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What Rough beast (Revised)

by seanfarragher 

Posted: 17 April 2005
Word Count: 259
Summary: After Reading the "Second Coming" of William Butler Yeats.
Related Works: “Facts Are Stubborn Things” -- Revised 3 • FOUND POEM & POEM: EUGENE GOODWIN AMERICAN CIVIL WAR DIARY • Fountain of Youth • Poems with Anais Nin • Stations of the Cross • Wonderful History -- • 

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"What Rough Beast"

“What rough beast” rapes again on my honor and door?
I cannot shake living free. She clings as parasite to
time before shells when my bare body of compressed ego
in an instant of quiver, reason and fallacy awakes.
Are we fake? Where does that specie we call event
and tragedy live when the roads are broken by
incomprehensible rivers? --Every plot arranged as
an incomplete film – marigolds pitch inward and stung
from fine, wretched poison shaken with salt and pepper
on an open roll, while Zinnia, a call girl,
with a brazen pitch of breasts rides up our legs
to tempt delusion. There is no mercy in terror.
There is nothing you can say to your abuser
that will empty them of the reasons she slid cross
my eyes and covered my slipping knots
with her mouth and the perfectly formed gams
quaking unknown to her desire for relief.

How do we grow pleasure as a womb covering fingers
and lips? How do we escape that leap from the rim
of the planet or star, or mother and father to brag
about high, grandiose marvels, and to pretend truth
and glory are willful and never haphazard?

When my mother touched my parts I was dissolved.
I sank on my knees and prayed to demons with teeth
that cut and bruised my memory of perfection that
middle road before birth when we are innocent.

If I had never remembered the names of the beasts would
I have been safe from the fragmentary grenade of guilt?

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Comments by other Members

Ticonderoga at 15:13 on 18 April 2005  Report this post
sean - this is a rich and complex poem which doesn't in my opinion gain any thing from being linked to Yeats; I kept looking for correspondances and references and there aren't really any. Also, the Yeats works on global and cosmic scale whereas yours is very much a personal piece.
I assume the first line 'rapes' should be 'raps'?
The phrase which begins 'It clings' and ends in 'fallacy' doesn't resolve itself or make complete sense.
There is wonderful stuff here, but, at the moment it feels 'splurged' and, to my eyes, needs a bit of reworking.



seanfarragher at 16:01 on 18 April 2005  Report this post
It is rapes. And the poem needs work. It is not as polished, but I wanted reaction to the work. Thanks for your input.

Beanie Baby at 21:59 on 18 April 2005  Report this post
Hi Sean, how ya doing? This is very deep and quite tragic but it is beautifully (very beautifully) written. It is very powerful with a high degree of anger at the lost innocence and the confusion. I think I may have said this about your work before, but this certainly comes over as a performance piece. If I heard you reading it with all the passion you so clearly feel - I think I'd have to come over and hug you.
All the best,
Beanie x

laurafraser at 14:14 on 19 April 2005  Report this post
You give an insight to a psyche both brave and almost inocent in it's inquisitiveness, which makes this a ver tender poem. I dodn't get the anger that Beanie pointed out, more a tragic sense of 'why' if that makes sense.
This is a searching and soulful poem and i love the way that you bring in zinnia the call girl, sean it really is a fantastic mind you have-like a pandora's box you pull out magical treasures


seanfarragher at 17:22 on 19 April 2005  Report this post
Thank You all for your positive comments on the poem. I am not certain Yeats's poem is only cosmic (it is that for certain) -- but Yeats lived a tempestuous life, and his sexuality repressed early and fully lived was an impicit force in many of his poems. His image of the rough beast is a powerful symbol of the mystery of our sexuality and its evolution through out life. His "rough beast" led me to my poem.

Beanie and Laura, thank you always for your support and both of you have many many "magical treasures" in your work.



gard at 00:42 on 20 April 2005  Report this post
Hi SeanF

there are some deep, powerful images in this piece with some gorgeous poetic phrases turning and twisting along the way, ending in the stillness of the last verse which does rather bring one to centre so to speak.

