Sunday, February 19, 2012

Thoughts on "A Supple Wreath Of Myrtle" by Bob Hass

Today I read the poem "A Supple Wreath Of Myrtle" From "Time and Materials" written by Bob Hass.

A Supple Wreath Of Myrtle

This is a 12 line poem that introduced me to Nietzsche. Nietzsche is a German philosopher about who much can be found on the internet. His most often quoted line is the following:
"Everywhere the wasteland grows. Woe to him whose wasteland is within."

This is a very dismal sounding philosophy, and the poem lays a contrast between this man -- who apparently enjoys sausage, the love of his mother, beautiful trees (which he seems to find faults in), the luxury of an exaggerated mustache (seen on most pics of his I found), and the opera of Bizet -- and his philosophy which sounds dismal.

Interestingly, I found a nice article by Bob Hass' wife picking this poem as one of her favorites of her husband's poems.

Poor Nietzsche; he is dying of Syphillis.

It was very hard to find from the internet where exactly these words come from. Although it was clear that they were translated by Heidegger, I am wondering what the context was. He was probably thinking about the destruction from the war. That we are creating a bigger and bigger wasteland.

The second Nietzsche line is more mysterious. To me it reads more hopeful. To me it reads that there is so much waste outside, but that is not the cause of much woe. Much of human woe is caused from the wasteland that is within. There is the potential for the human soul to emerge from the surrounding wasteland. There is the hope for a pristine lotus from within.

- The purpose of life is to sing