Robert Pinsky

(October 20, 1940 / New Jersey)

Ginza Samba

Poem by Robert Pinsky

A monosyllabic European called Sax
Invents a horn, walla whirledy wah, a kind of twisted
Brazen clarinet, but with its column of vibrating
Air shaped not in a cylinder but in a cone
Widening ever outward and bawaah spouting
Infinitely upward through an upturned
Swollen golden bell rimmed
Like a gloxinia flowering
In Sax's Belgian imagination

And in the unfathomable matrix
Of mothers and fathers as a genius graven
Humming into the cells of the body
Or cupped in the resonating grail
Of memory changed and exchanged
As in the trading of brasses,
Pearls and ivory, calicos and slaves,
Laborers and girls, two

Cousins in a royal family
Of Niger known as the Birds or Hawks.
In Christendom one cousin's child
Becomes a "favorite negro" ennobled
By decree of the Czar and founds
A great family, a line of generals,
Dandies and courtiers including the poet
Pushkin, killed in a duel concerning
His wife's honor, while the other cousin sails

In the belly of a slaveship to the port
Of Baltimore where she is raped
And dies in childbirth, but the infant
Will marry a Seminole and in the next
Chorus of time their child fathers
A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers
Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish
Manager of a Pushkin estate, blowing

His American breath out into the wiggly
Tune uncurling its triplets and sixteenths--the Ginza
Samba of breath and brass, the reed
Vibrating as a valve, the aether, the unimaginable
Wires and circuits of an ingenious box
Here in my room in this house built
A hundred years ago while I was elsewhere:

It is like falling in love, the atavistic
Imperative of some one
Voice or face--the skill, the copper filament,
The golden bellful of notes twirling through
Their invisible element from
Rio to Tokyo and back again gathering
Speed in the variations as they tunnel
The twin haunted labyrinths of stirrup
And anvil echoing here in the hearkening
Instrument of my skull.


Comments about Ginza Samba by Robert Pinsky

  • tolexe (3/25/2020 2:12:00 PM)

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  • Dr Tony BrahminDr Tony Brahmin (3/25/2020 4:46:00 AM)

    the reed
    Vibrating as a valve, the aether, the unimaginable
    Wires and circuits of an ingenious box
    Here in my room in this house built
    A hundred years ago while I was elsewhere: beautiful expressions. tony(Report)Reply

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  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (3/25/2020 1:51:00 AM)

    In the third stanza I cite here: In Christendom one cousin's child.....Becomes a " favorite negro" ennobled......
    and then in another stanza: A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish......At present time such words would be regarded as being a racist. A best informative poem and Congrats! I have the same conclusion as I had done before. Thank you fo reading my comment.(Report)Reply

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  • Douglas Scotney (3/25/2019 7:40:00 PM)

    fascinating, well-told tale(Report)Reply

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  • Edward Kofi Louis (3/25/2019 3:23:00 PM)

    Instrument of my skull! ! ! ! 🗿

    Thanks for sharing this poem with us.(Report)Reply

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  • Parameswaran Nair Damodaran Nair(DPN) (3/25/2019 11:10:00 AM)

    A well crafted poem. Congrats(Report)Reply

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  • Sylvia Frances ChanSylvia Frances Chan (3/25/2019 10:01:00 AM)

    In the third stanza I cite here: In Christendom one cousin's child.....Becomes a " favorite negro" ennobled......
    and then in another stanza: A great Hawk or Bird, with many followers Among them this great-grandchild of the Jewish......At present time such words would be regarded as being a racist. A best informative poem and Congrats!(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
    0 person did not like.
  • Kumarmani MahakulKumarmani Mahakul (3/25/2019 6:40:00 AM)

    It is like falling in love, the atavistic
    Imperative of some one
    Voice or face- the skill, the copper filament, .....impressive penning. Beautiful poem. Thanks and congratulations for being selected this poem as the poem of the day.(Report)Reply

    0 person liked.
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  • Denis MairDenis Mair (3/25/2019 5:59:00 AM)

    Tunneling through any number of improbabilities, music brings its freight without weight... or is it the musical mind bringing its weightless freight of history to music?(Report)Reply

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  • Adrian FlettAdrian Flett (3/25/2019 3:45:00 AM)

    Music in the history(Report)Reply

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  • Bernard F. AsuncionBernard F. Asuncion (3/25/2019 12:35:00 AM)

    One of the best poems by Robert Pinsky..........(Report)Reply

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  • Ahmad ShiddiqiAhmad Shiddiqi (9/15/2009 12:59:00 AM)

    gorgeously imaginative! ! ! keep writing! ! !(Report)Reply

    2 person liked.
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Read all 13 comments »




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Read poems about / on: family, child, memory, house, children, father, rape, flower, girl, change



Poem Submitted: Monday, January 13, 2003



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