Thursday, June 16, 2011

On Afflatus...

Afflatus=inspiration, particularly of the divine variety, “breath;” symbolized by the romantic image of the Aeolian harp

Byronic inspiration. Whitmanian afflatus. Wordsworthian breath. Tennysonian style?

I am here to fight. Fight hand to hand against a complacent mass, for I am about to give a poetry reading – my flesh, my joy, my feelings – (Federico Garcia Lorca)

Who decades ago lamented Wall Street’s “total absence of the spirit.”

There is a world of broken rivers & distances just beyond our grasp…
What shall I do now? Set the landscapes in order?

What is ever the artist’s task? Whether studying abroad in NYC (as the Spanish poet was in the 1920’s), or toiling in the non-profit sector of corporate America anywhere (!) the charge is the same.

Bring back the gift. The message. Return the boon. Share the treasure.

One of the roles to essay in this operatic adventure called life is the Story-teller. Chronicler. Elder. Scribe.

Like loving guardians to young children, we must re-tell the stories of our peoples. Our trials and fortunes. Our famine & our plenty. Memory. History. Culture. The narrative, connecting, substantive threads of the interconnected web.

Like Whitman’s spider, spun with
…filament, filament, filament, out of itself,
Ever unreeling them, ever tirelessly speeding them.

We sometimes tire from telling the stories and simply need a break. Vacation. Sabbatical. Despair may encroach when we weary of explaining why they matter. But studying & practicing them in order to tell / explain / sell / teach & or instill them: joy!

I don the role of the sponge-like student and read. I listen. Part meditation. Part vision- quest. Part homework. Part brainstorming. Part creative-juicing. Whitmanian joy draws closer...

I invoke my ancestors. The great cloud of saints and witnesses always within reach.

Federico, where are you hiding?
what shadowed alleys shield you
from the angry faces, or have
you fled to the green haired
mountain? And white bearded,
love wizened Walt Whitman, please
help me spread the wings of
my soul for at least one positive
appearance! I stammer and stutter
like a diminutive caricature
and require your fire-wielding staff
of poetic speech and operatic utterance.

Would that Wotan might appear
and fell the adversarial pretenders
with the elemental force of a single word.
They cannot look him in the eye
(contempt from shame
being indistinguishable
in the philistine)...

O Soul, no one can silence you! Sing!

Much remembering of late. Naming. Lists. Memory as an affirmation
of life. Naming cultural / artistic (& more!) heroes as a way of honoring them and succoring oneself.

Mozart. Dante. Cervantes. Beowulf. Rumi. Bosch. Britten. Pema. Picasso. Chagall. Ashbery. Rimbaud.

I pray when the next time comes to weigh my life in the balance I will not be found wanting for having tended, at least a little, the torch of cultural light in a few of its many-flickering tongued facets. As Bach is my witness. Sharing such light is blessing enough. May the English Channel of my soul open to conduct more harmonious journeying…

From a venerated Japanese master: if a picture is worth a thousand words, a living being is worth a million…

Idea for a play. A choric poem. A musical?

Prospero’s Lyre
Setting: a desert isle
Time: any

Prospero (a recent immigrant)
Caliban (a native)
Ariel (a spirit from beyond)
Orpheus (a pilgrim)
Eurydice (a spirit from below)
Geryon (a mythological creature)
Chorus of mythological creatures

Chorus of Griffins & Unicorns, led by Geryon:

Blind Tiresias, gifted with Second sight –
Prospero’s magic, to set the world a-right…

The abyss where you thrust me is inside you.
(Says the Sphinx to Oedipus in Pasolini’s film of the great myth / drama)

To resist blind impulse, neither abhor nor fill the vacuum,
But simply (costing not less than everything) be…

It is not enough to desire
One must have the fire, yes
But that is one of five rings
The real king must wear

The Kings of the Icelandic sagas favored the Poets first & foremost…
“Of all his followers, the King held his poets in highest regard” (Egil’s Saga).

The swallowtail butterfly
the hummingbird augur
the spirit world’s portal
through this ever fascinating
regenerative realm

The blue velvet hazed horizon
harmonizes in key with
the music of the spheres
chiming the present moment and eternity
what could be more beautifully real than this

Were it not for the
clarifying pain of suffering
the habitual film might
cloud the vision still

Praise it all! The
buzzing insects and birds
of prey and the compost
stenching the air
enriching the earth
renewing the cycles
we must celebrate
lest memory fade
in the fog of these days

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