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  1. Ron Price's Avatar
    I tried to edit the above document, my post on Shakespeare; at first I was unable to do so, but I figured-out the technique required.-Ron Price, Tasmania
    Updated 06-16-2014 at 07:45 AM by Ron Price (To update the wording)
  2. Ron Price's Avatar
    This is enough of what is a very lengthy interview. Readers with the interest can access the rest of this interview at:

    Concluding Comment:

    I began asking and answering these questions, as I indicated at the start of this simulated interview, just as I was about to retire after a 50 year student and employment life: 1949 to 1999. I added more questions and answers, as I also said at the outset of this interview, in the last six years, 2009 to 2014. The last update to the above 35 questions, as well as the 10 questions that opened this simulation, was made 17 years after beginning this process of question and answer---on 16 June 2014. Total: 15,000 words and 38 A-4 pages.
  3. Ron Price's Avatar
    11. What do you do when you feel a poem coming on? I get a piece of paper and pen or go to my computer/word processor and start writing. Most of my poems take less than half an hour. My latest booklet of poetry comes from my poetry factory, as I have occasionally come to call this location for my production of poetry in George Town Tasmania, Australia where I write these pieces. I have also calculated the number of poems I have written per day over the last 32 years after a hiatus of 18 years(1962-1980) in my pioneering life in which no record was kept even though I was writing poetry very occasionally, very rarely, at the time.

    In the first years of my life, 1943 to 1962, the influences on my writing of poetry included: my mother and grandfather, the primary and secondary school system in Ontario and the university I attended. The Baha’i Faith after 1953 was also a poetic force. All these poetic influences were completely unrecognized as poetic influences at the time since my interests were mainly sport, getting high marks at school, having fun, and dealing with life’s quotidian and sometimes anxious events.

    A. From 1 August 1980 to 22 September 2012 there have been 11,734 days(circa).
    B. The number of poems written per day is calculated using the following data: 7075(circa) poems in 11,734 (circa) days to 22 September 2012. That works out to: 1 poem in 1.65 days or 4.3 poems/week.
    C. The maths: 11,734(days) divided by 7075(poems)

    11. How important is life-style and freedom from the demands of employment and other people to your creative life?

    Part 1:

    These things became absolutely crucial by my mid fifties. The Canadian poet, anarchist, literary critic and historian George Woodcock (1912-1995), once said in an interview that it was very important for his literary work that he could live as he wished to live. If a job was oppressing him, he said, he had to leave it. Both Woodcock and I have done this on several occasions, but I did not leave the jobs I did in order to write—except for the last job in 1999 when I was 55.

    Woodcock broke with a university and I broke with three Tafe colleges. It's a derogatory thing to say it's a form of evasion, of avoidance or cowardice, said Woodcock, but you have to evade those situations in life in which you become insubordinate to others or situations in which others offend your dignity.

    Part 2:

    Woodcock went on to say in that same interview that when one acts dramatically or precipitately—like resigning from a job or losing one’s temper--it often has consequences that are very negative. He gave examples from his own life and I could give examples here; I could expand on this important theme but this is enough for now. Readers who are keen to follow-up on this aspect of my life can read my memoirs. Everything in my memoirs is true, but it has been "filtered and worked on". Readers tend to think a memoir is a chronicle or record of a life but, as the memoirist Kate Holden says, “it's a much more subtle form. You're compressing, eliding, using your craft.” She uses her craft to present a good story and I use it to present what I hope is a good analysis, some accurate and honest, useful and helpful reflections on life to those who read them.

    For the poet T.S. Eliot, the failure to live, the failure of emotion to find its proper expression, is an obsessive theme of his work. This emphasis is so repetitive that it amounts to a compulsion. ‘The Buried Life, the idea of a life not fully lived, is the central, animating idea of Eliot’s poetry.’ So writes Denis Donoghue in the London Review of Books, Vol. 29 No. 2, January 2007 in his review of T.S. Eliot by Craig Raine(Oxford, 200 pages, 2007) I quote these words from Donoghue because, as I reflect on my life thus-far, to the age of 70, the freedom I have found since taking a sea-change at the age of 55 has enabled my emotions to find "their proper and full expression." This has taken-place in ways I had not known in the more than five decades of experience that were in my memory-bank: 1948 to 1999.

