Some books I just can’t let go. This one… nope. When I opened this book, as I usually do before I list something interesting, the first poem hit me right in the chest. This beauty is mine for now.
There was a saviour
Rarer than radium,
Commoner than water, crueller than truth;
Children kept from the sun
Assembled at his tongue
To hear the golden note turn in a groove,
Prisoners of wishes locked their eyes
In the jails and studies of his keyless smiles.
The voice of children says
From a lost wilderness
There was calm to be done in his safe unrest,
When hindering man hurt
Man, animal, or bird
We hid our fears in that murdering breath,
Silence, silence to do, when earth grew loud,
In lairs and asylums of the tremendous shout.
There was glory to hear
In the churches of his tears,
Under his downy arm you sighed as he struck,
O you who could not cry
On to the ground when a man died
Put a tear for joy in the unearthly flood
And laid your cheek against a cloud-formed shell:
Now in the dark there is only yourself and myself.
Two proud, blacked brothers cry,
Winter-locked side by side,
To this inhospitable hollow year,
O we who could not stir
One lean sigh when we heard
Greed on man beating near and fire neighbour
But wailed and nested in the sky-blue wall
Now break a giant tear for the little known fall,
For the drooping of homes
That did not nurse our bones,
Brave deaths of only ones but never found,
Now see, alone in us,
Our own true strangers’ dust
Ride through the doors of our unentered house.
Exiled in us we arouse the soft,
Unclenched, armless, silk and rough love that breaks all rocks.
I didn’t find much in the way of scholarly analysis and that’s fine because to me this is very clearly about US, Americans.
We are dead because we are numb and disconnected.
We have attached ourselves to processed substitutes and intermediaries for our joy, our wellness, our communication and connection with others, our society’s laws and values.
Not all substitutes and intermediaries are always inherently bad, no more than a piece of art is somehow not as good as the item or concept it was created to reflect. They are just what they are- they do what they do, they offer what they offer. Art, Media, Facebook, and other substitutes and intermediaries allow us to share, express, preserve, learn, coordinate.
Some, though, are death wearing a handy benign mask provided by the greed and fear that we allow to pervade our society from within our own hearts to the highest halls of learning and government. Sometimes they are inherently evil; sometimes they are only killing us because we allow them to because it is easier to find something to numb us than to just connect.
We have been lulled by benign and evil substitutes and intermediaries into letting go of real contact, connection, nourishment, education, competence, and skill.
We are are silent when murder is done and our earth cries out and we ignore the pain of other humans and we cannot cry when we see death. The anger pain and prurient pleasure constantly whipped up by our media, portrayed for ‘entertainment’ and substituted for news by our journalists, keep us complacent and unquestioning of what is really going on and how we really need to engage.
We keep our children out of the sun, literally. They have no time to play outside, and they must not learn for themselves. They have lost the wilderness of childhood, both literally in the sense that children do not get to play outside and in the sense that we pound their joy out of them in favor of conformity, grades, good behavior, shake it off and suck it up and drive on.
We are lost but never found and there is no redemption and we are fine with that.
I have pretty much ignored John Cale, but he did set it to music if you like that sort of thing. I am sick at heart but thankful for the message. Although, as I read it, I do wonder if, in fact, things truly are all according to plan, all good, all Maya and not worth worrying about because Heaven is always right here, within and all around us, simultaneously with the suffering and evil I, we, choose and prefer to see in every little movement, shadow, difference or change. Is my perception, or lack of it, the real problem here?
In any case, I am off to go really connect with my family in the sunshine.