The Cliffs of Dover



It was a gloomy day and I found myself reading Matthew Arnold. I wanted god and love and  knew both to be evanescent, and I also knew (as I’ve known since adolescence) that both are simply ideas. And so I thought of Matthew Arnold: for the world, which seems to lie before us like a land of dreams, so various, so beautiful, so new, hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light, nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain…


One may go on: Arnold’s god was the product of a cartoon where the old testament meets the new testament and creates a granitic and loving deity who can only be envisioned by intense meditation. Thinking of this late in the day encouraged my sadness. Oh the sad retreat of the Sea of Faith; the mordancies of knowing what imagination can and cannot do. 


I thought today how Arnold presages Stevens in his tough minded insistence that poetry stands for something. 


And in the meantime I played with dogs, wrote a book review about disability and American history, affirmed the rightness of a film under production about autism and poetry, and ate, standing up, half a burrito. 


I did not go to the ocean. It was in my head all day.