Please note that the poems and essays on this site are copyright and may not be reproduced without the author's permission.

Tuesday, 6 July 2010

Memory Wastes


File:Arundo donax Inflorescence  2009December13  DehesaBoyaldePuertollano.jpg

from time to time
through fields of cane
memory shades
from time to time
coming and going

i.m. Grant McLennan (1958-2006)

Arundo donax inflorescence, Dehesa Boyal de Puertollano, Spain
: photo by Javier Martin, 2009


TC said...

If you're curious about where this comes from... no, make that if you want to enjoy something great, check out this ...and later.

Curtis Roberts said...

I was and am very glad to be introduced to this. The piece, like the song and performances, is very moving. The image "memory wastes" is haunting.

TC said...

Glad you liked this, Curtis. Thought you might like the clips...

Cattle and Cane is a real classic I think, a tender lyricism not usually found in the best work of that time. Sweet yet not saccharine.

There's a version by The Wedding Present which is equally good, though a bit harder. Couldn't dig up a video of that, alas.

(Actually the secret subtext beneath the secret subtext here had to do with Uruguay, but never mind... that's my world cup motto, no sleep, no thought, never mind...)

Issa's Untidy Hut said...

Thanks for this, Tom ... not sure how I missed the Go-Betweens - this is fine.



Thanks for this, I too never knew The Go Betweens, that photo and these words are what really get me --
from time to time/ through fields of cane/ memory shades/ from time to time/ coming and going. . . .


grey whiteness of fog against invisible
top of ridge, quails calling from field
in foreground, wave sounding in channel

subject approaches the world,
all these ‘projections’

along lines, impulses result
of which, further being

grey-white of fog reflected in channel,
line of 6 cormorants flapping above it

Michael Peverett said...

It was their second album - the first good one, and maybe the best one after all. At any rate it has that freshness that happens when a band discovers what they can do. It is probably the only rock n roll masterpiece to be recorded in sleepy Eastbourne, E. Sussex. - hence in a wider context, forming a magical trilogy with Debussy's "La Mer" (1905) and Montale's poem "Eastbourne" (1933)

TC said...

Thanks, Don and Stephen. You make my mornings. Presence is a reprieve from the memory shades.

TC said...


Yes, wonderful, Montale, Debussy and the Go-Betweens. Grateful for those signs.

Pausing between them to dwell upon La Mer... (stop back in a bit if you are curious to see what if anything I am able to make of all that).

That lovely wall barley and white campion would border very well with this cane, do you not think?

I think it was the sense of distance and dislocation from home that put McLennan in mind of the images that make the song and probably would never have existed had he he'er strayed from home.

But things are/were as they are/were as we know.

Much appreciate your visit (and your blog as well).

Radish King said...

I am most interesting in your drawings on the left pane. I saw my fox there the other day. Are they yours?

TC said...

Rebecca, thanks for asking. Yes, the fox is mine. But it's yours now too.

Those drawings come from a little book, Cold Spring: A Diary.

A few samples from the book can be found here.

Some jumbled text there is corrected here, but in the latter place the repros are not so hot. My fault, I have no scanner or any of the other tech resources that would be needed to reproduce art works.

(The creaking old joint is full of same, mostly unseen, I envision in the not too distant future a Viking ship burial, but without the ship, without the Viking... an overloaded, leaking dinghy to be sunk unceremonially at sea.)

Radish King said...

Thank you. If you want a Viking burial can I shoot burning arrows into your craft? I have a steady hand and a sharp eye. Now enough of that talk. I just got here for cripes sake.

TC said...

Rubber arrows would be good. Sponge tipped.

Radish King said...

Thank heavens for the early warning. I'll wear a rubber nose and a false mustache as well but you'll still know it's me.

human being said...

waste means we have watched in haste...


such a great pic and powerful words...

i'm still searching for some suitable words to thank eagle for visiting crow... and leaving those unforgettable words...

how it feels good to be watched over... to be understood...


TC said...

Yes, hb, we all need to slow down and we all need to be watched over by friends.

Michael Peverett said...

Thank you Tom for kind words. And French Toast was your La Mer piece, right? That Arundo does indeed fit in uncannily well with my vegetable thoughts of anthocyanins, maybe that's why my eye stopped on the poem.

I found this in an interview:

Nick Cave : I'd love to be able to play guitar and be able to sing, to stand on the back of a truck or around the campfire and entertain people in that way. I can't do that, unfortunately.
Grant mclennan : You could if you wanted to. You used to have an old guitar in London which I wrote "Cattle and Cane" on.
(they were then sharing a house in Shepherds Bush). It was surely the remoteness that concentrated that memory of Far North Queensland into something so potent.

TC said...


Your botanical knowledge will have made you the ideal reader for this post.

Not to mention your knowledge of musical history.

It has occurred to me that I've neglected to mention where those lads came from. The song might make a listener think of cowboys, but these were Aussie cowboys, which is certainly relevant. The outback may have some resemblances to the Wild West, but the differences probably outweigh the similarities.

Yes, your Eastbourne reference did indeed figure into the planning of French Toast. Many thanks.