July 24, 2007

from unpublished book, The Apocrypha of William O’Shaunessy

Book IV, XII

Poetry could be a type of imaginary furniture-
a sofa setting for a feast in the villa we have long abandoned.

Or it might be an extension of being,
the wing of an imaginary house
dominating the bay where two oceans meet.

It could be a lightening up in the weather
where the unexpected shines from a stagnant pond.

Its path crosses the mountain range and deviates along the shoulder
of an ocean where the dead come closest to speaking to us.

Waiting for poetry to catch up with us,
it is easy to believe poetry must always be the same,
as if the habit of what had become easy
was the right way to live.

Poetry can appear to belong to words
yet it always ends up coming out at a different angle
into this thing called life.

The true poetry of an age may leave words altogether,
seeking refuge in the silent hostility of those who resist the conquerors’ blandishments.

In poetry the nostalgia for beauty must learn to accommodate horror.

The pure line of a poem must learn to bend according to the confused
perplexity of our efforts to be at least in part honest.

Not knowing who we are, we go to poetry as to an oracular surgeon of the soul who does not interpret our dreams but only leads us to dream more deeply.

In poetry as in parenthood we have to be stronger than we really are - we have to pretend to a strength which often miraculously appears, so that the line between well-intentioned fakery and sincere ineptitude blurs and endlessly remakes itself.

Poetry carries a small sampler of blessings. They cannot halt the tragedies. But like walking with the steadier eyes of someone who has taken up residence inside us, poetry helps us to keep our balance.

It is no good asking for a poem to be this or this. Life deals only what it deals.

Poetry started off its career as metered eloquence, the grinding millstone of religious piety. It progresses across the millennia to be the story with no story and the regularity that destroys all patterns.

In poetry the quest to be beautiful and the quest to be truthful sabotage each other, merge into each other, remake each other.

Poetry seeks to make sense of life through the gift of indirection.

(Leonidas the self-exiled, sole remaining fragments of his book, On Aesthetics)

—Peter Boyle

Posted by dwaber at July 24, 2007 11:15 AM