Nastiness Diagnosis. Anthropology. Religion. Gender. Justice. A Personal Notepad For the General Public.
Imperial mistress of the fur-clad Russ…no forest fell
when thou wouldst build; no quarry sent its stories
To enrich thy wall: but thou didst hew the floods,
And make thy marble of the glassy wave.
In such a palace Aristceus found
Cyrene, when he bore the plaintive tale
Of his lost bees to her maternal ear:
In such a palace Poetry might place
The armory of Winter; where his troops,
the gloomy clouds, find weapons, arrowy sleet,
Skin-piercing volley, blossom-bruising hail,
And snow, that often blinds the traveler’s course,
And wraps him in an unexpected tomb.
silently as a dream the fabric rose…
Why does Cowper turn the poem against itself, canceling out some of its loveliest lines?
In the first half of St. Augustine’s Confessions, he recounts the adventures of his youth: competing in rhetoric contests, going to the theater, pursuing his desire” to love and be loved.” In the second half, he not only denounces these adventures as hollow and vain–he also denounces narrative ifself, shifting in the last four books to the non-narrative mode of biblica exegesis, interspersed with philosophical musings on the nature of memory and time.
Cowper, likewise, racks up a debit with his lyric-aesthetic description of the ice palace–but earns the corresponding credit by claiming that frozen waterfalls are more beautiful, and that really poets should only write sermons.” (The fifth and final book of “The Task” actually is a sermon.)
Tolstoy’s marvelous, gripping seven book long story about an adulterous romance, and throws Anna under a train and writes book 8, in which Vronsky leaves for Serbia to fight the Turks (the novel is absorbed into history) and Levin returns to his estate to find God (the novel is absorbed into spiritual meditation.)