Summer 2020. 21st century Western culture. Patriarchy. God. Ancient regimes? Privilege. Neo-liberalism. Black Lives. All Lives. Globalization. Statues … etc etc … so much going on … And yes, a ‘bad patriarchy’ has a lot to answer for. Sylvia Plath’s 1960 published poem ‘Colossus’ works on so many levels. Not just her very personal – and ultimately – tragic one. It’s very much our collective tragedy if we fail to learn its lessons.
Millions are still “married to shadow.” Millions still need liberating from that ‘shadow’ – and that liberation starts from deep within each and every one of us. Read ‘Colossus. – one of the truly great English language poems of the C20th. I wish that many protestors, activists, mob-members etc would ‘read, mark, learn and inwardly digest,’ Sylvia’s message! They too could then play their part in ‘growing’ democracy in our country.
I shall never get you put together entirely, Pieced, glued, and properly jointed. Mule-bray, pig-grunt and bawdy cackles Proceed from your great lips. It’s worse than a barnyard.
Perhaps you consider yourself an oracle, Mouthpiece of the dead, or of some god or other. Thirty years now I have labored To dredge the silt from your throat. I am none the wiser.
Scaling little ladders with glue pots and pails of lysol I crawl like an ant in mourning Over the weedy acres of your brow To mend the immense skull plates and clear The bald, white tumuli of your eyes.
A blue sky out of the Oresteia Arches above us. O father, all by yourself You are pithy and historical as the Roman Forum. I open my lunch on a hill of black cypress. Your fluted bones and acanthine hair are littered
In their old anarchy to the horizon-line. It would take more than a lightning-stroke To create such a ruin. Nights, I squat in the cornucopia Of your left ear, out of the wind,
Counting the red stars and those of plum-color. The sun rises under the pillar of your tongue. My hours are married to shadow. No longer do I listen for the scrape of a keel On the blank stones of the landing.
Plenty food for thought … !He goes on … “But rather to love it.”
One is reminded of a similarly late glorification of necessity in Beethoven’s final work – the Quartet in F Major, opus 135, where the bleak fateful question “Must it be?” changes into the fanatical cry of triumph “It must be! It must be!”
Beethoven does not challenge man’s submission to the natural order; he finds his place in it, and often in such deep wells of serenity, of happiness in his own struggle, that the song that rises from him almost at the very end, in his last quartet, is for a dance. Hence, “Must it be?” he wrote on the manuscript. “It must be. It must be.”
Beethoven String Quartet No 16 Op 135 in F major Es muß sein! Alban Berg Quartet. My favourite part is the third section, Lento assai, cantante e tranquillo – the tranquil bit! Hedd perffaith hedd.
But the idea that ‘something must be’ is the most hateful idea to the very essence of the incomparable William Blake. (Both he and Beethoven died in 1827).