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Rated: E · Poetry · Mythology · #2136883
"...boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." F. Scott Fitzgerald
striding
desperate over
pale fluorescent floors
trashing through
outdoors

sunburst blow
bewildered stagger fall
mansion marble stairway down
spatter bash boned
tumble clown

lain listless bleeding
quick wriggles course meander
plum drops plopped emulsions couple
clotting fountains purple flow
elastic larvae supple

quiver columns
basin caught conceive
emerging Gatsby, Gatsby smiled
irresistible salmon leap
transmigration dialed

harmony
diametrically opposed
whirling storms surround
vortex passage
found

crystal daybreak
bubble blue above
straddling naked lustrous green
enemies clinching crushed
silver inbetween

time ridden worlds
converging lovers dew caressed
limbs tangled mad obsession craves
one easy angry resolution
rush discordant waves

pulsing wild
eyed prophet blinded
seeing buried secrets bright
searing branded tremors
quaking white

clutch
torn hurling
curling backward yawn
shutter lunge
gone

flashing off
lost emerald star
soaring sacred sky beyond
twilight’s last gleaming
night pond

song still lingers
swimming well deep beneath
black waters moonlight mirrored mild
rising image long remembered
Gatsby, Gatsby smiled

fine mornings
tiny voices sing
row row row your
boat gently down
the stream

merrily
merrily merrily
merrily life is
but a
dream




Prologue

However feeble it may be, this piece is what I was able to muster in an attempt to employ The Great Gatsby as a vehicle for a rendering of “The Heroic Cycle”.

Should you be already knowledgeable regarding archetypes and “The Hero”, you may likely be able to dispense with these notes. If not, however, it would be perhaps helpful to become familiar with F. Scott Fitzgerald’s famous novel and the works of the scholar Joseph Campbell. They offer critical background for some sort of understanding as to what I was trying to get at with my admittedly abstract endeavor. The best source I know of for an introduction to the heroic archetype is Hero with a Thousand Faces by Joseph Campbell. A quick reference may also be found at these web sites:

http://www.thewritersjourney.com/hero's_journey.htm

http://mail.tku.edu.tw/kiss7445/KissHomePage/Literature-Arts/diagram_herocycle.h...

http://www.questcycles.com/hqcycle.html


Exposition

As poetry is often a seemingly condensed, concise form of writing, my poem inhabits a somewhat compressed, not exactly consecutive, more humanly messy version of the Heroic Cycle. I use Hero as gender neutral as opposed to Heroine. This has also become common with actor as opposed to actress. Point being Heroes can come from either side and sometimes incorporate both simultaneously.

The following is a stanza by stanza illumination of the Heroic elements that the poem intends to represent. Pertinent quotes from The Great Gatsby are also cited:

First Stanza

striding
desperate over
pale fluorescent floors
trashing through
outdoors

The Hero barges onto the scene mixing several elements of “The Cycle”. Already in motion (striding) both away from an implied pursuer (The Call) and toward safety (The Atonement, The Knowledge, the drink of wisdom from the well at the end of the earth). “The Call” is often seen as frighteningly overwhelming and so inciting urgency, even panic (striding-desperate-bursting). The panic itself is an indication of a frequently weak attempt by heroes to “Refuse The Call”.

Buildings constructed using translucent flooring with fluorescent lighting fixtures installed beneath are generally imposing structures made so either by cost or scale. The line “pale fluorescent floors” intimates that this protagonist, Hero by virtue of residing or having access to grand architecture (Gatsby’s Mansion), holds notable stature and is thereby worthy of receiving and recognizing The Call. Heroic characters are usually uncommonly common. Common to be identifiable and uncommon be larger than life.

The line “trashing through outdoors” speaks to “The Threshold Crossing” signaling an acceptance of The Call and the concomitant transition to another plane.

Second Stanza

sunburst blow
bewildered stagger fall
mansion marble stairway down
spatter bash boned
tumble clown

More nods to the bedazzling immensity of The Call and extraordinary standing of The Hero even while being labeled a clown. The clown, though representative of inferior regard, i.e. the fool, the idiot, the lesser, is nonetheless not only extraordinary but also often viewed as having a special relationship with the hidden world.

The line “mansion marble stairway” affords additional illustration of wealth and high station, and hints at a Gatsbyesque background.

Third Stanza

lain listless bleeding
quick wriggles course meander
plum drops plopped emulsions couple
clotting fountains purple flow
elastic larvae supple

Here again the connection between worthiness and powers extordinaire becomes evident. Though this Hero has been laid low and weakened, there are powers apparent even down to the blood, the essence. When it runs and trickles into the fountain, it has within it a strange coagulating capacity to turn the gushing water into some sort of squirming, squid like creature. The knowledge that this Hero is supernatural and in as much able to recover and continue further establishes a congenital ability to struggle, subdue adversity and endure “Trials” successfully.

Fourth Stanza

quiver columns
basin caught conceive
emerging Gatsby, Gatsby smiled
irresistible salmon leap
transmigration dialed

The water creature’s tentacles borne of the special blood give rise as well to a first magnitude figure or vision of Gatsby himself (The Mentor), who, with his smile bestows the guiding grace that the hero needs to advance the grand journey.

