What caught my attention in this poem is what, upon further research, drove me away:
Still it’s just too great a responsibility to lure the souls
From where they lived attentive to the idea of the hummingbird, the chair, and the star.
To imprison them within either-or: male sex, female sex,
So that they wake up in the blood of childbirth, crying.
That is the last of it, and I sat up, my boredom over the opening’s 1960s dithering over symbols and signs (not because it’s not important but…come on, talk about something else for a change!) forgotten. I get cagey when people want to talk about gender–people whose stance I don’t already know well, anyway. Conversations about gender tend to disappoint. They start out all collegial and exploratory, and before you know it your pal is ranting to you about how bisexual people are greedy sex hogs, or how “everyone falls into this category or this category, they just don’t know it.” Or how not liking labels is “a thing,” probably the fault of hipsters, and as such, deserving of scorn. Or how any non-cis people are just trying to game the system. Or how they’re just part of the grand unifying theory of why you can’t get laid.
Yeah. Stuff like that.
Reading Milosz’s description of the dichotomy as imprisoning, then, had my immediate attention. Which made discovering the religion-laden roots of his reflection so disappointing. Really, sir? Do you have to? “The divine androgyny?” Must you depend upon the hackneyed crutch of godliness to find value in anything?
Worse, this isn’t just a shade of meaning he ascribes to the between-spaces, it’s the only acceptable interpretation of androgyny for him, if the quote he accompanied his 1986 collection can be said to inform on this at all:
Consequently, the whole of creation is FEMALE, and the love of the Lord for himself in creation is the love of man for woman, and the return to God is Conjunction or Marriage…
Are you kidding me? As I recall, your beloved god is the guy who’s really not a big proponent of loving yourself. In any sense of that word. Whether it’s entrenching adolescent cluelessness about one’s own body in a boundless morass of guilt and self-loathing, or soft-selling vampire/cannibal-fetishizing rituals as the only way to wash away ALL THE EVIL THAT YE MOST UNDOUBTEDLY ARE, YE VILE CREATURE, Christianity isn’t exactly known for promoting a positive self-image amongst its constituents. Also, ascribing godhood to the male half of your hopelessly simplistic gender binary, while “the whole of creation’s” (oh, you know, that sinful, hate-yourself-until-you-give-money-to-us-to-make-it-go-away whole of creation, that one) lot as that of “FEMALE,” is just embarrassing. You should be better than that.
So, well, hell. I was so much more on board with your poetry before I got to read its interpretation–not just someone else’s guesses (which could be written off as only one of many readings, its true), but indications, in your own hand, of the stock you put in a poetic reality grossly different from that which I believed you to be trying to describe.
Dammit, Czesław Milosz.