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Kamarck, Edward (ed.) / Arts in society: confrontation between art and technology

Allen, Dick
[Editorial comment: the poet looks at space--inner and outer],   pp. [184]-193 PDF (10.1 MB)

Page 191

hallways weeping,
And cannot name the fountain of your grief,
That yesterday lay sleeping.
The poem concludes with the rather
clich6ish, "The pale, cold-hearted
elf who latedy died/ Today is born a man."
Hilbert Shenik's humorous poem,
"Ed Lear Wasn't so Crazy" is, however,
clever and amusing:
The owl and the pussycat went into space
In a modified Jupiter C.
They took some lox, and standard clocks
And an ape with a PH.d.
and so on.
The one s-f poet whose work stands
high above others in the general field is
the English writer, D. M. Thomas.
A good sampling of his work appears in
Penguin Modern Poets 11. In the
Acknowledgement to the volume, Thomas
pays tribute to writers whose stories helped
provide myths for the poems:
Ray Bradbury, Arthur C. Clark, and
Damon Knight, among others. The poems
work well, are quality productions which
go far beyond the limitations of
hardcore s-f, even though the themes
are perhaps too familiar to science-fiction
readers. In the dramatic monologue
"Missionary" Thomas deals with the
in3bility of mankind to change its war-like
nature. "Tithonus" is a brilliant
tour-de-force about the first immortal:
the brain of Edgar L. Cummings "bottled
greyly in solution" and displayed
to sightseeers. Here is a sample section:
Take a crane-fly wandering in from the river,
Settling on a door you've sprayed with paint.
One leg goes, in the frenzy to escape
- Two more - a wing-thick pencil scrawls
Grotesque millimetres away; now it knows
Not even God could separate paint
from crane-fly
And leave enough of the latter.
So it subsides,
Despairing. When you come along -
my God, the point! -
You expect it to welcome the
tenderly offered rag,
The quick-crunch-and-it's-over. But
no, it fights!
It tries to cringe. Not that it
has any illusions
About ever getting away from
this obscenity, it knows
The kindness of your gesture, but it
just CAN'T
But try to protect its tiny brain from your pity.
Its little ego shrieks silently,
Here, in this case, we've kept that ego intact.
I think I used the word excision,
As though what we cut out was expendable;
Call it rather a vast amputation
Of the body hacked clear away
from the brain.
The man remains; meditates,
desires, remembers.
Thomas' "A Dead Planet" deals with a
dead man awakened by explorers
who wish "To see what kind of animate was
slain." The man wakes:
'Master!' his lips compounded while the skein
Was falling from the eyes he had just shut
On wife, on child: his faith was not in vain!
'Dear Christ! . . . how blissfully
Thou dost abate
The grave's -' His gaze took in the plain;
The ring of orbs devoid of love or hate,
The ray-guns poised to mow it down again
When they had sorted out its true estate.
"The Strait" poses Android woman against
human woman; "Hera's Spring" deals
with the relationships between love,
chance, and immortality. In short,
D. M. Thomas brings to poetry the skill
of a quality poet and the ease with s-f
terminology and themes which point the way
to vast possibilities for future
development. The only major weakness
is that his poetry assumes space
exploration and the future, rather than
merges the future experience with
the difficulties of our own transition period
into full understanding of the Space Age.
The poetry of folk rock and psychedelic
music makes up the final category
this brief survey is considering. Here, we
encompass works from Pete Sloan's crude
but nonetheless popular "Eve of
Destruction" to The Rolling Stones' "2,000
Light Years from Home." The
song-poem's importance comes more
from the listener's total electronic
experience than from the polish of the
lyrics, but in this total experience, this
wedding of music and poetry, I
think we are seeing the beginnings of a
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