First wonder if the love you celebrate
will prove sustainable. Will it endure,
renewed, a life-time guaranteed amour,
or does it have an expiration date?
I'm a sucker for the unromantic, a sucker for the impertinent, and of course the two often go hand in hand. Kotzin's sonnet is some shelter from the endless mist of moony swoony one finds in so much of today's poetry. Yesterday I mentioned my moderated opinion of Houellebecq's provocations. Every age needs its attempted addenda to L'Œuvre du marquis de Sade:
Not that I'm saying there is anything of sadism in Kotzin's poem, of course. Degrees in everything, which are informed at the extremes. Our minds are all infected by devils, but most of us fall short of the assassin's Shogun
. (Yeah, the quote from that really should be: "He cut off the heads of 131 lovers
for the Shogun," which even adds a hint at kink with its odd number, but I digress). The infection is just as ripe in Villon, and hardly less even in, say, the Andrew Marvell of "To his Coy Mistress"
, but it takes a different sort of expression.
In the Kotzin poetry serves as buffer state, and I've often imagined Auden's "O What Is That Sound"
as a metaphor for poetry in its sometimes vengeful function.
O what is that sound which so thrills the ear
Down in the valley drumming, drumming?
Only the scarlet soldiers, dear,
The soldiers coming.
The scarlet soldiers. The purple of poetry. The sound that so thrills the ear. The beat. The baton. The lovers say:
O where are you going? Stay with me here!
Were the vows you swore deceiving, deceiving?
No, I promised to love you, dear,
But I must be leaving.
I've had occasion in my life to witness poetry forcing love to expiration date, and striding along as it outlives its victim. How very, very refreshingly unromantic.