[(essay date summer 1989) In the following essay, Harris analyzes Ghose's poems and studies his use of nature as a metaphor for his inner turmoil and displacement.]
I attempted an analysis of Zulfikar Ghose's poems in The Womb of Space1 by assessing their bearing on the paradoxes of a new nature poetry whose roots (I am tempted to say "alien roots") lie within the social and symbolical ramparts of our civilization. I would now like to return to this issue and to extend the parameters of sensation in the body of such a discussion. Before I come to Ghose's verse it may help us if we turn aside for a while to glance at a tapestry of association implicit in the work of a few other poets from different environments and cultures.
To what extent are W. B. Yeats, St.-John Perse, and Aimé Césaire involved in subtle, startling and peculiar perspectives of language that bear on a seed of hope within a perverse garden or world? Does such a seed dislodge in some degree the sophisticated logic of silence that polarizes cultures whose premises are affluence, on one hand, and want or hunger or disease on the other?
May I pause and make as clear as I can what I mean by "silence." When I spoke of "silence" a moment ago I was referring to a cult of despair that has set its claws on the heart of our age. I was not referring to stages of inevitable withdrawal into fallow or passive moments on the threshold of a new leap, a new wrestling/articulation of form in translating a vision of consciousness through and beyond absolute submission to greed or to lust or to dread. For the untranslatability of the resources of creative conscience is not an end, a finality, in itself but a manifold clue of the infinite capacity of the unconscious in bringing re-visionary strategies into play within the mind of art, within a new, emergent marriage with consciousness.
The denial of the unconscious as a complex vessel of evolutionary form to bridge (rather than consolidate) the chasms between cultures is a major part, I feel, in the sickness of being. As a consequence a negation of the complexity of language informs the logic of silence that differing cultures entertain for each other. Thus, despite so-called mass-media communication, the divide between extreme or wasteful affluence and extreme or endemic poverty grows wider and deeper year by year even as the cross-cultural imagination is repudiated by the provincial humanities.
It is true that within the arts and poetries and drama of the absurd, theaters of the rich do contemplate and reflect upon the poor who wait in their extremity for Godot but in order to reinforce the helplessness of faculties of the imagination in twentieth-century civilization. Likewise the theater of the so-called Third World that contemplates or reflects upon the so-called rich world frequently does so within a technology of protest that is conditioned by what it...