Sunday, November 8, 2009

The World's Greedy Anarchy

Diesel trucks past the Scrovegni chapel
Catherine Deneuve farting onion fritters
The world's greedy anarchy, I love it!
Hearts that break, garlic fervent in hot oil
Jittery exultation of the soul
Minds that are tough & have good appetites
Everything in love with its opposite
I love it! O how I love it! It’s all

I’ve got

plus Carlos: a wide dreaming eye
above her breast
a hand tangling her hair,
breath filling the room as blood does the heart.

We must amend our lives murmured Rilke
Gagging on his legacy of air.
Hang on to yours Carlos it’s all you’ve got.

Ian Wedde

What a lovely line – ‘the world’s greedy anarchy.’ Modernity and old art, a beautiful actress farting, the human capacity for love with all its joy and heartbreak, food appealing to taste and scent, and a young child.

This sonnet is one of sixty in Earthly: Sonnets for Carlos published in 1975, a moving series of reflections and descriptions of the birth and early days of the poet’s son Carlos. I recall first reading them – striking in their intensity and in their material. There was a zest about experience and life that upset my carefully nurtured poetic conventions. The poetry of surprise declared war on cliché and cant.

What I found liberating was that while the poems exhibited a wide worldly knowledge they still located themselves firmly in the local earth. The world’s greedy anarchy, despite all our attempts and efforts to corral and harness it, is not just banal and meaningless. It is something to celebrate, the joy of it is everywhere.

Despite my disability I am still experiencing and observing that greedy anarchy. Anne took me and Pat our next door neighbour to the garden centre at Miramar on Thursday. The drive was stimulating – throughout the city the deciduous trees had fresh leaves while the native cabbage trees were coming into flower and there were buds on pohutukawa, a harbinger of summer. November has always been to me the fecund month with Nature at its best. That afternoon Anne planted tomato, courgette, cucumber and summer greens.

I’ve been watching the musical Chicago on DVD. What Energy! What Zest! It took a successful Broadway play and transformed it into a lavish cinematic experience, great cross-cutting and transition, poking the borax at celebrity and at the same time glorying in it, and creating spectacular fantasies of dance.

The film was good counterpoint to The Thirty Years War. After an extensive scene setting I am now reading about the actual conflict – the Hapsburg army has just won the first major battle at White Mountain which opened up Prague for it. The DVD and Ian’s poems are a relief from the grim account.

It is a year since Barack Obama and John Key both came to power. Key is riding high in the polls, Obama is not – the fortunes of politics. The week’s news here has been dominated by news from the minor parties – ferocious perk-buster Hide has been using the perks himself while Harawira hived off from a conference in Brussels to go sight-seeing in Paris. Subsequent remarks from both men did not assist their causes.

20 years ago the Berlin Wall came down. My stint in the Beehive over, we were in London, on our way to Italy. We watched the TV news before going to the park to see squirrels picking up acorns. It really happened as the story books describe.

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