Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Draft: Ottawa et al.

Lately, I've been thinking a lot about Hölderlin.  Well, I always think about Hölderlin. Also, about the gods, which are of course related.


But lately, I've been thinking about what Hölderlin talked about as the Wechsel der Töne, the changing of key or tonality that characterizes the rhythm of his poetic thought: not the rhythm of his diction, but the rhythm of ideas or, as he called it in good Kantian fashion, the rhythm of representation.

I've been trying to embrace this way of thinking; I'm not wholly satisfied with it; nonetheless, here's as draft of one of my more recent attempts to think about how to change the tonality of ideas, and how the rhythm with which these ideas are presented might characterize a poetic way of thinking.


<BGSOUND src="http://dl.dropbox.com/u/23109469/Ottawa%20Et.%20Al.wma">



Ottawa et al.

During our ceremonies we wear the bells we used to wear,
we call them vermilion, place roses on the chairs
we sit in, sat in.
You think I’m being obtuse.

Hephaistos’s mangled leg was propped atop the chair
of the row afront. His mind sharpened
itself in its forges.  He dreamed of a net,
devised its subtle clasps, buried
its leads beneath the leaves that were
falling in the corners of his absent-minded mind,
and on the earth, because it was November.

How can a mind be sharp and loose?
Where do the knife and the sieve meet?
This is a technical problem;it is being invoked
for purely pragmatic purposes here.
There’s something that calls for cutting and binding,
demands that something be found to
make Ares and Aphrodite howl,
call the gods to howl with laughter.

There are ceremonies, the roses which have been
blooming as long as primates, still sometimes
bloom for awhile, and there are ceremonies
that commemorate the length of this blooming.

You think I’m thinking irresolutely.
You say I use words loosely.
It’s tough to talk about nets.
--- Why do you want to talk about nets? Who are you devising to ensnare?

No, it’s not that. We’re thinking about nets,
Not making one ourselves.
Hephaistos, the lame god ill-favored by his parents
Had once devised a peace, it’s true.
Now he sits restlessly.  He is sitting above you.
Or he is listening to you think.
You are thinking about the net he made.
It was so fine it was invisible so that
At the proper time it could cover Ares and Aphrodite up,
reveal what they’d wanted to hide.
It was so fine and so sharp it
Cut into their naked flesh even while
It was so strong that it held even the gods
In check, check-mated.

--- Why are you thinking about nets? Who cares about Ares or Aphrodite?

It’s early November, and the Earth is being embraced in a red and orange net,
or else it’s the girdle of Calypso (misunderstood if somewhat loose woman)
or perhaps it’s the leaves in which Odysseus
(cunning, crooked mind / Athena’s ape)
buried himself for warmth after escaping Calypso’s island and Poseidon’s rage.
The ambiguities are multiplying,
You slip into the world only you still believe in.

Perhaps it’s just because you are in a room
hearing words and thinking things and it’s excruciating.
You are tied tight, tethered by sharp, invisible threads
that pull on your heart; occupy your brain.
You’re devising a way out, not in.
The mind loses itself remembering when it wanted to forge a net;
then it sees itself in the Earth again,
mistakes the leaves for roses,
sitting in chairs,
ceremoniously forgotten,
dreams of forgiveness.