You are using an outdated browser.
Please upgrade your browser
and improve your visit to our site.
Skip Navigation

William Faulkner Noun, Place and Verb

A poem

memory he said believes he said
and himself did who has himself
memory and did himself believe
and then remember to recollect,
whose name was william faulkner
whose place was mississippi
and whose verb was tell.

 memory he wrote believes before knowing
 remembers, believes longer than recollects
 longer than knowing even wonders
 knows remembers believes, he himself said
 believing himself and mississippi august skylight
 mississippi thickets in september twilight,
 believing the dry hysteria: something
 is going to happen I am going to do something
 something is going to happen to me

 and memory no less in mississippi than elsewhere
 believes knows tells this:
 the mississippiness of ancient oracles
 of albatross sins ancestral; recollects remembers this:
 pre-summersmell of wisteria
 oldentime ladies in rooms unsanctuary
 amid mississippi gothic behind cottonwhite
 totems doric corinthian scotch irish
 (O clytemnestra my black one
               O my firstborn son and brother)

 and this also believes:cypress and gum trees
 beach, cane and briar and three-note birdsong
 reflections in branch water; mississippi distant horns
 and gas engine smells fading beyond now and fury.
 and this recollects and knows the significance of:
 black human blood red on butcher knives
 white female blood on phallic corn cobs.

 memory believing yoknapatawpha indian doom
 did not mistake the wilderness for sanctuary
 either but wished it so as huntsman
 but wishing does not know
 forgets and gallops confederate cavalry in gale (tone)
 wish-fulfilling knighthood (without negroes)
 wish-forgiving arrogance and the outrage of human
 wish-denying antebellum insurrections nightmares
 while celebrating those who could survive them

 but wishing is believing too
 because the bones remember
 (O canaan look away from dixie
 away from bedford forest o railroads
 underground freedom bound)

 and memory knowing this
 knows more (believes infers
 more complications than even those
 miss rosa colfield's perhaps once glittering
 eyes gave quentin compson, who said:
 and wants it told)!

 believes knows recollects in him (whose nouns
 were courage and honor and pride and
 he says pity and love and even justice
 and liberty) believes knows and wonders at
 wishing become man-horse-demon
 with twenty negroes (shackled) begetting
 with one french architect (shanghaied) sutpens
 hundred (without gentleness begot, miss rosa
 colfield says) wonders remembers
 aghast but knows mississippi dynasties
 of somewhat oedipal
 innocence with black
 queen-mothers and half brothers
 knows jefferson the man and town
 and public confederation of decorum; and also knows
 remembers eighty miles to memphis
 and miss reba's sanctum sanctorum of law and order
 and sportsmanship
                   believes remembers
 recollects, records in commissary ledgers
 pharaoh-tale-accounts compounded in confounding
 convolutions of all-too-human-impacted
 good intentions which at any rate
 reveal (or partly unconceal) himself:
 william faulkner hamlet-hounded master
 of mulatto metaphors among maebeths
 in county court houses castles out-demographed
 by ever in-creeping miscegenated thickets

 nigger? the sheriff said in hot pursuit
 of the inherently illusive mississippi christmas,
 nigger? he said. maybe nigger, maybe not
 they told him then
 whose memory like theirs believed in shadows
 as much as men