form
                 and someone called it butterfly
the Columbia Gorge what I had seen through moving window, to Petaluma ranch an eden retreat the weather the botany mediterrane where
                 the eucalyptus waves
                 in operatic light
                 a picket crow surmounting
                 its grey-green height
I wrote in spirit of Lehmann the rhymer whom I wanted to write about could not very well when no one had read him in English had to take my word, maybe a clue to translation a footnote to original poem would do, I tried but set me to other work the
                 Oskar Loerke
                 Porträt eines lyrikers
not hard to thin to American yet an academic might have done better the prose not quite so vulnerable to tweak have gotten a nuance a meaning I had to have missed, to Fargo in north home tract I had married again to edit onehanded a magazine in which I published
                 Vom lyrischen Gedicht
                 On Lyric Poetry
translation I had begged of Johannes Vazulik, got
                 Bewegliche ordnung
                 Moving Order
that Scrase had done into the
                 Plains Poetry Journal
which I had helped start, my own attempt
                 Oskar Loerke
going to South Dakota journal, were only aperitif I thought would catch an eye attract translation, and to Mogollon highland Arizona where I withdrew to the private walked and watched on giant wooded lava rock took in the
                 strömendes Licht, wie geseiht,
                 weisser Septemberschimmer
streaming filtered light white gleam of September that he would have enjoyed the country had stayed so wild have seen the green god in katsina maybe, I read the whole of
                 Bukolisches Tagebuch
in a joy my own, I wanted to know how Lehmann work would assort with American socalled
                 nature writing
the epitomic
with the radical active
                 Earth First! movement
now, reviewed
                 Wilhelm Lehmann
                 A Critical Biography
volume one by David Scrase in literary magazine a main outgrowth of onetime
how readers tuned to
would take to Lehmann poetics a thema universal in but European way, they would like such minded visuality were used to franco attitude the notion of poet at an easel in bohème the Cézanne magic method
                 Gertrude Stein
who knew not Lehmann from Eve had applied to written word the
                 idea that in composition one thing is as important as another thing. Each
                 part is as important as the whole
even also
                 Cézanne’s conviction that nature in its plain actuality is always abhorrent
                 and that its ingredients must be reduced
or enchanced
                 to their true function as metaphors of feeling
in painted or written still life Victor Lange’s remark on modern
so my review compared him to
                 Robinson Jeffers
who might not have undertaken an
                 almost systematic nature philosophy
as Lehmann had but yea with
had verily chucked old mono god for the elder green, I would have continued but had not had room or right the oeuvre untranslated weighed on me, I owe the
                 poeta pittore
as Heimann dubbed him young and do what I can have woven him into my work let out the name kept eye on socalled
                 worldwide web
for any mention and now see that
                 Sean Haldane
Northern Irish my age has
                 put up
a few translations at
along with account of visit to Eckernförde the Lehmann home garden in broad sense not that he worked one in the narrow no
middle classer, he even claimed that
                 Gärtnerei erfordert so viel physische Anstrengung, dass ein Dichter
                 dem kaum gewachsen sein könnte
advising poet not take a gardening job it demanded too much of the body, Lehmann a watching walking
anyhow, a wildern mind, in not too long main writing days of me will end and I shall be an aged human edition of the vine god ready to chant
                 So lass uns weiter fliehn
                 Mit runden Schulterknochen
                 Wie Eichelhäher ziehn
with him and maybe find
                 let us go on running away
                 with rounded shoulders like the jay
right American words for it