Monday, May 15, 2017
How Does This World
In a deceptively simple poem titled "In Vain," Jack Kerouac has a beautiful image:
"The windowshade string upon
the hand bible
I discovered this poem while prepping for Modern Poetry; it is the voice of a somber, haunted, poet Kerouac rather than the road-delirious, live-for-the-moment novelist Kerouac that emerges in these lines, each image "in vain," whether highbrow or low, distant or at-hand. It is the voice of a poet trying to make meaning; the voice of a poet asking, "How does this world?"
It is a collage. It is in-the-making, imperfect, working its imperfections into the whole. It is tactile and immediate, present tense despite the absence (or rather, the implication) of the verb "is" throughout the poem. The implication of a motel room in those things—"windowshade string" and "hand bible"—evokes Kerouac on the road, but exhausted beyond sleep, wondering what it's all for. Wondering how does this world.
It feels almost absurd, but this isn't far from anything Emily Dickinson does in her poems, as well. "How does this world" could be her question, explored in nearly two thousand poems.
Over the next few blog entries, unless I go off on some interesting tangent, I hope to explore some of the pieces that comprise the endless answer to "how does this world."
See the complete Kerouac poem here: