Thursday, October 13, 2016
Poem of the Week, Dragonfly, by William Stanley Merwin.
The choice of this poem from this second new Bloodaxe collection on the trot, is a sterling poem in a modernist punctuation-less form that flows vurrih vorrih verrih verrih wull, and has only two instances of surprise in one's own eye and ear.
The first one at the beginning of the fifth line, as though they were memory / now there are grown-ups hurrying; that is clearly a new sentence. And in the absence of punctuation, reading across the enjambment the Reader's ear and eye naturally carries over a forward thinking impetus assuming that the meaning is to carry across to the beginning of line five; but s/he the Reader is pulled up short by the lack of punctuation.
And so instead of one reading onward the eye halts in confusion and returns to the start of the line to endure a micro-intellectual exercise of finding the meaning and carrying on.
The other instance is the same thing of reading across the enjambment, aware by now and on the lookout for changes in meaning, when s/he lands with another thud on a statement that is not only an unflagged new, and concluding sentence, but one that felt very out of sync with what the eye had been reading.
In the sense that perhaps one was expecting some consoling positive conclusion to the poem, but instead one's eye and ear arrived at there will be no one to remember us, thinking, woah! what's all this about and where's all that come from?
Immediately one is aware that this is not perhaps the effect the voice is intending to create. One in which the poem, in this Reader's apprehension of it, is rendered not very memorable at the final line.
Merwin is after all an American master and legend publishing since before many of us were born, and perhaps it is one's own lack of poetic perceptiveness and literary training in letters that is unable to immediately grasp something that is there, but one's own intellectual deficiency means it goes over my head and I am missing the very thing the poem is all about.
I do not know. I do know that there's a lot of abstract verbs and conjoining words threaded together in a very challenging and high level abstract meaning, where all the action is occurring cerebrally, within the mind of, not only a dragonfly, which is a tough call to get right, but the mind of an ethereal narrator made of disembodied genderless spirit, and very much tucked behind everything as a disembodied spirit voice of some all perceiving narrator that, by the sounds of the speech, is supposed to be imparting something deeply profound in the manner of whiskey and strong spirits, poetically speaking.
Because we are at heart good people and worshippers of the good people from the Aos Sí.
Merwin's faery hand guiding to write this poem, is so different from the average local faery-loving dreamers' in la la land here, that tho challenging to respond to in as plain and crude a way as one used to here when I was still a werking-klaws voice, it can with care and consideration for language itself be negotiated to a handy voice of stability and honest integral loving memory-keeping on the right side of the faery lore that one strives to achieve today, fifteen years further up the road and route to Her that really I think poetry is all about. What we seek to praise.
And in this poem She seems totally absent.
The end line is suggestive of a voice that is resigned there is no spiritual Mag Mell, Plain of ever-living joy, Tir na Og, land of the every living youth, and so in its place there is an absence of this conceptual spiritual heaven and a nothingness, insect-like, aloof, warm, spiritless state which perhaps the voice in the poem is trying to get across to the Reader?
I enjoyed most of the poem, but was expecting, or perhaps more hoping, it would end on salutation, a declaration of poetic faith, a deepening of it, and not the abandonment of it exhibited here in this week's poem-voice number nearly five hundred.
Thanks Carol & Mr. Merwin. May we all go to heaven in a shared rowing boat and find there our faery one with Her loving warm embrace of light-loving home leading s/he through a trans-migration of the soul She is and we all return to.
The voice of Liam Stanley in this poem this week, seeming to believe otherwise.
50/50 is the bardic poetic balancing act between satire and praise, Fili/poet toxic in one splendorous in tuvva, and it is various the poet speaks, as Cormac tells us eleven hundred years ago in the Kingdom of Munster.