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Sunday, 9 June 2013

The Edge of the Forest


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Garden, Notting Hill Gate: Lucian Freud (1939-2010), 1997, oil on canvas (Private collection)




Poems ought to have memories.
They should remember other poems.
At this moment the noisy city
has fallen quiet, and the edge
of the forest is abuzz with voices,
the voices of poems beneath the old trees
talking quietly about the poems that were
once here but are not here any longer,
remembering each other.

Interior with Plant, Reflection Listening (Self-Portrait): Lucian Freud (1939-2010), 1967-68, oil on canvas, 121 x 121.8 cm (Private collection)

12 comments:

Wooden Boy said...

The buddleia forest in the first Freud. You can see them here as you walk down the canal coming through the cracked brickwork of disused factories and warehouses. They are incredibly tenacious.

I can here the butterflies drawing out the nectar from those higgledy flowers.

Remembering each other; holding in regard; putting back together again.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

Tom,

"the voices of poems beneath the old trees
talking quietly about the poems that were
once here. . ."

(hearing them here, amidst birds calling and drops of fog falling from trees)


6.9

light coming into fog against invisible
ridge, drops falling from pine branches
in foreground, sound of wave in channel

response to which, form and
structure rather than

that appears the first time,
everything, seeing it

fog against invisible tree-lined ridge,
white line of wave breaking in channel

TC said...

A few nights back a friend responded to my admiration for Lucian Freud's work by bringing up the portraiture. I have to grant that the marmoreal nudes are a bit cold.

But there's a cold fog here this morning, drippy as Steve notes from his bucolic perch just up the coast a bit, and the flu has struck, with fevers and groans, sigh, and so I'm feeling more than a bit marmoreal myself, though clothed.

And I do love that tangled-briar-patch all-overness of the tenacious buddleia.

(I suppose, by the way, this poem may represent my answer to Flarf -- not of course that Flarf will notice or care.)

Nin Andrews said...

I love this poem. "Poems talking about the poems that were once here but are not here any longer, remembering each other." Love it.

TC said...

Thanks very much Nin, and great to hear from you. Poems ought only to talk to poems ideally, but in a pinch I think they're always really pleased to have poets talk to them. Not the poets who wrote them, but the ones who didn't. High fever today, all these things suddenlty come clear -- that is, into the clearing of confusion. The Idea that words might have lives and histories, that there is a memory of human history and experience and use and care and work built into words themselves, I find that so strangely consoling, more than ever now that Silly has become the new serious and silly putty the new poetry substitute. But then, after a while, the serious tends to catch up with the silly, and overtake it in the dark while it's re-charging its algorithms. Oh well, what am I saying. Just long time, thanks for the kind words and for getting me out of the sad sack at least once today. I think maybe I needed that. Talk to you again in a minute.

Marie W said...

The poems that were once here but are not here any longer. Maybe poems have a life of their own. We might take them for granted and think that once they were born they will always be, but sometimes some of them have to go. Maybe some of them come with a have-it-off-by date. Now it makes sense why some of the things I have written time ago are so distant I can't read them anymore. Not all poems are timeless, I suppose. And forests, well, we know what happens to them while we are asleep....

Simon Howard said...

"the poems that were
once here but are not here any longer,
remembering each other."

What I find lovely about those lines is the idea of the poems "not here any longer" reciprocally remembering those that are: there's a fascinating & tender flux of location & temporality.

"now that Silly has become the new serious"

“the advertisement never blinks before its victim”

it's going over to the enemy, under the sign of a fake avant-garde (& emphatically not to be conflated with Dadaism, whatever its practitioners might claim).

TC said...

Oh yes, Simon, of course the New Smiley-Face Affluent Avant would conflate itself with Dada or indeed anything that's useful in building the portfolio of bogus credentials required to impress the hasty and the foolish with its own specious claim to historical importance. The assumption upon which it is based: that no one has actually read anything not officially promulgated by the latest wave of administrators, and will never be tempted to do so (too much trouble). Triumphalism however in any context or epoch has the same modus. Back of the fake smile there is always the leer of the winner. Anthology editors and committees and the rest of the arts industry lot can't fall over themselves fast enough in their haste to stamp this tiresome little in-joke of a "movement" with the patina of a bankable authenticity.

What the poems seem to be whispering to each other there in the forest deep is hard to make out, now, a barely audible murmur. The elegiac samizdat of the underwoods, remembering a time before...

De Villo Sloan said...

Simon Howard is very perceptive, I think, to label Flarf a "fake avant-garde." We know DaDa was a fierce critique of the destructive mechanisms built into the fabric of Western culture, as were other 20th century movements, not to forget those Ezra Pound launched.

I see Flarf as just another inevitable result of the frightening expansion of the creative writing programs in the USA that have appropriated and institutionalized poetry, cutting it off from real human activity outside the academy where innovation always begins.

Each year hundreds of people are handed degrees saying some college or university certifies them poets and fiction writers. The whole thing has become a pyramid scheme to keep the scam going. I cannot blame the kids who succumb to the marketing and outrageous promises.

In a "free society" such as ours you need a fake avant garde so, for instance, you can invite "radical" poets to the White House and show the world how tolerant and open you are. When your "radicals" come off the Ivy League assembly line into tenured chairs (often funded by corporations no less), you know no one is going to spoil the party or misbehave too much.

Personally, Flarf and the military-industrial-university literary complex do not bother me. Behind the smoke and mirrors, I do not believe things are going particularly well for those folks.

STEPHEN RATCLIFFE said...

So true, alas, as De Villo Sloan writes, -- "Each year hundreds of people are handed degrees saying some college or university certifies them poets and fiction writers. The whole thing has become a pyramid scheme to keep the scam going. I cannot blame the kids who succumb to the marketing and outrageous promises."

TC said...

Ancient fevered head nods sadly in agreement... (grey day, swirling wind blowing old trees around).

"Pyramid scheme" (spot-on) made me think of this:

Nothing In Return: T-Bone Burnett (from Where the Pyramid Meets the Eye: A Roky Erickson Tribute)

vazambam (Vassilis Zambaras) said...

In the meantime, all those wanting to solve the world’s greatest mystery are hereby requested to send all gifts of appreciation and correspondence to where the pyramid meets the eye: http://www.thetp.com/ypyramid.htm
Scroll (as in the Dead Sea) down to the address of the Purveyor of The Truth.