Let's try the whole thing again!
The angels turn eastward
« : 09.07.15 at 23:13 »
On the PACJ Facebook page Philip Rushton says he sees the the angels fighting back the dark in 'The Beautiful Changes' as "doomed to fail and never see the sunrise, but eternally reborn at the end of every new day. And one feels that if they ever gave up the struggle the last night of all would last forever."
That's an interesting take on it. I'd not thought of the changes in 'TBC' being a cyclical thing. It seemed to me that that verse was about corruption, and those angels were a source of dismay. Above a setting of innocence, a park lit by a beautiful sunset, the graceful contrails belie a warlike purpose. The angels are sinister: they are our own deadly warplanes (they'd probably be drones today), directed against an enemy on our behalf to protect our good life. The (political) enemy is in the east (which, now I think of it, is away from the sunset and back towards the light - who knew?). Anyhow, in attacking them we become as bad as them, and so the beautiful changes.
The cyclical view would treat good and evil as the two sides of a coin, but I didn't see TBC proposing that all is balanced and good will be reborn. Rather, it's railing against an unfairness - 'the ugly goes into the ground with the seed and the beautiful dies with the harvest'- i.e. evil persists but good doesn't. At least this was surely Julie Covington's interpretation, judging by her harsh, angry delivery of those key lines 'fight back the dark', 'the ugly...','the inhuman is always the same'.
By the way, I don't understand why Clive would regret pinching 'the beautiful changes' from Robert Lowell. He's borrowed it to express a quite different idea about beauty and change - not that beauty wondrously changes its surroundings, but that all beauty is doomed to defeat or corruption: a most satisfying sentiment, I'm sure we can all agree.