Sunday, October 21, 2012

In case you're wondering...

...this is why a liberal arts education matters. From October's Poetry, reprinted from its first publishing in that same magazine in 1958.

Private and Profane 
by Marie Ponsot
From loss of the old and lack of new
From failure to make the right thing do
Save us, Lady Mary Wortley Montagu.
     From words not the word, from a feckless voice
     From poetic distress and from careless choice
     Exclude our intellects, James Joyce.
From genteel angels and apostles unappalled
From hollywood visions as virgins shawled
Guard our seeing, Grunewald.
     From calling a kettle an existential pot,
     From bodying the ghost of whatever is not,
     John save us, o most subtle Scot.
From pace without cadence, from pleasures slip-shod
From eating the pease and rejecting the pod
Wolfgang keep us, lover of God.
     Couperin come with your duple measure
     Altar our minds against banal pleasure.
Durer direct with strictness of vision
Steady this flesh toward your made precision.
     Mistress of accurate minor pain,
     Lend wit for forbearance, prideless Jane.
From pretending to own what we secretly seek,
From (untimely, discourteous) the turned other cheek,
Protect our honor, Demetrius the Greek.
     From ignorance of structural line and bone
     From passion not pointed on truth alone
     Attract us, painters on Egyptian stone.
     From despair keep us, Aquin's dumb son;
     From despair keep us, Saint Welcome One;
     From lack of despair keep us, Djuna and John Donne.
The zeal for free will get us in deep,
That the chance to choose be the one we keep
That free will steel self in us against self-defense
That free will repeal in us our last pretense
That free will heal us
     Jeanne d'Arc, Job, Johnnie Skelton,
     Jehan de Beauce, composer Johann,
     Dark John Milton, Charter Oak John
Strike deep, divide us from cheap-got doubt,
Leap, leap between us and the easy out;
teach us to seize, to use, to sleep well, to let go;
Let our loves, freed in us, gaudy and graceful, grow.

Does anyone know anything about Marie Ponsot?? Her other poem in this month's Poetry, "A Visit," is also swell. It reminds me of my grandmother a lot (sans the gin). I just really dig the vim with which she wrote.

1 comment:

  1. Wonderful.

    It's fitting that the poem is a litany, because those poems and paintings alone can't carry us from knowledge to action. Moral philosophy can guide us to the edge of goodness, when the choice of good or evil, the meaning, and the consequences, become sharp and insistent. But it can't push us over. That step is in the will, a negotiation between man and God. "Against you only have I sinned." And the saints come in at that place, to help, where moral philosophy can't.