“Seek the Light of Love”:Philip Lamantia’s “A Simple Answer to the Enemy”: Then and Now


During the 1940s the poet Philip Lamantia transitioned away from Surrealism to “naturalistic” poetry rooted in spirituality and the mysticism that exists in extraordinary experiences. Some of the subject matter became more sensuous and sociopolitical, and an underlying theme is contempt for government and the evil perpetrated in its name. One of his most overtly political poems, “A Simple Answer to the Enemy” remains applicable today. It makes a case for dissent by laying bare the corrupt agenda of a political order that dehumanizes the public and erodes liberties. Lamantia endorses a revolutionary mindset that rejects mechanistic thinking, aggression, and greed, and encourages us to embrace a philosophy of love and the spirit of compassion

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