A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature
A ley line is a fairy path to the Irish, a dragon line to the Chinese, a djinnway to Arabs, a spirit line to the Incas, a songline to the Australian Aborigines.
England’s Saint Michael Line runs straight from Land’s End on the southwestern coast through Glastonbury 350 miles to Hopton-on-Sea on the Norfolk coast, following the path of the sun on May 8 (Beltane in the old days), St. Michael’s festival. It forms the hypotenuse of a triangle formed by the three most sacred sites in England: Glastonbury, Stonehenge and Avebury, the largest henge circle in the world, covering 28 acres.
The famous Nazca Lines of Peru are thought to be ley lines.
The Apollo St. Michael Axis is thought to originate in Ireland and travel in a straight line through France, Italy and Greece to the Holy Land.
Some believe ley lines to facilitate teleportation. They are associated with geomancy and other forms of divination. They are thought to elevate human sensibility, to awaken vestigial powers in humans, to summon daemons, to generate energies.
The continents and even the oceans are criss-crossed with ley lines which form intricate geometric systems. Promontories, stone figurations, water fords, moats, mounds, megaliths, ridgetops, dolmens, energy spirals, vortices and other phenomena comprise the dots by which ley lines are defined.
The Old Straight Track by Alfred Watkins, published in 1925 and republished in 2015 (Head of Zeus, UK), introduced a broad public to the subject of ley lines. An earlier pamphlet, “Early British Trackways,” was published three years earlier, the year American publisher Horace Liveright met with Ezra Pound in Paris to discuss publishing T.S.Eliot’s The Waste Land and James Joyce’s Ulysses. Why mention such disparate publishing events? Because ley lines are associated with synchronicities, with meaningful occurrences.
I believe poetry in its broadest sense is a ley system by which human sensibility evolves, travels and transverses dimensions. I believe poems serve the purpose of the markers by which ley lines are delineated.
The poem may be seen as a homing instrument, catching and relaying signals from an illuminati whose hermetic purpose is to elevate human consciousness.
We live in a world beset rather than empowered by communications technology. Incidents, pronouncements, warnings, trivia bombard us, swarm us, jangle our nerves and heighten our anxieties. We become hypervigilant, responding recklessly to stimuli—because the media fail to connect the dots. We receive no help grasping and assimilating the signifiance of events, their connectedness. Our perception of what is happening is shattered. We live in shock. The Butterfly Effect, which holds that the flutter of a butterfly’s wings in Mexico has something to do with an Asian tsunami, remains a risible whimsy to us.
But poetry provides the algorithm necesary to put things together, to explore the interrelatedness of our witness, to see how one thing affects another, to formulate a working understanding of the forces that impinge on us.
Gabriele D’Annunzio, the fascist poet, held that music must be the essential and premier principle of state. I believe poetry is in fact the premier gnostic principle of the grand project of the evolving sensibility. By poetry and music we convey the sounds of our heightening awareness. We set up the cosmic hum that empowers our communictions with each other so that our words and our meanings, rather than scattering upon us, electrify us and animate us to take epiphanic actions. I believe that poetry ignites epiphanic chain reactions. It is the ley system by which our higher selves, the beings we aspire to be, visit each other as in dream. This, I believe, is the reason a mammonistic critical establishment, bound to worldly concerns, committed to monetizing everything, is determined to write poetry’s obituary. Poetry is dangerous, more dangerous than nuclear fission, because it is the sacred tool of evolution. Poetry is inherently subversive because it purges obstructive elements that bar us from full awareness.
Poems define lines leading to the unknown, places we think we have visited in the corners of our eyes, in glances, in dreams, in the fey donnée to which each poem aspires and falls short. None of us, poet or reader, knows who or what we will meet along these lines.
The ley system of poetry is lined with the elixirs that ennoble the base metals we use in everyday lives. They make the commonplace extraordinary, a process that shines through in, say, the poetry of W.S. Merwin.
“He who rejects a fact because it is improbable must reject all history,” wrote William Blake. Watkins uses this remark in The Old Straight Track to underscore the function of ley lines.
Each poem is indispensable to a ley system, key to the next poem. Here is the antithesis of today’s corrosive manufacture of winners and losers. It’s obscene to name winners and losers in such a system, because the idea of winning and losing is kitschy and pointless to a system of telepathy and teleportation and because the poet’s name is hardly a diacritical mark to the poem. It’s like trying to monetize transfiguration.
If poetry, poetry in any language, can be imagined in this metaphysical context, translation, while essential, is nonetheless secondary to the energies the poems themselves generate in the service of this psychic modus operandi, this transformative cosmos. In this context poetry is the light of the mind. Poems are torch processions coming together in the night to create a great cosmic bonfire. Poetry’s function is not to tell a story but to celebrate an ever-changing mythos. The poet’s name melts away in the fire, but what the poet has seen and sung joins that inextinguishable light.
Some poems are like those few people we occasionally meet who don’t really seem to belong here, who call into question the meaning of here. We’re not sure they’ll be there when we turn. We’re not sure where there is. They disorient us. We’re not sure they are their parents’ children. We’re not sure what will happen to us if we befriend them. We’re not sure they’re befriendable. We say their eyes are long, we say they say odd things or have elven feet, we try to codify them, but in our hearts, even if we’re drawn to them, we’re afraid of them, because they call to us from great distances, distances we’re not sure we want to risk.
Such poems are the Mont St. Michels and Stonehenges of ley systems. We say we love them. We quote them. We cite them. We teach them. But they scare us, we’re glad to go home from them. They are from the direction in which we ought to go, but we may lose everything going there and not getting there. Or we may get there and not be ourselves but something, someone else, perhaps like them. Are we willing? Or shall we just write another poetry-is-dead essay and get it published in another vested interest, not unlike our rattled selves?
Find a ley line, one that runs down the middle of the creek, and sail a paper ship in it. Take a dowsing course and walk a ley line with your dowsing stick. It’s a beginning. Let the stick dip. Feel the eerie place. Say to yourself, We do not die, we can’t be deleted, we will ghost the machine.
Copyright © 2015 Djelloul Marbrook
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