He had, “... one of those rare smiles with a quality of eternal reassurance in it, that you may come across four or five times in life. It faced, or seemed to face, the whole external world for an instant and then concentrated on you with an irresistible prejudice in your favor. It understood you just as far as you wanted to be understood, believed in you as you would like to believe in yourself.” From The Great Gatsby

The hero likewise acquires transcendent power by recognizing Gatsby’s symbolic “salmon leap”, as the height of virile strength, i.e. the power to create (The Ally). With these new instruments, the Hero is ready to face the bullies of paradox. There is too more “Trial”, “Threshold Crossing” and worthiness demonstrated by The Hero’s interpretive intelligence.

Fifth Stanza

harmony
diametrically opposed
whirling storms surround
vortex passage
found

On a more equal footing with the Gods, the hero is able to discern the true path, obscured to mortals by the fogs and storms of duality, and find the calm in the eye of the hurricane, the hidden portal to the other side. The most profound trial leading to the ultimate achievement of “The Knowing” in company with of course Threshold Crossing.

Sixth Stanza

crystal daybreak
bubble blue above
straddling naked lustrous green
enemies clinching crushed
silver inbetween

Stepping completely out of the confines of human experience and into the realm of otherness, the Hero “Approaches” to confront the landscape of the eternal dynamo, the engine of all being fueled by the endless consumption of the sea and land and land and sea, with only the thin strand between them preventing total annihilation.

Seventh Stanza

time ridden worlds
converging lovers dew caressed
limbs tangled mad obsession craves
one easy angry resolution
rush discordant waves

Here in “Seventh Heaven”, The Hero is initiated and made privy to the pervasive, perpetual congress of antinomies drawing the line between time and timeless. Anyone less than a Hero would be driven to madness, so it’s another affirmation of worthiness.

Eighth Stanza

pulsing wild
eyed prophet blinded
seeing buried secrets bright
searing branded tremors
quaking white

Now in complete concert with “The One” (Atonement*). The Hero is both blinded and enlightened by the brilliant burning light that brands knowledge into the brain several centillion times per centillosecond. Another turn of phrase would have The Hero taming the bucking boson, and so be informed of the distinction between none and one and how that sees the quantum collapse. The Hero has become the prophet by weathering “The Ordeal” and reaping The Knowing, or perhaps better stated, The Knowing is The Ordeal.

* At-one-ment, the state of being as one with the universe,

Ninth Stanza

clutch
torn hurling
curling backward yawn
shutter lunge
gone

Although The Hero walks with the Gods for a while, the mortal world demands a return (The Summons) in order for all to be right with the universe. Balance must be maintained. No matter how preferable “The Other” may be, The Hero is compelled to repair to the journey’s beginning, since the passport was stamped with guest status only.

Tenth Stanza

flashing off
lost emerald star
soaring sacred sky beyond
twilight’s last gleaming
night pond


The Hero reconciles with the world of motion, and though grieving the loss, Romantically accedes to the inevitable. It’s a wrapping up of “The Return’s” loose ends, The Hero waxing nostalgic. This acceptance once more goes to the persistent character / worthiness aspect. Only a true blood Hero has the wherewithal to know when to let go. It’s because Heroes are aware of their proper place in the grand scheme. Without letting go madness would be the result.

The symbol in this specific instance is Gatsby’s dream as a “lost emerald star” -

“And as I sat there brooding on the old, unknown world, I thought of Gatsby's wonder when he first picked out the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. He had come a long way to this blue lawn, and his dream must have seemed so close that he could hardly fail to grasp it. He did not know that it was already behind him, somewhere back in that vast obscurity beyond the city, where the dark fields of the republic rolled on under the night.” From The Great Gatsby

The line, “twilight’s last gleaming”, lifted from the United States national anthem, pays passing homage to Fitzgerald’s fascination with Americana and his place in “American” literature, and The Red, White & Blue being among Fitzgerald’s working titles for the novel that ultimately became The Great Gatsby. Tangentially, I contend that any arguments about “the great American novel” are moot. Fitzgerald has already cornered that market.


Eleventh Stanza

song still lingers
swimming well deep beneath
black waters moonlight mirrored mild
rising image long remembered
Gatsby, Gatsby smiled

Now fully returned to the everyday, there comes a denouement or circle rounded of sorts, and again because Gatsby has been the identified vehicle, it is Gatsby’s transcendent smile that prompts The Hero to deliver the message, insight, gospel that’s been bequeathed. There’s a “share the wealth” responsibility incumbent upon The Hero.


Twelfth and Thirteenth Stanzas

fine mornings
tiny voices sing
row row row your
boat gently down
the stream

merrily
merrily merrily
merrily life is
but a
dream

And so the “grand word”, the perfect understanding is shared. See it now and know.

The line “fine mornings” and boat rowing point to The Great Gatsby’s summation:

Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgastic (verbatim correct, but possibly should be orgasmic) future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter - tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms further... And one fine morning - So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.”
© Copyright 2017 Christy Mahon (christymahon at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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