JAMES MERRILL - “The Nihilist as Hero”
All our French poets can turn an inspired line;
who has written six passable in sequence?’
said Valéry. That was a happy day for Satan….
I want words meat-hooked from the living steer,
but a cold flame of tinfoil licks the metal log,
beautiful unchanging fire of childhood
betraying a monotony of vision….
Life by definition breeds on change,
each season we scrap new cars and wars and women.
But sometimes when I am ill or delicate,
the pinched flame of my match turns unchanging green,
a cornstalk in green tails and seeded tassel….
A nihilist wants to live in the world as is,
and yet gaze the everlasting hills to rubble.
Robert Lowell, “The Nihilist as Hero”