I spent a part of this morning looking again through Micheal O'Siadhail's recent collection Globe (Tarset: Bloodaxe, 2007). O'Siadhail's poetry has long been a part of my thinking and reflection about the (cliche alert) meaning of life, etc.. I have never been into Jazz that much, but the use of Jazz as a metaphor for the fragility and responsibility of human life and relationships (from the personal to the global) is in O'Siadhail's hands, almost endlessly suggestive. It is no surprise that he has been a strong influence on a number of theologians (David Ford and Dan Hardy to name but two). In Globe, I have found again poems that resonate with some of my thinking and writing about interpretation and pluralism and that draw on the Babel story. This poem is from the climactic sequence 'Angel of Change'.
Never to forget the towering dreams
Of heaven-hankers before their time,
Brick for stone, for mortar, slime
So many offered for madcap schemes.
Over and over again some other fable
Of perfection: Let us make a name.
Another skyscraper and still the same.
Fall and fall all spires of Babel
To lovely confusions of our gabble.
Scattered abroad on the face of the earth
As slowly we relearn each other's worth,
Difference and sameness incommensurable.
In all our babble birds of a feather –
Aithníonn ciaróg ciaróg eile,
Beetle knows beetle – Qui se ressemble
S'assemble – all over flock together,
Skeins of hope, gleich und gleich…
Like to like, kind calls fellow –
Rui wa tomo o yobu in Tokyo.
Around our globe, a netted Reich,
Of random trust, cross-ties of civility,
Farflung jumbles 0f non-violent voices
Argue our intertwining choices
To weave one planet's fragile city.
Micheal O'Siadhail, Globe (Tarset: Bloodaxe, 2007), 112.