Friday, September 9, 2011

Commonplaces and Comments 6

I'm working on an exhaustive post on Pascal's Wager, which is of great length for the sole purpose of revealing how many nails are in this coffin. Which is a lot. I'm working on a variety of other posts as well: some related to ethics, some to formal epistemology/decision theory, and some related to notes from my courses. I am recovering from a wicked cold and recovering my schoolwork in the process, so all these works are slow in the making.

That said, poetry.

I am not well-versed in verses, but who could not love Auden's work? I can recall from memory one of his shorter yet more famous contributions, a commemoration of the `normalizers' of Czechoslovakia (August, 1968):

The Ogre does what ogres can,
Deeds quite impossible for man.
But one prize is beyond his reach:
The Ogre cannot master speech.
About a subjugated plain,
Among its desperate, and slain,
The Ogre stalks with hands on hips,
While drivel gushes from his lips.

The mis-attributed inspiration (Nixon) in this small video never ceases to infuriate me. This channel has some excellent readings, including that of one of my favorites, Lullabye. It is the first stanza I love especially, and it is the only part I can recall at command:

Lay your sleeping head, my love,
Human on my faithless arm;
Time and fevers burn away
Individual beauty from thoughtful children,
And the grave proves the child ephemeral:
But in my arms till break of day
Let the living creature lie,
Mortal, guilty, but to me
The entirely beautiful.

Apart from these snippets, one of the few other bits of poetry I can reliably recall is in Spanish:

Al pueblo le queda claro,
Que tu muerte no fue aislada.
Fue acción del imperlialismo,
Junto con la fuerza armada.

It should be enough to say that this was related from the Reagan era by a Spanish-speaking audience. I came across it via one of Hitchens' pre-warmongering collections, where he found himself near tears or tearful at a Church-full of the oppressed, though I cannot recall it now. Roughly from my rough Spanish and with my likely ill-conceived poetic needs in mind, it translates as follows:

To the people it is clear
Your death was no incidental act.
It was imperialistic action,
Combined with militarist attack.

I wonder how those words sounded in the original, as recited by a hall full of those with dead friends and relatives. I wonder how they were heard when visceral, and not merely language.

1 comment:

  1. Looking forward to reading your post on Pascal's Wager, and also hearing more about your deconversion.