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Month: March, 2013

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (16)‏

 The School of Athens - Raphael

                                             The School of Athens




Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 22:47:05 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus

As I said at the very beginning, you are “sensitive”, and I was right, because you rightly perceived that I was becoming impatient. My apologies. Patience is not my forte. 🙂 However, you have not “touched a nerve”, as this is by no means an emotional discussion from my pov. I have no intention to “vehemently reject” your position (after all it is yours not mine), but only to share my perspective, including what I perceive to be irrational arguments.

Here are the two statements you made;
” I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible”,
“I do not profess to “know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust[s]‘”.

Is that not a self-contradiction?

You say that you’re making an interpretation. But, what is knowledge but an interpretation? A translation from the concrete and the objective to the abstract and subjective, just as we translate a work of literature from one language to another? By interpreting Nietzsche to yourself, you gain a rational understanding of him, and by interpreting him to others, you share that understanding.

I think an important distinction should be made between a) the belief in the existence of Absolute Truth” and b) the belief of one’s monopoly of the Absolute Truth. You seem to be passionately rejecting b), which is quite understandable. But Platonism is not b) but a). It does not claim monopoly of the Absolute Truth, but instead, Plato and Socrates both exhort their listeners to pursue Beauty, Goodness and Truth, to pursue virtue, to be the lover of wisdom, which is the literal meaning of “philosophy”,

According to Einstein, this pursuit of the Absolute Truth is also the guiding principle of the scientists. Without this passionate pursuit of the truth, we would never discover that the earth is not flat. Now think about this: Can you still insist that it is uncertain whether or not the earth is flat, that it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the shape of the earth?

You argue that uncertainty makes people less likely to kill. But most people who kill are not driven by belief in the Absolute, but by their lust for pleasure, wealth and power. Some may kill in the name of Truth as a disguise for their ulterior motives, but it would be unfair and irrational to blame the Truth for their acts.

I’ll refrain from discussing the Catholic Church, partly because to me this discussion is about Platonism, and Christianity is not Platonism (though they share many similar aspects), and partly because I’m not associated with the Catholic Church and frankly don’t know enough about it to say anything useful


first of all let me raise a glass to our conversation,
a toast that it might live long
and thank you for your continued respectful and
penetrating participation, I will endeavour to as
assiduously hold up
that said, we get into, as I see it, the question
posed by Wittgenstein, an obstacle of the
most impenetrable sort, the egregious
unreliability of language, what do you mean
when you say something, and how does that
synch with the other guy’s interpretation of it,
or, indeed, girl’s 
your meat could be my poison, my Plato,
your Proust   
indeed which one of us is right about this,
is Plato a saint or a sinner, a boon or a
though Proust, of course, would remain 
unquestionably and irreversibly here,
ever, surely, for both of us, benefactor
of positively Promethean, natch, 
what has become here then of the
Absolute, gone up in a whiff of, just
as insubstantial, smoke, the exhalations,
note, of a fully material mens sana,
sound mind, which can be nothing
without the enveloping corpore sano,
sound body   
should there, in the instance, however, 
be a One, an Absolute, we would not, nor
can anyway ever, from our intrinsically
divergent perspectives, be able to, in
any meaningful way, know It
more practically and topically, when
my mother had her living room walls 
painted, my blue was her green, or vice
versa, in either case adamantly, trying
both of us to eke out from each other
concessions to a position, undyingly,
each, though ever politely, both, held, 
a model accommodation, which is to say,
without the often attendant bombs 
we remained puzzled, however, each,
ever, by insidious, and inescapable,
doubt, who saw the right colour 
there is a technical solution to my mother’s
wall, I know, but only after great psychological
adjustment, even torment, will the blue think
his or her visual impression another colour  
and who is mistaken 
or can some people be ever right, 
and ever wrong
this, incidentally, is the central problem
of philosophy, not just our own central
and its resolution the central problem
of politics
in this instance when her cataracts were
removed, her blue became green, or vice
versa, I’d have to be in her apartment, I
can’t remember which colour, right now,
it was I saw, another philosophical
conundrum, but surely, you get the
picture, interpretation is highly
subjective, and porous 
which is why Science requires absolutely
unanimous approval, if you’ll forgive this
metaphorical only use of that prickly
adverb here, to determine Its still 
fundamentally ever tenuous theories
we’ve even only recently deconstructed
even time,
or Time
now there’s a God for you, Giver of context
however, even there, It would appear arbitrary,
there may be another Reality beyond our
particular three-dimensional Plato’s cave
but I digress
my misuse of the word “know” in citing
my apparently contradictory statements,
is at fault, I can never know, I can only
interpret, with custom we have come to
accept our suppositions as fact, and hope
that everyone else will do the same, which
we mostly do, except when we have wars
because of some intractable position,
where someone has set a price on his, her 
incontrovertible, but still fundamentally
arbitrary, opinion, even of ownership,
family structure, interpersonal affairs,
like this one 
but we are talking with only air, no
concrete certainty    
I believe Nietzsche, in other words, to
have thought my thoughts, or I, rather,  
to have incorporated his, but that is only
my understanding of it, which surely I
propound, though I might quite possibly
be wrong, but, Nemo, I can’t remember
the last time I was, I could check, I keep
a tally
scientists, I believe, are indeed seeking
always to know, perfecting their idea of
Reality, but Truth can only be the sum
of all things we think It is, nothing else,
nothing more, after all what other entity
that we know knows anything at all
about It, about Truth
we can only think there is a Real out
there, and make the best of It, the rest
is, Shakespeare again,  
           “…………………………………. such stuff
           As dreams are made on; and our little life
            Is rounded with a sleep.”
                                             The Tempest – act 4, scene 1
                                                                            lines 156 -158
cheers ever

