NYU Black Renaissance Noire NYU Black Renaissance Noire Vol 17.2: Fall 2017 - Page 162

Language is Eros. Always surprising, it concocts an alchemical range, never offering one answer. It changes the body, the face. It resides in the mouth, the ribcage, nests in the back of the neck, carries music and dream out to sea. It is a hummingbird that fits in the closed palm of the hand, ready to fly. It goes pearling into the muddy oyster-darkness where we “have our dreams awake.” Henry David Thoreau’s darkness is refuge for those primal instincts to be aroused like “inhabitants of the jungle, in search of those silent and brooding thoughts which are the natural prey to the intellect,” and, for the poet’s purpose, prey to the imagination’s sensorial intellect. Victor Hugo knew that the “darkness is nuptial,” where we marry life and death, desire and fear, even the polygamous past, present, and future. Anne Carson declares that “Eros is a verb.” It would stand then, it resides in the domain of desire and is always in motion, like language and like the mind. It is present tense, sometimes, when tamed, in a subjunctive mood. With the sound of words, language as a vehicle moves a poem forward, slows down and speeds up, providing the momentum of the mind as it pursues the “right” word-partner, chasing its beloved in a fertile process of possession. In this regard, Gerard Manley Hopkins is one of the all-time great seducers. “That Nature Is A Heraclitean Fire” makes me weak in the knees every time I read it. Here, taste it with me again: That Nature Is A Heraclitean Fire Cloud-puffball, torn tufts, tossed pillows ‘ flaunt forth, then chevy on an airbuilt thoroughfare: heaven-roysterers, in gay-gangs ‘ they throng; they glitter in marches. Down roughcast, down dazzling whitewash, ‘ wherever an elm arches, Shivelights and shadowtackle in long ‘ lashes lace, lance, and pair. Delightfully the bright wind boisterous ‘ ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare Of yestertempest’s creases; in pool and rut peel parches Squandering ooze to squeezed ‘ dough, crust, dust; stanches, starches Squadroned masks and manmarks ‘ treadmire toil there Footfretted in it. Million-fuelèd, ‘ nature’s bonfire burns on. But quench her bonniest, dearest ‘ to her, her clearest-selvèd spark Man, how fast his firedint, ‘ his mark on mind, is gone! Both are in an unfathomable, all is in an enormous dark Drowned. O pity and indig ‘ nation! Manshape, that shone Sheer off, disseveral, a star, ‘ death blots black out; nor mark Is any of him at all so stark But vastness blurs and time ‘ beats level. Enough! the Resurrection, A heart’s-clarion! Away grief’s gasping, ‘ joyless days, dejection. Across my foundering deck shone A beacon, an eternal beam. ‘ Flesh fade, and mortal trash Fall to the residuary worm; ‘ world’s wildfire, leave but ash: In a flash, at a trumpet crash, I am all at once what Christ is, ‘ since he was what I am, and This Jack, joke, poor potsherd, ‘ patch, matchwood, immortal diamond, Is immortal diamond. The “bright wind boisterous ropes, wrestles, beats earth bare” in the great bed of the poem. The round vowels intend solace, roll us forward, and draw us in, intimately close; the strange rhythms and hard consonants change the involuntary pace of our breathing and create an excitement in their treason of everyday speech. If this diction were not so precise, the lines might feel unruly. Although forged in the wildfire of this poet’s bewitching double-fisted music, the words actually begin to imply an ease, an accumulative reciprocity — like kissing. The physiology of the phrases represents his metaphysical love of God. Language, body, spirit and the beloved, all become one within a single revelatory moment of knowing. In poetry we want to “know” our partners — our lifelong partner, resonance. What Hopkins illuminates and illustrates is the sacred-inseparable, not unlike Rilke’s “necessary inseparable, definitive utterance” of the self that causes us to feel we belong to the other, which makes us feel we are whole. Naturally, fresh language combinations and Eros-propelled sound serve to enhance the metaphorical argument in a poem; they create new intimate reverence, assist in denouement, and, with musical conviction, make the metaphor “belong.” 80 memoir Excerpts from Strip Down Personal By Camille Yarbrough “TH E OLE H EAD THANG” F O R D ’ S T H E AT E R S U N D AY, A P R I L 1 3 , 1 9 6 9 Gramma: “Um hum, you see her. Mina be watchin’, watchin’ all da’ time. She one of dam churin that see thangs. She gonna talk about it too. You’ll see... I seen churin like that befo’.” Gramma’s friend: “Think so?” q Camille Yarbrough Gramma: “Can’t you see it? Watch her. Watch her. She got ways, cause she got sompum to do, sompum to say about thangs. 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