Excerpt from


The hand on my desk is my hand the everlasting
gentleman whose universe means you sometimes you
mean him and all the comfortable Hudson of named things
flows through the mind, in search of you now
for it is you who make things glitter, you
from whom the evening takes its violet
declivities that make me follow
down into the reflecting gloom.

About this Mont Blanc.

In July 1816, Shelley got his first glimpse of Mont Blanc from a bridge in the valley of the Arve, near Chamounix. His poem, evidently begun almost at once, is terse and complex, full of profound cosmography and subtle psychology. While I had glimpsed Europe's highest mountain from the air once or twice, my first sight of it from the ground was in the summer of 1992, from midway up the valley of the Dranse _ one of the three streams in the Chablais that bear that ancient name, specifically the Dranse de Morzine, the one that flows into Lake Geneva at Thonon. My wife Charlotte and I spent that summer in the Savoy, the latest part of France to join the Republic, a land steeply climbing up from the shores of Lake Geneva into the high Alps, a land of ravines and valleys, each with it's own dialect.

Throughout the year that followed our summer in the Haute Savoie, I had an odd, quiet feeling from time to time that I had to "do something" about Shelley. Little by little, that something came to connect with his poem "Mont Blanc," which was at the time very dimly recollected. Finally, a year later, flying from one place to another that had nothing to do with Shelley, it suddenly became clear that I had to write into his poem.

The result is a poem of mine that happens to preserve intact, in one form or another, all the words of Shelley's poem, in their original order, but with intrusions and incursions and extrusions of my own. The poem swells from six pages to forty. The subjects change, the persons vary, the concerns develop in their own way, and a different stream flows--north where his flowed west--down to the same sea.

Robert Kelly Homepage at EPC

Four poems

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