“Mannerism,” a poem by René Ricard from our Summer 1970 issue. Ricard was born on this day in 1946; he died last year. An obituary in the New York Times calls him “a notorious aesthete who roamed Manhattan’s contemporary art scene with a capacious, autodidactic erudition and a Wildean flamboyance.” In the eighties, his essay “The Radiant Child” helped to burnish the reputation of Jean-Michel Basquiat.
These are the problems which inhabit the imagination
Tincture of opium, redolent eucalyptus balm
The constituent order fails
At any attempted rescue, the end of a soft brown epoch
Some things were marvelous: Bring on the Byzantine
The gilded orient spoiling Venice’s moldy sewer
“Why must they build their capitals on swamps?”
Paris! London! Moscow!
We find remaining fragments bizarre
It’s the mulch of the Cul de Sac
Tempting our languor with that dead clutter sensation
“I’m like a fallow field.”
The party’s over and we remember this.