Cantos

Any good I’ve done has been spoiled by —

Cantos


I have tried to write Paradise
 
Do not move
      Let the wind speak.
         that is paradise.
Let the Gods forgive what I
         have made
Let those I love try to forgive
         what I have made.


— Canto 120, E. P.

— (& diggers can dig, & judgers will judge, it is
      all but just a handful of dust after all.)
a fateful mistake; a tragedy of titanic proportions.
      Of my own making? Certainly, yes.
      Tea /
            Bee //
                  Sea ///

“A Language”

— a poem

A literary analysis of Susan Stewart’s “A Language.”

“A Language”


I had heard the story before
about the two prisoners, alone
in the same cell, and one
gives the other lessons in a language.
Day after day, the pupil studies hard—
what else does he have to do?—and year
after year they practice,
waiting for the hour of release.
They tackle the nouns, the cases, and genders,
the rules for imperatives and conjugations,
but near the end of his sentence, the teacher
suddenly dies and only the pupil
goes back through the gate and into the open
world. He travels to the country of his new
language, fluent, and full of hope.
Yet when he arrives he finds
that the language he speaks is not
the language that is spoken. He has learned
a language one other person knew—its inventor,
his cell-mate and teacher.
 
            And then the other
evening, I heard the story again.
This time the teacher was Gombrowicz, the pupil
was his wife. She had dreamed of learning
Polish and, hour after hour, for years
on end, Gombrowicz had been willing to teach
her a Polish that does not and never
did exist. The man who told
the story would like to marry his girlfriend.
They love to read in bed and between
them speak three languages.
They laughed—at the wife, at Gombrowicz, it wasn’t
clear, and I wasn’t sure that they
themselves knew what was funny.
I wondered why the man had told
the story, and thought of the tricks
enclosure can play. A nod, or silence,
another nod, consent—or not, as a cloud
drifts beyond the scene and the two
stand pointing in different directions
at the very same empty sky.
 
            Even so, there was something
else about the story, like teaching
a stunt to an animal—a four-legged
creature might prance on two legs
or a two-legged creature might
fall onto four.
 
            I remembered,
then, the miscarriage, and before that
the months of waiting: like baskets filled
with bright shapes, the imagination
run wild. And then what arrived:
the event that was nothing, a mistaken idea,
a scrap of charred cloth, the enormous
present folding over the future,
like a wave overtaking
a grain of sand.
 
            There was a myth
I once knew about twins who spoke
a private language, though one
spoke only the truth and the other
only lies. The savior gets mixed
up with the traitor, but the traitor
stays as true to himself as a god.

 
All night the rain falls here, falls there,
and the creatures dream, or drown, in the lair.

Susan Stewart

Before I consider the above poem, which I do deeply like, I just must point to the following words by Stewart — they were penned for an academic text, 📙 The Handbook of Philosophy, demonstrating her versatility as a wordsmith (oh how I wanna b 1 2)… :

Philosophy, the love of wisdom, and lyric, words meant to be sung to the musical accompaniment of a lyre, seem, at least etymologically, to have little to do with each other. Philosophers may even say we make a category mistake in comparing them, since the first term refers to the pursuit of knowledge of truth and the second term refers to an expressive art form. Yet both philosophers and lyric poets are solo speakers, and their common material is language—indeed, they share the same language, for it is not that there are separate tongues for each. Philosophers and poets are alike in certain actions, as well: they convey intelligible statements; employ formal structures with beginnings, middles, and ends; and hope to convince or move their audiences, and so incorporate a social view from the outset.
. . .
Nevertheless, … the language of philosophy strives for clarity and singularity of reference. Lyric, in contrast, is always over-determined; its images, symbols, sounds, the very grain of the voices it suggests, all compete for our attention and throw us back, whether we are listening or reading, to repeated consideration of the whole. Philosophy should be paraphrasable and translatable if its truth claims are universal, but poetry has finality of form, and to paraphrase it is a heresy; to translate it, a betrayal.

