Three Poems In Praise Of Peace
from OF:--a manuscript-in-progress by Michael Benedikt
Last Modified 5/1/01
War's commonly regarded as an International matter, pertaining solely to nations--rather than a domestic matter relating to Individuals. But is it, really? --from a l980's-1990's Benedikt notebook
Preface to Poems At This Page
Notes to Poems
(1) Of The Gravity That Does
Not Bring Us Down (2)
(3) Of Holding One's Temper; Or, Of Keeping In Touch With The Primal Without Devolving Into A Primate
Sites With Selections from Benedikt's Published Poetry Books
Preface to Poems at This Page
These 3 poems , published in 3 literary magazines in the l980's-'90's, are among the first poems composed for Of:--the manuscript-in-progress represented via the 3 selections at this webpage and by several poems at its parent website The Thesaurus and Other New Verse. These 3 poems praise both Peace & Tranquility among Individuals and International Peace and Cooperation--which as we see it, are closely related, interacting phenomena. And, as phenomena likely to prove productive to the lives of both individuals and their nations. (Of: we think, is a very "Peace-Loving" poetry collection--perhaps because interruptions by storms coming from outside the world of poetry & which were weathered by its author during its two decades of composition, made us move in that direction).
Taken together, these 3 poems propose that it's first of all a citizenry of people at peace with themselves and therefore with one another--rather than any act of law or government--which is the central prerequisite for World Peace. For example, on the International level, we believe that it's individuals who--often through no fault of their own--are forced to live in perpetual personal or other significant turmoil, who are likely to give rise to and support governments which are contentious and combative. (From that point-of-view, it seems to us that contemporary negotiations between governments in the interest of peace--though of course always laudable!--are a default afterthought. Still more so, the heroic efforts of peace-keeping troops).
Poems praising peace and opposing war & conflict--i.e., anti-war poems--are of course a very old poetic tradition. But some, particularly by poets in nations not under attack or at war, seem to us to have been written by people in unbridled personal turmoil themselves, besides being hysterical about their subject--thus reiterating the very same conditions which their poems proposed to oppose. These verses approach the subject of Peace & Tranquility among individuals and nations with, we hope, suitably benign smiles. We hope we've added something to the watershed of poems praising and perhaps in some small way nurturing Peace. Whatever the virtues or (Heaven forbid!) defects of these early poems from Of:, poems praising peace should we think, reflect attitudes which are in fact Peace-Loving.
Peace be unto you, too!
Michael Benedikt Y2K, A.D.
Notes To Poems At This Page
(1) Of The Gravity That Does Not Bring Us Down praises inward 'centeredness,' inner serenity, & relatively homespun, everyday concerns which suffer when citizens & their nations respond to promptings towards aggression rather than towards reason (2) Of Negative Reinforcement is about a classic, self-defeating human psychological quirk which can cause individuals attempting to get closer to us (such as otherwise well-meaning, would-be friends & even lovers) to turn argumentative, contentious, & even warlike. What psychologists term 'Hostile Alienation' is subtopic. (3) Of Holding One's Temper--Or, Of Keeping In Touch With The Primal Without Devolving Into A Primate praises peace while acknowledging various underlying animal impulses which can cause both individuals and nations to hit the ceiling.
OF THE GRAVITY WHICH DOES NOT BRING US DOWN There is, I believe, a kind of magnetic, almost gravitational pull towards Reasonableness in human behavior Against which, on quite some few occasions I've noticed, we humans have evinced a certain definite resistance. On the International level, take our States, for example (yes, please take them!): castles of one kind or another, moats & watchtowers, catapults loaded with rocks, & men with spears or swords; or else airplanes & submarines & bombs & barbed-wire --It's Rage that rules over all Principalities Of Weaponries, backing up age-old anger, or else balled-up Pride. Those things, in the domain of government (whether "Theirs" or "Ours") Surely do not reflect a secure, sovereign centeredness on the part of citizens--much less Reasonableness, or Logic! --For as we know, Principalities founded largely on warlike Principles have throughout history, all fallen down Since sooner or later, weaker times occur in the life-cycle of any nation. And alas, it's well within the province of individuals, too, to engage in inter-personal battles & various all-out vendettas, armed to the teeth with resentments And then, sooner or later, to regret the energies spent on such activities when faced with the spectacle of a much-neglected Hearth, with things at home generally going to rack & ruin there --And so, even as glowering combatants spike their spite, they may notice (even if only just out of the corner of their eyes, & even as they embark on the fray, just prior to taking final leave of the senses) Their wardrobes running downhill with ever-increasing speed; dust collecting on their dining-tables & their refrigerators depleted; their hair uncombed, or even totally mussed or even completely torn out; & muck forming at the edges of their fingernails And as they stomp around in warlike frenzy (still worse yet!) their once-proud record-players on rickety, tilting tables, skating figure-eights right in the middle of their Mozart, & Audiotapes & CD'S galore lying around trampled underfoot on the floor As Their starving dependents sing out sadly in the background, in weak falsetto, all together in a chorus... --And similar reminders of a Life that remains fundamental; & absolutely Central; & all-important Even when insufficiently attended to.
