Friday, June 16, 2006

Savage Spirits

The idea that poets can "make a difference" on the real world is as complex a notion as whether an artist can actually summon the Daemon for the passionate ends. One must admit defeat (as Geoffrey Hill does in "Précis or Memorandum of Civil Power," published in the May issue of Poetry (again, I allude to Alex Ross whose "take" on the poem is different than mine). But, somehow, as Hill suggests, change occurs within diversity and the panoply of the public. Perhaps, we can only on the verities of an Gnostic Other, rather than the abeting spirit
that is created of our own. Thus, savages, as ourselves, cannot hope to evoke the compassion from self-creation and human ego. God, is The Without. I quote the beautiful poem of Wallace Stevens:

Less and Less Human, O Savage Spirit

(Wallace Stevens)

If there must be a god in the house, must be,
Saying things in the rooms and on the stair,

Let him move as the sunlight moves on the floor,
Or moonlight, silently, as Plato's ghost

Or Aristotle's skeleton. Let him hang out
His stars on the wall. He must dwell quietly.

He must be incapable of speaking, closed,
As those are: as light, for all its motion, is;

As color, even the closest to us, is;
As shapes, though they portend us, are.

It is the human that is the alien,
The human that has no cousin in the moon.

It is the human that demands his speech
From beasts or from the incommunicable mass.

If there must be a god in the house, let him be one
That will not hear us when we speak: a coolness,

A vermillioned nothingness, any stick of the mass
Of which we are too distantly a part.


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