domingo, março 19, 2006

Momento Abrupto

Saddening, worse, to read in "Frost at Midnight"
Coleridge´s ecstatic hymn to his newborn, Hartley,
for whom he imagines "...all seasons shall be sweet,"
and to find in the biographies how depressingly
their relationship deteriorated when the boy was grown:
the father struggling between his dependence on opiates
and the exertions of his recalcitrant genius, the son trying
to separate from the mostly absent but still intimidating father.
Their final contact has Hartley, a neophyte poem himself -
he'll never attain stature - abandoning his father in the street,
Coleridge in tears, not knowing, as though he were a character
in one of the more than minor tragedies he might have written
if his life had evolvef more fortuitously, how to begin
to reconcile his unspoken suffering with his son's,
how to conceive of healing the hurt both had to have felt
before each reeled back to his respective isolation.
The myth was already in effect then- Wordsworth's doing?-
that creativity like Coleridge's thrives best in seclusion.
Even Coleridge, though his poem takes place with his son
beside him and friends sleeping yards away, speaks of
"...that solitude that suits abstruser musings..."
So generations of writers go off to the woods to find...
alcohol - Schwartz, Lowry, too many others to mention -
depression, or even - Lowell, one hates to say it - wife-abuse.
Coleridge in fact was rarely out of some intimate situation
for five minutes in his life, sharing his friend's houses
and tables, and there's the scene, saddening, too, worse
of the poet imploring the captain of the ship ferrying him
home from Malta to administer an enema to unclog
the impacted feces of his laudanum-induced constipation.
Daily stuff for Coleridge - he hardly remarks it, poor man, poor giant -
excruciating for us, spoiled as we are, sanitised, tamed...
But what does the life - dope, shit, neurosis, fathers, or sons -
have to do with anything anyway? Think of innocent Clare,
twenty-eight years in insane asylums, and isn't there some fairness,
you might think, some justice, but letting yourself think that,
there's nowhere to go but bitterness, and how regret
that deluge of masterpiecdes to rejoice in? Coleridge, anyway,
at the end found fulfilment, and Clare to, if not fulfiment,
then something, perhaps acceptance; even Hartley, too, something.
I was ther onde, in that cottage, a pack of ill-lit rooms,
at the very spot, veside the hearth where the poem was made -
("... the thin blue flame...that film which fluttered on the grate...")
You could still sense something in that comfortless cell
resonating with youth and hope, which, almost in his deathbed,
Coleridge wrote "...embracing, seen as one, were love."
Outside, the glorious sea, the hills; easy to understand hoping
to say in such a world forever, and the qual to tear yourself away.
C. K. Williams