Wednesday, May 15, 2002

Terra Incognita

There are vast realms of consciousness still undreamed of
vast ranges of experience, like the humming of unseen harps,
we know nothing of, within us.

Oh when man has escaped from the barbed-wire entanglement
of his own ideas and his own mechanical devices
there is a marvellous rich world of contact and sheer fluid
and fearless face-to-face awareness of now-naked life
and me, and you, and other men and women
and grapes, and ghouls, and ghosts and green moonlight
and ruddy-orange limbs stirring the limbo
of the unknown air, and eyes so soft
softer than the space between the stars,
and all things, and nothing, and being and not-being
alternately palpitant,
when at last we escape the barbed-wire enclosure
of Know Thyself, knowing we can never know,
we can but touch, and wonder, and ponder, and make our
and dangle in a last fastidious fine delight
as the fuchsia does, dangling her reckless drop
of purple after so much putting forth
and slow mounting marvel of a little tree.

- D.H. Lawrence-

I have only recently discovered the writing of D.H. Lawrence. Until reading a collection of poems (edited by Kenneth Rexroth), Lawrence was nothing to me but a name with heavy literary baggage attached to it. It was a joy to find pieces like the one above shredding my ignorance and revealing to me a mind not unlike my own.

I don't know why I should be surprised to find in Lawrence a kindred spirit. We are both, after all, poets. Is it a stretch to assert that all poets, indeed all artists, share some measure of common ground beyond that shared by all human beings? I don't think so. The artist is a seeker, a peeker into the nature of things, a translator of the ineffable. As such, he/she is participating in something larger than themselves, entering a realm of creation which is the province of the Divine. We are all, of course, a part of the Divine, but we are not all participating.

"I worship Christ, I worship Jehovah, I worship Pan, I worship Aphrodite. But I do not worship hands nailed and running with blood upon a cross, nor licentiousness, nor lust. I want them all, all the gods. They are all God. But I must serve in real love. If I take my whole passionate, spiritual and physical love to a woman who in turn loves me, that is how I serve God. And my hymn and my game of joy is my work."

- D.H. Lawrence -

I hardly know where to begin with this 1912 quote. The rejection of the death image which Christianity has focused the Western world's eyes upon? The realization that all deities are mere aspects of one God? Or, perhaps, the assertion that to live life in love and joy is what Lawrence considers his work to be? Yes, this last, I think, is what I would like to focus on for a moment. This is a concept I have pondered before - the notion that any person who lives a conscious life is, in fact, an artist. This may (or may not) stretch our definition of art but it rings true to me that in fashioning a life of love one is participating fundamentally in the creative realm I mentioned above. Never mind his poetry and the hundreds of thousands of other words he spilled, Lawrence's real work was to love and be loved.

What greater work is there, after all?

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