By John Berger
As Dickens and Balzac did for his or her time, so John Berger does for ours, rendering the stream of a humans and the passing of a lifestyle in his masterwork, the Into Their Labours trilogy. With Lilac and Flag, the Alpine village of the 2 prior volumes has been forsaken for the mythic urban of Troy. right here, amidst the shantytowns, factories, and splendid motels, fading heritages and steadfast goals, the kids and grandchildren of rural peasants pursue meager livings as most sensible they could. And right here, younger fanatics embark upon a passionate, determined trip of affection and survival and locate transcending desire either for themselves and for us as their witnesses.
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Extra info for Lilac and Flag (Into Their Labours Series, Book 3)
In stark contrast to the preceding poem on “St Mary Magdalene,” “The Rain-bow” (like “Abel’s Blood”) is a study in red, not white, although one would not gather as much from the brief commentary the poem has received. Following M. M. Mahood’s early lead of comparing Vaughan to Samuel Palmer, the British Romantic landscape painter, E. C. 16 And so the first thirteen lines appear. Vaughan deliberately identifies the poem’s youthful perspective on the world with that of Noah’s eldest son, Shem: Still young and fine!
Nor did Vaughan share Herrick’s delight in disorder. There is nothing remotely “fine” about experiencing “distraction” in Vaughan’s wrenching poem of that title: “O knit me, that am crumbled dust! ” Veils are to be pierced in “Resurrection and Immortality,” seen through in “The Night,” or taken off in “Cock-Crowing”; they are not celebrated for being sweetly enticing to the eye. In the poem “Midnight,” stars send “Quick vibrations,” not Julia in her glittering CIVIL WAR CLEAVAGE 33 garments. Indeed, clothing in Vaughan is explicitly associated with human mortality (“I walked the other day”), rather than with beautiful fabric, and as such, it serves as a symbol for bodily corruption suffered by mankind after the fall.
From God’s erring but still loyal prophet in Numbers 22, he is forcefully reinterpreted, first by Peter, as an example of the false teacher who “loved the wages of unrighteousness” (2 Peter 2:15), then as an apostate by Jude, “Woe unto them! for they have gone in the way of Cain, and ran greedily after the error of Balaam for reward” (verse 11), and finally by John in Revelation, as a purveyor of false doctrine, as someone “who taught Balac to cast a stumbling block before the children of Israel, to eat things sacrificed unto idols, and to commit fornication” (2:14).