    12. Were you popular at school, in your primary, secondary and university days?

    Part 1:

    I certainly was in primary and secondary school, but not at matriculation or university. I did not have the experience many writers and intellectuals have who received early wounds from the English school system among other influences in life. It wasn't merely the discipline at these schools; it was the ways in which boys got what was called the school spirit. In most English schools it is a brutal kind of pro-sporty spirit that militates against the intellectual who is looked on as a weakling. I was popular at school because I was good at sport and I got on with everyone.

    I certainly was not seen as, and I was not, an intellectual. I was good at memorizing and that is why I did so well, but at university I could not simply memorize; I had to think and write my own thoughts and my grades went from ‘A’s’ to ‘C’s. This was also due to the beginnings of episodes of bipolar I disorder which has afflicted me off and on all my life.

    Part 2:

    As far as popularity now in the evening of my life is concerned, I have become my own publicist and marketer of my writing. I do not have a craving to be famous, nor do I have 'a horror of being known to like being known’ – as the classicist A.E. Housman once wrote. In the course of his life Housman turned down everything from the OM to the poet laureateship, not to speak of many honorary doctorates. And he refused all invitations to give lectures except for the ones that he conceived to be part of his job. I have never had nor will I ever have this problem as I begin the last decade(70-80) of my late adulthood and old-age(80+), if I last that long. In my years as a teacher and lecturer I had enough popularity to last me a lifetime.

    14. 1 You did not flower early as a writer. Tell us something about the origins of your prose and poetic writing.

    Part 1:

    Many writers flower early. Many of them become largely forgotten; whereas, I have a different type of creativity which seems to be growing in meaning and personal significance, in power and vitality, literally decade by decade, again, like the Canadian George Woodcock. This kind of creativity over the lifespan is actually quite abnormal, atypical. I seem to have been the tortoise or the bull if you're going to use the Taurean symbol. I have been marching forward slowly. I think what I am writing now is better than anything I’ve ever written in my life. Who knows what lies ahead.

    Just at the beginning of my retirement after a 50 year student-and-employment life(1949-1999) I was asked how I saw the years ahead. I quoted Denis Diderot(1713 -1784) the French philosopher, art critic and writer who said: ‘We erect a statue in our own image inside ourselves, idealised, you know, but still recognisable. Then we spend our lives engaged in the effort to make ourselves into its likeness." I quoted Diderot back then because it helped provide a perspective on how I saw the years ahead, my writing life after retiring and reinventing myself as an author.

    Back around 1998/9 I wrote: "My writing in the years ahead, being so very autobiographical, will be a process of erecting some likeness of myself, an ever-changing statue, partly idealized, partly the real me as I see the 'me,' and partly an exercise in social construction."

    Part 2:

    Some years ago a reporter from Musician magazine asked jazz pianist Abdullah Ibrahim a question about when his interest in music began. Ibrahim said he understood the logic of the question but that he couldn't answer it because music had always been part of his day to day living. I feel in a similar way about my relationship to writing. I can't remember a time when I didn't have a deep investment in writing. From 1949 to 1967, the age of 5 to 23, writing was the very source of my success and survival in school. If I had not developed the capacity to write well I would never have got good grades and gone up the academic ladder—but I had to work at the process back then. Any significant literary success, any published work, did not come, really, until I was nearly forty.

    The poet Geoffrey Hill(1932-) is a useful poet to bring-in here to help me answer this question. Hill is an English poet, professor emeritus of English literature and religion, and former co-director of the Editorial Institute, at Boston University. Hill has been considered to be among the most distinguished poets of his generation and to some he was the "greatest living poet in the English language". In June 2010 he was elected Professor of Poetry in the University of Oxford. I am not in his league, the league of the prestigious, but there is a hermetic obscurity in his later work.