It has a beauty in its emotional tension which rises towards the end of the initial verse. The blatency of the last verse caused me as the reader to re-consider the initial verse in a different view.

I did not think "fragmentary grenade of guilt" fit. It seemed too gutteral ugly and unenlightening with all the lovely language you had before. Maybe that was your intention. I thought too much alliteration. Just me


seanfarragher at 05:51 on 20 April 2005  Report this post
Gard, I will think about that last line, as the end of the poem has a crucial resolution. I thought the phrase contemporary, as I see our dissolution as society far more extreme than Yeats's years. His center did not hold. We have no center, no balance, no elegance. We have 9/11 (among many other horrible events and consequence of events), which I knew at that time as a New Yorker who worked in the streets as a taxi driver.

Guilt is an enormous force for destruction that enters in many ways as grenade suddenly and with deadly force. I do appreciate your comments Gard. I will be look forward to reading and commenting on your work.

Elsie at 16:23 on 20 April 2005  Report this post
Hello Sean. I think I've found a way to understand your cutting and splicing, so that it makes more sense in my head. For example, this piece:

There is nothing you can say to your abuser
that will empty them of the reasons / she slid cross
my eyes and covered my slipping knots with her mouth

If mentally I break it there, see it as a splicing, it makes more sense to me. (Is that wrong?)

The end stanza is very moving, about the guilt, that I know is a result of these things that happen. Your phrase "touched my parts' surpised me - in that usually you are so graphic, and this was almost coy. I wonder if there is a middle path?

I liked your phrase "I cannot shake living free." And I know exactly what you mean about there is 'nothing you can say to your abuser." There must be so much anger there.

I too, am missing a word or line even that makes sense to, resolves, the lines 'It clings.."

seanfarragher at 17:36 on 20 April 2005  Report this post
Elsie, Ticonderoga, Laura and all. Thank You for your attention to the poem. I agree that the line that began it clings didn't resolve and had the wrong pronoun. Please consider the revised version with revised line breaks and stanza breaks. Thank You.


seanfarragher at 17:54 on 20 April 2005  Report this post
Dear Elsie, you are quite correct. I call the cutting and splicing "layering", for example as it was/is done with egg tempra technique in painting. Colors are built in painting by layering of hues and value to create luminesence. I am also a painter (not retired from that form because of arthretis). I juxtapose images as you cannot superimpose words as one does pigments.

Cutting and splicing, I may use the term, thankyou, .... is an apt way of describing the layering technique of my experiments in poetic voice. John Asberry uses that technique to create his immediate and surface images for his poems. His experience poems are not stories or themes but experience set into words. He is brilliant at doing it. His poems are not accessible to ordinary readers, which seems to be an important issue for critics of contemporary poetry. Acessibity is an interesting issue. I choose in my poetry to stand to the Right of Asberry in that I want the reader to see the larger context, the story, the narrative, and at the same time use their imagination (with my images and theirs) to create their own mrntal response.

Your mental breaks are apt and accurate. No,you are right not wrong.

You wrote: "Your phrase "touched my parts' surpised me - in that usually you are so graphic, and this was almost coy. I wonder if there is a middle path?

There is a middle path. Poem context determines language. What you read in Byzantium is another darker and more extreme poem that relates the tragedies of terrorism to child abuse. I realise that is an enormous leap, and I agree now that my porno style prose segments didnt work in the poem, and have been removed. The universal misunderstanding of those sections showed me that they didnt work, as no one saw it as I did, a way to make the pain horrible and present for the reader, but rather words for pedophiles to get off on.

You also wrote: "I liked your phrase "I cannot shake living free." And I know exactly what you mean about there is 'nothing you can say to your abuser." There must be so much anger there."

The anger seethes as I had repressed the memories of the abuse until i was in my fifties. And could not confront my parents. My father was dead and my mother suffered from memory loss and dementia. When my mother died in 2002 I did not grieve and I had to pretend to grieve for my children (who loved their grandmother) and my sister who is still denies it.

Yes, You and the other person are right. I made the change. I revised the line it clings.

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