Urn of each sabbath

What goes in the fire steeped in
Lost desire, the companions
Of your root, mist, mind of
God sitting once again with
Lost fire, belonging again, resounding
About the round turn of each
Nocturn; we visit the kingdom and
Find it worn; we roam the urn of
Each sabbath and bind it with this
Salt, here, not in your navel’s
Point of view, but in this atomized
Seascape shuddering to break your
Mouth into a million ungloried
Nays; where is this wine buried but
In the rum of a toasted spirit.

Into the organpipes and steeples
Of the luminous cathedrals,
Into the weathercocks’ molten mouths
Rippling in twelve-winded circles,
Into the dead clock burning the hour
Over the urn of sabbaths
Over the whirling ditch of daybreak
Over the sun’s hovel and the slum of fire
And the golden pavements laid in requiems,
Into the bread in a wheatfield of flames,
Into the wine burning like brandy,
The masses of the sea
The masses of the sea under
The masses of the infant-bearing sea
Erupt, fountain, and enter to utter for ever
Glory glory glory
The sundering ultimate kingdom of genesis’ thunder.

Dylan Thomas; from “Ceremony After a Fire Raid”

Presentism and the poet’s rage

Presentism is a modern stain. It is vehement in denying all explanations of now that go back in time, wanting to start anew with such passion that the past becomes trivial. Forgetting becomes less an explicit act and more an implicit elision brought about by massive distraction.

(The social forces that compel presentism are the same that animate the modern assault on understanding, restricting the scope of vigorous debate to a limited spectrum (Chomsky1) creating the illusion of diversity.)

When we are robbed of the past, we have no choice but to project the image of the present onto the future (Galeano2). The assault on imagination is terrifying. When our language is robbed of historical consciousness, the sensibilities brought into play are dystopic.

If language is fossil poetry (Emerson), then the poet should be all the more outraged by such an appropriation of expression. Dylan Thomas rages against the dying of the light. If we accept Kundera when he says, “the struggle of man against power is the struggle of memory against forgetting,” then Dylan’s rage is sterile unless the dying light is cast in the light of the ever alive past.

rage is the new normal; night is
an interpretation; flip open the
valves and let the ink bleed the
catchments dry for a new version
of night, a variation on history

rage is the new normal; the long
machinery of myth, the stench of
an older order, more primal than
the scream of the new version of
night, permutating with mutation

rage is the new normal; delights
in the rediscovery of the ultra-
mundane, the hodgepodge factotum
and mishmashed equilibria - this
is no more primal, no more night

rage is the new normal; the fist
that dares to open, to ask, want
to dare to ask, to stamp its bit
on the new version of night, the
variation on theme, an older one

Notes
1. “The smart way to keep people passive and obedient is to strictly limit the spectrum of acceptable opinion, but allow very lively debate within that spectrum.” Noam Chomsky, “The Common Good”

2. “Incapable of recalling its origins, the present paints the future as a repetition of itself; tomorrow is just another name for today.” Eduardo Galeano, “Upside Down”

To breathe through the poem

To breathe through the poem
The trees and

The hours of a resplendent
Fear that tocks

The gazelle and chimes the
Blueness of sky

To read through my eyes
What transpired

On the page with the ink
Bending spacetime.

A worm tells summer better than the clock,
The slug’s a living calendar of days;
What shall it tell me if a timeless insect
Says the world wears away? – Dylan Thomas, from “Here in This Spring” – Collected Poems

The word that forks some lightning

The word that forks some lightning
    opens up a knifewedge of open space

as saltwounds remember the homespun,
    as knuckles caress the loveskin that

works the silent shift, the mutehorn
    shrieks vapor, shrieks blankstare

out where the river bends, the sun
    gathers, and the grim worm kneads.

Though wise men at their end know dark is right,
Because their words had forked no lightning they
Do not go gentle into that good night. Dylan Thomas, from Do not go gentle into that good night

Optimism of rage

"Rage, rage against the dying of the light" - Dylan Thomas

Rage too against the silence
goading dull obeisance to creep
of power, a practised diligence
to shun the ear when the mynah

cries its cry;  the mountain weary
of the eagle soar, strains to hear
the treetop chirps, longs to mingle
with earth that grounds.