By the way, it was while reading her chapter in 📙 The Handbook of Philosophy on the lyric genre that I wondered who exactly Susan Stewart was. I investigated (one thing led to another) and found the poem cited above and considered below (and my plans for reviewing the text that my schedule say I should have gone absent without a leg to stand on).

As he’d say to me, “dig deeper, keep on digging”


Oh for Ireland / Joyous for Heaney.

The poem

I’ll comment on the six parts of “A Language” here (six as I see them). But, in short, the poem seems to be about dream vs. reality, about deceit (intentional or otherwise, by one’s self to one’s self or by one to another) about contradiction, and about love (lost, misplaced and blind). It was amusing me until the miscarriage — it read too much like being real, i.e., drawn from the author’s very own life experience. The last two lines ain’t italic and that’s the author’s switch of emphasis, not mine. Witold Gombrowicz — a Polish writer (1904–1969) with an interesting bio (as anti-establishment, anti-religious bisexual kind of guy, his books were banned in communist Poland) — said with regard to literary criticism, and I do quoteth the man: “Literary criticism is not the judging of one [soul] by another therefore, do not judge. Simply describe your reactions. Never write about the author or the work, only about yourself in confrontation with the work or the author. You are allowed to write about yourself.” *

Part one

To begin at the beginning I felt it would link to the prisoner’s dilemma but it didn’t.**  It was about trickery, but the language may well have been code for the language of love. The intimacy built with one other cannot – ctrl C, ctrl V – be just transferred from the one to an(y )other one. Maybe the deceit lay in the older more learned one not teaching adequately the singularity of true love, it, like Halley’s comet, is a once in a lifetime thing.

I had heard the story before / ...
I had heard the story before.

I didn’t read in between the lines that the student felt annoyance for his/her post-prison discovery.

Part two

Underscoring Part 1, but here making reference to a real world relationship, that of the writer Gombrowicz and his (much younger) muse.

And then the other evening, I heard the story again / ...
the tricks enclosure can play / ...
at the very same empty sky.

We might be together, but we may be worlds apart too. Tricks reads a little comparatively, is this the poem’s narrator recalling the honeymoon period of a former or a current relationship. undergraduates bedding down with books and the positivity bestowed from having a lifetime of dreams and plans to look forward to.

Part three

Even so, / ...
... fall onto four.

We can learn to do various things, things that have no real utility, point or purpose whatsoever.

Part four

Very powerful and the mood of the poem abruptly changes (for me anyway).

I remembered, then, the miscarriage / ...
the enormous present folding over the future, /
like a wave overtaking a grain of sand.

I feel this to be all too real.

Part five

Such stories of twin as co-collaborators are commonplace. The word “myth” speaks volumes here. Did the miscarriage herald the end of the narrator’s once perfect relationship? The myth of forever love… And then in comes a god and ‘his’ arch-nemesis the dastardly devil.

There was a myth I once knew / ...
the traitor stays as true to himself as a god.

Good and Evil, this is great! Stewart here becomes a philosopher and made me realise something that should have been obvious. (Oh Life / Woman Alive / Wax Lyrical.) The devil doesn’t falter and stays true to his typecast pigeon hole. Yet the given god transcends from savior to traitor.


I’m choosing my confessions /
Like a hurt lost and blinded fool.

Part six

The ending (two lines, a different mode of typed-text emphasis) is short and is sans-sanguinity. We are creatures just the same as the birds and the bees; the sacrificial lambs, the holy cows and the bunnies busily beavering away.

All night the rain falls here, falls there, /
 and the creatures dream, or drown, in the lair.

The rain falls on us all, rich or poor, happy or sad, female or male. We either live the dream in our dream or we sleepwalk into the labyrinthine maze that is our torment of torrential thoughts on what might have been, what could’ve been for: what once was, no longer is.

