The History Displays: Part Two – A Poem

I am with you Dedalus
I run
but am cast so precisely
by the nightmare of history
that I flow inexorably
where the curve of eschatology
takes me

I can break my hands forever
under millennial tonnes of creed
cracking meanings in vain
I am not shaper but shaped

Clean I would be a mirror
for eyes to draw their own palimpsest upon
write their own truth
thank me for my reflections

Instead the past is a thin 
skinned cyst
taking shards of the unmeant
and falling upon the sword of them

All the mundane grudges
hijacked into kinship
with the bourn bug
that now threatens to infect

This putrefied rainbow
of cracked screeches
who take offence wherever they can find it
then hide from themselves behind it

Until we coalesce in pain
to help each carry our burden
we are idiots at war
stabbing our own eyes
and blaming whoever we can 
blindly point towards

17 thoughts on “The History Displays: Part Two – A Poem

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    1. Thank you Susan, I do hope I haven’t caused any self-inflicted injury!
      I’m having one of those – I can see the web but can’t escape it – times. More spleen will probably follow…

      1. Oh, I love the splenic bear. Can you do me a favor and come over and poop all over what I’ve just put up on my blog? I am overly fond of it, which means it must be crap.

  1. He was not a favorite of mine so I did not read a lot of James Joyce (I’m a country boy with hay straw behind his ear!) but do know that Dedalus was his main protagonist. For the most part your poem reminded me of my old college days when the professor asked for an interpretation of a line in a poem, a poem’s total meaning, an essay, a book. For some nostalgic reason your poem awakened that college student in me and it gave me pleasure. Loved the ‘curve of eschatology’ line and the ‘not shaper but shaped’ line. I had to use Google to bring back the meaning of palimpsest, but, all in all, I got the feeling that predestination played a big part in your poem here … of course, I’m likely wrong, for Panda beguiles this simple mind of mine.

    I did read “The History Displays: Part One – A Poem” and enjoyed it very much. The line, ‘our goodness murdered with the past,’ rang loud and clearly for me. The pain was felt most genuinely.

    I studied in college the literary ‘Naturalists’ (Jack London, Frank Norris, Theodore Dreiser, Stephen Crane, et al) who postulated in their writing that ‘man’ was but a wisp in the wind, a moth drawn to light, a creature of instinct and passion. That was rather real for me at the time – actually, still is.

    If I’m reading you correctly (and it is somehow important that I do), it matters not a whole lot what man does in life: his meandering roads of searching, his joys and heartbreaks, have all been mapped out by a hand some of us might call divine. Man will harbor his ill will, will blame others for his follies, will fight his silly wars, will win love, will lose love – will play a game the outcome of which cannot be altered.

    Sorry, Panda, to ramble on, but I so enjoy your posts and want to make the most out of them. Your mind is so thoroughly keen that I admit to being envious. Just tell me, please, how far afield am I on the interpretation of “The History Displays: Part Two – A Poem.”

    Just, be gentle! πŸ™‚

    Billy Ray

    1. Hi B-Ray,
      Well, you are very much there for me. I think it is a two-fold thing though. It isn’t so much that the future is pre-ordained, it is more that the past pushes us where we don’t want to go – AND – that we judge people for their pasts and sometimes this unfairly denies them a future.
      We may think we act freely, but our cities, language, laws and moral codes were written before we were born, and shape us and our lives – not always to anyones benefit. The tide of history sweeps us on.
      We say we learn by our mistakes, but then we make broad choices about which mistakes can be forgiven, and so deny a wealth of learning.
      Underneath it all – we are all trying to survive in an unknowable world, but instead of helping each other swim, we fight – we try and steal the moral high ground, we laud undeserving celebrities and manufacture monsters (benefit scroungers for example) – we push people under to avoid drowning when it would be better if we joined hands to help each other float.
      Until we stop judging, blaming and focusing narrowly on our own tiny island lives, we will continue to create disharmony and will all suffer for it.
      So it isn’t that what each person does is unimportant – it is more that if we act alone we cannot achieve what we must achieve. Only united can we make the kind of changes necessary to create a better world for ourselves.
      I’m very glad of such a thorough response to my poem, and so glad you got so much out of them – certainly no need to apologise!
      I hope this answers your questions.

    1. I could never find TSE an insult!
      Perhaps it’s the Dedalus reference, Eliot and Joyce were contemporaries – and there’s a touch of the Wasteland (though please don’t think I’m comparing my abilities here).
      Thank you Weebles for the deep compliment πŸ™‚

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