“The precursor … he does not disappear into a future … he arrives from the future in such a manner that it is only in the arrival of his word that the future achieves presence”
(Heidegger on Hölderlin)
Whilst Nostredame conceals in order to reveal, given the fulness of time, in the main his quatrains are not verses in that they do not connect sequentially. Further they do not display content so much as a kind of dis-content that carries a crafted supplement of unstrung gems to be concocted afresh from his disassembled and sometimes prosodic clue-making. Robert Graves said “true poetry makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up”. This is also true of night terrors and horrid tales. With the Centuries it is far more likely to be the latter.
Michel travelled often and although we find occasional depictions of scenery there is no Wordsworthian mobility, neither an intellectual nor sore-boned memory of his empire of travel, no stark caption of arrival nor mindful philosophy of departure. His experiences of astonishing visionary immediacy were fading presumably yet there is little sense of apparent distance in ‘Nostradamus’ – whereas to the poetic traveller the dimension of distance turns quarters to his landscape.
We cannot feel alert to Nostredame’s contention of poetry, his wager, leaving pedant scholars content to measure metre. What’s missing is a need to pay heed to that secret language of ‘poesie’ beyond the fabrique of constructiveness for which one needs the ear to hear.
Granted others have found poetic satisfaction – there has been a University degree earned on the “poesis” of Nostradamus – but I would not turn to the Centuries for that deeper pleasure which allows subtle enunciation of its non-prosaic messagings into that space somewhere beyond blunt receptivity.
Where is the poet summoning us to worship his goddess? Where is the epic stream of renunciation, latency, tendency and resolution?
We have instead nearly a thousand stepping-stones across eras for our stoic excursion.
Where are the litotes, emphasis by understatement that serves as ‘prompt’ or ‘speech italics’ provoking fellow-feeling as we recognize its cultural execution? Where are the caesurae, those curious cases of elevation that can follow upon stepping into a sonic void? Where do we find not just versification but diversification (making similarities between opposites) important to poetry’s ideal if improper envisioning of Utopia?
And that’s the point, the ‘Opera Nostradamus’ is the result of one man’s spirited visual experiences of what he believes to be a true reality aided by the light of God and should not be expressed in poetic passages, neither pallid nor purple.
Poetry can get very close to truth by staging a refractive reality with shards of incursive insight artfully shining through. But even true flux has fixed value, not a lyrical frequency distribution.
‘Nostradamus’ does, like poetry, renew itself yet although it bears a kind of poetic energy, even in jets, the Nostradamus Quatrain is neither rhetorical nor does it demand that aware reader of poetry who perceives word selections speaking two languages at once.
It may be that he achieves a similar effect by engaging us with word-puzzles and ‘letterate’ inventiveness but such voltage is not poetic discharge nor even from the same reserve of Being.
(Basically this is a personal discernment, as yet unrecorded beyond this website, of faceted letter riddles.)
The humane face to quatrains is often achieved by an ‘author’s sympathy’ rather than through the pains of those trapped inside terrors. Like a military textbook there is little discursiveness. The aim is for us to grasp what has been obfuscated and then proceed toward greater understanding.
Like modern historic accounts the individual quatrains are contrived to fit their times of happening yet unlike ancient histories wrapped in mythic poetry there seems little or nothing of personal invention by the author and most all quatrains are non-anecdotal.
The argument for the Aristotelian narrative structure that we universalize today – a beginning a middle and an end – did not kick-off until nearly midway through the Sixteenth Century with poetic license remaining unfettered.
Whereas poetic verse leaves room for the receiver ultimately to expand his or her mental processing and so shirks bringing about a definite closure it is not possible to say that the Centuries elude closure altogether. Inside that grand conception composed of divers imaginative time travels there is one strain of quatrains and proseology leading to End Time – a negating procession which we most always disguise as ‘progress’ – that is in accord with Scripture and yet is quietly and outrageously modified by the words of Michel de Nostredame. He posits the inevitable end of the world (though rather as an end to the present run of time beings, as does the deeply figured Book of Revelation) yet tells us that we can delay that finality for as long as we may like by altering what I would call our behaviours. Yes, deep meaningful behaviours or else those misleading behaviours for which it is our motivation that is being measured.
Here we find Nostredame the minor yet prepossessing prophesier stamping his trail to the End of Days with many separate proofs of vivid changes and finally stressing – despite contradistinctions with Astrology – that we have our collective fate in our individual hands and not our individual fates in some collective hand, except that hand be Almighty God. A miraculous understanding occurs (necessarily one in which the true meditations in life are winnowed from an attempted stance of social independence – solitariness – and at a fully upright level of divined logicality).
It is worthwhile that I should go further and add that prophecy is at its most accurate when it urges direct dependency on God and not on Mankind nor via any agency and may revere bright day but seeks the light within, so to say.
The Church Censor could never have allowed Nostredame nor any other penetrating pen to publish such a view.
NigelRaymondOfford (C) 2015