Wednesday, December 21, 2011

unholy sonnet 4


Poem by Mark Jarman and commentary by Roger Housden …

Unholy Sonnet 4

Amazing to believe that nothingness
Surrounds us with delight and lets us be,
And that the meekness of nonentity,
Despite the friction of the world of sense,
Despite the leveling of violence
Is all that matters. All the energy
We force into the matchhead and the city
Explodes inside a loving emptiness.

Not Dante’s rings, not the Zen zero’s mouth,
Out of which comes and into which light goes,
This God recedes from every metaphor,
Turns the hardest data into untruth,
And fills all blanks with blankness. This love shows
Itself in absence, which the stars adore. —Mark Jarman


"This poem presents a profoundly countercultural message: the meekness of nonentity…is all that matters. The prevailing wisdom of American culture is that the individual should aspire to be special, to stand out from the crowd. Jarman, on the other hand, is saying here that what matters is to disappear. But to disappear from what? From our identification with the ego, which always wants to feel special. When we are in the silent ground, in what he calls the nothingness, we are truly ourselves., one with everything, and in that sense, absent as a separate ego. Jarman is a contemporary Christian, and while he echoes here the long via negativa tradition begun by Dionysius the Areopagite in the 6th century, he also echoes the Zen tradition, in which the practitioner aspire to become “a man of no rank.” And yet no metaphors of any tradition, East or West, can come close to the reality of that love which shows itself in absence."—Roger Housden

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