PREVIOUS NEXT FIRST If you are going to measure out...
XLVIII
Wm. Blake's Abel's Body Found by Adam & Eve
If you are going to measure out
the droplets of the rain,
or going to string a Row of pearls
with every sphere of Pain
you will encounter in The World

Begin at once!
for Pain is vaster than the scope
of O its Utterance

and the Rain will, fall the earth
further than it will take
you gathering it--although you trail
forever in its wake.
52

^{52} That rain should have a wake implies a great deal of rain, The funeral wake also says something about the futility of dedicating too much effort to counting the droplets of that rain which has already fallen --been--. I'll take the opportunity of this poem not having a title (and not needing one) to say that, to me, most titles diminish the impact of a poem: once you put a handle to your subject-matter, a significant portion of the magic of poetry is voided because the reader's mind will cease seeking the handle within the inner meanings of the poem. My poems were not conceived with titles, nor from titles. The titles of most (if not all) my works come from a certain period many years after I had finished with writing them (1974, or there-abouts): Sometime AFTER 1974 I was confronted with the urge to assemble some of these works for possible publication, consequentially, deciding subsequently to give titles to as many of them as I could... until I discovered how much creative effort all this would require and went on to something else. The object of titles, obviously, is to better explain the poem (or, prepare the first-time reader by giving him an easy handle on the work): To the reader already familiar with the piece, the title is often a superfluous appendage. A reference point at best, useful when indexing. Knowing I would not again engage in the composition of poetry to the extent I had done so before 1974, it seemed the next-best thing then to engage in their preservation --and, indeed, as I am doing by these very note: to assist in explaining their meaning and implications (even if but by setting down what they meant to me). If these notes ramble away from a straightforward line by line explanation of phrases & sentences it is because so does my imagination whenever I reconsider them; perhaps within those associated but disparate implications that arise, re-reading these poems after so many years, I can locate the additional meanings which originally gave birth to this or that piece. But, to continue about this poem [XLVIII]: This poem depends for its effect on the tenuous nature of our human sensibilities --It says that if one is going to 'suffer' humanity, in effect, one will find it suffering enough: The first two lines are designed to throw you off the trail (of the work's true theme --which I have just stated) long enough to give you time to consider as many of the possibilities as your mind is fertile enough to grow --The poem's next two lines (where starts the enunciated theme) hold too obvious a clue to begin a poem with (for my own taste). It's only right that I should clothe it in a more protective garb (than its too starkly naked a statement of facts): Don't we usually call such things "the naked truth"? It helps me to set up a conclusion that comes out of this original starting point, as the means of departure (organically, all these works should grow in the manner of a biological evolution, art being a reflection of/on our human spirit --we call that part 'alive' --upon the senseless & insensate items outside man which 'live' with us ... and, remember that the items which make the most sense to us are those which are integral to our own human nature: that is the most critical criterion of their sensibility, for we are such pragmatic beings, after all). I introduce the metaphor (as theme) of that relationship between "being" and "what it's being" (or, how to think about a distinction between "suffering to be human and suffering" or "suffering and to be human"). I never intended to ask WHY it is that we must suffer at all, to begin with --the poem does not ask why the gatherer gathers the rain: It's enough that by the act of gathering he makes himself the gatherer --Humanity is not a quality like color, etc., that can be painted upon something, or removed at pleasure/discretion; instead, humanity defines the human being so absolutely that nothing is left of the human being if his humanity is removed... and, conversely, nothing but a human being may achieve humanity. You must, nevertheless, grant me that any human being who denies that he has suffered makes us suspect his humanity! So integral with humanity is suffering (even if only in our prejudice: I can certainly claim with few qualms that a great many other species do a great deal of otherwise perfectly acceptable suffering). In the middle stanza I declare that if one is going to suffer, one should get it over and done with as soon as possible --even if it means complete consummation: There is no end to suffering, the most sensible alternative then is to seek the limits of our mortality --One might never cease suffering, but one certainly won't suffer (just to be human) for long. [Some philosophically-perverted cults have confused suffering with humanity to such an extent that they live a continuous life of suffering as the ideal form of human life! I myself have a 'perverted' theological suspicion that Heaven is really a place of suffering, for, no matter how hard I try, I cannot imagine how anyone deserving of 'salvation' could possibly be expected to sit around the pool, in Heaven, sipping ice tea and cracking jokes (which test the limits of the politically correct) with Christ at the expense of the less fortunate... while knowing one's fellow human beings are frying down in the bowels of Hell.] And I am not excusing Christianity in this, as in any other respects, either. In the concluding stanza the poem makes use of the opening couplet of the poem to seek a definite ascertaining of what degree suffering: How to define suffering? (How to make the distinction, by degrees, from humanity?) How far will the rain fall? "Further than it will take you" is an approximation, of which I have already spoken. When one has come along thus far, with one's suffering (as distances, directions are relative & only apply to individual cases, for 'whom' these things may be extremely absolute in nature), it is yet possible to make a distinction between one's humanity and that suffering which has brought one to THIS, say. After which one may chase after some other bauble of existence, as the mood strikes one: It's one's life and no one else's (except where it steps on somebody else's, of course, & then all bets're off, pal. You on you own)[email protected]

INDEX PREVIOUS NEXT FIRST