Martyrdom: A Comparative Perspective

Ron Price

Mr RonPrice
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George Town Tasmania Australia

The poet’s experience: the matter, the soil, the flora and fauna which inhabit that experience; the feelings, images, desires and fears, mediated through the poet’s language which express that experience and the image the poet has of himself which he offers to us in his writing--these constitute the landscape of the poet. History, geography and culture are equally part of this landscape. -Ron Price with thanks to Clement Moisan, A Poetry of Frontiers: Comparative Studies in Quebec/Canadian Literature, Press Porcepic, Toronto, 1983, p.174.

Since 1940, a stunning constellation of martyr images has taken shape in Canadian and Quebec poetry. -Clement Moisan, ibid., p. 175.

I, too, have converted martyr images to my own use:

inexplicably, ambiguously, fragmented, the quest

for precision here is gratuitously unrealistic,

ambivalent dispositions ride high here:

we do not easily accommodate ambiguity in tis place.

Martyrdom and pioneering possess an inherent,

a protracted conceptual complexity.

Universally applicable definitions are ill-advised,

linked as they are with history’s changing tide,

far beyond computer’s meticulous tidiness,

swimming in society’s contested, miasmal soup,

roaming in metaphor, allegory, associations

of resemblance and contiguity, the figurative

and the actual--quite beyond sanitizing,

evocative, illuminating, protective in its opaqueness,

socially binding in its vagueness.

The ambiguity of martyrdom’s assocation

with pioneering brings in the mystic element

and its inevitable silence, surrender

and sentiments of enormous power.

Springs of affectivity, defensiveness and tact

flow again in the gap that surrounds all of this

like a mote that only some, allowed-ones, cross.

Ron Price

6 April 1996

Revised: 11/10/04.
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