For my part, I travel not to go anywhere, but to go. I travel for travel's sake. The great affair is to move. ROBERT LOUIS STEVENSON

Friday, 7 September 2007

Waiting For The Cock To Crow

It's amazing how often we sleep on a problem and the solution is there in the morning. I went to bed last night reflecting on yesterday's poem. I've just woken abruptly - the idea fresh in my mind that Peter denied Christ 3 times and that this is the key to the meaning of the 3 verses with their, if you like, 3 denials. I don't know where this idea came from. I wasn't consciously thinking towards it. I've never read any critical works on Seferis. I hardly know his poetry. It was as if someone had put the idea there. Very strange.

But I suppose this subconscious process, often active while we are sleep, is the basis of much creative thought. Artists, writers, many creative people often feel their work comes from a source "out there" - or, conversely, from somewhere "deep within" - which they are powerless to control. They are simply agents being channelled by a greater force. D. H. Lawrence, in his poem Song Of A Man Who Has Come Through, writes of the wind that blows through me. I've just looked up the poem, reminded myself of it. In it he mentions three strange angels. 3 again!

The human mind is an extraordinary thing. I always like the idea that the mind is a limitless place, that you can travel forever its depths and infinities. That you can go much further "inwards" than the physical body can ever journey "outwards".

But back to the poem Denial by Seferis. Does it mean we are living our lives somehow in the wrong way - though we can't help it since we are human and nature is a force over which we have no control - but we have the power to change? That our passion and desire are somehow misdirected - so the water tastes bad? The poem seems on the surface easy to understand. In fact it's quite mysterious.

3 comments:

John Hee said...

some of clearest decisions have come as a result of putting them to the back of my mind, and letting my subconsious let me know whe they're all cooked and ready to go
;-)

cbb said...

I have really been pondering 'Denial' - it's very powerful. The implication/interpretation which leaped out to me has to do with the way in which in our youth we are often more able to live with spirit, heart, desire and passion, but that we let life's disappointments (brackish water when we're thirsty, love vanishing) convince us to live thus is a "mistake."

"So we changed our life," in effect renouncing our fullest, most passionate selves because we couldn't bear the pain. But to do so, of course, is a denial of who we really were and might still be, if only we had more courage.

This reminds me a bit of a James Baldwin poem on my blog somewhere (2-28-08). Similar themes, if my interpretation of Seferis holds water.

The Solitary Walker said...

It is so clear what you say is correct about this powerful, short poem - and this all fits in so well with the fact that it was used as anthem of liberation under a repressive regime. Thanks for your elucidation of it!