IN PRAISE OF CONSCIENTIOUS OBJECTION:

 

for Harold Pinter on what would have been his 88th Birthday.

Happy birthday.

In death, may those aformentioned ‘children of light’
Rise to greet you. In joining the disappeared you move nimbly,
With the patterned menace and sleek of before.
Reincarnated in print, full with your Nineteen Sixties persona;
Your face slightly askance, hard brow troubled,
And your shirt and suit worn like shadows,
You give and gave each step undertaken
And each statement made its sown pause.

At your prime, as a force, you had become a known vapour;
Solid in the streets you once peopled but part of something else
All inhaled; the uneasy feeling that soon what we did not
Want to occur would soon happen,
And that despite past transgressions,
The untested future would, with its promise,
Be drawn and quartered and barbed with other swords
To impale. Certainly, your words were wounds

As the terrified air found your imprint.
Men in coastal retreats, or cramped basements
Were as subject as anyone ever was to vile threat.
Those unsanctioned scenes and closed rooms
Would soon be part exchanged for polemic,
As the poetry of encounter became the political prose
Of the dead.
Even at the age of Eighteen you knew well
What the fight would entail, through pure instinct,

A near divine intuition that flowered and thorned
Through harsh youth. As if a boy grown in war
Was already inured to the conflict, and so, an act
Of Conscientious objection would shape, shade and alter
And cultivate your life’s truth. Your pen was fist, gun
And sword, carving unwanted fat, shaping abstracts
That would emerge as sharp diamonds reflecting exactly
The re-evaluated cost of the real. In these poems, these plays,

These fearsome acts of defiance, the lumbering hordes
You fast breasted were in desire and dream taught to feel.
But not what to feel.
Why?
Because you did not need their influence on you.
The gifts you possessed were God given
If God is the force behind eyes
That consolidates sight and grants whatever is seen
Its true merit, as if all once created

Had to be created again, to be prized.
It has been ten years since your death.
Language and life miss you deeply.
Profoundly too, if we’re honest, those of us who still write
And speak. You took the word home and prepared it too,
For its exile. Your separation renegotiates freedom,
As your rich voice through death’s silence

Is heard today between madness and the present idiots’
Stumble. Your former clarity calls us, those who walk
With your shadow. We are listening now,
And stand, watchful.
And so, these words, sent to Harold.
In this hope for return we pause, ready.
The aspirant and the waiting,
We are the Pinteresque you still teach.

 

 

David Erdos 10th October 2018

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