Sunday, February 26, 2012

Leda [poems] by Aldous Huxley

I found this cool first edition copy of Huxley’s Leda at an antique store. I have always been interested in Huxley’s writings, and was curious about his poems. This book contains the poem Leda, along with 25 others.

I was disappointed. Most of the poems, including Leda were rambling and verbose, overly florid depictions of nature, and gushingly romantic. His use obscure words felt too heavy and forced, and the poem was bogged down with his meta-messages. The worst part about poetry like this is being convinced that the meanings aren’t worth the work, and being satisfied with them remaining obscure. Leda, the titular poem of the collection, was the worst. Complete waste of time. So far I like his prose much more than his poetry. Anybody want to buy a first edition of Huxley’s Leda?

HOWEVER, there were a few poems that I was glad I read: The Birth Of God, From The Pillar, First Philosopher’s Song, The Merry-Go-Round, and Last Things. Of these, The Merry-Go-Round is my favorite, and is profoundly moving/disturbing. Too bad it will go mostly unread, as this tawdry collection of poems is sure to ward off most would-be readers.

I’ll save you the trouble…here is the complete text of The Merry-Go-Round:

THE machine is ready to start. The symbolic beasts grow resty, curvetting where they stand at their places in the great blue circle of the year. The Showman's voice rings out. 'Mont e z, mesdames et messieurs, montez. You, sir, must bestride the Ram. You will take the Scorpion. Yours, madame, is the Goat. As for you there, blackguard boy, you must be content with the Fishes. I have allotted you the Virgin, mademoiselle.' . . . 'Polisson !' ' Pardon, pardon. Evidemment, c'est le Sagittaire qu'on demande. Ohé, les dards! The rest must take what comes. The Twins shall counterpoise one another in the Scales. So, so. Now away we go, away.'

Ha, what keen air. Wind of the upper spaces. Snuff it deep, drink in the intoxication of our speed. Hark how the music swells and rings . . . sphery music, music of every vagabond planet, every rooted star; sound of winds and seas and all the simmering millions of life. Moving, singing…so with a roar and a rush round we go and round, for ever whirling on a ceaseless Bank Holiday of drunken life and speed.

But I happened to look inwards among the machinery of our roundabout, and there I saw a slobbering cretin grinding at a wheel and sweating as he ground and grinding eternally. And when I perceived that he was the author of all our speed and that the music was of his making, that everything depended on his grinding wheel, I thought I would like to get off. But we were going too fast.

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