Saturday, May 08, 2010

Chasing Butterflies

It’s a cool May Saturday.

A day whose map is still unclear with  seven or eight hours of work ahead of me; I do, however,  have the luxury to postpone the chores – for almost a quarter of an hour.

As I relish the taste of my new found freedom of deferral, I imagine that I would have time to write a post in my blog “The Continuous Poem”.

Hmmm….so what would this post look like?

It might be a collage of poetry – a collection of poetic meaning to be grasped, looked at in amazement and launched back into the blue yonder.

I feel like a butterfly chaser, armed with only a net of words.

The first lines that greet me are from John Donne’s "Computation":

"For the first twenty years since yesterday
I scarce believed thou couldst be gone away;"

followed by a fragment of Jules Laforgues’ "Complainte des printemps" (Complaint of Springs)

"Allow me, oh, siren
Your breath scents
The verbena -
Spring begins!”

From here, jumping over to Robert Creeley’s “The Window” :

heavy the slow

world is with  
everything put  
in place. "

Finally some lines  from Homer’s Iliad, translated by Robert Fagles (page 486 in the book):

“And he forged on the shield a heard of longhorn cattle,
working the bulls in beaten gold and tin, lowing loud
and rumbling out of the farmyard dung to pasture
about a rippling stream, along the swaying reeds.”

Since butterfly chasers rarely catch anything, I stop to catch my breadth near a handful of "Cyclamens" by Michael Field:

"Yet I, who have all these things in ken,                               
Am struck to the heart by the chiselled white
 Of this handful of cyclamen."
Fortunately enough for me , this is only an imaginary post in an imaginary blog.

I can go back now to some arduous work.

Thursday, May 06, 2010

Days In The Labyrinth

I sometimes feel as if my day is an endless labyrinth of hours and sand where I wander, not knowing why.

Much like an hour-glass, in which I float, asunder, unable to finish off the  second.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Patrick Poivre D’Arvor – "Don Juan's Death" (La Mort de Don Juan)

« Don Juan's Death» (La Mort de Don Juan)  is an interesting novel published in 2004 by Patrick Poivre D’Arvor, a well known cultural personality in France.
Much as an insect drawn to the flicker of a camp fire, the reader falls quickly under the spell of this book.

I read the first, imaginative pages, likely written in a frame of mind that can only  be described as noirceur de l’âme -  melancholy and profound sorrow. 
I was captivated by the novel’s confessional tone, the elegance and fluidity of its monologue.  To be perfectly honest, my reading was spurred on by the main character - he had piqued my curiosity.

The character – Victor Parker- is obsessed with the life and dealings of Lord George Gordon Byron.

In Victor’s words : « For every action in my life – or almost – Byron had been  my guide » (page 88). The title of the novel is, of course, a reference to Byron’s poem.

Caught in the pendulum movement of the narrative that binds  Victor and Lord Byron, I kept turning page after page. I would not be disappointed.

The turn of events continued in a a crescendo of surprises, up till the crux of the novel - when Victor undergoes a brain transplant.

The transplanted (and perfectly conserved) brain belongs to – who else? – Lord George Gordon Byron.

Throughout the book I learned or was reminded of details of Byron’s life.
« In 1817, Byron swam six kilometers from the Guiccioli palace, on the Canal Grande to the Lido beach » (page 52).

I thought to finish this post with the following lines:

From Childe Harold’s Pilgrimage

« My task is done, my song hath ceased, my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted
dream. »

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

Poetry and Menagerie

Have you ever noticed that the word “poetry” rhymes with “menagerie”?

Or perhaps it doesn’t….hmmm....

But since we’re on the topic of poetry and menagerie, let’s go with it. 

Here is a quote from the Glass Menagerie by Tennessee Williams (1911-1983):
"In memory everything seems to happen to music."

We could also turn to Ogden Nash’s poetry. 

Ogden Nash (1902-1971) has written many poems whose syllables are tamed and given new meaning in a myriad of puns. 
Playful and colourful, some of the poet’s word-creatures turn bizarre at times:

A quote from the poem “The Ostrich”:

"The ostrich roams the great Sahara.
Its mouth is wide, its neck is narra."

 Finally, a few words about a magnificent poem: The Wine Menagerie by Hart Crane (1899-1932).  
It’s a poem of multiple metamorphoses – where wine serves as the proposed ingredient (more of a literary convention, in reality)  for unbridled imagination and soaring metaphors.

Here are some lines from The Wine Menagerie:

“New thresholds, new anatomies! Wine talons
Build freedom up about and distill
This competence – to travel in a tear
Sparkling alone, within another’s will.”

Monday, May 03, 2010

"For All We Know" by Ciaran Carson. A Breathing Space

"For All We Know" is one of Ciaran Carson’s recent poetry books. Born in 1948, Ciaran Carson is the recipient of numerous literary awards.

"For All We Know" is an interesting poetry book, a poetic architecture built to mirror the structure of a musical fugue.

In the preamble to the book, Ciaran Carson provides in nuce an overview to this approach by using a quote from Glenn Gould:

« Fugue must perform its frequently stealthy work with continuously shifting melodic fragments that remain, in the ‘tune’ sense, perpetually unfinished ».

The poems in "For All We Know" are written in a couplet/two-line stanza form which results in an elegant page layout that allows the poems breathing space.
A breathing space which is part of the atmosphere of the book.

The book is divided into two parts – Part I and Part II, each with an identical number of poems, with identical titles, following one another in the same order, which also reminds us of a fugue.

The true fugue échafaudage however, originates in the poetic “narrative’ of the ensemble. The poems are story fragments, woven from images and details which are replayed, in shifting keys, in subsequent poems in the cycle.

The outcome is a crisscross of metaphors and auctorial voices , throughout pages, to be followed in a ‘serial’ reading manner: it’s virtually impossible to grasp the depth of this book if you cannot relinquish the habit of a ‘parallel’ read – primarily leafing through books with cruelty and curiosity, dissociating beginning from middle and ending, and back to a random opening of pages.

Here is a quote from "Rue Daguerre", the poem in Part I of the book.

“The dream I’d found you in faded like breath from a mirror”.

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