Poet Claire Kelly quotes another poet, Emily Carr, who noted, “Without movement, the subject is dead.” Carr recognized that to be human…and an “alive” one…the subject must be alive, functioning in a dynamic fashion. She recognized that it is possible to be physically alive, and yes to have a “subjective” life, but at the same time be “subjectively” dead. She echoed the illimitable wisdom of Shakespeare whose Hamlet described a heart that could be “full of penetrable stuff” if it were not “bronzed o’er with damned custom.” By use of the term “penetrable” Shakespeare was describing the vulnerability that is present when one is “subjectively” alive And this lovely poem by Ms. Kelley provides a beautiful parallel of the vibrancy of a “subjectivity” that is fully alive.
But, let me utilize my “literary license” and introduce the term “soul” to this notion. When one’s subjective experience is quickened by what I like to describe as “the Spirit of God,” a soul is born, a soul that is in unity with others and with the whole of God’s creation. This soul not only “knows” things about life but “feels” them in the depths of his/her heart and at times can only “glory, bow, and tremble” as poet Edgar Simmons described it. At this point thought and feeling are working in tandem and some version of the Incarnation has occurred, described by W. H. Auden as “flesh and mind being delivered from mistrust.”
But it is much easier and less painful to live on the surface of life and not bothered with the “intrusiveness” of God’s Spirit. But, that is just another way of saying that it is easier to live oblivious to reality and not allow Reality (i.e. “otherness”) to “mess up” one’s pristine Ozzie and Harriet existence. For, “god” or “God” is jusord we throw around to capture the experience of the Ineffable which is always found on the boundaries of life and if we disallow boundary violation…that is if our heart is not “penetrable”…we cannot experience the Ineffable. Here is the beautiful poem by Ms. Kelley:
IN THE TORSO OF A GREAT WINDSTORM
(Odds and Ends, 1939)
The wind makes everything alive….
Without movement a subject is dead. Just look!
Put your hand over a flashlight,
watch it glow faerie pink. Picture—
lit from inside—a belly torch,
knot of spruce tree organs: liver, kidneys,
bundle of intestine, stomach—
cool blue and green foliage hiding enzymes,
That exact texture of pulse,
quiver, musculature connected
and contained, skyline and dirt grouted
together, a vista of
inner skin, the underside.
Airstream gale whipping
the pinprick stars into dashes,
molars into canines, evolution
of the Spartan firmaments. A breezy muse,
that gust of inspiration.
Now look at the actors erect at centre stage, see:
skinny veins with plump tops,
or—zooming in—synapses of birch foregrounded.
Holy trifecta, three ideas
home, joy, hunger.