Language has not the power to speak what love indites
The soul lies buried in the ink that writes
This post had an alternative title: The International Day of Everything. I had been reading, in the sense of glancing through links on social media, about: trans-issues, misogyny, art. music, politics-lite, politics-SCARY, space, cartoons, disaster, poverty and human misery – and the Feast of Christ the King. The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse would have had a hard time getting noticed in the global marketplace of thoughts and commotion.
I was also reading, at greater length, about John Clare, our sweet farmboy poet, who ended his days in an asylum, afflicted by mental illness, who courted Mary Joyce and lost her, and walked, heart-struck across the English countryside (a countryside much changed but nonetheless only matched for sweetness by, for example, ye banks and braes of bonnie Doon). An unremarkable Middle Englander, half-schooled, blessed with a love of rhyming and rhythm, looking for balance in a changing, turning world.
Clare’s treasure was the sung and spoken English word; I had a short Twitter interaction about the fact that his “If a body meet a body” was similar to the words of Coming Through the Rye, published by that swoon-inducing rogue Robert Burns but itself one version of many (the title of A Catcher in the Rye derives from the poem).
The line between ‘art’ and ‘folk’ is drawn by money, publication and approbation, first by the elite and then by the masses. The storehouse of verse and song that produced Clare, Burns and a thousand others was held in common and disseminated in broadsheets; in its urban form, it gave rise to pamphlets, scurrilous or otherwise, news-sheets,cartoons, songs both ribald and pious, ‘the novel’, then seen as dangerous to young female minds. And today – what? The football chant, popular songs, memes and jokes nd the dreaded MSM, the various incarnations of through on the Internet. Men and women then, and men and women now, were and are both credulous and independent of thought. What seems like cacophony today is perhaps only the amplification of the thousand thousand thousands of human hearts, which have not changed since Clare tramped down a muddy lane and wrote a poem on Spring.
I am: yet what I am none cares or knows,
My friends forsake me like a memory lost;
I am the self-consumer of my woes,
They rise and vanish in oblivious host,
Like shades in love and death’s oblivion lost;
And yet I am! and live like shadows tossed
Into the nothingness of scorn and noise,
Into the living sea of waking dreams,
Where there is neither sense of life nor joys,
But the vast shipwreck of my life’s esteems;
And e’en the dearest–that I loved the best–
Are strange–nay, rather stranger than the rest.
I long for scenes where man has never trod;
A place where woman never smil’d or wept;
There to abide with my creator, God,
And sleep as I in childhood sweetly slept:
Untroubling and untroubled where I lie;
The grass below–above the vaulted sky.
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