Friday, October 24, 2008

Reflections: Arc-hive

X
While wandering down a dimly lit row, amidst many dimly lit and seldom visited rows of shelving, I lifted the lid of a sere and dusty gray box; a box unexceptional among shelf upon shelf of sere and dusty gray boxes; boxes whose ancient pasted on labels--now peeling away in the gloom and dry heat of the University archives--identify long-forgotten contents sought by no contemporary person. And within I found a sheaf of poems that had won awards, but in a different time; poems that failed to move my contemporary and cynical soul, save for one sonnet, which glowed, as I strained to make out its words in the obscurity of that silent place, with an interior light that was a fragment of the Truth that its words made manifest:

God said: “With eyes fixed on the toilsome ground
XXMankind will miss my masterpiece and me.
XXHence let a lure be hidden hauntingly
Among the things he loves; and bowed or bound,
Let soft beseechments still beset him round.
XXCall up unliveried workmen from the sea
XXAnd bid them fashion through eternity
A path of beauty to the blue profound.”
Then there came up an army of the air,
XXThe primal moths and queer inchoate bees –
XXWere ever any artists such as these,
The makers of the flowers? And earth grew fair
XXWith miniatures of morning: and the breeze
Of even stirred with heavenly similes.

~ Charles G. Matthews, THE SUBCONTRACTORS, 1915

In a parallel universe, the passage entitled “Covers the Ground” in Gary Snyder’s book-length poem, Mountains and Rivers Without End, begins with the following epigraph:

“When California was wild, it was one sweet bee-garden…” ~ John Muir

And it ends with:

The Great Central Plain of California
was one smooth bed of honey-bloom...

…all the ground was covered
with radiant corollas ankle-deep
bahia, madia, madaria, buriela,
chrysopsis, grindelia,
XXXXwherever a bee might fly —

And how would we answer if asked by the Almighty, “Where are my bees?”

And who will help us if our bees have abandoned us for cause?

And, finally, please God -- don’t mess with my ice-cream.
X

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