    Part 3:

    Like myself, Hill wrote great quantities of verse in his late adulthood and old-age: his sixties, seventies and eighties, and only a relatively small number of poems before the age of 50, in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. The asymmetrical volume of his output is one of the more obviously remarkable things about a remarkable collection of his poems published between 1959 and 1995. His earlier work occupies only about 150 of its 940 pages, while the work of Hill’s later years fills the remaining five-sixths of the book.1 At the age of 50, like Hill, I was just getting air-born in my poetic life, although I wrote far, far, less than Hill did from the age of 20 to 50. (See 1the London Review of Books, Vol. 36 No. 4, 2014, "Rancorous Old Sod", Colin Burrow, a review of Broken Hierarchies: Poems 1952-2012 by Geoffrey Hill( Oxford, 1000 pages, 2013)
  4. Ron Price's Avatar
    GLUCK AND ME: 1962 to 2012

    Two Different Leagues in the Sea of Poetry

    Part 1:

    As far back as I can remember, and my memories go back to the late 1940s when I was still in early childhood usually defined by developmental psychologists as the time period from the age of two until at least the age of five years, I have found that the people in my life had a wide-range of attitudes to, and beliefs about, me. This is a common human experience, is hardly surprising, and should not raise any eyebrows.

    In the last 30 years, 1983 to 2013, years during which I have had my poetry and prose published, this same range of appreciations exist: from high praise, to intense criticism and dislike, to outright indifference.

    In the last 24 hours I came across the poetry of Louise Gluck and found a similar range of reactions to her work. This prose-poem is about the reactions of others to both her life and work, and the reactions of others to mine.

    Part 2:

    “A Glück poem is determined to wrest meaning from circumstance, to force a pattern over the chaos of a lived life.” So writes Irish poet and novelist, Nick Laird(1975- ), about the poetry of Louise Gluck, and so I could write in the same vein about some of the purpose of my own prose-poetic output over the last thirty years.

    Gluck wrote, in her introduction to The Best American Poetry 1993, “poems are autobiography, but divested of the trappings of chronology and comment, the metronomic alternation of anecdote and response.”(1) In the case of my poetry, though, the trappings of chronology and comment are part and parcel of my modus operandi and style.-Ron Price with thanks to (1)Nick Laird, “The Triumph of the Survivor”, a review of Louise Glück’s Poems 1962-2012 in The New York Review of Books, 21/3/’13.

    Part 3:

    Louise Elisabeth Glück was born 15 months before I was not that far as the crow flies---on this planet that is gravitating slowly into a neighborhood---from where I was born. We both belong to that generation ‘the-war-babies’. She is an American poet and has been publishing her poetry since 1968. I had hardly scratched the surface of my poetic life by 1968, but I had begun to have the kind of experiences that, in part, led to the kind of poetry that was the Gluck trademark: suffering, depression and alienation. My experiences, my philosophy, my religion, my poetry went in very different directions.

    This most famous of modern American poets was appointed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress in 2003, after serving as a Special Bicentennial Consultant three years prior in 2000. I am not in Louise’s poetic league having only published poetry on the internet for the last decade: 2003 to 2013. My fame is measured in nanoseconds across the 200 to 300 million websites, and their 2 to 3 billion users.

    Gluck’s fame is measured across more than 40 years of publications, as well as the praise, the opinions, and opprobrium of many. My writing shares some similarities to her style and content, but we are very different people and poets.

    Part 4:

    The fragmentation of your work hints
    at a mind trying to order itself…wrest
    meaning from circumstance, & that’s(1)
    what I’ve been trying to do for decades.

    Our poetic works record a movement
    from emotional instability to regained
    control, and so much else. My poetry,
    too, is self-centered, often colloquial &
    in an idiom of ordinary speech. I write
    of both a fallen world as well as a new
    one that is embryonic, just been born:
    an embryogenesis, vivid planetization,
    globalization, a sense and sensibility of
    one world, one humanity, one religion.

