On finding beauty in the inferno:
I found hell when I quit smoking weed, especially the first week. I felt like a newborn baby every morning for the first seven to nine days, but, now, the vision I have gained is a vision of the lack that I left before myself by being so removed from the reality I could have created. I missed the starting gun in life.
Beginning to live, I found this poem last week, and read it over and over again. Its the most beautiful thing I know at the moment. Richard Wilbur is a giant among giants in modern poetry.
The speaker observes the ocean, some gulls, some girls, and the waves washing over rocks from a beach at the bottom of a volcano, and reflects on the opposition between beauty and war. We are all at war. If you have found complete peace, please alert the media to your secret. God help us.
I am gaining firmer ground gradually. Literature like this poem finds me in perfect timing. Enjoy this timely piece…
On the Marginal Way for J. C. P. Another cove of shale, But the beach here is rubbled with strange rock That is sleek, fluent, and taffy-pale. I sare, reminded with a little shock How, by a shore in Spain, George Barrow saw A hundred women basking in the raw. They must have looked like this, That catch of bodies on the sand, that strew Of rondure, crease, and orifice, Lap, flank, and knee—a too abundant view Which, though he'd had the lenses of a fly, Could not have waked desire in Borrow's eye. Has the light altered now? The rocks flush rose and have the melting shape Of bodies fallen anyhow. It is a Gericault of blood and rape, Some desert town despoiled, some caravan Pillaged, its people murdered to a man, And those who murdered them Galloping off, a rumpling line of dust Like the wave’s white, withdrawing hem. But now the vision of a colder lust Clears, as the wind goes chill and all is greyed By a swift cloud that drags a carrion shade. If these are bodies still, Theirs is a death too dead to look asleep, Like that of Auschwitz’ final kill, Poor slaty flesh abandoned in a heap And then, like sea-rocks buried by a wave, Bulldozed at last into a common grave. It is not tricks of sense But the time’s fright within me which distracts Least fancies into violence And makes my thought take cover in the facts, As now it does, remembering how the bed Of layered rock two miles above my head Hove ages up and broke Soundless asunder, when the shrinking skin Of Earth, blacked out by steam and smoke, Gave passage to the muddled fire within, Its crannies flooding with a sweat of quartz, And lathered magmas out of deep retorts Welled up, as here, to fill With tumbled rockmeal, stone-fume, lithic spray, The dike’s brief chasm and the sill. Weathered until the sixth and human day By standing winds and water, scuffed and brayed By the slow glacier’s heel, these forms were made That now recline and burn Comely as Eve and Adam, near a sea Transfigured by the sun’s return. And now three girls lie golden in the lee Of a great arm or thigh, and are as young As the bright boulders that they lie among. Though, high above the shore On someone’s porch, spread wings of newsprint flap The tidings of some dirty war, It is a perfect day: the waters clap Their hands and kindle, and the gull in flight Loses himself at moments, white in white, And like a breaking thought Joy for a moment floods into the mind, Blurting that all things shall be brought To the full state and stature of their kind, By what has found the manhood of this stone. May that vast motive wash and wash our own. By Richard Wilbur Wilbur, Richard, New and Collected Poems, First Harvest, 1989