Sunday, October 29, 2006

Moody Note

A poem both incarnates and transmits life. A poem is and a poem does.To the question,

"What are poets for a morally bankrupt time?"

Irving Layton answers,

"in the creative word lies redemption"


"Utterance alone can heal the ailing spirit
and make man and poet a single self;
bring back the long vein of memory
the laughter and wholeness of childhhod."

(The Carillon")

And about the poet:

A quiet madman, never far from tears,
I lie like a slain thing
under the green air the trees
inhabit, or rest upon a chair
towards which the inflammable air
tumbles on many robins' wings;
noting how seasonably
leaf and blossom uncurl
and living things arrange their death,
while someone from afar off
blows birthday candles for the world.

(The Birth of Tragedy)

There is also the midnight madman of TS Eliot, shaking the dead geranium. It's actually all there: madness, darkness, life and death. Maybe the poet's role in destitute times is to bring that dead geranium to life, by any means he can.

An excerpt from Ralph Angel's poem:


In the darkest of circumstances
I too have dialed the number
and thought twice and tested each one of them
as if anybody stands a chance around here
and no one carries our messages.
If there's something you still need
believe me
they will pick up the phone.
Because the body's not stupid.
Because the flesh remembers
and taking care comes first.
A young mother cradles an infant to her breast
and it feels like love.
Like we can do something.
Because you would save every last one of them
you are already forgiven.
It doesn't matter now
that nothing in this world is direct.
Our life is layered.
First we weep
and then we listen and eat something
and weep again
and listen.
And eat again.
And it doesn't matter anymore
at the bottom of your story
at the very-most bottom of recovery.
And confession.


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