Friday, January 27, 2006

Robert Bridges Reprise

Once again, I must say that my respect and love of Testament Of Beauty grows with each reading. It is a beautiful work, and I wonder at the way that it has been ostensibly wiped from literary rememberance - I have no knowlege as to its real elimination, but from my vantage point - as a young suburban male in middle class Oregon who has never had any real literary training - it is effectively non-existent.
I love didactic poetry. From the soft romantic didacticism of Whitman and Berry to the pronounced and philosophical didacticism of Dante and Bridges -

Don't we see that art is not a game? a volley of sentiments? a feather to tickle the higher senses?
I say this partly with a play in mind that I recently saw; one which made a profound statement (Timberlake Wertenberger's "Love of a Nightingale"); one from which the audience was able to rise quickly, apparently, from their seats and begin again the discussions of preoccupied corporate americans.

I could not rise, and wipe the slate clean. This is called a play, but it is not ... play. It is not a game. It is real men and women phrasing the question in song, profoundly, stunningly. We can eat drink and be merry, yes, but we cannot turn away as if this were not saying something that is specifically applicable to us, now, at this moment, here in the theater.

It was the myth of Philomela, the girl whose tongue was cut out, the girl who was turned to a swallow. This incarnation of the myth turned her, in place of her sister, to a nightingale.

She sang to young Istis. He put questions to her, like pilate to Christ, and she, instead of answering, sang.

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