Sunday, May 11, 2014

Since by Man


In my last post, I tried to analyze why I sometimes sit down at a keyboard and compose sentences, paragraphs, etc. rather than doing something else. Without getting into the “meaning of art” question (Red Green said, famously, 'I know what's art and what's not; if I like it, it's not art!') I've wondered lately what art form might best respond to present-day horrors in a similar manner to Pablo Picasso's Guernica response to the atrocities of the Spanish Civil War.

       There's enough doomsday news around for any artist to feed on: climate change, super bugs, Syrian, Ukrainian, Central African conflicts to name just a few. There's always a temptation in trying times to join anarchic responses to real or imagined tyranny, like early Anabaptists refusing to bow to the spiritual powers of the day.

We're seeing multiple examples of frustration breeding anarchy of various kinds and degrees in the world. Take Crimea as an example, if you like.

      Art can be political in style and purpose and it's no surprise that artists often take an anarchic stance that can appear, well, shocking . . . as Guernica or Jonathon Swift's essay, A Modest Proposal do.

      So here's my contribution (in early draft form) of an anarchist stance, a protest against the malaise we're witnessing among the powers of our time in the face of serious environmental, health threats . . . real or imagined:


Now is no time for cliches

Plastic proverbs

Hackneyed saws from ancient times

Pat answers for last year's questions.

Now is no time for wishfulness

For sounding out the stars

No time to play at cards

To risk it all against a lucky draw.

Crossed fingers will not save us now

No relic, shard or rabbit's foot

No pleading, begging, crying for relief

No word, no art, no gun, no vitamin.

Now is a time for nitro-glycerine

For trinitrotoluene, for sabotage

Now is the time to know that since by man comes death

So also restoration comes by man

Or not at all. 

     . . . and a rider. A poem is not a sermon, and lest you think that having written this obviously makes me an anarchist, not so. The apparent message that it's time to "blow stuff up" is not meant literally but falls into the category of speech figures, this time hyperbole. It's meant to shock the reader into considering that I, the poet and he/she, the reader need to consider more aggressive influence on current events. 


  1. No, we don't need nytro. But we do need action before we get action we don't want - or more of it than we already have. Liberate the women of the world. Maybe they have enough collective sense to do something constructive. The men have messed up badly.

  2. Thanks, Hugh. I believe you've got it right!