To add new glory to man's ancient race,
But gloomy Self and Discord rule the age
and Truth's pale taper sinks and vanishes"-Joseph L. Dixon,
I met an old poet once, who used the best publisher of all (that is, himself), and gave away his books, to anyone who wished to read. He had a pair of tinted glasses, like a croupier's array, but when you saw his eyes, they were real, and not fading. I don't know why his glasses were that way, and like so folks in so many stories I recount, I wish I had asked. I was college age when I met him, and he hung out with us, because, like us, he was questing for something that dorm walls and keg parties did not provide.
He wrote very traditional poems, which rhymed and talked of Love and Truth and Nature, all with capitalized first letters, which he portrayed in metaphor as Spirits, in battle with phantasms. He rebelled against the shock value of "modern poets", who "seemingly rely upon the shock value of ugly and novel language to evoke the reader's interest" while those poets denied "the function of poetry: the depiction of the good, the beautiful and the true". His book, "The Analyst and Other Poems", is a kind of radio play in verse, with a protagonist named Marne. Although the Marne is a river in France, which featured in two wars, I have no idea if that was the derivation of the name.
It has been twenty three years since I've heard news of Joe. He was in his eighties when I knew him, so I know that he is probably gone. I keep his book on my shelf, printed for him by "Crescent Publications" of Los Angeles. The cover is quite nice, with a caption on the back "harmonious blending of modern with classical poetic interpretation".
I think lately of a flow I feel in life that I sometimes call poetry. I thought to myself on the drive home tonight how prosaic my life can be. I have my petty sins, my trivial tasks, my casual hypocrisies, and my inordinate ordinariness. But when I am in the midst of that flow I feel as though I have a niche in which I truly live and deeply breathe. Even as I write the phrases, I see their triteness and melodrama. But I long ago threw over living life like Hemingway's prose style. Hemingway least of all lived his life that way, after all.
I meet folks like Joe in this world, and they suggest to me that there is more to this world than getting my hair clipped at the chain haircut place, and getting the plastic diet soft drink bottles picked up from my car. Yet, when I'm in the flow of things bigger than myself, I can pick up those soft drink bottles and get my hair restrained from its current "wavy but not cool" unbound look. I see these fellows as the oases in a large desert. Don't get me wrong--I don't mind the desert. But I like the cooling feel of something different.
I've not signed up for songs of praise for Truth and Beauty and Art. But perhaps I'm hunting flow, and I'll take the people who sing their praises on my way as fellow travellers. It's not about how their glasses look, or the quality of their rhymes, even. It's some inexplicable flow thing, and it recharges me.