Necropastoral & Ruins Porn; Bug Apocalypse; Bee & Stare

by on Dec.12, 2011

Here's Gramps having his Spirit Photo taken again

OK so I woke up thinking about THIS poem again. Is it ruins porn? What happens in a time of civil war? The house collapses, the humans eat each other’s  brutal hearts, and the honeybees move into the interstices to reboot post-apocalyptic time.  Yeats oversaturates his imagery– he’s talking about his own ‘house’ and body and sense of history collapsing, yet there’s another house– the ‘house of the stare’ (i.e. starling)– which is going to be repossessed by the bees. I actually see this ‘nest’ as a stare’s carcass,  a ribcage and cranium now to be Occupied by bees, who will fly the vessel around, a flying colony, right out of China Mieville.  And of course I read that ‘stare’ as the gaze itself, to be occupied by bees, bees put out my eyes, what is this buzzing, a synesthesia which permits no insight and no outsight, a vision which is a medium for not sight but pain, a conversion of sight to pain, the nerve impulses a swarm (Yeats was no fan of mobs or swarms), WBY being flown over civil-war Ireland like bird-skeleton, a vessel, a war-machine steered by a pack of Killer Bees–

VI. The Stare’s Nest by My Window by Yeats

The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We are closed in, and the key is turned
On our uncertainty; somewhere
A man is killed, or a house burned.
Yet no clear fact to be discerned:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

A barricade of stone or of wood;
Some fourteen days of civil war:
Last night they trundled down the road
That dead young soldier in his blood:
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

We had fed the heart on fantasies,
The heart’s grown brutal from the fare,
More substance in our enmities
Than in our love; O honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare.

 

Awesomely, this is the pentultimate section of Meditations in a time of Civil War, and after this section we get a really awesome, lunatic, Yeatsian vision of excess pouring through Art, and I do believe its the Occupation of his eyes by honeybees that produces this vision (excerpted here) and the rededication to Art’s sublimity in the time of Civil War.

 

Their legs long, delicate and slender, aquamarine their eyes,
Magical unicorns bear ladies on their backs.
The ladies close their musing eyes.No prophecies,
Remembered out of Babylonian almanacs,
Have closed the ladies’ eyes, their minds are but a pool
Where even longing drowns under its own excess;
Nothing but stillness can remain when hearts are full
Of their own sweetness, bodies of their loveliness.

The cloud-pale unicorns, the eyes of aquamarine,
The quivering half-closed eyelids, the rags of cloud or of lace,
Or eyes that rage has brightened, arms it has made lean,
Give place to an indifferent multitude, give place
To brazen hawks.Nor self-delighting reverie,
Nor hate of what’s to come, nor pity for what’s gone,
Nothing but grip of claw, and the eye’s complacency,
The innumerable clanging wings that have put out the moon.

 

 

1 comment for this entry:
  1. Derek White

    Interesting in that my eyes have been occupied by starlings lately, thinking how their behavior qualifies them to be the only non-insect social insect. Even more interesting in the context of war, the altruism of which is something you’d expect of social insects.