First, let us take a look at poems that seem to confirm the view that ours is the Age of Irony.
~ Robert Cording
When did the modern Age of Irony start? WWI.
In his memoir Goodbye
to All That, Robert Graves
tells how he showed his new poems to Siegfried Sasson:
“He frowned and said that war should not be written about in such a
realistic way. In return, he showed me some of his poems. One of them began:
Return to me, colours that were my joy,
Siegried had not yet been in the trenches. I told him, in my old soldier manner, that he would soon change his style.”
The antidote to constant irony is not so much belief as the “wisdom of uncertainty.” We see this in another of Cording's poems.
KAFKA AND THE RABBI OF BELZ
After 9/11, Graydon Carter, the editor of Vanity Fair, declared it was “the end of the age of irony.”
WHAT MY FATHER BELIEVED
He didn’t know about the Rock of Ages
or gathering at the beautiful river
that flows beneath the throne of God.
He’d never heard of the
either, and didn’t know the purpose of life
was to love and honor and serve God.
He’d been to the village church as a boy
because his mother and father were buried
in a cemetery under wooden crosses.
His sister Catherine was buried there too.
The day their mother died Catherine took
to the kitchen corner where the stove sat,
and cried. She wouldn’t eat or drink, just cried
until she died there, died of a broken heart.
She was three or four years old, he was five.
What he knew about the nature of God
and religion came from the sermons
the priests told at mass, and this got mixed up
with his own life. He knew living was hard,
and that even children are meant to suffer.
Sometimes, when he was drinking he’d ask,
“Didn’t God send his own son here to suffer?”
My father believed we are here to lift logs
that can’t be lifted, to hammer steel nails
so bent they crack when we hit them.
In the slave labor camps in
he’d seen men try the impossible and fail.
He believed life is hard, and we should
help each other. If you see someone
on a cross, his weight pulling him down
and breaking his muscles, you should try
to lift him, even if only for a minute,
even though you know lifting won’t save him.
~ John Guzlowski
so what if it’s a dream
In the worst
hour of the worst season
“Doubt is narcissistic; we look at everything critically, including ourselves, and perhaps that comforts us. Poetry . . . trusts the world, and rips us from the deep-sea diving suits of our “I”; it believes in the possibility of beauty and its tragedy. Doubt is death’s plenipotentiary, its longest and wittiest shadow; poetry runs toward an unknown goal.” ~ Adam Zagajewski
“Tenderness toward existence.” ~ Adrienne Rich
* * *