Sunday, March 22, 2015

Modernity Is Catastrophe

He woke in the middle of a nightmare.
The terror lay in his room
like the body of a dead animal
covered with flies. Its teeth
shone in the grass.
                                A French soldier,
half-asleep above the stove of a peasant,
turned, restless with insomnia from his problem:
“What can I know, if anything?”
He knew he could doubt; besides that, 
could he know anything at all?

A man raised a tube in Italy
with curious lenses toward the night.
The moon bowed its face toward him.
“What will I see there, if anything?”
To his eye he put the tube and squinted.
“Cara luna, will I see anything at all?”

An Englishman sat carefully writing
a work of indisputable logic
through the night. He raised his eyes, reflected:
“What can a man do, if anything?”
In the darkness he heard someone whisper:
“What if he can do anything at all?”  

A gentleman in Paris totted up figures
in two columns on a smooth surface of calf-skin:
“What can I make, if anything?”
He counted again: the numbers added up, beautifully.
His fingers grasped the quill so hard it split.
“I can make more. What if I can make it all?”

It was nearing midnight in Europe.
A messenger was crossing the mountains,
taking an urgent notice between sovereigns
who had never met face to face.
Nearing the summit, he stumbled,
his boot dislodging a stone
that fell, gathering stones as it went
in a wind of rocks, trees, snow, 
collapsing across the valley
in an avalanche, burying it all.


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