Sunday, January 13, 2013

"He Tries To Climb The Wall Around The World"

I suppose that all of us have a Romantic streak in us.  I am not speaking of "romantic" in the Hollywood-Valentine's Day sense.  Rather, I am thinking of the Wordsworth-Keats-Bronte sort of Romanticism that is, according to the OED, characterized by "an emphasis on feeling, individuality, and passion rather than classical form and order."  To wit:  sublime vistas, windy heights, misty vales, vast watery depths, immortality and mortality, love and Love (requited and unrequited, found and lost, fleeting and deathless).

Our tendency toward Romanticism of this sort usually waxes in our teens and twenties, when the World seems invested with a great deal of passion (with passion's attendant ups and downs).  In those years, one is liable to find oneself exclaiming (or sighing) "O, World!" quite often.  After that, Romanticism begins to wane as reality inevitably sets in.  But we never entirely lose it.  Nor should we.  It would be sad if we did.  (Within reason, the Stoic in me says.  Skip the mid-life crises and the "lifestyle" -- horrible word! -- options of the modern age.)

                     John Nash, "The Garden under Snow" (c. 1924-1930)

The following poem by A. S. J. Tessimond describes very well, I think, the Romantic in us all.

                    Portrait of a Romantic

He is in love with the land that is always over
The next hill and the next, with the bird that is never
Caught, with the room beyond the looking-glass.

He likes the half-hid, the half-heard, the half-lit,
The man in the fog, the road without an ending,
Stray pieces of torn words to piece together.

He is well aware that man is always lonely,
Listening for an echo of his cry, crying for the moon,
Making the moon his mirror, weeping in the night.

He often dives in the deep-sea undertow
Of the dark and dreaming mind.  He turns at corners,
Twists on his heel to trap his following shadow.

He is haunted by the face behind the face.
He searches for last frontiers and lost doors.
He tries to climb the wall around the world.

A. S. J. Tessimond, Selection (1958).

                              Richard Eurich (1903-1992), "The Window"


Nadia Mohammed said...

Romanticism in this sense has been always my problem. Moon, night, stars, is my favorite landscape, especially stars. But, i rather be that romantic, than a dead realist. passion is what motivates me to live this life day after day.

The poet describes accurately the mood of a romantic, i liked the last line, which u used as a title. that is what sometimes i feel i need to do, or what may satisfy my restlessness: to climb the wall around the world, for i wish to see what goes beyond the limitation of man.

Stephen Pentz said...

N. F. Mohammad: thank you for visiting again, and for those thoughts.

Yes, the last line is very nice, isn't it? I agree that we should keep the Romantic in us alive. To some extent, all poetry has a bit of the Romantic about it, I think. (Apart from, say, "political poetry," which is propaganda, not poetry.)

Thanks again.

eugubino said...

This blog is one of the constants for me, with it's pleasurable mix of poetry and paintings ,as opposed to the overflow of updated distractions on the rest of the net. It's an aid in my late approach in attempting get to know poetry better, Thanks

Stephen Pentz said...

eugubino: thank you very much for your kind words, and for your visits here. I'm always grateful to hear that the poems and images that I post are appreciated. Thanks again.

alice c said...

Your choice of picture and the snowy weather here in the UK reminded me of the following poem:


The room was suddenly rich and the great bay-window was
Spawning snow and pink roses against it
Soundlessly collateral and incompatible:
World is suddener than we fancy it.

World is crazier and more of it than we think,
Incorrigibly plural. I peel and portion
A tangerine and spit the pips and feel
The drunkenness of things being various.

And the fire flames with a bubbling sound for world
Is more spiteful and gay than one supposes –
On the tongue on the eyes on the ears in the palms of one's hands –
There is more than glass between the snow and the huge roses.

Louis MacNeice

Stephen Pentz said...

alice c: thank you very much for MacNeice's "Snow": it does go very well with Nash's painting -- and with your weather! I envy you the snow.

Thanks for visiting again.