I was introduced to this poem this week, and it pleased me greatly—one of those right moment/right poem things. Perhaps today will be the right day for you to read ‘Strange Opera‘ by George Bilgere?

I love the everydayness of the tone and diction—it’s so splendidly “unpoetic” and matter-of fact. I love the way Bilgere looks so (ridiculously?!) far into one of those entirely forgettable moments of encounter, seeing it as not only as representative but as full of profound ‘beauty and… sadness’. I’m reassured by the fact that it’s not just me who has these unwieldy Cosmic Thoughts sometimes, prompted by a moment’s relationship, which then spin me in a centrifugal sort of way into a vertiginous contemplation of Life, The Universe and Everything. And I love the way the final two lines dismiss this cosmic sadness in such a pragmatic way—dismiss the ideas upon which the preceding 34 lines have so quietly and elegantly expanded. And I guess he’s right. In ‘Aubade’ Larkin writes of how ‘the mind blanks at the glare‘ of contemplating mortality. For me, Bilgere’s image of ‘singing arias every five minutes/ … [and] never get[ting] anything done’ is a deliciously less gloomy version of that.

See what I mean? Pleasing.

2 thoughts on “a stupendous ongoing index”
  1. Lovely poem, so matter of fact about the immense.
    Being self conscious in this enormous universe, without plunging straight into the centre of the Total Perspective Vortex, is a very peculiar blessing.
    The feeling in this of unexpected contact with other took me to “An Unexpected Intimacy”, scroll to the bottom here; http://www.dmblack.net/poetry/poems.html

    1. David, thank you so much for such a succinct version of what I was groping towards saying (!) but also for introducing me to this poem. I know you’re a big fan of Black and you’re drip feeding us some good stuff. This seems one of his less dark poems…?

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