    (1) Few poets have sounded as depressed or as alienated as Gluck; poetry and the visionary are intertwined; part of her impetus is Greek and Roman mythology; she writes poetry that leads readers to their inner world; it is poetry that uses straightforward language and can be understood by readers; it is close to the diction of ordinary speech, but it is far from colloquial.

    Her poetry is self-centered and comes directly from her life, her losses and tragedies, her inner life. She is the poet of a fallen world. Her work explores the agony of the self, failed love-affairs and existential despair.-Ron Price with thanks to Poetry Foundation:

    Part 5:

    In Brian Henry’s review of The Seven Ages (2001) by Louise Glück in Contemporary Poetry Review, entitled “Louise Gluck’s Monumental Narcissism”, 8 July 2003, he writes:

    “Very few lives are interesting, and even fewer are sufficiently interesting to spawn nine books of autobiographical poetry. Louise Glück’s life might be richer than most, but in her continued fetishization of her life and her self--not the self that eats and sleeps and pays bills, but “Louise Glück The Poet” self--she demonstrates a disconcerting inability to find her way out of the cul-de-sac of subjectivity.”

    “She has forgotten how to imagine, or even re-imagine, her life. Instead, she looks upon her past in The Seven Ages (2001) and assumes it’s of interest solely because she is Louise Glück. Only poets accustomed to thinking of themselves as Poets would try to get away with this. In The Seven Ages Glück views herself not as a person but as a protagonist, the world not as a place but as a stage, as Shakespeare did in his 'all the world’s a stage'."

    "Whether or not this introspection is the result of years of psychoanalysis, the posturing becomes tedious. Increasingly at an imaginative loss, Glück mines her private life in a way both exhibitionist and narcissistic.(1)"

    Part 6:

    Is my poetry exhibitionist as it
    solicits interest? Is it narcissistic
    as it presumes the interest? Is it
    a naïve brand of obsessive self-
    reflection or self-love? Has my
    self-scrutiny become ridiculous
    in its perseverance and cavalier
    in its assumptions? Are these
    poems just a form of memoir?

    I use this genre to try to explain
    my life…explore my experience.
    Does my writing depend on my
    identity to be interesting?....My
    poems are successful to me but
    only, I’m sure, to a few readers.

    My poetry is, it seems to me, a
    matter of a certain marketing: is
    this art? Well, it is to me, and a
    few others who read my work.

    My poems embrace spheres beyond the self,
    transforming my life into a rich imaginative
    realm which illuminates the vast field of the
    psycho-emotional constructing as I travel
    this literary road: a life, society, a religion.

    Part 7:

    (1) Brian Henry has published poetry and criticism in numerous magazines around the world including: the Times Literary Supplement, Poetry Review, Harvard Review, The Paris Review, The Yale Review, American Poetry Review, New American Writing, The Kenyon Review, New England Review, Stand, Overland, and Threepenny Review.

    His first book of poetry, Astronaut, appeared recently in the UK and in Slovenia in translation. Astronaut was published in 2000 in the US by Carnegie Mellon University Press. His second book, Graft, was published in 2003 by New Issue Press and by Arc in England. He has edited the international magazine Verse since 1995, and was a Fulbright scholar in Australia in 1997-98, where he was Poetry Editor of Meanjin. He teaches at the University of Georgia.

    Ron Price
    10/4/’13 to 11/4/'13.
    Updated 04-11-2013 at 09:03 AM by Ron Price (to fine-tune some editing)
  5. Ron Price's Avatar
    Parts 5 to 7 were lost. I will make an effort at a future time to locate them and post them here.
  6. Ron Price's Avatar
    The rest of Part 4
    Some things in life must be savoured slowly. White's poetic history is one of these. The first poem in White's first major book of poetry Martha begins with a conversational, a casual tone as if the poet were speaking to this famous Baha'i teacher, as if he was writing her a letter:

    Have patience, Martha,

    White is informal but serious as he continues with thirty lines of graphic description which includes his depiction of Martha Root's inner mental state and her motivational matrix in the years after World War 1 when the apocalyptic images ineffaceably etched there –

    the poisoned air
    the towers afire
    the maimed trees
    the human pyre

    sent her "hurtling in exquisite arc/across the blackening sky". And so she did 'hurtle' for the two decades between the wars before she died in Hawaii in 1939. Her life became:

    ...... a solitary warning cry
    against engulfing dark
    and ultimate night.

