tagNon-Erotic PoetryAn Ode to Herman Hesse

An Ode to Herman Hesse


Having recently been re-reading "Steppenwolf"
and looking within at certain perilous magic mirrors,
it occured to me
(while still a poet on this earth)
to write an ode to Herman Hesse:
perhaps simply because as a lonely youth
before travelling many social, erotic and artistic roads,
I all but knew his tomes by heart.

Now maybe I don't worship him
as a creative writer at all,
but rather as a "superman"
whose will was not to Nazi power,
but to diplomacy and humaternity.
Yes, I propose Hesse as a modern hero...
one whom we'd do better to build statues of
than of Jefferson or even Lincoln;
of course he wasn't without sins or mystical foibles,
but he, his Goldmund, and his Hermine
(like Lewis and Clark,
and Sacagawea)
were glorious path-finders,
marking for humanity a trail to new possibility.

Just perhaps I'm here a little insincere:
after all, for all his nobility
I don't read him much lately,
or any fiction much actually.
So who is Hesse to Hecuba,
who he is to me,
and how dare I add to his funeral
if without passion and sincerity?
But no, I am not a hypocritical "fellow Christian"
such as Haller glowered at in "Steppenwolf."
No, though at times I've been a Polonius,
I vow I use no art at all:
for Hesse is not just a person
but a wonderful symbol,
an old Siddartha like
the Russian cab driver who lately
gave me a free ride across a city river,
a symbol for all the Aunt Rosas
who've served me the tea of humaternity,
for the gruff homeless hippie last night
who came to the aid of a hippie child in need,
for such as Mozart and Monet
who our higher selves,
for shoe-making elves like
my merry Chaucer-loving father,
for responsible tokers and janitors like Beekman
(who many times provided therapy
for my power or ideals-seeking illnesses)

At times,
we all may heroically rise
to be a Herman Hesse...
as he could sinke to be a neurotic
Harry Haller.

I don't know if he's an immortal
(though the jews he saved from Treblinka
may have so believed)
See, nothing is completely immortal
(as though we see much wickedness about us,
we mock oursevelves to call it "sin")
and to Ozymandias' fate
even Harriet Tubman, Oscar Schindler,
Confucius and Red Cloud may fall.

But it happens that I,
ill and debased,
realize I've too long neglected
to truly look within
(how many steaks, drams,
and rock songs have I traded for philosophy
and attending to sages like Herman Hesse??)

But mistake me not,
for though I have some talents and nobility squandered,
I was never such a man as he:
so indepedent, disciplined,
and free from the modern insanity.

We all have our own peaces to seek
and mines to dodge:
here it was mine to try
to build a fine shrine,
to suggest there is still humanity
and charity and genius...

and so like a literary moon
I reflect the sun of
Herman Hesse

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