the importance of proper spelling‏


on the library website, where I often browse
new comments on borrowed items, books
mostly, or films, someone had written the
following heady indeed, though terse
enough, observation about Titanic  
            “I was BALLING by the end of this!”
with even the capital letters
hi, I had to reply, I’m sure you meant
“BAWLING”, and not “BALLING”, just
checking, cheers
leaving my own not especially otherwise
pertinent critique about the film
couldn’t help it 

XXXlll. Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXlll. Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear

Yes, call me by my pet-name! let me hear
The name I used to run at, when a child,
From innocent play, and leave the cow-slips piled,
To glance up in some face that proved me dear
With the look of its eyes. I miss the clear
Fond voices which, being drawn and reconciled
Into the music of Heaven’s undefiled,
Call me no longer. Silence on the bier,
While I call God – call God! – So let thy mouth
Be heir to those who are now exanimate.
Gather the north flowers to complete the south,
And catch the early love up in the late.
Yes, call me by that name, – and I, in truth,
With the same heart, will answer and not wait.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


Elizabeth Barrett Browning introduces
immediacy here in the very first beat by
making her metre trochaic – dum, da –
instead of iambic – da, dum – we’re in
the midst of already the conversation,
where Browning, Robert, had called
Elizabeth by a nickname, probably,
I would think, his “Portuguese”, the
“Portuguese” of these very poems,
and she peremptorily corners us, him

then, despite her insecurities, she
commands, as I’d earlier, maybe
somewhat sardonically, implied,
but we all have, don’t we, our
idiosyncratic peculiarities

“call me by my pet-name”, she insists,
like those who loved me used to do
when I was young, and that I ran to
when they called so that I could
beside them “glance” at the reflection
in their eyes of my very indeterminate
for me validity

but whose “voices” now, sadly, have
become “the music of” a perfect
“Heaven”, which is to say, where those
who have been there retired, “drawn
and reconciled”,
are “undefiled”

only “Silence on the bier”, no reply, no
sound at all, from even the divinity she

“So let thy mouth / Be heir”, she charges,
as she is wont to do when she isn’t fretting,
be their counterpart, your “north” their
“south” flowers, their “early” your “late[r]

“and I, in truth, / With the same heart”, as
when I left so hurriedly my “cow-slips”
“will answer and not wait” to fly at your

and all in only fifteen lines, to my,
hopefully helpful, several, with each
of hers sporting rich and resonant
even rhyme, which probably went
nevertheless mostly at first glance
unnoticed, to my fewer maybe, and
more insidiously covert ones

wherein lies, of course, the artistry,
the buttons don’t intrude on the
fabric, the garment’s pristine
symmetry, the poem’s potent



XXXll. The first time that the sun rose on thine oath – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from “Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXll. The first time that the sun rose on thine oath

The first time that the sun rose on thine oath
To love me, I looked forward to the moon
To slacken all those bonds which seemed too soon
And quickly tied to make a lasting troth.
Quick-loving hearts, I thought, may quickly loathe;
And, looking on myself, I seemed not one
For such man’s love! – more like an out-of-tune
Worn viol, a good singer would be wroth
To spoil his song with, and which, snatched in haste,
Is laid down at the first ill-sounding note.
I did not wrong myself so, but I placed
A wrong on thee. For perfect strains may float
‘Neath master-hands, from instruments defaced, –
And great souls, at one stroke, may do and dote.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


