Friday, March 23, 2012

Crowds Of Buried Memories Sleep

John Clare could well talk of "crowds of buried memories." His life was ragged. Nearly half of it was spent confined to assylums, which in the early 1800's were not the comfy dorms that we now know. Memories he had, and to spare--many of them worth keeping buried.

Clare's poem, THOUGHTS IN A CHURCH-YARD, (1835) is quite obviously playing off Thomas Gray's better known ELEGY WRITTEN IN A COUNTRY CHURCHYARD (1750). It would at first appear that Clare had written a sort of "Cliff Notes" version of Gray's. He replays it all: the quiet spot, death's way of raising the poor and humbling the mighty, etc.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Remote From Anything The Builders Intended

To what end do we suffer? To what end, really, do we fall on our faces? For what good are sin and folly and loss and waste?

We make such fools of ourselves! I'd hate to be in the same room at a party with the me of twenty years ago! I'd hide my face and pray that no one recognized us as the same guy!

Our past is, thank God, past! It is done! It will no longer plague us!

Jesus died to take it away as far as the east is from the west, etc.

And yet; and yet; and yet. . .

Was it all for nothing? Were we simply awaiting what Francis Thompson calls "love's uplifted stroke" in which our pasts vanish?

And pulled my life upon me; grimed with smears,
I stand amid the dust o' the mounded years--
My mangled youth lies dead beneath the heap.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

To Choose Doubt

"If Christ spent an anguished night in prayer, if He burst out from the Cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?" then surely we are also permitted doubt. But we must move on. To choose doubt as a philosophy of life is akin to choosing immobility as a means of transportation."

Yann Martel, in Life Of Pi