All in all, there’s sadness here isn’t there — the empty sky, the dark rainy night — where, if you don’t fantasise and delude yourself, you’ll drown in black-mood depression. Everything you’d planned for — taken as faith, taken at face-value, taken for granted; taken as a given — is abruptly and inexplicably taken away from you. Be it faith in fellow man, faith in your muse, faith in what you’d believed to have been your partner for life; the prospect of a soon to be born insatiably innocent (genes aside) version of yourself.

— § § § —


— § § § —

Foot fetish notes
* The prisoner’s dilemma is a paradox in decision analysis (a.k.a., ‘game theory) in which two individuals acting in their own self-interests do not produce the optimal outcome. In other words, if both were to be altruistic toward the other they’d both do well. My sophisticated ethics teacher told sought to explain this to us by way of the medium of money. She said: you could both take 50 Riyal now or if you both forfeit the Riyal now (the honey tomorrow thesis) you’ll both get 100 Riyal tomorrow, but if any one of you takes the 50 now and the other doesn’t the one who takes the money gets to have their small amount of honey today whereas the other will get nothing. So, (1) knowing that most humans are considered to be selfish and also (2) not being able to communicate with the other prisoner, she said that (3) most would grab the 50 because few would risk foregoing it for the possibility of 100. The natural assumption is that the other prisoner would be short-termist in character and go for the guarantee of a few Riyals today as opposed to the prospect of far more Riyals tomorrow.

** As a critic in The New Yorker said in 2012, his “grotesque, erotic, and often hilarious stories” soon established Gombrowicz as a widely read author. His fiction’s been deemed as creepy as Poe’s and as abusurdist as Kafka’s. ((A man encounters another man by chance at the opera and shadows him for weeks—sending him flowers, writing letters to his mistress—unaware of the torment his attentions are causing.)) ((A countess famous for her meatless dinners may, it turns out, be serving human flesh.)) Gombrowicz himself said of his writing that he was, “never more satisfied than when my pen gave birth to some scene that was truly crazy, removed from the (healthy) expectations of mediocre logic and yet firmly rooted in its own separate logic.”

Rita and Witold Gombrowicz, 1969.
“Why then does this pharmaceutical extract called “pure poetry” bore and weary me, especially when it appears in rhymed form?”
Witold Gombrowicz
The title… don’t be fooled, it’s the equivalent of today’s click-bait. If you are wanting erotica, click here: Nin, Anaïs or here Lawrence, D. H.. No, the content of this novel is more about (hu)man’s thirst and quest for youth when they become aware that they’re well past their prime and that to relive it necessitates the pursuing of someone in their prime, to leach of of their lustfulness; to free-ride upon their yet to be curtailed free-will… … …

Beached

On McEwan’s ‘On Chesil Beach’


REFERENCE

McEwan, I. (2007). On Chesil Beach. London: Jonathan Cape.


I’ll say this: don’t watch it, read it. It will not take you too long, the book is very readable — there are no long detours and, the succinct character background building and scene setting (especially of the coastline from the vantage of the bridal suite’s balcony) add volumes to the pent up (and long repressed) desires that constitute the heart and soul of Chesil Beach. You kind of know something bloody bad’ll happen from the blurb and from the opening lines and yeah, there’s a ‘tragedy’ of sorts…


I use single quotation marks around the word tragedy because I’m not saying it is one; strictly speaking it wasn’t one at all. Typically, single quotation marks are used to mark a quote within a quote or a direct quote in a newspaper story’s headline. However, single ( ‘.’ ) or double ( “.” ) ((علامات تنصيص‎)) can be used to imply consternation, disagreement or emphasis… it’s all in the context: ‘all’ in the bloody ducking context m8.


…but it’s not that that moved me, it’s the frank realisation and the matter of fact way in which it – the frankly acknowledged ‘realisation’ — is put in the page or two, within a single sentence, after the novella’s climax that truly moved me and’s stuck with me since. True love, you see, is infinite, you’ll only ever know if you know and I guess until you die or ‘lose’ your mind (your faculties ‘loosen’) you’ll not be able to prove the premise. Cum the fuck on though, you sometimes just do flipping well know.

