Art

Weary History

“The terror answered: I am Orc, wreath’d round the accursed tree:
The times are ended; shadows pass the morning guns to break:
The fiery joy, that Urizen perverted to ten commands,
What night he led the starry hosts thro’ the wide wilderness:
That stony law I stamp to dust…” —William Blake
America a Prophecy, plate 10, copy I, 1793
Digital collage ©2021 Michael Dickel

Vicissitudes — January 6, 2021

 i
 I am weary of riding on this
 blistering train wreck in slo-mo po-mo
 as each car accordions in cacophony.
 
 JFK, MLK, Jr., RFK assassinated
 John Lennon on the streets of New York
 Apartheid, Berlin Wall, USSR collapsing
 Bay of Pigs, Gulf of Tonkin,Tet Offensive, My Lai Massacre
 Civil Rights Movement, Women’s Movement, GLBTQ+ Rights Movement endlessly debated
 Fall of Saigon, Afghanistan War, Iraq War, Iran unrequited
 
 I tear my eyes out but can’t turn away,
 in fear of the dystrophic waters that flow
 below the trembling bridge that crumbles.
 
 Birmingham Church Bombing, Watts Riots exploding
 Fred Hampton, Chicago Eight, Kent State calamities
 Air India Flight 182, Lockerbie, Bombay, Angola lives torn asunder
 Jonestown, Oklahoma City, Tiananmen Square thunder
 9/11, Camp Speicher, Congo, Sinjar, Sri Lanka deaths beyond number
 Mogadishu, Trujillo, Karrada Bombing, Gamoru Ngala too many to consider
 
 Each rent metal frame scratches deep
 my retinal consciousness
 like fishhooks in flesh
 
 Three-Mile Island, Chernobyl, Fukushima nuclear winter
 Polio, AIDS, Coronaviruses infection rates soaring
 Charlie Hebdo, Manchester Arena, Paris 2015 mass murder
 Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, George Floyd police killing
 Harvey Weinstein, Jeffrey Epstein, Donald Trump rape with impunity
 
 Nixon, Clinton, Trump, and Trump…


 I am tired of sludging through history, its vicissitudes
 impinging, vicious études unhinging—this 
 transcontinental chugging and lugging to ruin.

 ii
 With barely time left, I  smash through the window,
 gaze up and down the oppressed-laid lines, manufactured metal
 that trends to inevitability. I pull myself out to see,

 tumble down into the slough. Trudging toward a muddy shore
 from below the mountain of train shriek and colliding-car drum-beat,
 I see colorful hints of wild flowers struggling for succor—

 dark hyacinths, pale daffodils, bold crocuses, bright anemones.
 With these colors, I want to illuminate the massive wreckage around me.
 

America a Prophecy, plate 10, copy I
Relief etching with white-line etching / engraving
9 1/4 x 6 5/8″ (23.5 x 16.7 cm)
Etched and printed 1793

Orc, the spirit of revolution, announces the renewal of “fiery joy” in the text, but his words are written on a cloud between the dark waters of the Atlantic and the domineering figure of Urizen, the creator of the fallen world and a Moses-like promulgator of its laws. He is a skygod “who sat/ Above all heavens wrap’d” (plate 18). His name puns on both “your reason” and the Greek word for “horizon,” respectively for Blake the primary mental and physical limitations encumbering human vision. Urizen’s cloudy realm is at once both material and insubstantial, like the abstractions of rationalist science and natural religion Blake abhorred.…

Essick, Robert N. William Blake at The Huntington. New York: Harry N. Abrams. 1994. p. 40

Pale Daffodils (Narcissus)

Angelus Novus
Paul Klee

Note: If viewing this on a device with a mouse, hover the cursor over links for another dimension of this hyper-illuminated poetry…if you didn’t already, go back and see what pops up…

Breakfast at the End of Capitalism poetry chap by Michael Dickel cover image
Breakfast at the End of Capitalism
2016 poetry chap by Michael Dickel
free PDF

12 replies »

  1. That is some powerful piece of writing, Michael! It has taken me some time to read it in stages – other distractions notwithstanding. Blake’s missive goes to further our understanding of ‘man’s’ limitations. We are no further advanced than we were hundreds of years ago, except in science. The human condition is so vulnerable to persuasion by the lure of a material good life, when spiritually we are so weak. We are so easily led by populist leaders, whose apparent charisma is irresistible. Some of us are capable of critical thinking and seeing the light before we are fooled, but it is a narrow path we tread; a precarious road we travel. Woah is us.

    Liked by 1 person

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