Saturday, October 21, 2006

In a Mood

The Rockrose Moon (A Serial Fiction) Part 17

My mother’s family is from Kyrgyzstan. A place I thought no one had heard of until last night in passing I saw the mountains of my grandmother’s home in a piece on an American Army base on the news.

My mother was very fair, her mother’s mother a Volga German resettled from the Volga river basin in Russia to this landlocked patch of nowhere by Stalin. My mother’s mother spoke German and Russian and some Chinese. It is not as strange as it might seem that my mother who spoke English and French and German and Russian should marry an American born (mostly) Chinese guy.

Christian is reading Osip Mandelstam. He was all excited the other day, his eyes lit up in that special way they get when he discovers a “real” poet.

Someone with genuine talent.

Mandelstam was ill and impoverished and arrested by Stalin’s men in 1938.

He was friends with Anna Akhmatova; what a cruel life they all had at that time! So much sadness and difficulty.

Mandelstam’s friend Nadezhda said about the day they took him away, “Why did he obediently follow the two soldiers, and why didn’t I throw myself on them like a wild animal? What had we to lose? Surely we were not afraid of being charged with resisting arrest? The end was the same anyway, so that was nothing to be afraid of. It was not, indeed, a question of fear. It was something quite different: a paralyzing sense of one’s own helplessness to which we all were prey, not only those who were killed, but the killers themselves as well. Crushed by the system each one of us had in some way or other helped to build, we were not even capable of passive resistance…”

Anyway, because of this connection in my own family I feel connected somehow to those great Russian poets who really did understand that poetry was an art and that if one writes it, lives and breathes it, it is because one has no other choice. At least then ordinary people still had the rich oral tradition of the epic poem.

Now we have hip hop and sound bites and the attention span of gnats.

I wonder sometimes if this passion for poetry isn’t some sort of genetic throwback, that the art has outgrown its usefulness to us as a species?

Sure in times of great stress as a people we reach for solace in poetry to explain our pain to us but maybe that is just habitual. Pretty soon it will all be explained by brain science anyway, or like me we will all be taking prescription drugs to even out our moods.

No one ever need be unseemly and overwrought again!

The morning light is awfully nice right now on the leaves of the trees turning orange, turning yellow. I think I’ll just concentrate on that and let this mood I am in pass.


Blogger chiefbiscuit said...

More marvellous musings!

11:52 PM  

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