The Hermaphrodite


Maybe it was more than a coincidence, for there is a profound courage in certain forms of credulity. And so, on second thought, I will call it literary, or psychic magnetism.

I was deep in a second reading, after a quarter of century, of Balzac´s “Seraphita,” that amazing imaginative flight of the French writer into the realms of the occult. Seraphita-Seraphitus, the hero-heroine of Balzac´s book, is a hermaphrodite, a mysterious and divinely beautiful boy-girl of the Norse Mountains, who is loved by both a girl and a man. She is an epiphany, an incarnation, the final evolution of the human being before its evanescence into a super-dimension, where male and female are one, a union in one body of eternal mates lost to one another for kalpas of time before the Fall into duality, a myth that is universal and which is the basis of profoundest mystical thought.

It was while deeply absorbed in the philosophy of “Seraphita” that Samuel Loveman, a poet whom I knew only vaguely by name, brought to my hose casually a poem called “The Hermaphrodite.” I had not read the first four lines of it when I was completely under the spell of Loveman´s magic – for there is in this poem a magic as authentic as Keats and a contained and sustained lyrical frenzy for the “Supreme Loveliness” that sets it apart from all other petic fads, fancies and transparent fakery that is yowled and yawped abroad as the “Ultra Modern note.”

No, there is quite another “note” in Loveman´s “The Hermaphrodite.” It is the note of the Eternal. There is in his work the breath of Ineffable Beauty that soars and shudders and flashes and blazes in the souls of Spencer, Herrick, Marlowe, Keats, Swinburne, Baudelaire, Poe and Verlaine. The footprints of the phantom Helena are in every line of “The Hermaphrodite.”

Passion, sensuousness and spontaneity are inherent in this poem. In art there cannot be illusion without spontaneity. It is implicit. Because of this spontaneousness – this unfettered parade of vision and image from brain to paper- I received this rare blessing (rare in poetry nowadays) of perfect illusion. Samuel Loveman is prospero.

His style is simple and chaste. One can easily see he is not a poet by profession. He is a poet by election, “whose footfall loosed Olympian splendor.”