It is time for a respite from "extinction's alp" (Philip Larkin) and the municipal bus ride to the River Styx (Norman MacCaig). I am skeptical of utopias (philosophical, theological, political, artistic, or otherwise). However, I am willing to entertain any dreams that humanity may come up with. (Unless those dreams involve telling other people how to live or what to do. This, of course, disqualifies approximately 99% of utopian schemes.) For instance, I am willing to acknowledge (albeit reluctantly) that people are entitled to believe that "Imagine" is John Lennon's best song, and that it provides a possible blueprint for reality. (I, on the other hand, would opt for "You've Got to Hide Your Love Away," "If I Fell," or a dozen or so other of his songs.)
Still, I am willing to give the dreamers a hearing. Thus, I offer the following poems by A. S. J. Tessimond and Michael Hartnett.
One day people will touch and talk perhaps easily,
And loving be natural as breathing and warm as sunlight,
And people will untie themselves, as string is unknotted,
Unfold and yawn and stretch and spread their fingers,
Unfurl, uncurl like seaweed returned to the sea,
And work will be simple and swift as a seagull flying,
And play will be casual and quiet as a seagull settling,
And the clocks will stop, and no-one will wonder or care or notice,
And people will smile without reason, even in the winter, even in the rain.
A. S. J. Tessimond, Voices in a Giant City (1947).
There Will Be a Talking
There will be a talking of lovely things
there will be cognizance of the seasons,
there will be men who know the flights of birds,
in new days there will be love for women:
we will walk the balance of artistry.
And things will have a middle and an end,
and be loved because being beautiful.
Who in a walk will find a lasting vase
depicting dance and hold it in his hands
and sell it then? No man on the new earth
will barter with malice nor make of stone
a hollowed riddle: for art will be art,
the freak, the rare no longer commonplace:
there will be a going back to the laws.
Michael Hartnett, A Farewell to English (The Gallery Press 1978).
Shall we take Tessimond and Hartnett at their word? Are they on the level? Perhaps Thomas Hardy, that old Pessimist, got it right in "The Oxen":
. . . Yet, I feel,
If someone said on Christmas Eve,
'Come; see the oxen kneel
'In the lonely barton by yonder coomb
Our childhood used to know,'
I should go with him in the gloom,
Hoping it might be so.
Thomas Hardy, Moments of Vision and Miscellaneous Verses (1917).