Nine Gates to the Temple of Poetry

by Steven H. Cullinane
on April (Poetry Month) 27, 2001

The First Gate: Rilke

"Song is existence [Gesang ist Dasein]."
-- Rilke, Sonnets to Orpheus, translated by Albert Hofstadter from a quotation by Martin Heidegger in Poetry, Language, Thought, Harper & Row paperback, 1975, page 138

The Second Gate: Fisher

"Stevens returns regularly to his own familiar topoi: 'the inherited garden' (Collected Poems, 369)...."
-- Barbara M. Fisher, Wallace Stevens: The Intensest Rendezvous, The University Press of Virginia, 1990, page 116

The Third Gate: Stevens

"In the inherited garden, a second-hand
Vertumnus creates an equilibrium."
-- Wallace Stevens, "Extraordinary References"

The Fourth Gate: Kosinski

"'In a garden,' he said, 'growth has its season. There are spring and summer, but there are also fall and winter. And then spring and summer again.'"
-- Jerzy Kosinski, Being There (April 1971), page 45 in the Bantam paperback of 1982

The Fifth Gate: Webster

"Vertumnus, n. [L. < vertere, to turn],
in Roman mythology, the god of the changing seasons and of growing flowers and fruits...."
-- Webster's New World Dictionary, College Edition, 1960, page 1621

The Sixth Gate: Seeger

"To ev'rything, turn, turn, turn,
There is a season, turn, turn, turn...."
-- Peter Seeger, lyric poem, 1962

The Seventh Gate: Focillon

"Focillon's theory of forms is a theory of transformations."
-- Barbara Fisher on the forms of Labyrinth and Temple [corresponding, in early spring, to Town and Country] in art and poetry. (Op. cit., page 117)

The Eighth Gate: Sappho

"Leave Crete,
and come to this
sacred place
encircled by apple trees...."
-- Sappho, translated by Jane Hirshfield in Nine Gates: Entering the Mind of Poetry, a Harper Perennial paperback, 1998, page 130

The Ninth Gate: Sorvino

"I love bein' an actress!"
-- Mighty Aphrodite, 1995

Page created April 27, 2001 shc759. Return to Journal.