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Beautiful bird what happened to your wings?
Stuck fast to your sides from the oil spill,
Your flight taken, and so too your longings.
I thought I saw you, glorious rising,
Your vigorous heart and vehement will,
Trills you exalted, you tingle and sing.
That vision crumpled with the courts rulings,
Ripe, yearning life will die from oil’s spill,
A lifetime to die, through crippling your wings.
I dreamed you stretched your magnificent wings,
But a bird loving sky is good until
Sludge buries the sweet sad flight of fledglings.
Then all around a darkness unravelling,
I see more birds drenched in unctuous swill,
All prevented from flying and singing.
I thought you unique in your flourishing,
I thought it unique they did you so ill,
But all would fly if they could free their wings,
No gluttonous oil, and all would sing.
The body is to be compared not to a physical object, but rather a work of art. In a picture or a piece of music the idea is incommunicable by means other than the display of colour and sound. Any analysis of Cézanne’s work, if i have not see his pictures, leavers me with a choice between several possible Cézannes, and it is the sight of the picture which provides me with the only existing Cézanne, an therein the analysis find their full meaning. The same is true of a poem or a novel, although they are made up of words. It is well known that a poem, though it has superficial meaning translatable into prose, leads, in the reader’s mind, a further existence which makes it a poem. Just as the spoken word is significant not only through the medium of individual words, but also through that of accent, intonation, gesture and facial expression, and as these additional meaning no longer reveal the speaker’s thoughts but the source of his thought and his fundamental manner of being, so poetry, which perhaps accidentally narrative and in that way informative, is essentially a variety of existence. It is distinguishable from the cry, because the cry makes use of the body as nature gave it to us: poor in expressive means; whereas the poem uses language, and even a particular language, in such a way tht the existential modulation, instead of being dissipated at the very instant of its expression, finds in poetic art a means of making itself eternal. But although it is independent of the gesture which is inseparable from living expression, the poem is not independent of material aid, and it would irrecoverably lost if its texts were not preserved down to the last detail. Its meaning is not arbitrary and does not dwell in the firmament ideas: it is locked in the words printed on some perishable page. In that sense, like every work of art, the poem exists as a thing and does eternally survive as does a truth. As for a novel, although the plot can be summarised and the ‘thought’ of writer lends itself to abstract expression, this conceptual significance is extracted from a wider one, as the description of a person is extracted from the actual appearance of his face. The novelists tasks is not to expound ideas or even analyse characters, but to depict an inter-human event, ripening and bursting it upon us with no ideological commentary, to such an extent that any change in the order of the narrative or in choice of viewpoint would alter theliterarymeaning of the event. A novel, poem, picture, or musical work are individuals, that is, beings in which expression is indistinguishable from the thing expressed, their meaning, accessible only through direct contact, being radiated with no change of their temporal and spatial situation. It is this sense that our body is comparable to art.
Merleau-Ponty, Phenomenology of perception , pg 174-75
You’re so delicate,
skin like inexpertly laid gold leaf,
except the gold is like breath,
gently through parted lips
and the tips of nostrils.
Did it threaten you?
When I asserted that I feel and believe,
You, who need a lack of self,
so afraid of
tug of war,
ropes pulled in all directions,
taut and tangled.
I see you
trying to escape the image
of a spider
spinning a web
so it can deny that
for the tricksy myth you just created
is too clever even for him.
You, so sure that there is nothing,
eliminate the night,
For it is with the stars that I see darkness,
and it is the tension in the cloth, where the weave is spun too tight,
which lets me breathe.