Search This Blog

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Number 208: Kenneth Fearing "Q & A"

Q & A

Where analgesia may be found to ease the infinite, minute scars of the day;
What final interlude will result, picked bit by bit from the morning's hurry, the lunch-hour boredom, the fevers of the night;
Why this one is cherished by the gods, and that one not;
How to win, and win again, and again, staking wit alone against a sea of time;
Which man to trust and, once found, how far—

Will not be found in Matthew, Mark, Luke, or John,
Nor Blackstone, nor Gray's, nor Dun & Bradstreet, nor Freud, nor Marx,
Nor the sage of the evening news, nor the corner astrologist, nor in any poet,

Nor what sort of laughter should greet the paid pronouncements of the great,
Nor what pleasure the multitudes have, bringing lunch and the children to watch the condemned to be plunged into death,

Nor why the sun should rise tomorrow,
Nor how the moon still weaves upon the ground, through the leaves, so much silence and so much peace.

-- Kenneth Fearing

Hap Notes: As you can probably determine from this blog, I am a fan of those who are often called the "lesser" or "minor" poets of the 20th century and I suppose Fearing must be numbered among them, although I think it's a darn shame. Fearing's quick cuts, hip jangly industrial-age jargon, hard-boiled realism and love of mysterious beauty are particularly prescient of contemporary poetry. He isn't always great but when he is, he hits you right between the eyes. Seems to me, that's worth something.

In today's poem he asks us vital questions about ourselves, our era, our neighbors, our lives. He gives us no answer but images from which to draw your own conclusions. The poem is particularly apt in light of how we sensationalize crime and murder on the news, watching endless repetitive, often lurid, commentary on the television as we eat our lunch or dinner in front of the set with our children.

In the second line of the second stanza, I believe he is referring to Blackstone's commentary on English law, Gray's Anatomy (the textbook on human anatomy now in its 40th edition), and Dun and Bradstreet is a company that provides subscribers with information on businesses and corporations. So he is saying in the first line that the Bible (spirituality) will provide no answer, neither will law, science, business, psychology (Freud) or politics (Marx.) He even tells us the media, literature and the occult will not provide answers. So what will "ease the infinite, minute scars of the day"?

What do you think the answer is?

Here's where we have talked about Fearing before:

No comments:

Post a Comment