“great souls” may transform those they touch,
to their great honour, and may stay to watch,
and nurture, in proud appreciation of that
transcendental transformation, look at our

but see here Elizabeth Barrett Browning
herself in this very poem, and also those
we’ve touched, been touched by, and

if I’ve been connecting XlXth-Century
Elizabeth Barrett Browning with modern
torch songs, sublime often evocations
of consummate and unfettered love, it
is not without the influence of, indeed,
Elizabeth Barrett Browning, who opened
the floodgates to our cultural emotional
honesty, name any other otherwise

brave, brave Elizabeth Barrett Browning,
to whom we owe our unadulterated

here is Roberta Flack doing her own
sororal “first time”, an obvious heir
to Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s
tacit permission and poem

here is another, and updated version
of the featured classic, that, however
improbably, in every moment, shines,
blazons, becoming just as, goodness,
unforgettable, just watch


Beethoven piano sonata no 32, opus 111‏

when I was a young boy my sister returned
from school with a catechism the nuns had
given her, if there’s anything you’d like to
know, she said, the answer will be in here,
touting it triumphantly

we all laughed at her of course, being a
family of sceptics

but in the following sonata, Beethoven’s
transcendent no 32, opus 111, I believe
that’s exactly what you get, that catechism,
something with all the answers

there are only two movements in the 32nd,
an oddity to say the least, it will end not on
a joyous note, as was the traditional manner,
but on a much more contemplative one

midway I never manage not to break down

the first movement is fast, chaotic, succinct,
the following one tentative, orderly, expansive,
exploratory as opposed to rash, humble as
opposed to demanding

dichotomies, in other words, abound the
more profoundly you let the pattern sink
into you, the more you spend time with
the music

for me it is man, woman, it is chaos, grace,
right, wrong, evil, good, sin, retribution,
war, peace, intolerance, mercy, love

it is also the very steps of our passage
through those life choices

when life has been for me too much of a
struggle this sonata has come along, in
those most private and most vulnerable
moments, invariably to hold my hand,
thanks be duly to Beethoven, philosopher,
poet, mystic, guardian angel, sage

if there’s anything you’d like to know, I
affectionately quote, and presently
ardently remind you, the answer will
be in this cathechism

if you can keep your eye off the pianist,
who is evidently, and indeed enviably,
in its throes

we’ll want to see more of Yeol Eum Son


Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (15)‏

Date: Sat, 23 Mar 2013 00:40:39 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus


You wrote, ” the possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, understanding of the substance of our world, something you ardently affirm, but I, and the “demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally impossible

If it is impossible to have a rational understanding of the world, of which Nietzsche is a part, then it is impossible to know what Nietzsche believes or “fervently mistrust”. Do you realize that your statements are contradicting your philosophy?

I find your accusation of Plato irrational and groundless. How is belief in an objective Absolute Truth murderous? On the contrary, I think it is life-saving. For instance, it is wiser to accept that the Law of Gravity exists, then to disregard it and suffer the consequences of a bad fall. If anything, I think a philosophy that only acknowledges the existence of oneself and disregards all others is more likely to cause it’s adherents to commit murder, because other human beings are no more than phantoms in his sight.

As for Fido being an artist, just give him a pint of paint, and you’ll find that he does indeed paint pictures. Some people call it “modern art”. What’s the difference between a plagiarist and an artist who imitates Providence but does not acknowledge the source of his inspiration?


(P.S. I have not responded to your comments about Christianity, though I disagree with them, because I think it is beyond the scope of this discussion)


