Friday, October 16, 2020

Visions - Analysis

Here's the verse again:

I thought I saw the way. I bellied on amid the glare through blinding golds and greens,
Then rent asunder by the flash I raised my hands up high.
What is this curse I bear which no one seems to know, this constant gaze
Into another world of misery and hate?
Glimpses sometimes, future flashes of a place ahead,
A time for us the people when nothing good, no great at all exists,
Where evil's miracle reigns supreme and the fabulous
Knocking of my mind creates a welter of mockery and spite.

I closed my eyes but the visions grew inside,
Striking arrows deep inside my head,
Flying at the nerve ends of my brain,
Reaching to touch and pull and twist and tie and cut.
Severed in turn but still the images grew,
Faint at first and shallow, a glance, a stare, a face of fear, a cry for help,
Then after that the shadows fell around about,
Great blocks of silver grey passing throughout my sight.
Surely these are the ravings of my tortured mind,
My low tide colouring these thoughts?
Why else would I see the end, the time of darkness
When all people live in the shadow of paralysing nameless dread?
It must be so.

But what if my curse is gift disguised,
Telling me to tell all what is to come?
What must I do? Must I write and turn the pages of a history
That dictates no method in my madness,
Else stand upon the highest peak, the tallest tower, biggest stage
And spout pontification's lesson to the rabble?
I can't. I would be harried, stung, stoned,
Hanged for treason of the foulest kind, betraying human nature.
Didn't those who wrote the words that set in stone
The power of a super state believe in people's good, people's great,
None of which I see? Yet they are, they really are the building blocks
That house us all, foundations which we've placed to mark our course,
And no wind, earth or fire will ever shift them from their place,
The rock of all our souls. This is mankind's greatest good,
His tendency to live, survive and understand what ails and what aids.
This and this alone will be my vision, that my race is noble,
Full of grace and ever faithful to itself until the end.
There, that is a pleasant dream.


This is a poem of confusion and contradiction; the poet starts in the dark and finishes there too. He doesn't see the way, but thinks he does. He doesn't walk, or stride, or run even, he is on his belly like a soldier in No Man's Land or maybe even a snake...colour blinds him, followed by the 'flash' which brings him into first position of surrender.

And then, and then he alone in some twisted prophetic trance sees a world 'of misery and hate' in which 'nothing good, no great at all exists', a place where evil seems not just to have the upper hand but to reign 'supreme' - I wish I could tell you what the one and a half lines following that mean but I would be uttering mistruth, for they simply came from my pen and I put them on the page!

Closing his eyes to try to stop these visions, they only intensify, 'Striking', 'Flying', 'Reaching...do you see once more the word clusters emphasising and re-emphasising the discomfort before again 'Great blocks of silver grey' begin to drive the poet to delusion in which he sees everyone in the world living 'in the shadow of paralysing nameless dread'?

But rewind, for in his insanity there is clarity too; the poet questions what he sees, is aware of his own 'ravings' and 'low tide', and thereby the beginnings of a greater disorder emerge at this instant, the tension between what he experiences and what he knows actually to be the truth. And his first reaction is confusion - is what he sees 'curse' or 'gift disguised' and must he therefore address the world on this evident evil he is now aware exists in human nature?

There is some really weak language in this section of the poem which I should have excised in revision, but here it remains: 'What must I do? Must I...', 'dictates no method in my madness' (a cheap copy from Hamlet), 'spout pontification's lesson', what on earth is that? But the worst is the cheap, poor volta 'None of which I see? Yet they are...' before a section that just screams cringe all the way to the end of the poem before I try to spin it with 'There, that is a pleasant dream.'

But it's not strong enough, that last line can't turn good what has become a mediocre piece of writing. The truth is, at this stage in my illness I cannot express what I am feeling; there is the definite pendulum swinging already here but it is raw, not refined. Over the next few poems I write, that begins to change and first in line for such examination is my soul...