Monday, May 11, 2009

Key to the Deadlock

I
Deadlock is a curious situation. The whole universe is caught in a state of an intriguing impasse. Nothing is really happening. Nothing of consequense, that is. Yes, there are terrible things happening, like the massacre in Sri Lanka, but if one looks closely, this is a stage in deadlock where one contending faction has made a manoeuvre and the other is going to respond soon to neutralize it. And by factions I don't mean Sri Lankan Army and the LTTE. In old-fashioned terms, in T.S. Eliot's words

The world turns and the world changes,
But one thing does not change.
In all of my years, one thing does not change,
However you disguise it, this thing does not change:
The perpetual struggle of Good and Evil

There is a fight of principles. Each has a bag of good and evil mixed, out of which they hurl the sin-stained clusters of their innocence on the other. A lot is happening in Nepal, Pakistan, the general election in India too and far off three ladies (four, if you count his mother, or some failed love affair) have pushed the success of one man in South Africa. But is there a breakthrough in sight? There is a seeming movement though. People are wanting to get married. Houses are being bought. A friend is graduating in the USA. Another one is going for poetry reading in Europe, despite the fact that poetry makes nothing happen. Now the latter phrase is W.H. Auden's who was a 'committed' poet himself and wrote that line to commemorate another 'committed' poet (W.B. Yeats). Poetry does not break the deadlock. Poetry, in fact, is the mainstay of any deadlock, promising deliverance, yet not delivering on the promise. It is the opium of the aesthete. It gives hope. It defers the fruit of that hope. Yet in this janus-faced relationship with deadlock and hope, poetry performs a useful function. It helps survive in the deadlock, in the eye of the storm. Auden comes to mind again as in his "Musée des Beaux Arts", he highlights the co-existence of suffering and indifference, the deadlock of apathy and tragedy. This record, this recognition compels endurance, the grandest virtue for this age. There are few things possible, perhaps, only in poetry.

II
It's 11 May today and by sheer coincidence I chanced upon this little gemstone of a poem by Joel, which, incidentally, he wrote on this very day many years ago, when 'existentialism' was in vogue and people typed not on computer (which means I exercised my editorial discretion while italicizing "can" and "may" at the end).

can/may

Always, of course
One chooses: the eternal
Curse of the blessing of free will.

One may praise
If one wants to,
Though
One may not die
If one wants to

One always can
But not always may

© Joel V David

2 comments:

mayuri said...

Sometimes when it feels nothing is really hapenning and feel stuck in an impasse, it may help to pray, " Lord lift 'up' my eyes that I may see"...things may simply be out of our preview rather than static. Many prophets in the Bible underwent intense impasses but other side of it, God was still at work. Its sure not only Prophets in today's world that experience it alike, we all do from time to time and lemme share that whenever I am in one :), I have found refuge in the knowledge and faith that God who is LOVE, is still at work even in 21st century ( battle btw evil and good has only increased) for He said, " I will never turn my back on you" and His "mercy triumphs over judgement"...On our part its fantastic to call on Him unceazing and keep His ways and then He promises to deliver...

satyapal said...

I did comment on this today... but where has this gone...?
Well, i liked reading this very much... indeed, a treat. Beautiful prose...
And invoking poetry and poets... this makes it special.. quoting Eliot, Auden and Joe...
Above all the Deadlock... the struggle between good and evil...
So it never ends... even in the age of computer ...
And this comes from India and in English language, this is important as well...
So, poetry has a hope for itself to survive... if it is continued to be viewed like it has been here...
Deadlock, struggle and hope... this is the crux of this piece... Infact, this is a struggle and hope itself... Is not it...?
I would like to read more of this... and more of the good poetry and poets quoted...
Live on...