Playing the Indian Card

Sunday, November 19, 2017

Eat. Brains.

On Hearing Browning and Yeats Recite on the Webpage of the BBC

A poet is the most unpoetical thing in existence.
Browning sounding fatuous;
Great Yeats slouching Innisward
Soul fastened to a dying ego
Something seeming stuck upside his nose.
Dead men do recite sad tales.

In the static and commotion
Of Andrew Motion’s
Digital BBC jubilee of the spoken word.

There it is. Ecce. Ick.
Poetry is dead, and stretched prone on the mortuary table;
Amidst the high-pitched keening of its ghosts.
We knew it was dead on paper.
But it seems its death can just as well be spread
By word of mouth.
Sentiment aside,
Who can be surprised?
The skylark Shelley heard is dead and rotten
If bird it ever was;
And all of Basho’s blossoms have fallen long ago.

So let it be with poets. They are only the sort of people after all
As you might elbow in the supermarket,
Or jostle in the mall.

And so let it be with the static and commotion
Of Andrew Motion’s
Digital BBC jubilee of the spoken word.

And yet, and yet;
Can't I still hear that skylark call
And see those bright pink blossoms?
How is it the waves of Innisfree lap clear in my third ear?

Poetry is neither sight nor sound; nor type, nor lip, nor good read hearing—
It is the resurrection and the life.
It is Orpheus from underground;
For the Word, without the flesh, shall rise again.

And all of Allan Ginsberg’s ancient Molochs knock
Each against the last against the corridors of memory
Ancestral voices prophecying war once more.

A door opens; a stone is thrown away;
And Carl Solomon shall rise again;
And welcome back, Allan, Willie, Robert, John.
Welcome back, not as zombie flesh, thank God, not to glassy eye, nor weary ear;
But resurrected, perfected, transformed utterly.

-- Stephen K. Roney

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