you argue, Nemo, that one cannot “have a
rational understanding of the world, of which
Nietzsche is a part“, and profess to
simultaneously “know what Nietzsche
believes or “fervently mistrust[s]
but I do not profess to “know what Nietzsche
believes or “fervently mistrust[s]”, nor did I
profess to “have a rational understanding of
the world“, in the sense that I have all the
answers, I am only expressing opinions,
as informed as I can make them, an
interpretation, as indeed I believe
you yourself are
therefore there is no contradiction in my
opinion, the one you most vehemently
seem to wish to reject, I do not profess
which might be what you are about to
but further
the pursuit of an Absolute, an immutable
standard, has too often, and therefore
probably inherently, fallen prey to its
dogma, crucifying, metaphorically of
course but also otherwise, and often,
I’m afraid of pehaps sensing that most
nefarious side in your often less than
patient comments
the Absolute imposed by the Catholic
Church threw the Western World into
the Dark Ages for an unbelievable
1500 years, before we came out of
our, indeed, Platonic cave 
I have no use for the Absolute as an
abstraction, the Absolute can only
be the sum of all the opinions of
those who have, have had, will have,
a notion about It, nothing otherwise 
but an opinion seems to be the way
in which we find our path
that seems to me closer to our answer
and a free, respectful always, exchange
of opinions, no matter how entrenched,
seems to me the only manner in which
to move forward, after all, how long was
the earth believed to be flat before
someone had the nerve, the verve, and
the determination, to wonder about it  
in a world where everyone’s view is
considered, a less certain world, we
would be less willing to die, or kill, 
for any of our arbitrary ideas
incidentally, these are the teachings of
Jesus, remember, turn the other cheek

read also Martha Nussbaum here, ever
profoundly pertinently  
what else, Nemo, is, meanwhile, “beyond
the scope of this discussion”  
or should we merely agree now to having
let me say that it has been for me a
delightful conversation that I would
not want to see end, I think we could 
have a lot to learn from each other, but
perhaps I’ve touched, however
unintentionally, a nerve, for which I
wholeheartedly apologize
best wishes, of course, ever
and cheers, no matter what



Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (14)‏

Date: Thu, 21 Mar 2013 16:37:42 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment] “Ennead I” by Plotinus

Beauty, Goodness and Truth are a triad, but not all triads are Christian in origin or character. Belief in the unity of beauty and goodness is characteristic of the ancient Greeks, and Plato further demonstrate the unity of Beauty and Truth in Symposium. As for the “glorious” deities, their priests have no place or recognition whatsoever in Plato’s Republic, which is ruled by Reason.

Plotinus has changed my way of looking at art, which is commonly defined as a human activity. Since Intellect permeates the world, art is not limited to human, but even plants and flowers, though they are not sentient beings, are capable of artistic activity. To use an analogy, a choreographer consciously designs the dance moves, but the dancers perform the moves.without being conscious of the whole design.

Come to think of it, all human artists either imitate directly or draw inspiration from Providence. How can they deny the artistry of Providence, and then turn around call their plagiarism “art”?

A mirror, in so far as it is a mirror, enables us to look at the world from a different angle, and presents to us features that have been hidden before, but it is still a reflection of the multifaceted reality. Since you found transcendence, have you experienced anything for which there is no counterpart in this world?

you’ve gone off in so many different, doubtful
to me, directions, Nemo, I don’t know where to
start, then again I must sound ever the same
to you whenever I write, there’s apparently
much here we have to discuss 
but I think the central issue remains the 
possibility of a firm, which is to say, rational, 
understanding of the substance of our world, 
something you ardently affirm, but I, and the
demented” Nietzsche, incidentally, equally
fervently mistrust, even deem fundamentally
Descartes, by the by, remained on the fence,
he never found out what hit him, never realized
what he’d done, but began nevertheless in his
wake the irreversible march toward uncertainty,
modernity, which we dressed up in the powerful
attractions of science
we’ve come a long way from superstition,
we’re even presently on our way to Mars,
we’ve even discovered what’s being called
the God particle, but I think we’re still in
Plato’s cave with respect to certain
knowledge, we’re only seeing shadows,
we can never see the sun 
there is surely an underlying reality, but
you, I, we, can only imagine it, which is
why we’re still wondering what it’s all
about, despite having of course our
kids and building our houses, we are
compelled to invent our environments
with the tools that we’ve been given 
I don’t think animals and plants are
artists, we supply that moniker for
them, some of us, to describe what
we, some of us, can, but only really 
anthropomorphically, see, Fido will
never acknowledge himself an artist,
nor paint our picture, for instance, on 
his doghouse wall, no matter what
Plotinus might’ve said to the contrary   
where do I get my own, ahem, inspiration,  
I will admit, not from me alone, but that
doesn’t make me a plagiarist 
have [ I ] experienced anything for which
there is no counterpart in this world?“, all
that I have experienced is in my world,
unquestionably, I think it might have
some conjunction with the one you
call this one, but I’ll never be sure,
I can only suspect
all of this would be moot, Nemo, and indeed
many will think one could better spend one’s
time than at splitting these merely philosophical
apparently tresses, were it not for their
revolutionary consequences, men will kill, Nemo,
to preserve their god – not ever, note, the plural
here, never their “gods” – but their one imperious
divinity, in the figure of a man, by the way, mostly, 
their Platonically inspired Ideal, their Platonic, but
patently murderous, Absolute, I blame Plato for
that, not Nietzsche 
and I blame the Christian Church, furthermore, 
for distorting the Platonic Trinity, your beautifully 
rendered  Beauty, Goodness and Truth“, though
that’s something also, I think, of an anachronistic 
cheers especially ever

