Mumbled something here a few days ago contrasting present-day concept of form/beauty with that of Moderns 100 yrs ago - Joyce's autotelic "quiddity" vs. today's "intelligibility". The excerpt from Fontegaia I posted yesterday might suggest I'm not practicing what I preach... what the heck is this strange obscure garbled stuff? Especially if you haven't been following the whole loopy string-along poem...
Anyway, it's a work-in-progress, & there are limits to what I can clarify about it, but... It's from the 2nd section of Fontegaia, which has been focusing on the distinctive Sienese horserace called the Palio. What I've been doing is using features of the race & of Siena/Sienese history in general as a foundation, & also as a jumping-off place (metaphors for other things).
Gradually I'm working toward some structural parallels or analogies between :
- poets & poetry (as horserace)
- history/eschatology (the concept of the "end of time" - Apocalypse, 4 Horsemen of, etc.)
Siena links (in my mind) with eschatology by way of Joachim of Fiore, St. Francis & franciscanism. The Palio race itself is, for the Sienese, a way of sort of "stopping time" - it celebrates & mythologizes the "original" independent city-state & its founding victory over Florence at the battle of Montaperti in 1260. 1260 or thereabouts was also supposed to be an apocalyptic date in Joachim's & Joachimite messianic thinking.
In my private symbolism here in this & other sections of the poem, the contemplative/unworldly loser-poet (kind of an image of poets in America generally) is identified with the visionary saint/hobo (Francis), who paradoxically wins the race by losing it - wins it riding his slow donkey (Francis called his own body - affectionately - his "ass", bearing burdens). Contemplative vision & spiritual poverty are "slow" in relation to the quick foxy worldly utilitarian thinking which surrounds the poet on all sides. & the confrontation between these two mighty forces (worldly & spiritual) has its analogy in the Book of Revelation & the Apocalypse itself - the end of time.
"Ramirez" (in the section posted previously & others) refers to the "outsider" Mexican artist Martin Ramirez, whose paintings of railroads & immured horsemen etc. I'm using as another sort of link in the nexus Francis/hobo/San Francisco/Siena/horsemen/Apocalypse. (As noted in an earlier post, Ramirez, who was famously mute most of the time, sent a message through his family to the wife he had left behind in Mexico - "I'll see you again in the Valley of Jehoshaphat", ie. at the apocalyptic Last Judgement & resurrection of the dead.)
For "Ezekiel" - cf. the Louis Armstrong version of that song (alluded to by Eugenio Montale in his poem "Ezekiel Saw the Wheels". Montale also wrote a poem titled "Palio").
The last line - "Father! the chariots..." - an excerpt (revision?) of prophet Elisha's cry as his mentor Elijah is taken up bodily to heaven in a fiery chariot - "the chariots of Israel and his horsemen!"
There - all clear now?