Nature and the logic of fate have brought us to this rain-soaked afternoon and while we may not grin, speaking generally, we will bear it.
Given the bright drear outside I thought I'd splash some color inside and present to you this sketch of the mind.
Did I ever mention to you that everything is difficult? I like coffee and not having to go anyplace for hours, but I can't think of much else that passes the mustard at the great picnic table of existence. Yes, yes, love, but I don't want to talk about that right now. Of course soon I have to go to the pediatrician and arm young arms with shots in the dim, but still, there is coffee.
Tonight in class we'll talk about Yeats, especially "Vacillation" (to which this weekly blog owes its name) and "The Desertion of the Circus Animals." In the latter, Yeats talks about wanting to write but finding no story within him to tell. Rather, finding a nothing that asks something: What was I ever saying? The next stanzas talk about a play he wrote back in the day (On Baile's Strand), and a poem, on this mythical beautiful brute king named Cuchulain who ended up killing his son, unawares (Oedipus reverse) though his son knew just who he was and was swording towards him on orders from the queen. And Yeats also mentions Countess Colleen about whom he also wrote poem and play. Her people starving, she sells her soul to satisfy them, just like the present always sells the past, for the sake of the future. Anyway, despite all these densities of meaning, the poet says it was all just words and pageantry to him, he never felt the deep mind behind.
So what's left when life no longer announces itself to you? The same thing from when you had it all, just with a lot less theater. Where did he get all those angry wasted straining failures in the first place? Someplace grubby where he doesn't know anything but the archives of his scars. Is it disgusting, yes, it is disgusting, and no, it is no Coney Island of the Mind, but it is actual, and matter of factual, and when there is nothing left but uncertainty and struggle, hey, at least you have those. Here's the last stanza:
Those masterful images because complete
Grew in pure mind, but out of what began?
A mound of refuse or the sweepings of a street,
Old kettles, old bottles, and a broken can,
Old iron, old bones, old rags, that raving slut
Who keeps the till. Now that my ladder's gone,
I must lie down where all the ladders start
In the foul rag and bone shop of the heart.
Nice huh? I love it with all I've got.
I had a good trip in East Kentucky, met interesting people, saw bluegrass (green) and horses (galore) and drank beer aged in barrels that late had cradled Kentucky bourbon (tasty, with a kick), and hawked my dove, dovey message of unbelieving love. This week there is an article in Newsweek that mentions my work in a lovely way.
It is very tricky getting things just right, impossible actually, but the muses in their army books insist on urging further trials, though hope is plucked and baking, slathered in rosemary and olive oil.
See you next week, perhaps under bluer skies.