Paradox Lost

Somewhat of a work in progress, that is based on a idea I had a few weeks ago when I dreamed up the title.

For Milton and Dante

Quotes from odd and esoteric pamphlets,
a sarcastic quip on theology,
blurred random notes from the wild underground,
scattered reference to deep philosophy –
my poetic idols throw devices
such as these, seeming oh so non-chalant,
off the ink-stained cuff, in the dry vacuum
of intellectual thought, to impress
each other and the rare occasional
reader, whose grand erudite ambitions
can be manipulated into praise
for completely meaningless poppycock.

Oh, with what symbols did these legends form
and secure their own place in language’s myth!

To prove mastery of a classic form,
curbing an ancient tongue with strange meter,
they will offer lavish experiments
in mixed metaphor and masked allusion,
citing the elders of their profession
(now too far advanced in their hoary graves
to refute proud, false interpretations)
who, they wisely claim, were guilty likewise
of some deliberate obfuscation
designed to wean the more clever reader
from the weak, average pulp-bound dullard,
and thus clearly demarcate those worthy
to even discuss the best Poetry.

Oh, with what patterns do the great ones weave
and defend their own skill with written words!

Perhaps that means I am a fool, or worse,
that my own mad delusions are fickle;
for in this dark chasm, this sad vortex
I have often found myself set adrift.
But I have no bulwark, no set anchor,
or touchstone against which to rest and gloat.

Against the literate precedent tide,
I have no formal credential to wield;
and surely, the educated wordsmiths
of the world laugh securely at their desks,
seeing my small craft approach in the night
and attempt to scale their high fortress walls.

Oh, with what gestures will the mighty make
their defense against the coming challenge?

11 DEC 2002

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