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Tuesday, 29 July 2014

The Trenches Two

So, tomorrow is today. The man is unique. He has eyes which see into the soul. He should have been a priest.

He will see me next week, whether I want to see him or not.

In the meantime, he agrees that I should be a rememberer. So, we agree on that point. But how does and why does one remember?

Years ago, a good priest told me that my imagination needed to be purified. I listened. I agreed.

Then, another priest told me that St. Ignatius tells us of purifying the memory. What does that mean, I wonder?

My writings look like the pen was leaking. I splodge ink everywhere. I cross out. I renew. Is this purgation, purgation with a pen? But, I have not written anything for a very long time. Someone has my papers. Maybe H. or D.

To purify the memory means many things, I think, as I sit in this room with the vase of one pink rose, which is drooping a little.

It is raining, and I think of the mud, the Killer Mud. Jameson disappeared.

Never mind, today I want to think of the green hills of the Brecon Beacons and of a woman with a long, lovely neck. But, St. Ignatius wants me to purify the imagination. He wants me to forget Ypres and the girl who could see I was too "celibate". Yes, I am a natural celibate.

Why? I am married already. My mistress is beyond all words. She is mysterious, but demanding.

Like Boethius, I see her in the day and in the night, but only when she wants to come to me.

Like Boethius, I listen to her, and does she like to talk.

How can a bard forget anyone, anything, anytime? I remember my first sketch in France, in March of 1916. I remember the paintings, each one, under my bed, kept because I do not want to forget.

I do not want to forget because He is there in the memory. He is there, bleeding, waiting for release, the release of death.

I found Him and I do not want to lose Him, but the Lady talks to me again and again. Not the Old Lady.

Marry it man! Marry it!
Cherish her, she’s your very own.
Coax it man coax it–it’s delicately and ingeniously made
–it’s an instrument of precision–it costs us tax-payers,
money-I want you men to remember that.
Fondle it like a granny–talk to it–consider it as you would
a friend–and when you ground these arms she’s not a rooky’s
gas-pipe for greenhorns to tarnish.
You’ve known her hot and cold.
You would choose her from among many.
You know her by her bias, and by her exact error at 300, and
by the deep scar at the small, by the fair flaw in the grain,
above the lower sling-swivel–
but leave it under the oak.
Slung so, it swings its full weight. With you going blindly on
all paws, it slews its whole length, to hang at your bowed neck
like the Mariner’s white oblation.
You drag past the four bright stones at the turn of Wood

This old lady was a strumpet, my false lover. 

She was forced upon me, but I accepted her. and yes, she saved me.

But, now, the new lady, My Lady, speaks a less brutal language. Yet, she is just as demanding, like my good angel, who reminds me to pray, but I pray like a child, saying the same things over and over and over. I look for Him through her eyes. I try, so hard, to see with the pure imagination of Ignatius.

I try not to miss the quiet voice. Celibacy is good for the quietness, the simplicity of mind

I am rather simple, but no one understands me, no one but the Lady.

I have been on my guard
not to condemn the unfamiliar.
For it is easy to miss Him
at the turn of a civilisation.

This is what I said to C-M today. I do not want to miss anything, but everything is too painful, to new, too real.

Everything. Why?

Part of me, the artist within me, has never left the trenches.

Sometimes, her voice becomes the bellowing of the bombing officer.

Sometimes, her voice is that of the long necked girl.

She is never Gwenhwyfar, the White Lady. Never. Never Guenever. 

And not one of The Four Queens. No. but today the unpurified memory grappled my senses, like the old bucinator at the Wall-loud and clear. This new lady tells me to be simple. Back and fro, I am simple.

No one believes me when I say that and I wonder if C-M will believe me.

Be simple. Be obedient. But be open, and remember.

 It’s not for the likes of you and me to cogitate high policy or to
guess the inscrutable economy of the pontifex
from the circuit of the agger
from the traverse of the wall.
But you see a thing or two
in our walk of life
walking the compass of the vallum
walking for twenty years of nights
round and round and back & fro
on the walls that contain the world

 Part of me, the artist within me, has never left the trenches.

