The Longer Fragments of Arthur T. Nash

As I mentioned in an earlier entry, the work of the poet Archilochus survives only in the fragments that were quoted in educational materials — treatises on literature and grammar books.

The works of Arthur T. Nash are also fragmentary, but for altogether different reasons. As he is an author of my acquaintance, I have asked him about this, and he replied that he would rather be known for an apt fragment than add to the ‘steaming heap,’ and by this I think he meant all the unchastened material that is produced in this day and age.

[Chasten means to prune of excess, pretense or falsity.]

Here are the two longest fragments of A. T. Nash’s poetry:

A Voice is a Vice

A voice is a vice
That ties your thoughts to words.
Words cannot fly like thoughts,
So shut up.
Be a banana bird in a windy city
Or cat leaves on the walk.
Filter like mad
And don’t look horny.

Jamaica Plain

With their little episides, Lord,
We seek to entertain thee.
May it ever be so or not so.
Phantom nut bushes, may they ever lurk
In the forest of worthless words.
May those who seek anguish find it.
I sing sea shanties under my breath.

May the disco jungle two-step
Lull the young of the cities to honey-sweet sleep.
I will clatter with the old women and the night orderlies
Down Huntington Ave.
And lie with the sirens
Sweet banshees of dire emergency.

I have to add that this last poem says a lot about the Boston Subway System, especially Kenmore Square and the Huntington Street Line that rattled through Jamaica Plan.