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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

You Cannot Remember "When We Were Here Together"

When We Were Here Together

Kenneth Patchen

When we were here together in a place we did not know,
nor one another.

A bit of grass held between the teeth for a moment, bright hair on the wind.

What we were we did not know, nor even the grass or the flame of hair turning to ash on the wind.

But they lied about that.
From the beginning they lied.
To the child, telling him that there was somewhere anger against him, and a hatred against him, and the only reason for his being in the world.

But never did they tell him that the only evil and danger was in themselves; that they alone were the prisoners and the betrayers; that they - they alone - were responsible for what was being done in the world.

And they told the child to starve and to kill the child that was within him; for only by doing this could he become a useful and adjusted member of the community which they had prepared for him.

And this time, alas, they did not lie.

And with the death of the child was born a thing that had neither the character of a man nor the character of a child, but was a horrible and monstrous parody of the two; and it is in this world now that the flesh of man’s spirit lies twisted and despoiled under the indifferent stars.

When we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one another.

O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth.
O beautiful the hair of our mortal goddess on the indifferent wind.

It is a revelation to realize the pure innocence and the virtuous existence of being "what we were we did not know." Kenneth Patchen, the poet, speaks of our initial blessed ignorance upon entering this world -- a time of our life before understanding anything really mattered, and a time before experience and knowledge formed our character.

Then, something as simple as tasting a blade of grass between our teeth or feeling the gentle wind blow through our hair was wholly natural and free of human judgment. We were simply living organisms of beautiful existence.

Perhaps, before others taught us lies perpetrated as important truths that formed our consciousness and stuck in our brains, we lived a brief time "when we were here together" peacefully occupying our space in the dependent harmony of a natural, loving community.

Yet, believing they understood the purpose of life, our own people demanded we "kill the child within us" to mature and function as members of the society into which we were born -- a life complicated by dark emotions and a learned distrust: a dangerous place rife with "strangers."

Thus, too soon we became aware of our sworn enemies, those whom all close to us held responsible for our woes and concerns. Ironically, these foes were nothing more than scapegoats of blame for our own human condition of constant, personal struggle and strife. Yet, in many ways, hating those unlike ourselves became so much easier and so much more natural than loving them.

Child to man -- over time we grew into "a horrible and monstrous parody of the two" with the flesh and the spirit of a twisted, manipulated creation. And all the while, we recklessly wandered beneath the "indifferent stars" whose existence depended absolutely nothing upon our murderous human vanity and senseless fears.

Yet, no return to an earthly Eden exists for such a human form. Our own mortality prevents such a visit to a place so innocent and so perfect. The indigenous harmony has been lost forever. Not even so much as a sufficient memory exists to remind us of unbridled simple and natural acceptance because then we were just too young to remember. Still, a mysterious longing haunts our souls. We beg and we pray for the beauty we no longer have.

"O green the bit of warm grass between our teeth.
O beautiful the hair of our mortal goddess on the indifferent wind."

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning."

James 1:17, Holy Bible

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