Thursday, February 02, 2012

Finally, a week of dry weather after nearly two months of endless rainfall. Here on the west coast we have one of the highest rainfalls in Europe and this last while has been so miserable that I've been seriously thinking on moving eastwards. It's not a coincidence that I haven't written a poem for two months either! Poems, for me, grow out of nature observation and it's hard to observe anything with the head down pushing the pram into the rain. However, it can only get better...

I've started reading Michael Hamburger's The Truth of Poetry: Tensions in Modern Poetry from Baudelaire to the 1960's. It's such a good read, stimulating, thoughtful, analytical, and well-needed to save me from sinking into Peppa Pig oblivion! It's not one to skim-read though I'm greedy to get to the end of it and have all the knowledge that's in it. The first couple of chapters are forcing me back to the 19th century French poets though, annoyingly, my fat Oxford World Classics book, Six French Poets of the Nineteenth Century, features neither  Laforgue or Corbiere, both of whom he discusses at length.

Here's an excerpt from the end of chapter two:
"Modern poetry, according to [Octavio] Paz, moves between two poles, which he calls the magical and the revolutionary. The magical consists in a desire to return to nature by dissolving the self-consciousness that separates us from it, 'to lose oneself forever in animal innocence, or liberate oneself from history'. The revolutionary aspiration, on the other hand, demands a 'conquest of the historical world and of nature'. Both are ways of bridging the same gap and reconciling the 'alienated consciousness' to the world outside. Yet both tendences may be at work within the same poet , and even within the same poem, just as a poet may combine the function of priest and fool, hater and lover of words".
The start of chapter three looks at the identity of the poet (or the lack of), and alienation of self as explored through Corbiere's (confessional) poems: "[S]elf-confession, however truthful, cannot escape from the unreality that is its subject matter. The 'self' written about becomes no more than a multiplicity of alternatives, possibilites and potentialities".

So lots to chew on. I love this quote from Corbiere: "Yes, it's me all right - I'm there - but like an erasure".  Also this paradox: "Waiting for life to start he died / And lived awaiting death".
I must get me a Corbiere collection!


Roxana said...

oooh those quotes are fabulous, especially the erasure one!

Marion McCready said...

:) the book is amazing!

James Owens said...

Here on the west coast

It's not a coincidence that I haven't written a poem for two months!

Poems, for me, grow
out of nature observation,

and it's hard to observe anything

with the head
down, pushing the


into the

James Owens said...

The Octavio Paz quote, by itself, is enough to build a book around, isn't it?

Marion McCready said...

james! you're a poetry-producing machine! I'm envious of your current creative output, I think you must be seeing poems everywhere :)

the Paz quote is a joy to read and there are so many more wonderful quotes that I'll be posting up soon