gold” — that other part of me which I had rather call thenreal, the true self, is, at this moment, reminded most of thenfirst words of Queen Elizabeth upon being told that hernsister Mary was dead and gone aiid that she, Elizabeth, lastnof the Tudors, was now Queen of England, Ireland, France,nDefender of the Faith, etc. She turned to the Psalms andnsaid, “This is the Lord’s doing and marvelous in our sight.”nYou can see that my mood is mainly celebratory. I amngrateful to all of you who are here, grateful to The IngersollnFoundation and especially grateful to the judges, even as Inam admiring and envious of their courage and independence.nBy which I mean to say, more or less seriously, thatnhad their responsibility fallen on my shoulders I doubt that Inwould have chosen me for this award. It is not a matter ofnbeing deserving or undeserving. None of us, not evennamong the high and mighty, can ever be called fullyndeserving. Some, I suppose, are utterly undeserving. But, Inmust confess that I think and hope I have not lost all sense ofnthe power of humility by saying that I do not feel I am onenamong them, either. Truth is, as Joyce Gary more eloquentlynput it in his preface to The Horse’s Mouth, speaking tonthe point of whether Gulley Jimson was a “good” or a “bad”nartist, neither justice nor injustice has any true place in thenarts. The arts, all of them, high and low, crafty andnprofound, have always to do with creation, The Creation.nAnd secular justice, that concept carried over from the worldnof stone Caesars with fat lips and broken noses, has nothingnto do with the energy and ineffable motion and direction ofnCreation. Though’ we are one and all almost endlesslynfascinated by the doomed attempt to apply the rules ofnsecular justice, or injustice, to the arts, so much so, indeed,nthat it sometimes may seem that we think and talk of verynlittle else, we know in our hearts (as we have to; for we livenalways in Creation) that except for the fool whose heart isnsoftened by every sort of sentimental denial, and the knavenwhose heart is as hard as a mailed fist, none of us can believenthat there is any appropriate application of the ideals ornprachce of secular justice, of punishments and rewards, tonthe arts. The Elizabethan image of Fortune’s wheel — Onlong before Vanna White appeared to impersonate the spiritnof pure greed! — is a more accurate model. The wheel goesnround and we rise and fall, win and lose. As old Job, alreadynmentioned, neatly put it, “The Lord giveth, the Lord takethnaway. Blessed be the name of the Lord.”nPut it another way. I am as happy as a kite dancing on anstring in an April breeze to receive this award andnattention, but I hope and pray I am not foolish enough yetn(dotage will follow soon enough) to imagine I earned it. Ornthat I belong in the company, the visionary company, if younwill, of those six others who have been honored here beforenme. If I may revert for a moment to the snickering Birdmannof Alcatraz, I may be allowed to parody some genuinelynheroic words:nOld men forget; yet all shall be forgotnBut he’ll remember with advantagesnWhat feats he did that day. Then shall our namesnFamiliar in his mouth as household words,nBorges and lonesco, Naipaul and Percy, Anthony Powellnand Octavio Paz —nBe in our flowing cups freshly remembered . . .nI toast and salute them one and all, feeling, however, a lotnless like Harry and more like Ancient Pistol. Neverthelessnhe, too, was there with his part in the play to play.nMy reasons for a respect, close to awe, for the foundationnand the judges are more simple. There is a strong element ofndiscovery here, and discovery seldom, if ever, is characteristicnof honors of any kind awarded in the arts. It is a boldngesture, bordering on the outrageous, not to select someonenalready established as officially honorable. Have you evernnoticed how the general officers of the Eastern Bloc nations,nas well as many a fierce-looking leader in Latin America andnthe Third World, and now, too, I am sorry to report, some ofnthe peacetime military leaders of our own nation, arendraped, top-heavy, with row after row of ribbons representingnmore medals and decorations than a body could wear atnone time? We know very well that these things do notnnecessarily represent heroism or betoken valor. We knownvery well that heroism and valor undeniably exist with andnwithout these tokens. But it is our habit safely to continue tonhonor those who have already been established as worthy.nNo harm done, and it is a hard habit to break, especially innthis peculiar age where we find ourselves, an age wherenpublicity and notoriety have equal billing with whatsoevernthings are good and true and beautiful and of good report.nIn a world full of much-decorated and high-rankingnofficers (albeit, in this case, officers of the literary establishment)nyou have elected to honor an enlisted man from thentrenches. I thank you kindly for it. And I accept it, in somenpart, at least, for all of the others, my brothers and sisters,nfellow hard laborers in the vineyard whose work is often notnonly not as well-known as it ought to be, but also is not”nnoticeably inferior in quality and value to the work of manynof their most celebrated contemporaries. There is morendemocracy in the arts than anyone, and least of all the mostnhonored and celebrated artists, chooses to admit. Even thenabsence of any strong sense of community feeling does notnprevent all our errors and accomplishments from beingncommunal, a communal enterprise. We are, as John Berrymannwrote in Homage to Mistress Bradstreet, “on eachnother’s hands who care.”nWhen I go back to the trenches to join the others I shallncarry with me more than my own private good feelings andnmore than the lighthearted joy which comes from the liftingnof the spirits, flagging a little if not yet cast in weary lead, of ansixty-year-old man who had long ago tossed away idle hopesnthe way veteran soldiers used to discard their gas masks onnthe battlefield (keeping the container because it was waterproof).nIt will also be my bounden duty to share with mynfellows something of your warmth and good will andnrecognition.nHere I should surely move to a close, on a note ofncelebration and gratitude, a Nunc Dimittis, as sincere ifnsomewhat riiore modest than Simeon’s. But I would benremiss not to say a general word or two about the state of thenart (as I view it) at this time.nPlurality and diversity may (or may not) be positive socialnqualities, or buzzwords anyway, highly valued by the societynat large. But in the American literary arts, where there is truendiversity and plenty of plurality, the factions are fightingnnnAPRIL 1990/19n