XXXl. Thou comest! all is said without a word – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXXl. Thou comest! all is said without a word

Thou comest! all is said without a word.
I sit beneath thy looks, as children do
In the noon-sun, with souls that tremble through
Their happy eyelids from an unaverred
Yet prodigal inward joy. Behold, I erred
In that last doubt! and yet I cannot rue
The sin most, but the occasion – that we two
Should for a moment stand unministered
By a mutual presence. Ah, keep near and close,
Thou dovelike help! and, when my fears would rise,
With thy broad heart serenely interpose:
Brood down with thy divine sufficiencies
These thoughts which tremble when bereft of those,
Like callow birds left desert to the skies.

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


it is a natural instinct nearly to read such
a poem in iambic pentameter, until you get
to the end of the verse, pause, and then do
the same thing with the next line, applying
a rhythm to each phrase, much like toneless
singing, after all, one surmises, it’s a poem,
words without the tune, it has a beat

but the beat in Elizabeth Barrett Browning‘s
poems, though staunch, is steeped in the
less evidently accented constructions of
prose, looser and less regimented, for

like Beethoven, Elizabeth Barrett Browning
is breaking out of the Classical mode and
introducing the overflowing elements of
the Romantic personality, personal
expression dominating form the better
to reflect a new cultural reality

it’s interesting to note that Beethoven as
well found the key to representing that
new revolutionary spirit through the
manipulation of beat, both achieving
thereby the very pinnacle of consummate
artistry, icons of their, however great their
own personally chronologically distant,

but read the poem as though it were an
everyday sentence, the poetry will be clear,
beautiful, even wondrous, the rhythms not
immediately apparent though always
present and profoundly sure

both music and poetry would attempt
to sound like real life, to speak more
intimately and therefore truthfully,
while others will attempt to make
poetry out of mere prose, watch me,
we live in different times

about the poem, compare you are
the wind beneath my wings
for a
not dissimilar sentiment, watch
Patti Labelle make powerhouse
poetry out of mere prose


psst: more about wings

Nemo – “Ennead I” by Plotinus (13)

Date: Sun, 17 Mar 2013 19:04:56 +0000
To: Richibi’s Weblog
Subject: [New comment]“Ennead I” by Plotinus.
You wrote, “my experience is that I cannot know even dimensions before I formally deduce them,”

That is a unique experience. Einstein came to the same conclusion when he developed the Theory of Special Relativity, though perhaps he didn’t have quite the same experience. You both beheld the same underlying reality, although you expressed it in different ways.

Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One, is immanent. It is distinct but not distant from us, and every soul can ascend to it by reason and intellect. There are different types and levels of beauty, in the human body, in nature, in the universe, in science and art, literature and music. One doesn’t have to be a “Superman” to see beauty or create beauty. Every life is an artistic activity. Every individual is an artist.

The concept of Absolute by no means deny or diminish the freedom of individual existence. On the contrary, the more diverse and free the individual existence, the better and fuller it manifest Absolute Beauty. For instance, Beethoven’s Ninth, unless each member of the choir and orchestra plays his/her best part, the beauty of the symphony cannot be manifested nor experienced by the audience.

