Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, April 03, 2008

A mosaic of Orpheus singing to animals,
found on the internet with no explanatory detail

* * *

Sometimes poets talk admiringly of how another poet
“put something” into his or her poem – a leaky air conditioner, or a ball of wax –
And I really like this idea of the poem just sitting there,
Waiting for a poet to fill it with stuff.
With words, obviously, but words that point to stuff, in
This construction, this vision of what a poem is, a
For the poet to fill with stuff. I like it because,
Here it is, a poem, lying here, or floating here, or ethereally existing here,
But in any case already here, waiting for me – me! – to fill it.
The casual talky tone I’ve adopted seems suited to low-key satire, which is fine, as
Far as it goes,
But the thing about poetry it is,
I mean the THING about poetry is,
The THING is,
As the poem gets stuffed, you might, as reader, or I, as writer, become
Conscious of how odd and funny the various bits of language that come
To mind can be. Other poets like it when poetry facilitates the “taking flight”
Of language, and believe that poetry may or may not be of stuff, as long as
It “flies,” or “sings,” or otherwise gets birdlike.
I think my poem just laid an egg!
What will hatch from it?
I hope a song.
Because I like birdlike poetry too, I like it when language unmoors from the
Prosaic docks of signification, gets loose from the helium balloon string of
Decorative festivity and floats off carried by the wind until the inevitable slow
Leakage of helium deflates the verbiage and it sinks to earth,
Mere litter, a colorful scrap of rubber garbage with string attached.
When language comes to mind, whence comes it?
It comes from Yes.
It comes from Assent, Agreement, Possibility, Affirmation, Celebration, as a
Basketball swishes through nothing but net – Yes! Language
Does its victory fist whenever it speaks us, because,
Our knowledge of it precedes our consciousness of it, our memory of it,
Our expertise with it – suchever as it may or may not be – precedes
Conscious memory, our elders raise us into it, mother us into the Tongue, so
That it is never wholly “ours” to be “mastered” by our intellect, ego, or other
Metaphorically-pointed-to controlling self.
The net has a hole in the bottom. It is there to make the tube musical, and yet when
A basketball player is “in the zone,” he never boasts about feeling “swishy,”
Does he? Even though a flying bird’s wings swish too.
Orpheus – and this is more a manifestation of anxiety about music than poetry – got
Classically tarred with being effeminate. It goes for poetry too, as
Orpheus is as much the emblem-icon for poetry as for music. Is it because
Music “penetrates” us? And so does poetry? These temporally directed
Designs enter us and change how we feel.
But then wouldn’t the poet and the musician
Be the “top” in this schema? Or is the inspired musician or poet
“filled” with the inspiration of the muses, as in that Rembrandt painting of
The angel whispering in Saint Matthew’s ear as he composes his Gospel,
And he looks up, startled, and puts his hand over his heart,
Because the language that has come to his mind
Has struck him as so beautiful, he can’t believe it. He
Isn’t aware of the Angel. Could it be that we seldom are? Believers believe
That only Saints get Talked To like that, but . . . I hope not!

* * *

A cordial wave of the pixels to John Latta and Daisy Fried, for stimulating the poem urge.

The Evangelist Matthew Inspired by the Angel, ca. 1660, Rembrandt
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