EnlightenmentI know Watteau. I've been his subject.
I'm the guy in fine brocade, who duly
Pushes someone like myself, a clueless
Countess, on a swing, somewhere beneath
Some trees. The sky is blue, the air is
Clearly warm. The world is okay.
There's no way of knowing that,
Beyond the hedge, out in the fields,
The peasants hone their hatred, as
The butchers hone their trusty knives,
And what we've called Enlightenment
Is cant. It's nothing of the sort. It's
More a kind of willful blindness:
Well-fed idlers telling themselves
That the world can be understood
When it cannot, and, through the
Hedges come disgruntled peasants.
We shall learn, if we survive, that
We've been wrong about this orb.
The darkness of the human soul,
The wretchedness of bags of DNA
Let loose upon the land to smear
Their filth on my brocade, and cast
The countess into brambles.
All the sweet civility of what we
Called enlightenment was proven
Delicate and lost as peasants torch
Their masters' homes, and all the universe
Surrenders to Rousseau's insanity.
Democracy's a bitter joke,
And communism, like the others,
Leads to nothing but the exaltation
Of the ones who lead. The world spins
Upon its axis. I spin with my toe down
On a sewer cover in a slum. The old
Ways died. I'll die; you, too. There's no
Point in trying to retrieve the world
Poetry by Lawrence Beck
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Written on 2017-04-20 at 02:09
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