    The darkness was so great during these inter-war years when millions perished in Stalin's and Hitler's fiery death camps that Martha's efforts, however heroic, are described by White as follows:

    Your eyes were dippers
    used against the fire,

    Apparently insignificant, her efforts, he goes on:

    purchased brief respite
    that on the ramparts might arise
    the legioned guardians of light.

    These "legioned guardians" began to arise in the teaching plans that the Guardian initiated just two years before Martha died so that, by the 1960s, thousands would arise "on the ramparts". By the time White was to write this poem and by the time its first readers would enjoy his succinct and pithy summation of her life there were indeed "legioned guardians of light". White advised Martha, still addressing her in that colloquial and informal tone, to:

    Be patient:
    we may yet ourselves become
    God's gadabouts,
    meteoric, expire
    in conflagrant holy urgency.

    And so in five lines, the last five of White's first poem in his first major book of poetry, White gives his readers a vision, a direction, for their own lives, linked as they were with the greatest Baha'i teacher of that formative age. He was not trying to renew "a decadent civilization", as Ezra Pound had tried to do, and unsuccessfully as he admitted in his epic poem The Cantos, written over more than half a century.

    But there is no doubt that White was trying to play his part, by the time he wrote this poem in the late 1970s, as one among millions of his co-religionists, in the construction of the new world order associated with the Faith he had joined some thirty years before. The part he played, par excellence, was the writing of a long series of statements, a dialectic, a development, a form, which attempted to lead the mind to some conclusion, to some affective condition, a quality of personal being judged by the action it leads to. But the language he used, poetic language, was largely one of indirection and symbolism.

    There is an authenticity here, something behind and beyond the text, beyond the life of Martha as we know it in the extant biographies and histories, beyond and behind the representation or embodiment of Martha Root in the photos of her that are part of our history. White undertakes to reveal a Martha Root who is doing more than looking past the camera into the distance with an air of weighty seriousness, of farsightedness, a look which might strike some viewers as anachronistic or too detached. Indeed there is no visual image consistent with White's written portrait. There are many and whatever image one could find would produce radically different interpretations.

    Even the face of Martha, usually characterized as photographs of faces are by its ability to convey the essence of an individual, her innermost nature and qualities, its seemingly direct portrayal of the individual, of Martha and her life, a vivid representation of the living being who was Martha Root, a truthful picture, a genuine likeness, not just how she looks but what she is, leaves us asking "who is the Martha we look at and how may we know her?" Martha's public persona was, as White notes in the epilogue to this poem, as a dowdy girl, unattractive and unfashionably dressed, some might say plain. But, as White says later in the poem, we "cease to care/whether virtue be photogenic".

    status of the Western media industry. What he projects onto our consciousness is not a photograph, a visual image. If anything it is an idea, a thought, that he foregrounds, not the visual, in the complex configuration that goes to make up Martha Root, the hero. Martha does not fall from hero to star with its concomitant emphasis on the visual. White confirms her heroic status.

    Indeed it may be more accurate to say that White clarifies Root's mythic status. For there is an essential metaphorical nature to Baha'i history, as John Hatcher has described in such a straightforward way in his book The Purpose of Physical Reality. Myth has a multivalent function in this conception of history.

    "To limit an image," writes Eliade, "to the concrete terminology, the physical form, is to mutilate it." In this view of history - and the poetry White writes - based on this history, the reader must be creative, must think, must participate, must transcend the physical and move in a world of abstract thought. He or she must engage in what is often called 'the analogical proces.'. Martha, in a poem like this, "becomes a mirror that reflects insights", as Rollo May once wrote in discussing myth and its function, and her experience gives us "structural undergirding to (our) beliefs".

    To put this another way, physical reality - in this case Martha Root - is a veil that is one remove from the spiritual reality she represents. And we must use our individual judgement and discernment to properly utilize this myth, this metaphor, this spiritual reality, to free us from blind adherence to dogma, to a physical reality and, thus, to participate wisely in the physical reality that is our daily life.

