Monday, December 24, 2012

Clean shirt reckless moment

Split the lark, our genius maiden
wrote, and you'll find the Music.

For unfashionably numerous years,
I have participated in the reflex
the West cherishes toward Christ-
mas; and I still find its tug un-
answerably endearing. I can see,
a crucifix bobbing on a brother's
choral surplice; I can smell the
grandeur of my first given book,
Le chanson de Roland. Is this not
the most sensuous feast day there
is, if memory's palate wafts the
freshest collars of our vestry?

The day marks the launching of a
struggle far from encompassed by
the single Life it celebrates. I
now perceive this occasion as one
distinctly of revolution; and ap- 
prehend how scary it would have
been, for absolute autocrats to
have trembled and stars to alter
course. The scale of the rumours,
alone, would have been enough to 
and send wise men scuttling for
bribes, convening shepherds of im-
peccable witness to attest to it. 

Rip the chorister's cuirass on
Christmas, and there is Miss
Dickinson's menstrual metaphor,
self, the ultimate replenishing

    Loose the flood - you shall find it patent -
    Gush after Gush, reserved for you -
    Scarlet Experiment! Skeptic Thomas!
    Now, do you doubt that your Bird was true?

The radical event, so hand-
somely assimilated as sur-
passingly protective, will
always signify that quality.
But there is a post hoc, er-
go propter hoc halo of in-
terpretation in such parti-
san teleology, which ultim-
ately falls away. Instead,
a prohibitive watershed of
infinite mystery and possi-
bility in this anniversary,
I admit to my friends, al-
most to fear.

Helen Vendler
Dickinson: Selected Poems
  and Commentaries
Belknap Press,
Harvard University Press, 2010©

William Shakespeare
Sonnet 29
op. cit.

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