Unlike Kant who believes that the noumenal is unknowable, Platonists reason that the noumenal and the phenomenal correspond with one another (sort of like the way an image in the mirror corresponds to the original), since they are both derived from one and the same intelligible reality. Because of this “correspondence”, it is possible to do science. We have been able to predict with accuracy the movement of the stars and other events occurring in nature; Because of this “correspondence” between our consciousness and the outside world, it is possible for us to interact with other people and the world


you say, Nemo, “Plato’s Absolute, i.e., which is
Beauty, Goodness and Truth in One“, which
seems to me anachronistic, a premature
conflation with Christian, however implicit,
thought, I don’t think Plato would’ve had a
Trinity, whatever for in a society replete with
a variety of quite serviceable, not to mention
glorious, deities
when you speak of “[e]very life“, “[e]very
individual” being “an artistic activity“, “an
artist“, what about animals, insects, trees,
do roses perceive their own beauty, these
are lives, even creative, even inspiring ones,
though I draw the line at inspired, I suspect
they don’t consciously know it 
therefore “Beauty, Goodness and Truth” are in
the eye of the beholder, no, as we ask in
French, and the beholder is our own human
only, it appears, incarnation, blessed as we
are, for better or for worse, with
self-consciousness, ““Superm[e]n”” need
not even, but only superfluously, apply  
the Tree of Knowledge bore the fruit of
which all of us have partaken, for better or
for worse, by our very nature, and we’ve
created a poem around it in order to
it has been mighty, if flawed
about mirrors, when I yearned for word
from above, or from wherever, I understood
I’d have to forego my entrenched scepticism
under the influence of Sartre and Camus,
the Existentialists, whose ideas dominated
the Western World, and my university years,
however nowadays incredible, a time when
Van Cliburn, a Classical music pianist, 
would return from a sealed Communist
Russia, no less, to a New York ticker tape
parade, a more idealistic time than our
present more rapacious, morally bankrupt,
apparently, epoch, I’d believed in Being
and Nothingness, and the corollary Absurd,
I was alone in an indifferent Universe
to assume spirits, an extraterrestrial entity
who might be responsive, would require
an act of absolute faith, a profound
disorder in my otherwise determinedly
rational perspective
but I had no choice but to succumb to
even irrationality, I knew, for any chance
of grace, you need to believe in miracles
to experience them  
need I say that I found that transcendence,
I called it crossing the Bridge of Faith
where everything was the same but
different, Nemo, like crossing through a
mirror, like Alice, and discovering another,
infinitely more enchanted, however
numinous and otherworldly, world   

XXX. I see thine image through my tears to-night – Elizabeth Barrett Browning‏

from Sonnets from the Portuguese

XXX. I see thine image through my tears to-night

I see thine image through my tears to-night,
And yet to-day I saw thee smiling. How
Refer the cause? – Belovèd, is it thou
Or I, who makes me sad? The acolyte
Amid the chanted joy and thankful rite
May so fall flat, with pale insensate brow
On the altar-stair. I hear thy voice and vow,
Perplexed, uncertain, since thou art out of sight,
As he, in his swooning ears, the choir’s amen.
Belovèd, dost thou love? or did I see all
The glory as I dreamed, and fainted when
Too vehement light dilated my ideal,
For my soul’s eyes? Will that light come again,
As now these tears come – falling hot and real?

Elizabeth Barrett Browning


it’s been a season since we left Elizabeth
Barrett Browning
, flushed by her ardent
metaphorical, surely, exertions, in the
throes of breath[ing] within thy shadow
a new air
“, but now it seems she has
returned to her crushing insecurity, her
winter must’ve been especially barren

you’ll note the distortions in the metre,
akin to musical atonalities

as a poet, Elizabeth, who was evidently
well versed, as it were, in the Classics,
would’ve tinkered away at the form much
the same way a composer would’ve
at the conventions of music, radically
but convincingly if they were good, the
trick was in the balance achieved between
eccentricity and entertainment, artistic
wizardry and Truth, would it work, jarring
incongruities had to rouse if not delight,
as often incongruities can, do, and

Elizabeth is talking like Schoenberg
here, a couple of generations at least
later, notorious for dismantling harmony
in music with his rejection of the tonic
scale, allowing the neighbours to say
about his atonal music, my children
could do it, with patience and time of
course, for his works could often be

her distorted cadences mirror also here,
however, her harried state, and are
mimetically instructive, in other words,
you can feel her distress in the erratic
pulse, or beat

she compares herself to an acolyte, an
attendant at mass, made often to look
like an angel – a boy, incidentally, always,
though that, by now, might’ve changed, I
haven’t kept up with ecclesiastical politics
– who has fainted, “fall[en] flat”, the musical
allusion, you’ll note here, unmistakable

in her consequent netherworld she
wonders if the love you take is equal to
the love you make
is her golden ideal
merely all in her head, or, in himself,
alive before her and apparent, its
actual incarnation

haven’t we all been there

and we’ve all, o, Elizabeth, moved on

though, I’ll grant, nobody has still said
what she had to say better