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A Hundred Gourds 2:2 March 2013
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Steven Carter - US


Leaves and Angels


True fact (as my freshmen used to write): In Florence, Italy, there’s a wing of a psychiatric hospital specializing in patients who suffer from over-exposure to great art.

Patients are observed experiencing delusions, free-floating anxiety, paranoia, even depression. Why? If poetry makes nothing happen, as W.H. Auden famously wrote, shouldn’t the same be true of art?

Stand in front of Michelangelo’s David; what do you see? An impossibly outsized right hand, all the more beautiful for being so; and a face reminding one of Lord Byron (or is that the Apollo Belvedere?): a warp and woof between real and ideal.

As for crass indifference—shouldn’t that, too, be a ticket of admission to the Florence nuthouse? Last night, a dream-voice whispered a bittersweet nothing in my ear:

If you say to someone breathlessly, “I saw an angel fall in the street today!” they look at you askance. If you say to someone breathlessly, “I saw a leaf fall in the street today!” they look at you askance.

              shimmering ponds of dream—
                            wearying
                                        of my reflections




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