tag : bright yellow-green apples: the rest

"I see little point in persisting in a discussion with one so obstinate as you" Martin White

Monday, February 21, 2005

the rest



figure 9.1. look a little to the left of this

Now I've done my favour, with that rather well written review, I can get back to being self-indulgent again! As part of my drive to stretch my wings a bit, I've been looking out for eccentric poetry. And late last year, came across a real gem. It's a collection of some of the works of Zbigniew Herbert, a Polish writer who has a beautiful sense of verse to deal with religious and social issues of his day (mid 20th Centaury) that still seem to speak now. I could quote many from it, but The Seventh Angel strikes me as particularly fine. Here's the pivotal fragment in it:

"Shemkel
is black and nervous
and has been fined many times
for illegal import of sinners

between the abyss
and the heavens
without rest his feet go pit-a-pat

his sense of dignity is non-existent
...he is not like the others"

Our religions, both sacred (eg Christianity) and secular (eg. socialism), offer a vision of the best - of what might be if we have total hope. Whether that's completely egalitarian societies or paradise, we have images amongst us that tell of our ultimate hopes. But they can easily ascend into the high abstract discourse that sees little change in the here-and now, due to impossible standards and messianic hopes waited upon.

What I appreciate most about the figure presented to us by Herbert, is that Shemkel's totally pragmatic. The perfection we look to might be a barrier to people in some eyes. The unapproachable holiness of the God of faith, that cannot be approached without the right belief. The self-righteous rhetoric that denounces designated enemies, certain bourgeoisie demons, in a revolutionary activism. But he just gets on with making the best, as a flawed worker of the light, for the flawed people he cares about. He's the unseen, quietly radical, figure that tries to conjure the best in our messy world. He's the guardian angel of the rest of us, that live a compromised life.

1 Comments:

Blogger mary said...

and the final train of thought.

"But he just gets on with making the best, as a flawed worker of the light, for the flawed people he cares about. He's the unseen, quietly radical, figure that tries to conjure the best in our messy world. He's the guardian angel of the rest of us, that live a compromised life."

i really like that thought - that while other people hmm and ponder about the true faith and which one it is and what you have to do etc, he just gets on with things and helps people and tries to "conjure the best in our messy world". i love the "between the abyss and the heavens without rest his feet go pit-a-pat" line. "as a flawed worker of the light, for the flawed people he cares about." i want to be like that.

11:03 AM  

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