On Chesil Beach
“True love is usually the most inconvenient kind.”
– Kiera Cass

Reviewer of books, Jonathan Yardley — who won a Pulitzer Prize for his art — placed On Chesil Beach on his top ten for 2007; the year Ian McEwan published this book. He (Yardley) said that even when he (McEwan) is in “minor mode … he is nothing short of amazing.” Minor mode because of the novel’s length. It is, according to the author, more of a novella than a novel. I felt that the paragraphs given to Edward’s mother’s erratic behavior and unstated mental illness were very telling, he’d endured a lot and suppressed a lot; there was little he wouldn’t have done for Florence who’s prudishness most surely have had a deeper, darker — unwritten about — founding stroy.

On Chisel Beach
“True love lasts forever.”
– Joseph B. Wirthlin


The course of true love never did run smooth.
William Shakespeare

Daniel Zalewski (The New Yorker) states that, “all novelists are scholars of human behavior, but Ian McEwan pursues the matter with more scientific rigor than the job strictly requires.” He went on to point out that after discussing his many duplicitous characters — such as Briony Tallis, the precocious adolescent of his 2001 novel, Atonement, who one reviewer claims: “ruins two lives when she makes a false accusation of rape” — McEwan pointed to a “study in cognitive psychology” suggesting that “the best way to deceive someone is first to deceive yourself.” After all one is more convincing when they are being sincere (irrespective of whether they are delusional or not). The accidental slip — the penned words, ‘I want to kiss your see you en tea’ were not supposed to be read — elementally underscores the potential portent of the flap of the butterfly’s wing analogy to chaos theory.

I’ll point you now to this post for a reason I’ll leave unstated:


“✍🏻 100’s (#01)”
Written in red and underlined twice for emphasis.

& this one too because I just somehow don’t rest easy with the false claim of rape ^ because yeah, it happens, but, so too — and far more frequently I submit to you — do falsely dismissed cases of actual rape:


“Lust and Lambast”
A hand left poignantly unshaken; a republican party, quite unstirred.

“Sap away”

· · · a poem · · ·


Sap my sap away
Switch A to a U
See now, it’s “Sup!”
.
Anyhow I’m drained
All’s so very strained
As in: “Depleted”
.
Paradise was there
Purgatory’s here:-
Penitence afire.


It’s all encapsulated, enveloped in a vividly coloured circular shape; it is not without ornithological appeal. I modelled it god-like out of willing and kneed full clay (sometimes viscus and earthy blue-gray brown, sometimes rocklike ochre, traced with terracotta). But the clay I am here referring to was actually a handful of timeless hourglass-grade sand; sometimes molten hot and sometimes, congealed, dull and cold, but either way, mine to sculpt. We can think of Madagascan spices and gemstones, we can think of what Ernest Shackleton[1] and Robert Falcon Scott[2] would have heard and observed. “To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield” — it’s carved into a trunk of oak down there, below the Southern Ocean. The astute will note it is lifted from Tennyson’s “Ulysses.” it was chiselled out in 1913 and, 107 years on, faces out, steadfast and stoic, to the Roaring 40s. From that powerful poem I retype the following lines (Oh how divine, with hindsight, were those heady times):


It may be that the gulfs will wash us down
It may be we shall touch the Happy Isles


Alfred Tennyson

Harland Miller
Harland Miller is an English artist born in Yorkshire in 1964. He studied at London’s Chelsea School of Art, graduating in 1988.
Harland Miller
Notable artworks by Harland Miller include his giant canvases of Penguin Book covers. The paintings include sardonic statements, e.g., “Whitby – The Self Catering Years,” “Rags to Polyester – My Story” and, “Incurable Romantic Seeks Dirty Filthy Whore.”
Aldridge & Miller
Miles Aldridge (born 1964, London) is a fashion photographer and artist.
Photograph by Miles Aldridge
Photo by Miles Aldridge, book in hand by Harland Miller.


