Saturday, May 5, 2012

Speak over Form

There is nothing in the ethical, in the universal, that can save you, even while there is every form of mediation such as provides the appearance of a means of being saved. I can mediate getting with spending; I can mediate thought with form. I can mediate desire with play; I can mediate outrage with talk. But I cannot mediate my duty to God. I cannot address my duty to God except as an individual. I cannot address my duties, as they present themselves to myself only as an individual, except by turning to God in my duty to God.

Form in poetry is the address which overcomes the appearance of mediation. A poem without form is like a stomach without a lining. It can't be done. It can be spoken or conjectured. And it is a largely settled matter that formfulness precedes and dictates content, and that content is in the loins of the beholder, and that the trumpet, for being commonplace, is a most difficult thing to play.

At this cultural moment of composition, form is the notion we have of a barrier, for keeping in what is ours, for keeping out what one does not wish to be among what is yours. The fact of form suggests that every writer is a censor, which of course every writer appears willing to believe, even as they may strive toward this or that species of inclusion or playfulness. But there is no crime in belying appearances or in delaying the effects of form. For those effects are hard dealt with.

As you imagine and are realized you are lost to dismay. Your panic is the tension of the smooth surface. You are intact. You are on the one hand thankful and on the other empty. What was fury is now a rite of passage - a passover. The question before you is what sort of music does one conduct who has neither chaos nor silence to interfere?

One does not have to think too long on Moses before realizing that, as god of this Israel, you write the rules. Behind, or in back of the fact of form as posing a barrier is the fact of the poet posing or positioning herself as god, or more accurately as architect. In a sense, the configurations - the blueprint - of one's barrier making (one's formfulness) can be lifted and transposed from one set of circumstances to another. That is, set your eyes upon a new land - the land perhaps of one's being realized - and find yourself newly dismayed. In my model, Moses can be allowed into Canaan - but only on certain conditions related specifically to his willingness to accept full knowledge of himself as an individual turning to God. It can be believed that it must be done.

Every poet, if he is to write forever, must learn how to forgive herself his success in believing that she has created a perfect world.

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