Saturday, September 24, 2011

The Great Equalizer

Everything’s perfectly balanced—
Going out, you will leave just

As much light behind you
As you brought coming in.


  1. Ah, the cynic in me wishes it were so. I see too many 'bad' garish lights, who never want to go, crowding out the good.

    Proof: Ahmadinejad's recent UN speech.

  2. I love your mystical streak, Vassilis, whenever it turns up. I've always wondered if we bring anything in particular with us, and when we lay the bundle down, where it goes. "They all go into the dark," some sourpuss from St. Louis said, and yes—but....

  3. Can the withheld light of the Eleusinian wheat sheaf have been kidnapped by a Messenian riddler who was born in the middle of a very dark night?

  4. Can't help thinking of these lights going out in darkness...

    (Crude imaginings of the improbable secret history of a poem, from a stranger's impossible distance.)

  5. I think these four comments from three careful readers of a four-line poem whose subject is life and death deserve more than my usual laconic response, so here goes: Conrad, I don’t think the poem distinguishes between “bad” and “good” light—just that particular energy that as a whole makes up the world in general; that there are (and always have been) villains does not change that fact.

    Joe: Eliot’s lengthy take on where everything goes (in the dark) is an eloquent, carefully thought-out pessimistic poetic rendering of one man’s attempt to come to terms with the “meaning” of his existence; I wish I could be as probing but I have neither the talent nor the courage to pursue matters as far as T.S. did, hence my inclination to write considerably shorter(!) poems on the subject.

    Tom: It’s telling that you would include a link to a photo from a site that is inextricably and tragically intertwined with Greece’s recent history—Here is the Wikipedia article which gives an objective picture of the black happenings that were subsequently used as propaganda by a succession of conservative governments against any Greek who dared to raise his/her voice in protest against the rightest backlash following the German occupation and the resultant bloody, civil war. Yes, the massacre was indeed a black page and should have never occurred but the persecution, torture, arrest, incarceration in concentration camps and killing of many, many partisans after the war was even more reprehensible; unfortunately, even after nearly 70 years, the Greeks on both sides are still nursing their wounds.

    Here is a link to a Wikipedia article on the infamous Security Battalions which fought against the Greek partisans during the fierce battle for control of Meligalas.

    Thanks to all three of you for commenting.

  6. Vassilis,

    Thanks for taking the time to "open up" this one for us.

    To live under a shadow, and to retain some inkling or projection of what lies beneath that shadow, is a way of giving history its due; and in the same act, the registration of such shadowy knowledges must represent a moving-out from beneath their shadow, into the light.

    However harsh, the light.

    The summer I spent in Athens, 1964, in a wee apartment up on the red dirt hills above the city, it was impossible to look anywhere without feeling the historical phantoms breathing all around. Down in the city the buildings were still riddled with bullet holes. Parked in the harbor at Piraeus was the US Sixth Fleet.

    Between the devil and the deep blue eternity...

  7. In the hoary lingo of Pulp Westerns, a large gun -- in particular the Colt .45 -- was called "an equalizer".

    But of course in the case of historical genocide, the guns are usually all in the hands of the killers, and nothing adds up.


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