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Thursday, September 29, 2005

Being and Becoming

Archibald McLeish: American Poet, Tantric of Ars Poetica, Translator par excellence, what not what else nots... And he says, in his poem entitled Ars Poetica, coincidentally

A poem should not mean, but be!

And Wallace Stevens... that other great American Poet of the Transcendental time, in his Emperor of Ice Cream, encapsulates the very soul of what am going to end this little loud-thinking with. I quote his poem in full, you conclude:

Emperor of Ice-Cream

Call the roller of big cigars,
The muscular one, and bid him whip
In kitchen cups concupiscent curds.
Let the wenches dawdle in such dress
As they are used to wear, and let the boys
Bring flowers in last month's newspapers.
Let be be finale of seem.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

Take from the dresser of deal,
Lacking the three glass knobs, that sheet
On which she embroidered fantails once
And spread it so as to cover her face.
If her horny feet protrude, they come
To show how cold she is, and dumb.
Let the lamp affix its beam.
The only emperor is the emperor of ice-cream.

My query is this: If be be the finale of seem and if the lamp is asked to affix its beam, then what happens to Lawrence Durrell's statement about The Real Reality realising in itself? And what of the Sanskrit credo: Aham Brahmasmi, Tatvam Asi.... if I am everything that thou art, then e.e.cummings' credo that "most people have nothing in common with me than the square root of minus one" becomes a paradox! So what are the likes of Hermann Melville and Walt Whitman and H.L.Mencken gonna do about their New Hampshire Transcendentalism? Am just crazy, give up, if you're reading this! And finish with the reprint from another of my favourite Durrell poem:

This Unimportant Morning

This unimportant morning
Something goes singing where
The capes turn over on their sides
And the warm Adriatic rides
Her blue and sun washing
At the edge of the world and its brilliant cliffs.

Day rings in the higher airs
Pure with cicadas, and slowing
Like a pulse to smoke from farms,

Extinguished in the exhausted earth,
Unclenching like a fist and going.

Trees fume, cool, pour - and overflowing
Unstretch the feathers of birds and shake
Carpets from windows, brush with dew
The up-and-doing: and young lovers now
Their little resurrections make.

And now lightly to kiss all whom sleep
Stitched up - and wake, my darling, wake.
The impatient Boatman has been waiting
Under the house, his long oars folded up
Like wings in waiting on the darkling lake.

- Lawrence Durrell


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