Thursday, June 18, 2009

`A Simple Lesion of the Complex Brain'

A rare article, “The Mystery of the Passion of Charles Péguy,” about the extraordinary Charles Péguy, written by Robert Royal:

“If he ever gets a fair hearing, Péguy may one day be recognized as a figure on the order of Kierkegaard or Newman, and perhaps something more besides [sainthood?].”

Royal adapts his title from The Mystery of the Charity of Charles Péguy (1983) by Geoffrey Hill, who in turn adapted his title from Péguy’s The Mystery of the Charity of Jeanne d’Arc, a book-length poem published in 1909. Péguy died in World War I, shot in the head at Villeroy, one day before the start of the Battle of the Marne. In the English-speaking world he is best known for writing: “Homer is new and fresh this morning, and nothing, perhaps, is so old and tired as today's newspaper.” Hill writes:

“At Villeroy the copybook lines of men
rise up and are erased. Péguy’s cropped skull
dribbles its ichor, its poor thimbleful,
a simple lesion of the complex brain.”

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