29 October 2014
Combating Ignorance with a Fateful Past
In “1945-1985: Poem for the Anniversary,” Mary Oliver weaves her seemingly pleasant ambivalence in traipsing through forestry with the grave consequences of global indifference: the millions massacred in the magnitude of the Holocaust. Though she dreams of aberrating throughout the natural beauties surrounding her, gleefully eying the creatures enclaving her, she notes that even in “lush, green, musical Germany,” when others aspired to similarly descry requiescence in the ignorance of their surroundings, the results of ignoring their responsibilities were catastrophic. In fact, by personifying the German populace of the early 20th century as Mengele sipping wine on a beautiful afternoon in his garden, Oliver condemns all copacetic ignorance, as, in ignoring our responsibilities, any ataraxia stems from devitalizing sources that may be too easily forgotten.