Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Harlequin Mask

First two lines of "Blood Was Shed" read: "my original face is lost to God; / harlequin mask now worn" (Beorh 9). 

With this first line, I picture the apple-tree essence of a person, a person created perfectly, the way he is intended to be, being lost . . . TO God implies a couple things.  One, that the identity is lost to the magnitude of God, that the original face is overcome.  Two, that despite God, it is still lost.  The losing is a sad thing.  Or, the "original face" could mean "original sin," in which case the losing of it is not bad at all.  It doesn't so much matter the literal intention of this line though.  I like the flexible images evoked by the wording.  The next line is really the focus of this piece.

A harlequin mask, usually red and black, is worn for dramatic effect.  It is named after a common character in French plays, Hellequin, an emissary of the devil who, with demons, chased damned souls into hell.  Somehow from this the harlequin character emerged, nimble, acrobatic, able to change his personality to suit his surroundings/audience.  Basically, a court jester.

So here's the question.  Is this harlequin mask the sin we dance around in that covers our original face?  Is it our avoidance?  Our court jestering?  Our shallow insistence?  Or is it used here to reference Christ, as a mask, a fun mask, an entertaining mask, covering our original sin?

I lean towards the first scenario as I contemplate my own harlequin mask worn most days despite my purest efforts.        


1 comment:

  1. I appreciate very much your heartfelt responses to my work. I am deeply honored, Kira. This poem was written in the Summer of 1997, one of the darkest Summers of my life, and the Summer before I moved to Ireland, which began not a new chapter, but a whole new book.