Gerald Burns signature    



“On Myth and Time" is the final Book of the twelve-part long poem The Myth of Accidence, begun in 1969, much of which appeared in Temblor. More than half of it was issued in 1994 as Longer Poems from Barnburner Press, Dallas. The earlier Books are, in order, Letters to Obscure Men, "Punch in a Nutshell," A Book of Spells, "Twenty Four Gnomic Poems," "A Chain for Madeleine," "Socrates Dying in Widener," The Passions of Being, "Fretting an Upscale Themis," Words Mutable as Felicity, A Workbook for Readers, and Book XI, "Untitled Poem on Reason" (the respective themes are Audience, Puppets, Magic, Truth, Beauty, Death of Socrates, Fondness, Law, Mutability, Narrative, Reason, and Will.) This last Book approaches its subject indirectly, by addressing subjects I am not, by inclination, equipped to handle with ease -- gods and goddesses, time and timelessness·, symbolism, myth. Till XII myth has been something of a myth for me, in spite of past editing for Spring Publications and its Jungian annual. Its presence here acknowledges, that's to say, what I may have left out in earlier parts, though Book XI (halted a third through due to incapacity) has much about monsters and ends in madness.

The hero of Keats's Endymion falls in love with the Moon. Eventually the lovers are united. As a poem it presents problems, many of them explicated in Christopher Ricks's Keats and Embarrassment. The present manuscript emulates Endymion's division into thousand-line sections, of which the first and third contain inset narrative poems. Their titles are not included in the line numbering.

My thanks are due the many people and organizations who supported the writing of this poem to date -- David Searcy, Nathan and DeLisa Gue, Sheila E. Murphy, Andrei Codrescu, The Academy of American Poets, American Academy of Arts and Letters, The Authors League Fund, and Oregon's Literary Arts, Inc.

Thanks also to my fellow Portlanders, Carrie Hoops and Edward Bell, Scott and Cody Duddridge and Barbara Wahr, Ann Haroun and Sylvester, best of cats.

June, 1996 —GB

  back next