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Tuesday, 6 February 2018

Christ of Revolution and of Poetry

'Not from a monstrance silver-wrought
But from the tree of human pain
Redeem our sterile misery,
Christ of Revolution and of Poetry,
That man’s long journey
May not have been in vain.'

David Gascoyne

'The Spirit is flesh, I tell you
and God himself is eau de vie,
he who has joined him knows this,
he who has sipped is drunk of it.'

Benjamin Fondane

'Despair has wings
Love has despair
For shimmering wing
Societies can change'

Pierre Jean Jouve

“ The poet's job is to go on holding on to something like faith, through the darkness of total lack of faith ... the eclipse of God. - David Gascoyne ”

Gascoyne's biographer Richard Fraser writes that 'Nominally he remained an Anglican, but he had read and suffered his own way to religious understanding through an encounter with Christian Existentialism in the persons of Fondane and Chestov, and the pervasive influences of Kierkegaard and Heidegger.' Poems 1937-42, marked a shift in Gascoyne's work towards a more explicitly religious sensibility and Fraser suggests that 'The religious verse will probably outlast the earlier stuff because it addresses permanent questions.'

Niall McDevitt writes that 'Gascoyne’s Christianity is that of Blake, of Coppe, of the millenarians and Gnostics. ‘Christ of Revolution and of Poetry’ is the startling refrain. One really doesn’t get better crucifixion poems than this [Ecce Homo from the sequence Miserere]; it is the equal of a painting by an Old Master, yet it is updated to the Fascist era. The whole sequence Miserere is evidence of his religious existentialist quest, via friends such as Pierre Jean Jouve and Benjamin Fondane, as well as
the posthumously influential Kierkegaard.'

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David Gascoyne - Prelude to a New Fin-de-Si├Ęcle.

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