Aesthetic Realism Online Library Poetry


Observations in the Metre of Tamburlaine on the Norman Mailer Turbulence and Its Relations: with the Presence of Byron, Dostoievsky, Bodenheim, and Everyone

But Norman Mailer's turbulence is still
The deep, deep turbulence a man can have—
Compelled to see himself: a moving world,
Impinging, hitting, charming—at one time,
The selfsame moment, by the selfsame mind.
Complacency at least is fought by him
Who asks what flesh can do to formal thought—
And keeps on asking, in the smoke and sun.
We must see lusciousness in thought—
The pale madonna in the hot desire.
The need is sterner now than ever; now
Our self-respect demands, demands, demands
We place the viscera with logic, time.
The turbulence of Norman Mailer helps.
The ostentation of this writer makes
Us ask: The nature of true modesty—
Is what? Assertion, can it go with us
Who always question what we truly are?
How good we are, how strong, how weak, how real?
Then show off in your tortuous way, O mind!
Abase yourself in swirling smoke of hours.
The blue flame of the factory within
May be resplendent yet in sun without.
But work is needed; Norman Mailer's work:
A novelist confronting smugness more—
And fakery within, even when it's his.
The way to glory is the way of show:
The show of fall and rise, of murk and light—
The show of self as drama all the day.
So Mailer has a bit of Byron, yes—
Of Dostoievsky and of Bodenheim—
And Lord knows what—each artist has and is
A world of love and anger by himself.
We can but wish that love and scorn so merge
In him, they stand for form in everyone
Of us. These lines of now are a salute,
A criticism and—a friendly Oh!

This poem was reprinted by Norman Mailer in his Advertisements for Myself (pp. 294-5). It was first published in The Village Voice in 1956.

Copyright © 1956 by Eli Siegel

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