Gloss On The Ninth Elegy Of Rainer-Maria Rilke - Poem by Anthony Weir
My invisible, other true friend, Brother Zoti Lamort,
unknowable, ever-present, everywhere
like a vast four-dimensional carpet,
asks me silently why I have to be human,
why I, shunning destiny, laden down
with my great gift of sorrow, have to be?
Not because there is a possibility
of happiness! No, the idea of personal
happiness (and the hunter's pursuit) is the most
vain, destructive and self-destroying of concepts
strangling Earth and us with false urgency.
Not that I feel a duty to life the dictatorship, cosmic
catastrophe. Here in my chamber of raw
understanding, wrestling the language of
unutterability, I feel only too-muchness of being
and being one of millions too many.
I'm always wanting to leave both the state
and the chamber - and I'm rooted by both.
Not that we make ourselves happy by torturing
wiping out, exploiting, rounding up animals -
no, increasingly we - the endangering species -
herd and exploit each other, breed
young to disable in schools, denounce any sign
of spontaneous joy in each other.
No, we hate happiness,
seeing that, left to themselves, animals would be happy all over the place without us, thus showing us our soulless irrelevance.
No phenomenon here can possibly want us,
who confront everything with our words and our swords and, far worse, hypocrisy -
every one of us the enemy of everything
- all creatures guiltless but us
in the power of our shamelessness.
And we just once, like lightning or meteor
striking all other dimensions, and each of us once,
but so many millions, mirror-struck, striking
down everything sane and appropriate.
Dogs know that we live noisy irrational lives,
full of patterns and habits and unthinkingness.
The weight of our being's so gross that we are quite unaware of it – but the world is increasingly crushed
and squashed and dried up by us - like a prune
swarming with maggots - and we are here only to say: Home, Tower, Power, Ambition and Threshold.
More than ever subtlety falls away, connection
with Life driven out and replaced by the whimpering
urgency of things and stupidly urging,
hammering images. Happiness! Love! Success!
Driving ourselves to achievement, there is no-one
to praise us but Advertising,
for God was appalled when alive. The Angels are all bred for bacon and organs and sperm.
Praise the world to an Angel, and he squeals in the agony produceable only by devils of language.
Refugee peoples and gypsies and children and
pædophiles are just a small part
of the tumult made by the Word.
I feel too much. I breathe in pain, and, novice, helplessly immature, can only breathe suffering out, cannot transmute it to anything like ‘beatitude’.
Joy is only the briefest suppression of pain.
Writing cannot be serious when all human culture’s
suppression of feeling in ruthless pursuit
of bizarre manifestations of the trivial,
just as religions are for the anti-spiritual
to justify their manufactured selves by,
and science is merely tearing wings off flies
to grow supremely grotesque on Buchenwald pigs.
Even my anguish is mere manufacture.
(Reading polemic or poetry is such a waste
of spirit and time, when all other creatures
- dolphin or mollusc - are poems
and cannot be other.)
Joy can only be given.
If a thing could be said to be happy
as slug or squirrel is happy,
that thing-happiness can be the only one possible
in world turned to slaughterhouse/smouldering rubbish-pit of Gehenna.
Nothing we do can be innocent,
for with the blind and backward maze of the mind
we turn everything wonderful terribly
into reflections of our terrible selves.
You my invisible friend, my desirable
Earth Spirit, Anti-angel,
you, beyond right or love or truth or happiness
were always right, always Perfect in your holiest
presence and insight.
And my dog, with his divine understanding
silently tells me each day that there is nothing
to understand for there is no - never was - understanding - and no lie is big enough
ever to justify us.
In Siberia people once lived who knew seven genders and never built megalith-cells for the dead
or dead calculations for dying.
In the Somme and Hiroshima pacifist worms
have recovered from holocaust.
I almost live. Might never have known...
Live in what? Neither my forgotten, trivial childhood nor the terrible, ever-commissioning future –
but on the present awareness of pain that I can neither transmute nor ignore.
And everything shrivels, and only the shame of humanity pours out of, dries up in my heart.
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