Surely some revelation is at hand . . .
Now the long freight clears the crossing and traffic grinds again along E. 36th St. Now the thirty or so find their way into the Gallery, grind and clear through studio work spaces & art on display, find their seats. Now the poets approach the microphone.
There couldn’t be a better space for poetry. Green Rice Gallery at the corner of Davidson and E. 36th, reclaimed and resuscitated mill and warehouse, the intensity of artistic creation in all its forms and guises. There couldn’t be a better crowd. Jonathan and Scott, the hosts gentle and inciting (you guess which is which). The writers and listeners not just from Charlotte but as far as Winston-Salem and OMG Lincolnton. Everyone intent. Everything passion.
I have rarely attended a better open mic. The woman channeling Ginsberg’s America who cries to discover her place in this nation, in this existence. The man reciting surrealist imagery until the photo on the wall behind him becomes Salvador Dali. The quiet brooding lyric that leaves me desperate to know more – what lurks beneath? The guy of 100 personas whose rant in the character of a postal employee makes me want to duck for cover.
And the woman who read two Irish poets, the first observing the tangled path love may take – didn’t each of us listeners say, “So true.” And for her second she read Yeats. Violence, chaos, apocalypse before us. The Second Coming.
Frightening that his poem written in 1919 sounds the very dread we experience in 2011. The New York Times observed in 2007 that this was becoming the official poem of the Iraq war. And yet however menaced I may feel as the rough beast, its hour come round at last, / Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born, I am encouraged by the passion of these young poets declaring their intention to create new order from anarchy. I am convinced that they, the best, lack no conviction in their passionate intensity.
. . . . .
THE SECOND COMING
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.
Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: a waste of desert sand;
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Wind shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?
. . . . .