Early in the morning I’m grading papers at the Crossroads mall in Bellevue. It’s delightful to watch the light filter in and settle upon the heads of people standing in line at the food court. It reminds me of the lines, The others are not hell, / if you see them early, with their / foreheads pure, cleansed by dreams.” The brackets below are all mine and suggest possible influences and/or interesting connections to Zagajewski’s poem.
“In the Beauty Created By Others”
Only in the beauty created
by others is there consolation, [Schopenhauer]
in the music of others and in others’ poems.
Only others save us, [von Balthasar]
even though solitude tastes like
opium [Marx]. The others are not hell, [Sartre]
if you see them early, with their
foreheads pure, cleansed by dreams [not Freud].
That is why I wonder what
word should be used, “he” or “you.” Every “he”
is a betrayal of a certain “you” but
in return someone else’s poem
offers the fidelity of a sober dialogue [Buber].*
*That’s a lot to pack into a small space, isn’t it? That’s what makes poetry so unique.
If this has piqued your interest, don’t miss the compendium of Zagajewski posts at The Book Haven.
Have you read Scott Cairns’ “The Entrance of Sin”? I read the whole thing just thirty minutes ago, for the first time, when his book, Recovered Body, arrived in the mail. Some very personalist echoes are in it:
The flip-side of “only others save us”:
“…sin had come in the midst of
an evening stroll, when the woman had
reached out to take the man’s hand and he with-
The same side as “even though solitude tastes like opium”:
“…the subsequent isolation
each conceived was irresistible.”
Anyway, I’d never heard of Zagajewski. I’ll be sure to look him up, thanks.
I haven’t read that piece even tough I’ve had plenty chances to interact with Scott in person. Thanks for the heads up.
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