a Jewish refugee

Welcome back to Henry's late-night improv.  Record cold in Minneapolis tonight (Keith Richard's birthday).  We see foxes, turkeys, deer, packs of coyotes, rabbits & owls in this neck of the Minneapolis metro area (SE, along the river, by the University, where both sides of my family have lived for the last 150 years).  A few blocks from weird John Berryman's last home (33 Arthur Ave.).

Advent.  The Messiah is coming.  A Jewish refugee, he nurses in a barn.

I myself identify with Shakespeare's dreamy, soulful, effete Henry VI (recast tonight on PBS - The Hollow Crown).  Wars of the Roses.  "We are two shadows cast by Henry's body", declares one conspirator.

Civil strife... was Shakespeare part of a fake-news, Tudor messianic cult?  Was Shakespeare Shakespeare?

Think not.  I perceive the Globe & other theaters were implicated with royal politics... yet echoed something older, something medieval (mystery plays).  The master plot of the medieval theater, of the Byzantine labyrinth, was this : all earthly political authority is subject to the King of Kings.

So when you listen closely to the Delphic pentameter strophes of the Bard, you can hear this parochial, medieval, local, humble, Franciscan, monastic, Dominican, scholarly, ancient, simple, salty, truthful royal whisper... something to which both Eliot & David Jones, in contrastive ways, were attuned... the sovereignty of the Son of Man.

There is a spiritual resistance audible in Shakespeare - isomorphic with Osip Mandelstam's "oath to the 4th Estate".  A resistance to the usurper, the tyrant, the oppressor - recognized by his fell signs of inhumanity : his lack of grace, his murderous ambition, his rejection of his own eternal soul (with its attendant values).  Shakespeare's Richard III (who wasn't actually so bad, in real life).

This is the straight redwood of righteousness... the prophets' vow.

I confess, the inner world of Henry is quite unique & strange.  The sleepy king, the drowsy infant, bobbing along down the stream of his milky entitlement (the barn) - mumbling calm platitude-poems, radiating ridiculous ease, contentment... & only very slowly awakening to his fatal inheritance.

Oh yes : we must confront these usurpers.

I speak not of the minor satrapies, the lotos-eaters in the provinces, the solipsism of the echo-pond.

The poet's drawn to his true rivals in the lists, the spiritual enemies of Man : the despots, autocrats - the Putins, Erdogans - the Trumps, the Kim Jong-Uns, Dutertes, Xi Jinpings - the Stalins, Hitlers, Pol Pots... all the honchos riding out of Hell.

They will attack you, oak tree - like the termites gnawing at the life-marrow.  & yet the Child-King nestles in his oak-leaf hideout...will prevail against all Philistines (both high & low).

He is Man, after all.  Advent comes on.  Epiphany.

No comments: