Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Anticipating Lazarus

And death shall have no dominion

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan’t crack;
And death shall have no dominion....Dylan Thomas

Better than anyone, Dylan Thomas would have known that once a poem passes the lips or drips off the end of a pen all exclusivity of ownership or control of meaning is lost to the poet. Dylan was fond of talking about that elliptical obscurity that a poet is allowed to interject into the work, those gaps and points of ingress and regress and egress, where the individual imagination wanders in and out and back again, adding and subtracting images and ideas as it pleases. And in that way, by means of what is not said, a poem takes life and flight, and all of us individually, including the poet, gets to own some idiosyncratic part of the poem that cannot be taken away or diminished or forbidden, so today I read:

Matins Canon, Ode 3

Today Lazarus dies. But this death does not escape the divine eye of Jesus. Therefore, He spoke to His disciples and said: My friend Lazarus has fallen asleep, but I shall go and raise him up.

When you spoke of returning to Judea, you frightened your apostles, O Lord: but Thomas, filled with fervor, cried out: Let us go there for He is our Life; if we die, He shall raise us up.

.And death shall have no dominion!!


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