We Have our Arts So We Won't Die of Truth

Sunday, March 15, 2009

I posted this on my regular blog, having just read a book by Ray Bradbury of "Fahrenheit 451" fame. The book, "Zen in the Art of Writing", is a collection of essays on finding yourself while writing. And of recognizing you don't have to think you ever lost yourself in the first place. Here's a quote from one of the essays, and the back cover--"Every morning I jump out of bed and step on a landmine. The landmine is me. After the explosion, I spend the rest of the day putting the pieces together. Now, it's your turn. JUMP!"

We Have our Arts so we won’t Die of Truth
By Ray Bradbury,
From Zen in the Art of Writing, 1980


Know only Real? Fall dead.
So Nietzsche said.
We have our Arts so we won’t die of Truth.
The World is too much with us
The Flood stays on beyond the Forty Days.
The sheep that graze in yonder fields are wolves.
The clock that ticks inside your head is truly Time
And in the night will bury you.
The children warm in bed at dawn will leave And take your heart and go to worlds you do not know.
All this being so
We need our Arts to teach us how to breather
And beat our blood: accept the Devil’s neighborhood,
And age and dark and cars that run us down,
And clown with Death’s-head in him
Or skull that wears Fool’s crown
And jingles blood-rust bells and rattles groans
To earthquake-settle attic bones late nights.
All this, this, this, all this—too much!
It cracks the heart!
And so? Find Art.
Seize brush. Take stance. Do fancy footwork. Dance.
Run race. Try poem. Write play.
Milton does more than drunk God can
To justify Man’s way toward Man.
And maundered Melville takes as task
To find the mask beneath the mask.
And homily by Emily D. shows dust-bin Man’s
And Shakespeare poisons up Death’s dart
And of gravedigging hones an art.
And Poe divining tides of blood
Builds Ark of bone to sail the flood.
Death, then, is painful wisdom tooth;
With Art as forceps, pull that Truth,
And plumb the abyss where it was
Hid deep in dark and Time and Cause.
Though Mona arch Worm devours our heart,
With Yorick’s mouth cry, “Thanks!” to Art.
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