Thursday, January 11, 2007

And very few eyes can see the Mystery of his life

/Wash.'s birth a CHOK by Charles Olson

From the epigraph to Tom Clark's Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life:

There are very shallow people who take every thing literally. A Man's life of any worth is a continual allegory - and very few eyes can see the Mystery of his life - a life like the scriptures, figurative - which such people can no more make out than they can the hebrew Bible. Lord Byron cuts such a figure - but he is not figurative - Shakespeare led a life of Allegory: his works are the comments on it-

- John Keats to George and Georgianan Keats,
February 14, 1819

These places & persons as things & spots are all inside of any one of us.... the whole world & all experience is, no matter how real, only a system of metaphor for the allegory (Keats called it) a man's life is.

- Charles Olson to Robert Duncan,
August 24, 1945

One does have a life to live, exactly that much. And... because it is that much, and it is one's own, it has scale. That is, it isn't more of the same, or so much "humanity" and all that, any of the counters now offered....

How to say it, so that is is abundantly clear. It isn't at all unlike Keats' proposition that a man's life (he was speaking of Shakespeare and his plays) is an allegory.

- Charles Olson, The Special View of History

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