[lit-ideas] Re: SUNDAY POEM

  • From: Eric Yost <eyost1132@xxxxxxxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Mon, 15 Jan 2007 13:15:50 -0500

Mike kindly sends along a poem by Transtromer:


Annie said: "This music is so heroic," and she is right.
But those who glance enviously at men of action, people who despise themselves inside for not being murderers, do not find themselves in this music. And the people who buy and sell others, and who believe that everyone can be bought, don't find themselves here.
Not their music.



Schubert also has the most delightfully childish lyricism. Listen to the final movement Rondo from Piano Sonata #17 in D-major. Clockwork children at play ... with occasional big-chord interruption by their parents. Or try the Cambridge Buskers' (or the old Josef Hoffmann acoustic) recording of Schubert's March Militaire. Children in the empyrean.

There should be more Schubert played over the loudspeakers at Guantanamo, during interrogations, and of course, in jet cockpits during missile strikes on al-Qaeda.

But I digress.

Ever notice how some naive poets and writers struggle to put down people of action and people of commerce? They are denying a part of their own natures. The writer who always puts down "greedy, narrow-minded businessmen" is really lashing that part of herself who is a "greedy, narrow-minded businessperson." All blame rests with the self, as Epictetus observed, and people who go out of their way to deny any of the human types is probably to a certain extent involved in repression and self-hatred.

Transtromer's strategy here is to enlist a narrative other, with whom he can agree that business and military types are terrible. Those bad guys can't appreciate Schubert. The poet and his other, though, can enjoy the elevation that comes from putting the other types down.

Not so artists like Chaucer, Shakespeare, or Balzac ... who enlist all of humanity in their description and let each speak for themselves.

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