Thursday, April 17, 2008

The Sublime Appeal of Sherlock Holmes

Why do I love him so?
His heroin habit, his rough talk to Dr. Watson,
the way he finds a mystery within a mystery
we didn’t even know was there? In “A Solitary
Bicyclist” a woman is merely afraid of being followed.
But that’s to my untrained eye. Holmes sees
the larger mystery, the greed in men’s hearts
and the lust in their souls. If they have souls.
I’d guess that Holmes doesn’t believe in the soul,
because he can find no evidence of it on his
shirt sleeve, it leaves behind no residue, it can’t be
tested for. Holmes believes in numbers, and facts,
and, it turns out, boxing. He calls a clean left
“delicious” and sips his scotch. One wonders
about the exact nature of Holmes' relationship
to Watson, but perhaps that is too twenty-first
century. Watson marries eventually, Holmes dies,
but then returns, just like the villain in one of his mysteries.
Holmes tells Watson he is supremely unhelpful,
and I can’t help but think he’s telling the truth.
Is it always best to tell the truth? Holmes might say yes,
but here our minds diverge. Perhaps it is best to tell
an approximation of the truth, the way Holmes
remade himself as a beggar or an old man, so as to
sidle up to the suspect or the victim, to get a closer look,
a better angle, to surprise the truth unawares. I believe
Holmes might agree, though not directly. He would nod,
and say perhaps. Best not to commit oneself. He could
unriddle clues disguised as chimera, but tricked himself
last, the truth disguised as needle, as alchemy, as getting
away with it, though it, in the end, was getting away with him.


Lisa B. said...

what a sleek, cool, appraising poem. I like when you say "Holmes tells Watson he is supremely unhelpful,
and I can’t help but think he’s telling the truth."

You and the long poems.

ErinAlice said...

Nice. I hate to say I have never read any Sherlock Holmes. BUt perhpas I shouldn't tell the truth about that and just act like I do and nod in agreement. Nice poem.