OF 'NEGATIVE REINFORCEMENT' Strange to say, but there are alas people who feel they're "making progress in a relationship--even an intimate interpersonal relationship--when they're in some way annoying their potentially close, fast friends or even loving partners! But while healthier folk usually regard such "going forward" as naturally involving constantly thinking up new & fresh delights for their companions, and soothing them--thus drawing them ever closer by pleasing them-- The aforementioned weirdos, evoked at the opening of this text Tend to do the exact opposite; & though such people are, to be sure, relatively rare, & are thus a bizarre & curious albeit rather obnoxious genre unto themselves Generally they aren't much fun to be around--generally they proceed by trying to get attention by troubling one; generally they proceed by irritating one, as if they thought there might be some money they might inherit or maybe some other, unforeseen, benefit, should one suddenly perish, perhaps of a case of rampant ulcers. Happily, Psychologists have dealt with this! They say that there are, indeed, people so annoyingly contrary, perverse & disturbèd--or I guess they mean, just plain Nutz-- That they think that the best way to reach out to even the very best friends &/or closest associates that they've got Is by constantly harping on any flaws they've got, while blaming them for their own shortcomings; & in general half-qvetching them to Death. & That, shrinks term, "demanding Negative Reinforcement"; which is, I think, an approach to developing friendship or any other type of relationship That's Mean, Misunderstanding, or maybe just Pathetic --Especially if the offending person is actually someone whom we really rather like... --Sadder still it is, I think, if the offending person is in fact The Person Whom We Love, gone haywire, oddly contrary, or even just plain loco for Some Reason We Haven't An Inkling Of; & Who's forgotten that we still love her or him despite the odds; & who's being in any case Just A Plain Pain In The Ass!
OF HOLDING ONE'S TEMPER OR, OF KEEPING IN TOUCH WITH THE PRIMAL, WITHOUT DEVOLVING INTO A PRIMATE 1.A perennial problem among us 'civilized peoples' of course, is how to re-connect with the Primal without acting just like Primates; After all, what's the good of yelling & shouting, & cursing & howling & hopping up & down & behaving (or rather, misbehaving) like some primitive, totally ungovernable ape in a wilderness Who on top of that has lost his temper & flipped out & gone completely bonkers? --What we need around here, I for one think, is a little less respect for "Personal Expressiveness" & utterances reflecting things like "Repressed Feelings" & so-called "Gutsy Reality" And whole lot more Civilization & Exquisiteness, dammit!!! 2. --Still, I for one must admit that personally, despite the highly self-disciplined, totally balanced, & in fact probably impossibly saintly demeanor which I aspire to Like most people, when faced with totally exasperating situations, I too occasionally forget to mind my Manners; &, like most people, I too occasionally flip out, freak out, or even hit the ceiling; And of course, like most people I too sometimes worry about that Since needless to say (rare as those occasions are!) I always regret them afterwards. --For Manners make up, do they not, a sort of Social "Miracle Glue" Which can cement the bars to the top of as well as the bottom of the cage which all of us sometimes need When as all of us sometimes do, we start acting too obviously nutsy; & misbehave or get just plain "mad" --On the other hand, there's obviously such a thing as going too far in the opposite direction, by showing too much self-Control; For there is in life--is there not?--just some utter krap that's thrown our way Which even the most passive ape would probably refuse to stand for! 3. Still, since rage seldom gets a person anyplace, probably it's best to remain socially speaking, just what for the most part we Humans really are: Extraordinarily Sophisticated Apes with--by & large--exceptionally cheerful, friendly, & cooperative attitudes.
"Of The Gravity That Does Not Bring Us Down" was first published in Telescope, © Michael Benedikt l986. "Of People Who Attempt To Relate By Demanding What Psychologists Term 'Negative Reinforcement'" was first published in Agni, © Michael Benedikt l992. "Of Holding One's Temper; Or, Of Keeping In Touch With The Primal, Without Merely Devolving Into A Primate" was first published in Lips, © Michael Benedikt l985. These Webversions, © 2000 Michael Benedikt
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Link to Home Page of
The Thesaurus & Other New Verse from 'Of:'
Links To Other Poems at Thesaurus / 'Of:' Site
Thesaurus; Or, From A Childhood
Rita & Ringo
Right In The Middle Of Everything Folonari Red Wine
Time Is A Toy Of Panty-Lines That Show
Of Granny Smith's Green Apples Of 'Turning Away From The World'
L I N K S TO O T H E R B E N E D I K T S I T E S
WITH SELECTIONS FROM HIS
PUBLISHED POETRY BOOKS
Poems from Benedikt's first 2 books of poetry, THE BODY and SKY
Two Sites with Poems from Benedikt's 4th book
of poetry, NIGHT CRIES
Brief Prose Poems & Critical Prose (includes Interview With Benedikt)
Prose Poems & Microfictions
Poems from Benedikt's 5th & most recent
book of poetry, re embattled love,
THE BADMINTON AT GT. BARRINGTON
The Badminton at Great Barrington; Or, Gustave Mahler & The Chattanooga Choo-Choo
Poems from a 2nd Benedikt mss.-in-progress--a
collection called TRANSITIONS
Poems from Boston & Cambridge
(Note: TRANSITIONS is mainly narrative
OF: includes verse in a wide variety of genres)
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