    In another poem, the next one in Another Song, A Letter to Keith, White continues with his colloquial, conversational idiom. We learn a great deal about this attractive Baha'i woman who made an outstanding contribution of service to the Cause and who was the West's first martyr. But this poem is no factual biography, no story of a life. It is a graphic recreation not an impartial account.

    White is a poet with a belief in a compelling vision, a principle, a dogma containing a great emotional and spiritual potency at its source and in its history. White possesses a technical virtuosity and he plots meticulously as he encourages his readers to think for themselves. We see this in his clever and witty poem, his piece of dramatic invention, based on the life of Keith Ransom-Kehler.

    The poem begins by placing the reader right at the heart of the issue White is exploring:

    Why did you do it, Keith,
    And you a looker?
    Not your usual religious dame
    in need of a good dentist
    and a fitted bra.

    In White's response to a letter criticizing his poem's "stereotypical thinking about religious women as rigidly pietistic", women "lacking in pulchritude who seek spiritual consolation as compensation," he says, "No slight was intended to any woman." He continues in that same letter indicating that he sought "to place in the mouth of the narrator of the poem, a fictitious peer of Keith's, a man holding attitudes perhaps typical of his time and place, words of grudging and bewildered admiration for a townswoman of his acquaintance, whose heroic example of authentically experienced faith forces him to reappraise those very prejudices against religious women which he unsuccessfully masks behind an uneasy, heavy-handed humour".

    At the end of the poem Keith's sacrifice causes this anonymous narrator to re-examine his own life orientation:

    I'm bawling,
    me a grown man,
    three sons and a wife in the grave
    and not what you'd call sentimental.
  7. Ron Price's Avatar
    PART 4:
    PART 4:

    History for White also was, as Gibbon put it much later in that grand work, "a record of the transactions of the past for the instruction of future ages". White knew what the American historian Charles Beard once wrote, that "the writing of history was an act of faith", that the historian, the poet, indeed, all of us, must makes certain assumptions, wind our emotions around these assumptions and proceed through life.

    As far as possible we must ground these assumptions in truth, in fact, but inevitably there is an act of faith involved somewhere in the process. White knew that facts about the past "are no more history", as historian of biography Ira Nadel expressed it in a light and perceptive way, "than butter, eggs and pepper are an omelette". They must be whipped up and played in a special fashion.

    For White the writing of poetry, and his particular take on history, is a 'dance of life', as the Australian poet A.D. Hope once defined the art of poetry. Some pedestrian or not-so-pedestrian person in Baha'i history acquires a fresh new life with a compactness, an economy of language, a concern for things as they really happened, as the nineteenth century historian Leopold von Ranke would have expressed the recording of history.

    White does what Karl Popper advocates in his The Poverty of Historicism. He consciously introduces "a preconceived point of view" into his history and writes "that history which interests" him, but he does not twist the facts until they fit a framework of preconceived ideas, nor does he neglect the facts that do not fit in. Popper says that such an approach, that is the introducing of a preconceived point of view, should be seen as one that begins with a scientific hypothesis. Such a focus of historical interest, Popper emphasizes, is a historical interpretation.

    Of course one should endeavour, as far as possible, to know the facts of history but, as Kant once argued, it is difficult if not impossible to know the facts, the reality, of things. The real use in knowing what happened in history lies in the interpretation of history's facts, its events. The re-creation of a life is one of the most beautiful and difficult tasks a literary artist can perform.

    White gains access to meaning by interpreting events, arranging patterns, making descriptions, by actively engaging in practical rationality. This is what is at the heart of hermeneutics and phenomenology, sub-disciplines in the social sciences that have grown up in the twentieth century and influenced philosophy and sociology among other fields. In the process he brings forth hidden meanings, messages, as it were, from the past and the reader engages in an endless chain of listening and some essential thinking.

