Dirty Gerty's Hurdy Gurdy


Only the poem knows what's true

Saturday, December 11, 2010


I've been coursing through two poems, in Paris Spleen and The Flowers of Evil. L'INVITATION AU VOYAGE (Paris Spleen) and Invitation To The voyage (The Flowers of Evil). In the former, Baudelaire presents a black tulip (which I utilized in a poem on The Soul of Art), and a blue dahlia. Both incomparable, both part of this wonderful country, a country of Cocaigne, where a curtain's fold breathes forth a curious perfume, a perfume of Sumatra whispering "come back." The Soul of the abode.

I'm intrigued by these two flowers because they can only thrive here. A country so beautiful and full of calm. And Baudelaire asks "Would you not there be framed within your own analogy, would you not see yourself reflected there in your own 'correspondence' as the mystics say?"

For some time this question baffled me. I wondered to what analogy he could be referring, and something struck me, reading Invitation to the Voyage (The Flowers of Evil). Here Baudelaire speaks of the soul's loneliness, noting her own "sweet and secret native tongue." The Black Tulip and the Blue Dahlia speak their own sweet and secret native tongue. They are lonely, except in this land, where beauty and calmness prevail, they are framed within themselves. Their endemic strangeness speaks back to them as beauty, which speaks back to the strangeness as revelation. And what is this revelation, except "come back?"

I think both poems speak to the soul not only of poetry but the poet. The notion of poetry being an invented instinct is something I've believed for quite some time. But, the notion of "coming back," is more endemic to poetry (and the poet) than anything I can surmise. The strange beauty of the flowers, which would be outcasts anywhere else, is like the images a poet sets forth. The creative trajectory, where imagery speaks to itself and the form a poem wants to take talks back.

There's a state, I'm not even certain I can fashion, of reciprocity, where strangeness feeds on beauty and beauty strangeness. But the two can only be had in an environment that allows them to thrive. Some would say this environment is the soul. I would say this environment is art, a poem, a painting, etc., To which the soul is conceived. Much as we conceive nature with artfulness. For we can only view it (nature) through human eyes, so the art is actually more natural than nature (itself). The same is true with the soul. It is, actually, found through an invitation to a strange land, the land of art, and re-creation. The land that asks us to come back, to everything we are, and all we never knew but always had.

I'm including below a poem I wrote within the eternity of an hour today, about Narcissus; some of the thoughts herein manifest in what I've written above, at least the concept of "coming back":


A mirror doesn't shift,
Its glass remains in tact
For the face that always drifts
From youth to hoar winter,

When he fixed his face
In a pool of shifting glass
He didn't have the grace
To fix his face in loam,

But assumed his eyes
More azure than the pool
Would betray the disguise
Of knowing they would die,

Chalcedony skin, ruby lips
He felt they were like stone
And shaped them into quips
Against' the liquid's wit,

His image was his place
The sphinx that was a fop
And he brushed his face
With his curled fingers,

And knew there was a riddle
Only he could solve
But his curiosity, so little,
A seed that could not grow,

Offered nothing, no question
No answer, to its bloom
Just the sun's obsession
In making his image grow,

If there were rain or clouds
He certainly would know
The beauty of the shroud
Is in knowing time will wither,

To flower the first image
From the apple not bitten,
To equate his frozen plumage
In the vision of a snake.

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