Those who are not Roman do not get it. We all are always in the trenches.

They do not understand. They do not hear My Lady, nor see the Bloody Hands, the Side, the Feet.

I do, always here and there, in France, in London, in Wales in Rome...

My trade is in abeyance. 

Cloud shielded her bright disc-rising yet her veiled influ-
ence illumined the texture of that place, her glistening on
the saturated fields; bat-night-gloom intersilvered where she
shone on the mist drift,
when they paraded
       at the ending of the day, unrested
             bodies, wearied from the morning,
       troubled in their minds,
             frail bodies loaded over much,
..'prentices bearing this night the full panoply, the complex
..paraphernalia of their trade.

 I shall write of this time later on, after my memory is purified. When I am "better".

When I am not interrupted for tea and biscuits...(How I would love a small glass of scotch-someone brought me some Black and White a bit ago, but the nurses took it away-good thing, too.)

Ezechiel's dream comes back to me at aspectus rotarum et opus earum quasi visio maris et una similitudo ipsarum quattuor et aspectus earum et opera quasi sit rota in medio rotae 

He remembered. He wrote. 

Some say the poet is the prophet. Poor s..s...poor Shelley-no I do not think prophecy is an attribute of poetry. Not that I assert poets to be prophets in the gross sense of the word, or that they can foretell the form as surely as they foreknow the spirit of events: such is the pretence of superstition, which would make poetry an attribute of prophecy, rather than prophecy an attribute of poetry. A poet participates in the eternal, the infinite, and the one; as far as relates to his conceptions, time and place and number are not.

Rubbish. We take part in something much greater. I wrote this from my impure memory. History, memory, my time, My Lady's time...

It is often remarked with a certain amount of perplexity that the modern artist, though he be a Catholic and of sensitivity and ability at his work, seems none the less to be not at his happiest when required to do a job closely connected with the liturgical life of the Church. His preoccupations and enthusiasms seem commonly to be of another sort. The artist himself may find this none too easy to explain. I was once asked: 'Why does Mr. X. paint only chimneypots and pots of flowers when he has the whole Christian mythology, which he talks enough about, to inspire him? This question, so put, is indeed many questions in one, but still it has bearing on our problem, and it asks for elucidation.
It is necessary to have in mind the position of our epoch on what may be called, for convenience, the graph of history. For the relationship between what the Church wants for her use, and the characteristic art of any given epoch, will determine what sort of art is available for the Church's requirements.

It is said that 'the best' of what Mr. Wilfred Childe calls 'Man's own creative power' should be, in any epoch, at the direct service of the sanctuary -- yes -- but in the arts 'the best' can only easily and naturally be available to the hierarchic, corporate, symbolic demands of the Church if the epoch itself is characterized by those qualities. This cannot, by any means, be said of our epoch. The characteristic bents and virtues of modern painting, for instance, are not in fact easily amenable to these demands. This has little or nothing to do with the will or wishes of this or that artist. He cannot by taking thought change himself into an artist of some other culture-sequence.  

I am a Roman.
No, we are the ones who remember the past and hold it in our hands like the altar boys hold the cruets. Softly, carefully, quietly....we are the carriers, mimesis not poesis.....I gag on this one...
A poem is the very image of life expressed in its eternal truth. My Lady laughs and laughs and laughs.

But, I am back to the wheels in my head, in my impure imagination. I need the burning coals on my lips. I think of this world around me. I hear a car horn. I hear voices in the hallway, echoing against the glass, against the steel hidden in the walls, in the souls. My memory is creating something new, something sad....but I have not lost Him. He has not lost me.

I have watched the wheels go round in case I might see the
living creatures like the appearance of lamps, in case I might see
the Living God projected from the Machine. I have said to the
perfected steel, be my sister and for the glassy towers I thought I
felt some beginnings of His creature, but A,a,a Domine Deus,
My hands found the glazed work unrefined and the terrible
crystal a stage-paste …Eia, Domine Deus.

to be continued...

poetry by David Jones