Post Script

[1]   Ernest Shackleton
I paraphrase in a wholly unworthy parallel: I had seen God in his splendors, heard the text that Nature renders. I’d reached the naked soul of [my] man.

[2]   Robert Falcon Scott
I paraphrase in a wholly unworthy parallel: I took risks, I knew I took them; things finally came out against me, and therefore I have no cause for complaint, but bow to the will of happenstance [& one too many rolls of life’s Damoclesian dice], despite this truly frightful plight, determined still am I, to do my best to make amends for the the past …

[3]   Sword of Damocles
If you say that someone has the Sword of Damocles hanging over them, you mean that they are in a situation in which something very bad could happen at any moment (an imminent and ever-present peril). It can also be used to denote the sense of foreboding; you feel it in your bones that something bad’s about to happen but you can’t be sure what (or more probably ‘how’). William Shakespeare used it in a fashion: “Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown.” In The Canterbury Tales, Chaucer refers to it too: “Above, where seated in his tower, /I saw Conquest depicted in his power/ There was a sharpened sword above his head / That hung there by the thinnest simple thread.” Roman poet Horace also alluded to it by waxing lyrical about the virtues of living a simple, rustic life; favouring this in preference to the myriad threats and anxieties that accompany holding a position of power.

Sword of Damocles
“Sword of Damocles”
by Richard Westall (1812)

[4]   Gouge away / You can gouge away / Stay all day / If you want to //

The dreadful mistake

deader than dead


My mistake was to treat you my Muse
//
I’ll tell you about ‘complicated’:
“I will tell you how I wander lost
— the books I note and the texts I read —
and the pain felt by my tongue-tied heart”

//
as though you were simply my mistress.

Path

^ Winn, R. (2018). The Salt Path. London: Penguin.

