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Part of the book series: Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics ((MPCC))

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This chapter describes a metaphysics of immanence, in the world, in the body, and in language, which Forbes’s poetry practices, and promotes poetry as a technology of re-enchanting the world in a Weberian sense. It also narrates the emergence of John Forbes as a literary daemon whose style of operation comes through the mythology, rites, and ethics of Catholicism to practice a revolutionary pagan poetics within and against a perceived nemesis in the “Spirit of Capitalism.”

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  1. 1.

    Forbes in an interview with Hazel de Berg: “I began writing poems when I was about 16, I was living in Miranda with my parents. I had to write a poem for English class, and, uh, I got very interested in doing it. I was mainly influenced by concepts of beauty or imagism, at the time, and wanted to write a poem that would be like a really beautiful very early well you know, something like ha’past six on a summer’s morning, um, there was a bit of a gully near where we lived and there were a lot of gumtrees and they looked … I used to have a room at the back of the house and I could see this, and it was something like the same … I wanted to get into poetry the same feeling … an equivalent of that experience or that sight.”

  2. 2.

    Though I discuss this in Chap. 2 (pp. 113–4), it is worth re-iterating Heraclitus’s formulae and refreshing its explication.

  3. 3.

    See page 281.

  4. 4.

    See pages 315–6 for the full poem and further commentary.

  5. 5.

  6. 6.

    I am using glamour here in both its modern and antique senses: the attractions of charm and beauty through animal presence or learned cultural production, and the sense, from the Scots, of glamour as magic or enchantment: of “putting the glamour over someone.” Glamour has a shared (and disputed) etymological root with grammar through the Latin “grammatical” denoting learning and occult practices.

  7. 7.

    In his Enchantment, C. Stephen Jaeger plots the transition of charismatic persons and their representations in art to artworks themselves becoming charismatic in the West. He uses as an example the return of Ulysses, and the manner in which his storytelling cumulatively charges the aura of his presence and condenses his prestige as an exceptional figure in their midst among his listeners.

  8. 8.

    In his subtle appraisal of Forbes and his relation to European or Old World sensibilities, Peter Porter remarks that “[s]atire … enables you to find a way of feeling superior to whatever feels superior to you, or what has simply ignored your significance” (22).

  9. 9.

    It was within this historical epoch that John Forbes started writing poetry.

  10. 10.

    “Pagus,” the Latin root of pagan, indicates a small administrative territory. Lyotard seizes upon it specifically to “identify a region that has not been assimilated by consensual politics. The pagus, a border of the polity without being totally in it, is the position from which a critique of the polity can be made”. Thomas Docherty in Stuart Sim (ed.) The Lyotard Dictionary, 158. Docherty continues: “Paganism acknowledges that many gods have to be appeased, even when the gods demand contrary things of the human subject. Paganism is thus ‘impious’ … it describes a situation where ‘pagans’ can no longer subscribe to the totalizing story told by Marxism, yet still demand a form of justice.” 158–9.

  11. 11.

    These motifs are repeated across the various accounts of the poet’s life collected in Ken Bolton’s Homage to John Forbes.

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Hose, D. (2022). The Pagan Sermons of John Forbes. In: The Pursuit of Myth in the Poetry of Frank O'Hara, Ted Berrigan and John Forbes. Modern and Contemporary Poetry and Poetics. Palgrave Macmillan, Cham.

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