05 May 2010

Beautiful changes

I've been thinking about the last lines from Richard Wilbur's marvelous poem "The Beautiful Changes" a lot recently. They are quoted below (I have probably misplaced the line breaks, for which I apologize):

"the beautiful changes
In such kind ways,
Wishing ever to sunder
Things and things' selves for a second finding,
to lose
For a moment all that it touches back to
wonder."

There is the appearance of a Hegelian quality to the lines "wishing ever to sunder... for a second finding," but this image is dispelled by the suggestion that the sundering is not itself illusory but actually quite real, since it results in loss. We don't normally think of sundering and loss as "kind," but the poem suggests that the result (wonder) is worth the price, even though it is just "for a moment." Against the radical despair (indeed, despair beyond despair!) inherent in Hegelianism, we should find great comfort in the conclusion of the poem's second stanza:

"Any greenness is deeper than anyone knows."

Fewer phrases more hopeful than this have been placed into poetry.

2 comments:

rainscape said...

dictated by Amos:

Sebastian,
what made you go out of your way to say "placed" into poetry? Surely, Sebastian, surely ... surely, etc.
Yours, truly,

Ravenscroft said...

That this first comment is the result of such an aloof and invulnerable form of communication as dictation would provide (perhaps a first in the history of the blogging? But then again, who really cares about the history of blogging?) only augments the raw confidence of its conclusion. Surely, there has never been a more stunning use of the "etc.".

Milton dictated Paradise Lost.
Aquinas dictated the Summa.
And now...etc.