24 December 2010

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--

Success in Circuit lies
Too bright for our infirm Delight
The Truth's superb surprise
As lightning to the Children eased
With explanation kind
The Truth must dazzle gradually
Or every man be blind--

This is on page 249 of my collected poems of Emily Dickinson. The notes say she wrote it in 1868 and it was first published in 1945, which might be some kind of record for late blooming. This poem contains value for poets and writers. An excess of honesty can really mess you up.

In the last couple weeks I have listened to all eighteen of my Henry Rollins spoken word compact discs in chronological order, sometimes as many as three in one day. Henry could have been a great artist if he had taken Emily Dickinson's valuable advice to heart. Alas he did not, which makes listening to him something akin to an assault. I made some notes of some of the most tactless items in his work.

"I smile every time a pig gets greased."

"I don't want to be a father; I want to kill mine."

"Death from a bullet in the head is death from a natural cause."

Now Henry is posing as a punk here, and the posture is straight ahead without any slant. No pulling punches. This is, if you will please pardon the expression, not art. These are all ideas which can be expressed artistically, but they need to lubricated. These are not ideas which can be artistically expressed straight ahead with a punk pose.

Jimmy Ross told my old poets group a couple times that "if you write about your friends, pretty soon you will not have any friends." This is mostly true, but he left out one important detail. If you can dress it up like Emily Dickinson, you can say anything. Violence, sexual deviance, crime, addiction, corruption, or anything which is taboo in polite dinner conversation can work quite well in literature with proper care and respect.

Tell all the Truth but tell it slant--

4 comments:

M said...
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M said...
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Craig said...

We have met? I cannot tell who you are.

Craig H.

M said...
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About Craig

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Houston, Texas, United States
I have been living in the lovely neighborhood of Spring Branch in the great city of Houston since late in 2005. I started out with the idea of making this blog about my life in this neighborhood. That did not last long. Right now I am posting every five days on the alternating topics of literature, philosophy, psychology, and metaphysics. This project has been ongoing since July 27, 2010 and I believe it will continue for at least a few more months.