Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Wednesday Poetry: "The Fool," by Hugh MacDiarmid

I found myself thinking about MacDiarmid's poetry recently, in part because of a book I blogged about recently--Irvine Welsh's The Bedroom Secrets of the Master Chefs. At several points throughout the novel, Welsh's protagonist, Danny Skinner, thinks about a collection of MacDiarmid's poetry that he has been intending to read. Skinner thinks to himself, though, that it's a bit difficult to trust somebody who has changed his name.

Hugh MacDiarmid is the pseudonym for the Scottish, modernist poet Christopher Murray Grieve (1892-1978). In this short poem, "The Fool," MacDiarmid forces us to reconsider delusions. There's a "fool" who believes he's God, and the narrator possess a similar touch of insanity, which we see in the poem's final lines--a suggestion that the narrator believes himself capable of killing God.

So at the poem's end, who is the fool? The man who believes he's God, or the narrator hoping to be a God-killer, who leaves a body in a pool?

"The Fool"

He said that he was God.
'We are well met,' I cried.
'I've always hoped I should
Meet God before I died.'

I slew him then and cast
His corpse into a pool,
--But how I wish he had
Indeed been God, the fool!


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