Home again in Providence. Tucked into the old house, with the dogwood & the weedy patio in the backyard, the books upstairs. I realize after 25 years how much I have become an appendage of this appanage. I'm part of the local landscape. May have to leave it soon.
Driving non-mindedly through springtime Wisconsin, Indiana, Ohio, Pennsylvania... wide fields, deep lands, prim farms... trying to keep things going. The banks of weeds & flocks of trees along the roadside (somebody's Rock Candy Mountain). The beckoning earth. (Burchfield's Ohio.)
"Beauty will save the world." (Dostoevsky) Reading The Education of Henry Adams. Adams' quasi-Buddhist passivity. He understands the futility of late-Darwinian naturalism - yet scrambles around without finding an alternative.
Faith, from the naturalist view, seems an expression of bad faith - a deliberate shuttering of the rational mind. Mantra for closed eyes.
My whole focus an attempt to justify another view : one which has grown on me over time, prompted by a sort of unconscious prescience, an adolescent St. Vitus' mime of my own future orientation.
The naturalist reads the universe in a context of shock - the shock of recognition of the unknown. This is the real psycho-cultural after-effect of the development of modern science. Thanks to the Hubble Telescope et al., we see the universe more immediately, more concretely - an incalculably immense wasteland of burning stars & circling rocks.
The religionist sees the universe as a metaphor, an allegory, a sign. This kind of seeing is now judged, by the scientific mind, to be the most egregious & central scandal. It's a kind of evasion, an idealistic feint - as fiction, myth-making.
The poet (arch-Romantic) believes in a vitalist, personal, Reality. The poem is a document of this faith : a vivid speech, a living voice evoking a living world of living beings.
I can't convince you of what I believe - I can't even enunciate it. I'm trying, but I fall short.
"Beauty will save the world." This is Dostoevsky's version of what was once (back in medieval times) understood as "the economy of salvation". Divine Providence has a plan for the redemption of the earth.
The story of Christ's death & resurrection is a kind of metaphor. A mystery play. A symbol, a sign of the "Son of Man" : that is, a representative image of the destiny of the human race as a whole on earth, and of the fortitude of the individual person enmeshed in same. We die, yet we live again. We overcome evil through love. We redeem the earth. This is "Man's" project here, "Man's" goal. Joseph Brodsky : "Man was put on this earth for one purpose : to make civilization." I would revise this formula, however. Man was put on this earth to discover the love of God (which is really the same thing).
All these phrases of mine are completely useless. I can't put into words what I really sense & know.
I helped bury my loving, steadfast father last month. He went into ashes by Minnehaha Creek. Yet he lives. He leaves an outline of the Son of Man, a fulfillment of one local corner of the creation, where he shone like a star.
"Ariel was glad he had written his poems..."
"A Tear is an Intellectual Thing,
& a Sigh is the Sword of an Angel King."
Beauty will save the world. There is a harmony to the whole of life which no artist or scientist has been able to express. It is "grace", it is "love". It will overcome evil & will make all things new.
It is personal beyond our understanding of the visible person. It is whispering to you.
Which reminds me of this little poem I wrote about 30 yrs ago :
from a cave
Such a small voice,
I would not stop to hear;
the sun was going down, and
there were no houses near.
Such a strange voice,
whispering out of the ground -
familiar, though it seemed
unearthly, utterly profound.
Such a sweet voice,
twining my cavern ear;
a vine for water jars, when
all the wedding guests are here.