Thursday, November 9, 2023

Delmore Schwartz (#poem)


"I Am Cherry Alive," the Little Girl Sang

For Miss Kathleen Hanlon

"I am cherry alive," the little girl sang,
"Each morning I am something new:
I am apple, I am plum, I am just as excited
As the boys who made the Hallowe'en bang:
I am tree, I am cat, I am blossom too:
When I like, if I like, I can be someone new,
Someone very old, a witch in a zoo:
I can be someone else whenever I think who,
And I want to be everything sometimes too:
And the peach has a pit and I know that too,
And I put it in along with everything
To make the grown-ups laugh whenever I sing:
And I sing: It is true; It is untrue;
I know, I know, the true is untrue,
The peach has a pit, the pit has a peach:
And both may be wrong when I sing my song,
But I don't tell the grown-ups: because it is sad,
And I want them to laugh just like I do
Because they grew up and forgot what they knew
And they are sure I will forget it some day too.
They are wrong. They are wrong. When I sang my song, I knew, I knew!
I am red, I am gold, I am green, I am blue,
I will always be me, I will always be new!"
-Delmore Schwartz

After I finished the Lou Reed biography, I pulled the Delmore Schwartz off the shelf, which I probably haven't opened in years. I'm pretty sure I bought the book years ago, because I knew he'd been Lou Reed's teacher. There's a bunch of good things in it! 

The first edition Summer Knowledge: Selected Poems came out in 1959, and went on to win the Bollingen Prize in Poetry, as well as other prizes. Schwartz was already falling apart by then, though, and went on to die in poverty in 1966, at the age of fifty-two.

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