Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Aimless Reading: The P's, Part 45 (J.H. Prynne)

Prynne, J.H.

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. According to the sticker, I bought this in May, 2006.

I love Prynne's poetry, but I find that I cannot sustain reading it in big chunks. I tried to read this book– quite a chunk itself at 590 pages–straight through once and made it only as far as page 18, which is where my bookmark rests.

The bookmark red. It advertises a fantasy book called Eldest. On the cover of the book depicted on one face a dragon's head twists out of a gray abyss. The caption reads, "The Epic Continues...Book Two in the Inheritance Trilogy."

I appreciate Prynne best when I read one poem, maybe two, then put the book down down again for a long period of time. When I return I am always rewarded, as I was this morning, when I opened the book and read the following.


The fire still glides down
in the hearth, the pale season
and the leaky boat drops
slowly downstream. Like emeralds
the remote figure of a
remote capital gain: the case
of fire rests in a flicker, just
short of silence. So the dream
still curls in its horizon of
total theft, cooled by the misty
involvement of the dew, and at once
it is clear, finally, that this
is not our planet: we have come
to the wrong place. We steal
everything we have–why else
are we driven by starved passion
to the dishonour of force? The
Russian tick was to burn up
wads of banknotes, so as to
clear the imperial stain, the hedged
& tree-lined avenues of our desires.
And what we dream we want is
the whole computed sum of plants and
animals of this middle world, the 
black lands called up by our
patient and careful visits. By any 
ritual of purpose we extend the idea
of loan and we dream of it, the
payment of all our debts. But we
never shall, we have no single gain
apart from the disguise of how far
we say we earn. The ground out-
side mistily involves itself with its
contour, the leaky boat glides down
the morning flood, in this rival
dream all our enemies are with us
and the animals & plants shall
take nourishment from the same
silent and passionless table.


Martha King said...

Lovely aimless reading...pick up, savor: one's only obligation is one's interest in it. Much poetry, like Prynne, is so much better this way. Becoming a companion. --Martha

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Thanks, Martha -- funny, Prynne's now been my companion since I wrote this!