Elegy For The Young Poets Introduction


How to Read

The rhyme pattern makes it flow on from verse to verse, even after full stops which like the short second lines help slow things down, a bit of a contrast with the sharp barked indignations of ‘A Dream of Wet Pavements’. Usual 4 stresses followed by 2 followed by 4, but with variations. A quieter tone with the pathos of the blocked and thwarted young poets in mind.

The Poem

Carries on from the world of the previous poem. It is divided into three parts, as the dramatic contrast between man’s world and God is built up.

  1. The only hope for creative freshness is re-creation coming from the hidden capacity the young poets have for love and rebirth, and which can overcome the horror of the modern world. The Poets’ ‘coral feet’ suggests something vivid, frozen and brittle. Although the poets don’t know it they need a Perfect Master to escape from the prince of this world, Big Fist.
  2. Largely a picture of Big Fist’s dreadful world, but ends on a triumphant note that the God-Man is here.
  3. The tension between the world and God becomes almost unbearable, to be resolved only by the dreadful images of God’s suffering at the end. Francis had observed Meher Baba’s suffering during his periods of intense seclusion where he suffers the sum of our violence. No longer the body of God on earth we have become ‘a hemorrhoidal protrusion’

Naked within each heart bearing all the pain and defilements
He stands in his perfect Silence.
His sweat is upon his body as a million lashes.

Something splashes
On my hand. I look up. The night
Is a cave through which the moon races.

The last verse suddenly breaks the usual stress pattern. A moment of shock. Splashes — tears or the blood or sweat of the saviour falling from the firmament to which we and the poet are suddenly opened up.

This is a drama the poet makes us share.


[Author: Geoff Gunther]