Autobiography (1970) and Other Selected Poems

Although published only under LZ’s name, the Autobiography is actually another collaboration with CZ, consisting primarily of a selection of short poems accompanied by CZ’s musical settings. CZ began composing music to short poems in 1940 (“Motet”, included in I’s (pronounced eyes)) and by 1952 had done all the 22 settings to 18 poems that make up the bulk of Autobiography. The majority of these settings appear to have been done as Christmas cards or presents for LZ, reciprocating the Valentine poems LZ usually wrote annually for CZ. In a letter to Cid Corman dated 11 May 1960, LZ mentions that CZ had just made a clear copy of the settings and hinted that it might be an appropriate publication for Origin Press (HRC 18.2). In 1967 LZ was asked to write a brief biographical statement, which became the short remarks distributed through Autobiography (Scroggins Bio 410). It is not clear when LZ first conceived of this as a publishable project, but the introduction is dated 17 Feb. 1962, which was also the period during which the two were working on Catullus together and when LZ began taking every opportunity to make public CZ’s collaborative efforts. Autobiography was published in an attractive design, with the musical scores in light brown print, by Grossman in 1970, and has never been reprinted. A performance of Autobiography took place in Lincoln Center, NYC on 31 March 1971, in which LZ’s reading of all the poems was followed by a performance of CZ’s scores sung by professional singers with LZ reading out the autobiographical prose passages as interludes. The recording of this performance can be heard at PennSound.

 

The poems included were all written between 1930 and 1952, but are not arranged in chronological order. The poems are as follows:

 

Motet (Some Time)

Song 11 (55 Poems)

Song 8 [2 musical settings] (55 Poems)

#5 (Anew)

Song 22 (55 Poems)

Light: #10 (Some Time)

Song 21 (55 Poems)

Song 16 (55 Poems)

Song 13 (55 Poems)

#36 (Anew)

A Song for the Year’s End: #1 (Some Time)

#29 (Anew)

que j’ay dit devant: #1 (Some Time)

So that even a lover: #1 (Some Time)

Xenophanes (Some Time)

“As to how much” (Some Time)

To My Valentines (Some Time)

Old (Some Time)

 

Other volumes of selected poems

 

In addition to the Autobiography, LZ and/or CZ made and published several selections of poetry during the 1960s. Also in 1960 LZ made an interesting “Choice of Favorites” for an Academy of American Poets publication, whose contents I will list below

 

16 Once Published (Edinburgh, Scotland: The Wild Hawthorn Press, 1962)

 

This selection was made by CZ and apparently included an introduction consisting of excerpts from “Poetry / for my son when he can read,” which at LZ’s request were not bound into the book but inserted loose-leaf (Booth 40).

 

Passing tall (55 Poems)

Run on, you still dead to the sound of a name (55 Poems)

PROP. LXI (55 Poems)

It’s a gay li – ife (55 Poems)

No One Inn (55 Poems)

Che di lor suona su nella tua vita (Anew)

It’s hard to see but think of a sea (Anew)

No it was no dream of coming death (Anew)

Strange (Anew)

The world autumn (Anew)

Xenophanes (Some Time)

Air (Anew)

Shang Cup (Anew)

An Incident (Anew)

The green leaf that will outlast the winter (Barely and widely)

Ashtray (Barely and widely)

 

Found Objects (Georgetown, Kentucky: H.B. Chapin, 1964), A Blue Grass Book.

The brief preface to this volume, “Found Objects (1962-1926),” is included in Prepositions (167).

 

The Ways (After I’s)

Stratford-on-Avon (Barely and widely)

The Guests (Some Time)

Michtam (Some Time)

You three: —my wife (Anew)

“One oak fool box”; —the pun (Anew)

1892-1941 (Anew)

“Mantis” (55 Poems)

“Specifically, a writer of music” (55 Poems)

Song—3/4 time (55 Poems)

To my wash-stand (55 Poems)

Poem beginning “The” (55 Poems)

 

“A” Libretto (NY: privately printed [mimeographed], 1965)

 

Composed of selections from all movements of “A” through “A”-17 plus “A”-20, except “A”-15; almost certainly made by CZ.

 

Selections of Others made by LZ

 

“Choice of Favorites,” Poetry Pilot, Academy of American Poets (Jan. 1960): 4-14.

For this gathering, LZ chose favorite poems that in all but one case were translated or adapted by himself and all of which had been included in his previous books:

William Shakespeare, from Pericles, the Prologue to Act III spoken by Gower. LZ notes that he is using the 1st Quarto text (a couple lines from this prologue are quoted in Bottom 422).

Homer, The Odyssey, Invocation of Book I (LZ’s adaptation as it appears in TP 117 (7b) and at the conclusion of “A”-12.261.123-20).

Xenophanes (in Some Time, CSP 123).

Catullus IV (CSP 246-247).

Catullus V (CSP 247).

Lucretius, from De Rerum Natura, Book V (as adapted in “A”-12.165.1-19).

Machault, “Ballade: Plourères, dames” (in Anew, CSP 86-87).

Spinoza, Ethics and tractatus de intellectus emendatione (various passages as adapted in “A”-12.174.8-175.3)

Psalms 16 (as adapted in “A”-12.144.7-22).

 

“A Suite of an Older Sympathy”

Under this title LZ made a short selection of younger poets for Poetry Pilot, the newsletter of the Academy of American Poets, published May 1966:

 
Paul Blackburn, “The Sunlit Room”
Cid Corman, “Quarry Sunday”
Robert Creeley, “The Man”
Robert Duncan, “The Walk to the Vacant Lot”
Denise Levertov, “Illustrious Ancestors”
Gil Sorrentino, “The Language Barrier”