On the way back from the Feast of Tabernacles in 1999, I happened upon an unusual sort of film called Possession that is precisely the sort of movie I greatly enjoy watching, an unlikely romance between two researchers of Victorian poetry, one of whom is a poet himself, who stumble upon an unlikely romance between Randolph Henry Ash, fictional poet laureate of Queen Victoria, and a fictional poetess, Christobel LaMotte [spoiler alert] who had an illegitimate child with the poet who ended up being an ancestor of one of the characters. In the course of this poetic and historical adventure, two people who initially do not get along find themselves to be caught up in the same sort of whirlwind romance as the historical poets that they are researching, a romance that combines research and intellect with the beauty and art of poetry.
This particular movie, in a subtle way, influenced one of my own plays about researchers falling in love over the course of their own historical discovery, although influence is never a straightforward way. As a poet myself I find that the expression of feelings through the medium of a poem often creates as many problems as it is designed to solve. In reflecting about the repercussions and implications of my own behavior, I am struck by the fact that life and fiction and art interact with each other in complicated ways. Whether one is dealing with two fearful and repressed intellectuals or the sort of interactions that I find myself in, the same sort of dynamics of fear and longing often interact with each other.
As a poet myself, of a rather shy and restrained type, I was reminded in the course of watching the interaction between poets and intellectuals (two of the worlds I happen to inhabit) in my own life. Some weeks ago, I wrote a bit about the complicated course of friendships and work that I have lived in the last few months. Since I am a person who simply ends up inevitably involved in whatever affairs and situations are going on around me, I find my life immensely richer and more complicated as a result of it. In writing I thought about the many meanings of a particular place, and the fact that it inspired the first poem I wrote when I came to Oregon, a poem I sent to an appreciative friend who inspired it, which gladdened me greatly.
My poetry has not always had such a wonderful end. As a high schooler, some of the young women who inspired my own verses were so upset by my writings that they planned to kill me, an act which they repented of and for which I forgave them. That particular experience, as one can imagine, was rather scarring, and it later inspired its own play, a feverish series of dream scenes set to poetry of a young man deeply afraid to write because of the consequences it brings. And yet compulsion drives me on, no less now than when I was a far younger man. Were I a bolder or less cautious man, I would be less bothered and upset by the pain and complications that my candor and sincerity bring, and were I a less intense or passionate or serious person, my openness and candor would cause less offense, and yet so it is. All too often in life I have felt myself under a great deal of danger and threat because the works of my mind and hands have been so threatening to others, without any conscious intent to threaten, just an honest compulsion to wrestle with the truths of our existence and surroundings.
Yet I find that the same qualities that so often make life complicated also make it possible to endure such complications as there are. A person of honest and open character as well as honorable and considerate conduct can certainly cause a great deal of unwanted offense, but is just as likely to eventually ease such offenses as are made once they are better understood. It is my hope that such difficulties as I have found myself in as a result of my candor as well as the quirks of my nature and the repercussions of my own experiences are such that they will ease the sufferings and complications and difficulties in time, and that they may serve to help others and eventually lead to my own happiness and success rather than be a source of stress and grief for me and for those whom I care about and respect. God willing, the poetry of my heart and soul will build up relationships and encourage their recipients and strengthen the bonds of friendship and love, and not serve as a source of such tension and strain forever.