Thursday, March 20, 2008

An Ishmael, scouted and feared

The scholar ought to be like the poet, an Ishmael, scouted and feared; a magician, impious, to be consulted in secrecy and shame. Only the neglected by man can keep either truth or beauty in view. The moment advantage has a part in his studies or his craft, his work perishes.

- Basil Bunting, crossed-out and unpublished passage from the notebook for Briggflatts


David M Lumsden said...

Thanks for posting such valuable snippets. This one triggered an old complex of associations and half-thoughts which I've posted here.

the unreliable narrator said...

"Only the neglected by man can keep either truth or beauty in view." I entertain this sentiment deeply and probably far too often. It can become both a consolation prize, as Milosz said of literature; and also, an excuse for being unpopular in the cafeteria--a cranky excuse at that, my favorite kind.

Fortunately, for we who still number among the living, our juries are out, so there is nothing to be done. And actually, maybe all the juries are always out. A girl can hope.