Monday, August 13, 2007

What the Lovers in the Old Songs Thought

John Hollander (2001)

Thinking "In the beginning was the—(What??)"
Faust tried, for openers, Wort . . . Sinn . . . Kraft . . . Tat
("Word"? "Meaning? Power?—all these reeked of creed:
He finally settled simply on "the Deed".)
But none of these would do for true Beginning:
Our ghosts were there before all those, and not
Playing love's game in which there is no winning,
But doing love's work, continuous creation
Of all the celebrated lovers' tales,
Of all the letters, all the conversation,
All the strange fictions that plain fact entails
And all the silences that bridge the void
Of words exhausted. Let us take possession
Of Origin, then like some crafty Freud
Saying "In the beginning was Repression"
Or like some cabbalist "First was the Name."
What could we literary lovers claim?

In the beginning was unlikeness? (Good!)
In the beginning was the opened door
Through which crept in the soul of all our sins?
In the beginning there was a need for more?
In the beginning there was likelihood?—
The oldest gospel of our lives begins
"In the beginning there was metaphor."

1 comment:

dan1968 said...

from The Best American Poetry (2001)

?: metaphor as metaphysics