Seeking the ‘traces of the fugitive goddesses’ – after Holderlin

THE FUGITIVE STAG – Long is the destitute ‘Age of the World’s Night’ –   A night that is spreading its darkness.

We live in an age when the traditional gods are no longer able to gather people unto themselves, with the consequence that human history is changed forever. The gods have fled. The One God still reigns – for many! But for others the divine radiance is extinguished in human history. And the tragedy is that mortals do not even realize what they have lost. But this ‘Age of Darkness’ can become a ‘Holy Night’ if some would only realize the predicament of ‘the absence’.

The ‘Turning of the Age’ is the responsibility, neither of a renewed god of old nor of a new one bursting onto the scene. The gods can no longer do everything. The responsibility rests with mortals, and this ‘turning’ entails, at the outset, reaching into the abyss to rediscover the essence of what it means to be human. Once recovered, maybe some of the gods and goddesses will return? And to where would such a deity ‘re-turn-to’?  To the right place at the right time where people are ready to welcome them to their new home.

According to Holderlin, the only mortals who are up for the task are poets – people in the creative arts. It is they who, being able to grasp ‘the absence’, become aware of a new presence. It is they, who having faced the abyss, comes to know the marks or traces of the fugitive gods and goddesses. By following ‘the traces’ our contemporary ‘creatives’ (as I call them) can help kindred souls to also know the way to The Turning.

The closer the poet draws toward midnight, the greater the terror of destitution. Not only could the holy track towards new deities be lost, but also the traces we follow could also be obscured, and even obliterated, by history.

But ‘the creatives’ see hope in the terror of destitution, forever striving to attend to, and celebrate, the traces of the fugitive goddess.

Croeso Eirlys. Welcome back dear snowdrops

Eirlys – Snowdrops

‘I raise this greenery to my lips –’ (Osip Mandelstam)

I raise this greenery to my lips –
these leaves glued into an oath –
with the perjurous earth that bore snowdrops,
mother of the maples and oaks.

Watch me grow strong and blind,
as I follow these humble roots.
What a park! My eyes come alive
now thunder is passing through.

Like beads of mercury, frogs
make a globe of voices, linked together;
branches form from twigs
and a milky figment from cold breath.

30 April 1937

Mandelstam once wrote – I am both a gardener and a flower I am, too;
In the prison of the world, I am not alone.

I love spiders.

A poem by Osip Mandelstam

A speck of insanity?

Your conscience?

Life’s knot, where we’re known and tied

and untied into existence.

So honest spider-beams spinning

cathedrals of super-life crystals

onto ribs, gather them again

to a single bunch.

Grateful bundles of clean lines,

all collected by thin beams,

gathering together, sometime,

like guests with open faces.

But only here on earth, not in the sky,

like in a house filled with music –

just don’t frighten them, don’t wound them – please –

let us live to see that, let us live to see.

Forgive me this as I say it,

read it back to me, quietly, quietly.

(Voronezh, 15 March 1937)

Osip Mandelstam 1891- 1938