Sunday, August 07, 2005

Danse Russe

OK, I just got off a plane, and I'm exhausted, but I was in the mood to post something, so I'll post a poem. It's one of my favorites, by William Carlos Williams (of "beside the white chickens" fame):
Danse Russe

If I when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
"I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!"
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?
I've always seen this as a portrait of the artist being an artist, with all of the self-reflection and self-observation that goes along with it, while separately being an ordinary family man (or woman). I think this portrait could be painted of many philosophers -- the "I am lonely, lonely, I was born to be lonely, I am best so" line reminds me of something that Nietzsche said: "In order to live alone, one must be an animal or a God - says Aristotle. There is yet a third case: one must be both - a philosopher..." -- and scientists as well, once again indicating the similarities between the three.


Anonymous said...

I must say, well stated.

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