Two new pairings: 'The Pretense of the Normal' and 'W.B. Yeats'
[Pairings is a sequence in which two (sometimes more) poems meet on the page in the way that persons might meet on the street. For the most part, they stand across the page from one another in the way that people stand across from one another as they speak. They have things in common and things that separate them. In many ways they illuminate each other. The “unit” in these pieces is not the individual poem but the meeting — sometimes the collision — of the poems. Cell phones destroy the formatting of Pairings so they need to be viewed on a computer screen. (J.F.)]
PAIRINGS 63: THE PRETENSE OF THE NORMAL
Drowning in the waters of stupidity is there such a thing
No lifeguard on duty as heart-provoking
I listen again or emotion-provoking
Not to politicians but to poets to go with
Who can be as thoughtless as politicians thought-provoking?
I think of Paul de Man
Who made many mistakes in his life
And who may be faulted on many counts
But whose mind remained
No one who met him
Failed to feel it.
How does a mind like that
In this world
Except by subterfuge, deceit, exile, cunning, charm, playacting,
The pretense of the “normal.”
PAIRINGS 62: W. B. YEATS
w. b. yeats sought Gone at 73,
a foundation Poet of Ireland,
in the ancient Poet of the Other World,
stories Looking for its traces
of the peasantry In the Wind
for the new Among the Reeds.
Irish None like him
Culture For the passion
which he and lady gregory would create Of renunciation
and which would have the beauty “O what a sweetness strayed
of the old time To barren Thebaid”
when the men and women heard “The foul rag and bone shop
“the sounds of above.” Of the heart” —
did they not reject Three books
the world? Quote that line
eat your porridge, child And leave “foul” out —
or the fairies will take you None like him
did the peasantry not say For the continual
in its beautiful Recognition
myth making That language
in its music Always goes beyond itself —
in its deep Innisfree
imagination Haunted by the words
in its fear Of a 3rd-century Neo Platonist —
what an ancient The immense distance between
Mystic said, This world
what Homer and Plato said And that other
what Plotinus said From which
what Porphyry said The “voices” came.
what Spenser Shelley Blake said — Love of the woman
what escaped the lips Love of the woman as Symbol
of the Unknowing The tragedy
in the deep time That spirit
when the wor(l)d was spoken Lodges itself
into being In the mire
And that a woman
Must grow old —
But the fierce knowledge
That all we have
Is the power to know
What we cannot be or emulate.
Leap up in the pool
And descend again, and leap again.
I love him for the clarity of his
Monumental, daring, unerring Vision.
I have lived with him throughout my life
Lived with the symbols
The magic that leapt about his table
Lived not where he walked
But where he thought
In that sky to which
Demon Est Deus Inversus
In the dark you entered in 1939,
Did Plato and Plotinus welcome you?
Did your soul rise, a falcon in the air
Ignoring cries to bring it back to earth?
Did Cúchulainn honor you, show you the sword
That killed in battle frenzy the hound of Culann?
Did Emer soothe the wounds that ended you
And bind them deeply with a purple cloak?
Did honeybees ignore you in that dark
Where wild swans flew and fire sweetly burned?
Did all the gyres end, did darkness sing?
Did you become a consecrated bone?
Nothing is true, dear love, nothing is true.
Poet of Ireland
Poet of the Other
[The pairings presented here are from Creative Death: An Octogenarian’s Wordshop, Jack Foley’s most recent book published 2022 by Igneus Press.]