Questo è un cane di grandi dimensioni!*
It's Saturday and of course, this part of the world continues to turn on an imaginary post fixed to nothing in a boundless space. But everything's good here. How about there?
It occurs to me that hardly a day passes without the words of the impressively expressively depressing poem by Billy Yeats, The Second Coming, coming to a mind near me.
Today's homily will concern our current Presidential Election and the choices we have set before us.
The lines are, "The best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity."
Reading that poem again really set me to thinking and that's not always a good thing. Let's see if it is today.
I am positive that Yeats didn't rip that little beauty off and then dash out to meet friends for pasta and a light comedy.
Let's think about this for a moment, that poem probably represented some of the less dark thoughts that he was having at the time. Still, it points to something that was bothering him. That something was the devastation of World War 1. More specifically, the continuously renewable moral shock that comes with realizing what people can do to each other. This is just me talking here. I never took a class on poetry or Yeats or philosophy, or anything like that.
I wondered how long the author would have had to maintain that dim outlook to complete this work. We're used to writing an email in a few minutes and sending it off, but serious, legitimate poemists, can work on a poem, even a small, one for months or longer. Like a book or at least a short story. If you're writing about spies shooting at each other, you read the last few pages you wrote and you're back in the saddle. If you find yourself writing a particularly hopeless poem about the end of life as we know it, how do you keep that bleak viewpoint alive while you perfect the wording. If I started something like that poem on Monday, when I returned to it on Tuesday, I'd read it and throw it away and write something about happy bunnies being cheated by unicorns or something Irish like that.
So I tried to find out how long it took him ( William Butler Yeats) to write The Second Coming and all I could find was that it was written in January of 1919, which also happens to be the month and year of my father's birth. He was born January 5, 1919. For all I know, that day was the birth date of this poem. Quite possibly the two events were not a coincidence. It would have been odd but not unheard-of, for Yeats in County Dublin in Ireland to have been influenced by the birth of a boy in Pella Iowa. But Yeats, at that time, during his 54th year, was then newly married to a 25-year-old woman who played with Ouija boards and spirit writing. And as everyone knows, a straight line can be drawn through Earth's substance from Dublin to Pella which intersects another line that can be drawn through Salem Massachusetts to somewhere in modern Slovenia. Thus, spirits lines connected the two events in a cosmic pas de deux of elephantine proportions and ookey-ookey followed closely. QED!
That is all I will say about my father here.
Unlike my father, Yeats probably deserves our empathy. He was a depressed but brilliant person, living in a depressing time in a depressing place and surrounded by, guess who, that's right, very depressive people. No wonder he was a great poet. He won a Nobel prize for literature in 1923, only 4 years after writing The Second Coming. Given his situation, he was a shoe-in.
That's all I will say about Yeats!
* (The Post Title is Italian for "That is a Large Dog!")
(Photo by Laura Musikanski)