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Some say the point of war
is to make the need for tenderness
more clear. Some say that’s an effect of war, the way
beauty can be: Homer’s Iliad, for example; or—
many centuries later—how the horse’s head,
to protect it in combat, would be fitted
with a shaffron, a strip of steel,
sometimes mixed with copper, all of it
hammer-worked, parts detailed
in gold. I love you, as I’ve
always loved you, one man says,
meaning it, to another. That doesn’t make
love true. This only needs to be troubling
if we want it to be. Our minds are
as the days are, dark
or bright, says Homer, the words like coral-bells
in a pot made to look like the head of an ancient god—
a sea-god, moss for seaweed across the old
god’s face. To believe in ritual in the name
of hope, there lies disaster.
And turned to him.
And took his hand—the scarred one; I could
feel the scars…Little crowns. Mass
coronation. For by then all the lilies on the pond had opened.
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How would I know / when I’m empty and quiet like breath?
Historian Gerald Horne has developed a grand theory of U.S. history as a series of devastating backlashes to progress—right down to the present day.
Reflecting on three monumental works of modernism—James Joyce’s Ulysses, T. S. Eliot’s The Waste Land, and Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus—a hundred years on.