Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Seven deadly sins and other close readings of the Gardens of Flora Baum

September 29, 2014

Flora Baum envies the ghost of Tasso his patience and graciousness:

"Tasso, you lasted. Is this mad? You worked. 
Is our right work our earthly paradise,
The work that is our play the paradise, 
The play that works our madness paradise?
Our madness may be rationality.
How patiently you listen. Do I rave?
Is there a rationality that anger
Advances like a warrior to guard,
A play protected by a pious pride,
A lust that burns for truth, a gluttony
Greedy for feasts of beauty, and a sloth
That is the otiosity of art
And the long laziness of contemplation?
How graciously you listen. 
                                                  Tasso laughed
Patience is easy in eternity,
But those who live in finite time must try
To finish something fine before they die." (Bk.3, 935.9-10)

Flora has listed for Tasso the deadly sins inherent in the act of bringing about an earthly paradise in her life: "Is our right work our earthly paradise?"  Might not writing poetry for her be an angry rationality,  an expression of pious pride, a lusting (if only for truth),  a greediness (though for beauty), a sloth inseparable from art and its contemplation? Do these apply? 

His answer--a laugh--brings her about, encourages her, answers her fully. These things come with being finite and mortal: bear up. Try and finish something fine before you die.

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