Human Manifesto, pt. 5

V. Afterthoughts

I've probably overshot the mark, & want to hedge my remarks a little. My insistence on the epic impulse, on totality, might be taken for sheer grandiosity, magnitude for its own sake. Or for a mandarin complacency, weighed down with pedantry rather than experience : out of touch, out of air. To burden all poets & modalities of poetry with the elaborations of epic would be unrealistic, to say the least; in fact, it would represent an all-too-familiar form of eccentricity. One remembers, inevitably, Stevens' (very 20th-cent.) lines from "Poems of Our Climate" :

Note that, in this bitterness, delight,
Since the imperfect is so hot in us,
Lies in flawed words and stubborn sounds.

No : all I want to suggest is that the "integral", integrated vision - the epic impulse, the whole story - lies at the roots of poetry considered as a whole itself, as "one thing". It's there, as a dimension which can't be left out (ie. poetry is not reducible to Sergeant Satire & Private Lyric). A sort of underground spring, a possibility, an impulse, an aspiration - a potential source of nourishment.

The human search for wholeness, love, & freedom is not reducible to either American-style Adamism or European-style existential deracination. The search for truth also involves memory - historical, literary, poetic - & the recognition of continuities, returnings, recapitulations - strange/familiar echoes - deja-vu...

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