Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Bill Knott's "Peace (Pascal)"/Making Peace with Desire

I happened to find this poem on Bill Knott's Blog, part of a selection of political poems that he posted there. The poem may be referencing Pascal's Wager, which suggests that one should wager that there is a God, because life lived under the presumption that there is a God would to a good, peaceful ethical life--even if God is an illusion. If God is not, then you could go to hell for eternity.

The poem seems to struggle with the longstanding human problematic of desire--read a certain way, the Bible is one long lesson in the complications of human desire. How does a poetry of peace make peace with the restlessness, the cupiditas, at the core of human being?
PEACE (PASCAL) by Bill Knott

There is a valley
Is the oldest story.

Its temperate qualities
Make us descend the trees
To settle down beside
Fruits and fields.

By its river content
To sit quietly in a small tent
To fashion fishing spears
From fallen limbs.

No need to climb its hills
No need to go up there
To look to see
Another valley.


Anonymous said...

it's a take on his aphorism that "All of our problems proceed from our inability to sit quietly in a small room" . . .

. . . Bishop addresses it at the close of her poem "Questions of Travel" . . .

I do add a footnote with his quote to some printings of his poem, ——I need to re-edit ( and add some new politpoems to) that book . . .

regards from Bill Knott

p.s. if i can ever figure out the software to link your blog to mine i will, because i greatly admire what you're doing here . . .

Philip Metres said...

Thanks, Bill. Can we consider this poem for the upcoming COME TOGETHER peace poetry anthology?