    Hermeneutics and phenomenology are both science and art. They aim at the attainment of historically effective consciousness, at a dialogue with the past, with those who lived in that past and those who thought about that past. Understanding is the filter, the door through which thought passes. White attempts to open that door. And in the end he achieves what the art critic and historian Herbert Read said that T.S. Eliot achieved in his poetic opus: an enlargement or intensification of the "very consciousness of the world in which we are vitally involved.". White writes each historical poem from "an exclusive point of view", as Charles Baudelair once said that biographical work must be written from, but also "from a point of view which opens the greatest number of horizons.".

    White attempts to create a narrative, a concept of the Baha'i narrative, which Baha'is can readily identify with. For without this identity time turns into an unsolvable conflict of voices of authority, an antimony. Understanding, to White, is bound and embedded in history and the meaning changes over time according to how it is received and read. Meaning can never be fixed. From his first chapbook in 1947 to his final published work in 1992, White gives his readers slice after slice of history, of his interpretation of a shared memory.

    It is useful for his readers to have read some of God Passes By, Nabil's Narrative or any one of a number of books that explore the history of the Baha'i Faith. A sensitive appreciation of so much of White's poetry depends on some background knowledge of the belief system, the points in time and place that White is coming from, that all Baha'is are coming from.

    With this background the reader can often gain an insight, an understanding of Baha'i history and its teachings that many hours of patient reading of other volumes will not yield.

    Matthew Arnold once wrote that the Greek dramatist Sophocles saw life whole, with its moral and emotional meaning inside it. The modern world, the modern condition, on the other hand acknowledges no publicly accepted moral and emotional Truth, only perspectives toward it. But like Sophocles, White believed in submission to divine law as the fundamental basis for both individual motivation and social cohesion.

    To put it another way, both writers strongly believed that religion should play a very large part in the way society should be organized. Both writers had "a delicate sense of the complexity of experience", a sense of the tension between public interaction and private life and a clarity of vision that came from the world of myth. "Myths were a living body of meaning," for both Sophocles and White, "that illuminated the essential processes of life".

    For each writer, of course, the mythic base is different. Sophocles was, arguably, the last major thinker, certainly the last Greek dramatist of the fifth century BC to see the "need for a law - a divine law - above the state and its holders of power". For both White and Sophocles this mythic base, this common world view or cosmology and its accompanying moral and spiritual system provides the ethos, the overall dramatic context, the external standard, the very structure for something ennobling for the community, something that contributes to its well-being.

    Without this commonality people live with incompatible ends and develop political systems in which the end justifies the means. As Ivanov contests in Koestler's Darkness at Noon: "The principle that the end justifies the means is and remains the only rule of political ethics." Perhaps Ivanov puts the case a little too strongly but we get the drift and it appeals to our skepticism about partisan politics.

    This is partly why White sought to draw his readers away from his personality. Indeed, he was downright embarrassed with the whole notion of drawing attention to himself. This was utterly alien to what he was trying to achieve as an artist, a poet. The voice that spoke in his art was not that of his limited personality but rather of a soul who had identified himself with divine and eternal truth.

    Indeed, "the slightest whisperings of self", the whole pursuit of self-expression was, for White, done in the context of the upturned mirror of his soul in which the light of the will of God and His teachings were reflected - at least that is how he envisaged the process. This process helped produce, over time, White's voice. What underlies White's success, indeed all success in poetry, is voice. It gives us confidence in what he says. It is poetry's decisive factor. It is continuous and accumulates as he writes and as you read.

    for the rest of Part 4 see the next post-------
  8. B-Mental's Avatar
    Very interesting. I come from a long line of teachers and entertainers. My Maternal Grandmother, Father, several aunts and uncles, both of my Sister-in-Laws, myself...the list goes on. Anyways, there is a Bement Normal School also... no immediate connection. Always nice to meet a fellow teacher. B
  9. mtpspur's Avatar
    Very elegantly put. Even though I was very aware of Dr. Zhivago the movie (all the high school girls were in love with him) I have never seen the entire film and caught the last half hour or so while channel hoping one night a few months back. Hope to see it again when TCM gives it another go,