RANT by Diane Di Prima

ONE:  Read or listen to Diane Di Prima’s poem, “Rant”:

Rant
You cannot write a single line without a cosmology
a cosmogony
laid out, before all eyes

there is no part of yourself you can separate out
saying, this is memory, this is sensation
this is the work I care about, this is how I
make a living

it is whole, it is a whole, it always was whole
you do not “make” it so
there is nothing to integrate, you are a presence
you are an appendage of the work, the work stems from
hangs from the heaven you create

every man / every woman carries a firmament inside
and the stars in it are not the stars in the sky

without imagination there is no memory
without imagination there is no sensation
without imagination there is no will, desire

history is a living weapon in your hand
and you have imagined it, it is thus that you
“find out for yourself”
history is the dream of what can be, it is
the relation between things in a continuum

of imagination
what you find out for yourself is what you select
out of an infinite sea of possibility
no one can inhabit your world

yet it is not lonely,
the ground of imagination is fearlessness
discourse is video tape of a movie of a shadow play
but the puppets are in your hand
your counters in a multidimensional chess
which is divination
and strategy

the war that matters is the war against the imagination
all other wars are subsumed in it

the ultimate famine is the starvation
of the imagination

it is death to be sure, and the undead
seek to inhabit someone else’s world

the ultimate claustrophobia is the syllogism
the ultimate claustrophobia is “it all adds up”
nothing adds up and nothing stands in for
anything else

THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST
THE IMAGINATION
THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST
THE IMAGINATION
THE ONLY WAR THAT MATTERS IS THE WAR AGAINST
THE IMAGINATION
ALL OTHER WARS ARE SUBSUMED IN IT

there is no way out of a spiritual battle
there is no way you can avoid taking sides
there is no way you can not have a poetics
no matter what you do: plumber, baker, teacher

you do it in the consciousness of making
or not making your world
you have a poetics: you step into the world
like a suit of readymade clothes

or you etch in light
your firmament spills into the shape of your room
the shape of the poem, of your body, of your loves

a woman’s life / a man’s life is an allegory

dig it

there is no way out of the spiritual battle
the war is the war against the imagination
you can’t sign up as a conscientious objector

the war of the worlds hangs here, right now, in the balance
it is a war for this world, to keep it
a vale of soul-making

the taste in all our mouths is the taste of our power
and it is bitter as death

bring yourself home to yourself, enter the garden
the guy at the gate with the flaming sword is yourself

the war is the war for the human imagination
and no one can fight it but you and no one can fight it for you

the imagination is not only holy, it is precise
it is not only fierce, it is practical
men die everyday for the lack of it,
it is vast and elegant

intellectus means “light of the mind”
it is not discourse it is not even language
the inner sun

the polis is constellated around the sun
the fire is central

 


TWO:

After hearing this poem again for the third time in the past few days, some of the lines have decided to move in with me. They’ve taken up residence in my living room, sprawled around in various places. Some have flopped down on my couch and eye me like a vagrant on a city stoop:  “Yeah? So what I’m lyin’ here? Whatsit to ya?”  

Others are drifting through the hallways, whispering, “The guy at the gate with the flaming sword is yourself… 

These lines and I co-habitate, commune.

 
…there is no way you can not have a poetics
no matter what you do: plumber, baker, teacher

you do it in the consciousness of making
or not making your world
you have a poetics: you step into the world
like a suit of readymade clothes..

 

The guy at the gate with the flaming sword is yourself. 

 

DIG IT.

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