Monday, 17 January 2011

poem for Jean Cocteau (1889-1963)

The Inner Thing

"When I was a Parisian dandy
I took my youth for audacity
My wit I took for profundity
And my poetry I took for amusement

"But something other
Was in me;
An inner something
I knew not what...

"It started at Stravinsky's Le Sacre...
With five she-devils of terrible aspect;
I determined then I should come to the arts
As a monk goes to monastic orders

"It was then I believe
I became possessed
By some ferocious inner thing;
A thing that has remained unknown to me.

"Was that fierce thing an inner being
Or an unknown form of memory?
What was that thing? Ideas came
And I hurried myself to write them down:

"The mathematical calculation
The language
The content
The apparent simplicity -

"All were there to serve that thing
Which was a thing
With a subtle and secret mechanism;

"How came those words
To send those poems
Into the sky?

"That inner thing,
What is it?"


  1. I'm sure there are books that attempt to answer those last two questions, and we'd be no closer to the answer after we'd read them. It's a subtle and secret mechanism for sure.

  2. ST, many thanks.

    Mairi, Cocteau felt that he was possessed by a thing he couldn't identify. Was it some kind of madness? Or just a symptom thereof? Perhaps all who are under the spell of the 5 muses are so affected? Or maybe as Mercury (Queen) sings "It's a kind of magic". I hope it's the latter.


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