To Forget a Ten Year War 28 November 2006Posted by VARANGALI in Misc, Reviews, VARANGALI.
This Rod McKuen poem takes me back to high school. When earnest claims of heartbreak trumped the perfect metaphor: we were taught to measure poetry by techniques like alliteration, hyperbole and meter, yet responded only to bland and cryptic statements of fear, longing, and elation.
But there are times
when you can smile in such a way
that I’d forget a ten year war
and lie down in your shadows’ shadow
and live on sounds your stomach makes.
In these brief times
I could die against your side
and never make a warning sound
content to suffocate within the circle of your back.
I know that this poem is getting at something profound. It’s not about heartbreak, but about the fear of losing one’s identity – and life itself – in love. It’s not something we like talking about: if love is all-good, then how can it not be reciprocated in equal measure? But we know that love is irrational and stems from a desire to give, then how dare it demand reciprocity and balance with notions of identity, individuality, and self-preservation? Do we dare confront such a world?
All this matters little to me. McKuen’s poem, here and now, is not his but mine. The naked pain and blunt delivery take me back to a time of inadmissible innocence: before I knew we lived in The Age of Irony, that my generation was afflicted with ennui, and that making simple and bold statements was naïve.
The poem’s protagonist could forget a ten year war in a smile; perhaps this nostalgia could do the same for me. For that 2D world is kind, and there is warmth in that naiveté.