Can you tell heaven from hell

How I wish, how I wish you were here

Wish_You_Were_Here
~~~ Remember when you were young, you shone like the sun
~~ Now there’s a look in your eyes, like black holes in the sky


So, so you think you can tell
Heaven from hell
Blue skies from pain
Can you tell a green field
From a cold steel rail?
A smile from a veil?

Do you think you can tell?
.
Did they get you to trade
Your heroes for ghosts?
Hot ashes for trees?
Hot air for a cool breeze?
Cold comfort for change?
Did you exchange
A walk on part in the war
For a lead role in a cage?
.
How I wish, how I wish you were here
We’re just two lost souls
Swimming in a fish bowl
Year after year
Running over the same old ground
And how we found
The same old fears
Wish you were here


— Gilmour & Waters (emphasis is mine)

Jump to 6:06 in the video below to get to the purported point of poem. Yet, I am really asking and really wondering, is there merit in analysing every-fucking-thing? I mean to say, therapeutically speaking, is it not oftentimes best to stick to our own imagination and interpretation of a given poem’s point rather than to seek out it’s actual point (if indeed the poet’s stated this in a non-cryptic and unambiguous preface or footnote)…

I’ll give you my penny’s worth without writing another word:

Sand City / Date grove

Clay tablet / Baked-earth Masjid

“Sirocco (Al Haboob)”


Just as does The Mayfly —
There was a moment in time, under a iridescent blinding light.
Where I shone so very bright and everything was alright.
I had in my grasp the flower of rejuvenation.
It’s nectar was desert rose, it’s sent jasmine carnation.
I was rapt by its blossoming beauty but it’s clasp and grip led me to take it for granted.
I placed it in a bouquet, my drops of dew sowed others too that I’d casually collected.
It was the time and place where I was made.
It’s now a haunting taste that I’m forbade.
For a ‘Naja haje’ snatched us apart one fang to our heart one to our soul.
Time gnawed away, memories darkened and heaven was rewritten as hell.
— far from you, I shall die.


S/he’s the unforgettable, ever-changing and eternally great being that consumes me in every single way.


— Tolstoy (1867) & Bidoonism (2020)


p. s.

* Video One.The Epic of Gilgamesh is the earliest substantive work of literature currently known to humankind; it was written down (etched with sun-dried, hand-sharpened Euphrates marsh reed quill into a freshly kneaded tablet of Tigris bank clay) by the Sumerians in c. 2,100 BC (yep.. over 4,000 years ago). In the video — retreived, youtu.be/QUcTsFe1PVs — you hear the opening lines of part of the epic, accompanied by a long-neck, three-string, Sumerian lute known as a “gish-gu-di.”

** Video Two.Light in Babylon are a celebration of the cosmopolitan traditions of both Istanbul and its Sephardic Jewish community; wih the stunning voice of Elia Kamal and the beautiful sound of the “san-tur.”

*** Inspiration. — A lecture on The Epic of Gilgamesh, given in 2017 at the Harvard Semitic Museum by Andrew George (Professor of Babylonian, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London).

On love. . .

by Toni Morrison


Love is or it ain’t. Thin love ain’t love at all.



Love is divine only and difficult always. If you think it is easy you are a fool. If you think it is natural you are blind.



Something that is loved is never lost.

& now, some poetry

The following five poems were all penned by Toni Morrison. In my humble opinion, amongst other things, they talk of love (“Once more you know / You will never die again”), sexual awakening (“fruit that had lost its green” / “Red cherries become jam”), identity and place (“the fish mistake my hair for home”).

“Eve Remembering”


1
I tore from a limb fruit that had lost its green.
My hands were warmed by the heat of an apple
Fire red and humming.
I bit sweet power to the core.
How can I say what it was like?
The taste! The taste undid my eyes
And led me far from the gardens planted for a child
To wildernesses deeper than any master’s call.
2
Now these cool hands guide what they once caressed;
Lips forget what they have kissed.
My eyes now pool their light
Better the summit to see.
3
I would do it all over again:
Be the harbor and set the sail,
Loose the breeze and harness the gale,
Cherish the harvest of what I have been.
Better the summit to scale.
Better the summit to be.

“The Perfect Ease of Grain”


The perfect ease of grain
Time enough to spill
The flavor of a woman carried through the rain.

Honey-talk tongues
Down home dreams
A rushed by shapely prayer.
Evening lips part to hush
Questions raised at dawn.

The melon yields another slice.
Fingers understand.
Ecstasy becomes us all.
Red cherries become jam.

Deep juvenile sleep
A whistle trace
White shorelines in green air.
Welcome doors held open
When goodbye is “So long.”

The perfect poise of grain
Time enough to spill
The flavor of a woman remembered on a train.

“Someone Leans Near”


Someone leans near
And sees the salt your eyes have shed.

You wait, longing to hear
Words of reason, love or play
To lash or lull you toward the hollow day.

Silence kneads your fear
Of crumbled star-ash sifting down
Clouding the rooms here, here.

You shore up your heart to run. To stay.
But no sign or design marks the narrow way.

Then on your skin a breath caresses
The salt your eyes have shed.

And you remember a call clear, so clear
“You will never die again.”

Once more you know
You will never die again.

“It Comes Unadorned”


It comes
Unadorned
Like a phrase
Strong enough to cast a spell;
It comes
Unbidden,
Like the turn of sun through hills
Or stars in wheels of song.
The jeweled feet of women dance the earth.
Arousing it to spring.
Shoulders broad as a road bend to share the weight of years.
Profiles breach the distance and lean
Toward an ordinary kiss.
Bliss.
It comes naked into the world like a charm.

I Am Not Seaworthy”


I am not seaworthy.
Look how the fish mistake my hair for home.
I had a life, like you. I shouldn’t be riding the sea.
I am not seaworthy.
Let me be earth bound; star fixed
Mixed with sun and smacking air.
Give me the smile, the magic kiss
To trick little boy death of my hand.
I am not seaworthy. Look how the fish mistake my hair for home.