To treasures of the inner life hold fast,
however much outer ones are wrecked,
and if you feel superior to Bast,
do not include him when you would connect
to riches that are probably beyond
his reach. Take care when choosing all your friends;
of everyone you don’t need to be fond,
though not connecting brutally offends.
To moral obligations we must be,
aspiring to the mind’s great treasures––blinded,
about them when connecting––always free
when striving to bebrilliant and high-minded.
It’s vital that we always be selective
regarding people with whom we connect,
avoiding issues can’t make us connective
with those who don’t share values we respect.
Preserve the deep part of you, your interior,
not disconnected to what seems inferior,
don’t be judgmental when you’re pensive:
and end up being cowardly offensive.
Inspired by Edwin Frank’s discussion of E.M. Forster’s in The Threepenny Review, Spring 2009, in which he points out that “only connect” in However’s End regrettably means to those who say it the opposite of what it says:
I loved Howard’s End when I first read it. I find it almost unreadable now…And yes, of course, it is an important book. But what bothers me about it no is what I call its bad faith…As an arbiter for society, nice Margaret Schlegel, guided by the spirit of Mrs. Wilcox, looks a lot like Radovan Karadzik. In the end, Howards’s End is a fantasy, unseeing, sentimental, and punitive––consider the treatment of Leonard Bast, the poor clerk who aspires to read Ruskin and is instead crushed by Forster under a bookshelf. It is a fantasy for a world for people “like us,” the only people with whom one really can connect....Part of my impatience with Howard’s End is that, however crude, contrived and self-serving the book now seems to me, I suspect that it remains, for all that, my fantasy too, even as I criticize. A familiar prison, very snug. What would it mean, at last, to escape fro Howard’s End?
© 2009 Gershon Hepner 5/14/09