Youmans (pronounced like 'yeoman' with an 's' added) is the best-kept secret
among contemporary American writers. --John Wilson, editor, Books and Culture Marly Youmans is a novelist and poet out of sync with the times
but in tune with the ages. --First Things

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Nasrani

*
This is a blog about books and art and language,
but lately it occurs to me how pitiless a single letter can be.
*
It looks like a happy face gone wrong--a red cyclops.
So, too, a yellow star once went wrong, marked on homes.
*
A single letter...
*
Stretch, roll out of bed, find out
the world is still remarkably broken this morning.
*
Time to shore the fragments against ruin.

7 comments:

  1. People in America prior to great wars saw things to be broken and dangerous -- yet the wars could not be avoided (e.g., American civil war, The "Great War" [WW1], and WW2). Oddly enough, America's geographical isolation from the rest of the world has often meant we only belatedly recognized and confronted what was perhaps inevitable -- even when it exists within our own borders. Evil cannot be ignored. We are slow learners.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wondered what difference the speed of knowledge would make--we see a little girl's headless body not long after the head was sawn off with what was clearly a rather blunt knife, we see the toddlers in rows of death instead of frisking at play, we see young men crucified and sagging from trees and scaffolds and others being shot and falling into a ditch. It doesn't seem to make as much difference to the media and governments as I would have hoped, alas. Is that in part the rejection of the idea of evil and the triumph of cultural relativism among the anointed intellectuals in the West? I do see a few people being rescued, all of them weeping and no doubt forever remembering things they would wish not to recall.

      Delete
  2. Men came back from the big wars (I and II -- and Korea and Vietnam), and they were forever changed. They had seen things no one should ever have to witness. Folks back home could not appreciate the men's transformations and sorrows. Now what has happened long after those "great" wars? Wiser fools than I have zeroed in on one of the problems in the last half century: people have been inundated by images and media, leading to the dulling of our collective senses. The plain language version is this: too many people have seen too much (but only vicariously through images), and -- if we happen upon something unpleasant - we are like the characters in "The Fantastics" in that we put up masks, changing our vision, so that we do not see reality. Alas, the center cannot hold, and things are falling apart. Yeats' conical cycles were apt metaphors for our descent into the maelstrom. May God help us all.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Interesting how foolish Yeats was often seen to be because of his overarching metaphors of moon stages and gyres as ways of looking at history. And yet now we are in the realm of "the centre cannot hold" and "mere anarchy." If we take Yeats's ideas as our model, then we should have expected, 2,000 years after Christ, the "rough beast" antithesis of Christ to be born.

      Delete
  3. Perhaps there is (will be) no one entity as the "rough beast." Perhaps the metaphor refers to something more. We are then in big, big trouble. And I think you are on to something in your earlier comment about the pointy-headed, de-spirited, soul-less intellectuals who embrace (a)moral relativism as their higher power. Damn, I hate being so pessimistic! (Last night I started rereading Orwell's 1984. That is probably a mistake. It will not help. Perhaps I should read one of the Mary Poppins books. Sigh!)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I, too, am pessimistic about coming times.

      Delete
    2. Of course, kingdoms come and kingdoms go. I do not believe in the tenets of modernism and progress, and I take a more mystical view of our place in the world...

      Delete

Alas, I must once again remind large numbers of Chinese salesmen and other worldwide peddlers that if they fall into the Gulf of Spam, they will be eaten by roaming Balrogs. The rest of you, lovers of grace, poetry, and horses (nod to Yeats--you do not have to be fond of horses), feel free to leave fascinating missives and curious arguments.