Monday, December 03, 2007

TOTAL CHAOS FOREVERMONTH: Louis MacNeice


for you are out of
this life and cannot start any more hares for ever.

--Louis MacNeice, "The Casualty"

Pity poor Louis MacNeice, who today becomes the first recipient of my tender freehand pencil ministrations. If you are a space alien searching for answers--"What does a rabbit look like," for instance, or "How does a lever work," or "How is a human hand proportioned"--I beg you go elsewhere. But if you're interested in death throes and robo-hares and gloriously cross-hatched cottontail crotches, then welcome home. Also know that I got this book used and it is filled with cryptic student marginalia: "LITTERAL FINANCING," "what," "PROTESTANTS," and my personal favorite, "creating progeny--WASTED," so that may have influenced my interpretation to some degree.

13 comments:

Anonymous said...

REAL TOADS, IMAGINARY GARDENS

Marianne Moore, orange-haired vixen
With black eyebrows–-hence, Moore,
As in moor, after raven-haired Spaniards
Who’d swum ashore when Elizabeth’s Raleigh
Sunk the Armada–-Marianne a fox church
With a nave only the brave got to polish
Their dicks on, the secrets of her transom
And portal encrypted and immortal, whereas

We, for all our calisthenic zeal and relish,
Must mourn our joys and scandals perish
Like snowflakes fallen into reality’s
Thawed, sullen pond. Springtime, ha!
It’s enough to make a badger chortle, a piglet
Whimper for its Maw, Moore a women
For whom all was dawn, sunset or autumn,
And beauty a natural will-o-the-wisp.

Tricia said...

Is no woman safe from your constant disrespectful scrotiny--not even the dead and snugly canonized? Also, I would have gone with NARTHEX instead of nave, but that's just me.

Anonymous said...

GOAT TO GOAT

Smut is not babytalk. It's just
The adolescent burden of a gargantuan,
Nervously crystalline self-consciousness
Carried through life like an ice
Chopping block from a butcher’s shop,
All sawdust, feathers, blood and bile,
A scored, besmeared, but basically
Transparent glass rock which resists its own
Melting into natural puddles, or into a hum
Of steam because of some occult, vestigial
And doubtless well-founded dread
Of yielding or failing to yield
To rhapsody’s metamorphosis

And dizzy allure. The low raise,
The dark illumine, is the alibi
Of a typical, tragic, apprentice Atlas,
Or a smelly and lonely old goat, nymph
In a tree, unable to helpfully
Scratch himself or climb and press
His rancid fur against her angora.
But smut muffles her bleating whinny:
“Old goat, I don’t wanna be your nanny!”
Poor Milton was blinded with the worst
Naivete, masculinity. Love
Is not scrutiny. Love is vertigo
Disguised as scrutiny.



(Hm. Well. I waited for you all day, as poets so often say, and now I see. Honestly, I too wonder if there's a place anywhere for that bull-roarer I keep swinging over my head. I didn't mean (or even hitherto know) narthex. I meant the apex of the vault, or the vertex of its lintel, and thought it was nave, and got seduced by its rhyme with "none but the brave," a bawd of euphony, I guess. I apologize for being tiresome. I detest canonization, which suavely and inexorably evolves into bland, easily swallowed enamel, or one more mode of social control, but if there's anything worse than a village explainer, it's a village complainer. But my God, what were those poems in today's New Yorker? Where is their tooth? No tooth, no sooth. Anyhow, I'm sorry. I couldn't find MacNeice's poem on the internet, so picked up on your Marianne Moore remark, who for me, on some days, is everyone's superior. I offer my scrotiny as proof that I am not safe from her.)

Tricia said...

And who is safe from her? Her with her tricorn hat, upon which all aspects of God perch like dialoguing parrots.

The word you are looking for is keystone, I think. Oh! Oh my God! From the wikipedia article: "Old keystones can decay due to vibration, a condition known as bald arch." If only I had enlightened you sooner!

Anonymous said...

My God, what an apercu,
Genius Tricia! Me and
Emperor Wallace, exiles
From Penn's woods, a.k.a.
The bald arch state. You think
It was she e.e. cummings
Had in mind when he called her
India, and observed,
BETWEEN HER THIGHS,
INDIA LIES? I mean
The tricorn, the parrots'
Grave chatter, their moments
Of grim giddiness
And mordant laughter,
Suggesting to her acolyte
Anent "Roosters," "Why
Don't you call them 'Cocks,'
Elizabeth?"

Ciao, Goddess,
Fond and anonymous.
(My codeword from Google
Was "decoozde," no lie.)

Tricia said...

Magnificent! Equal parts decode and cooze!

Anonymous said...

Dear Transience
Of the Emerald Isle,
I thought "decoozde"
Was a one-piece
Pseudo portmanteau

For Keystone Exile.
But as the swami
Whispered to his dormant
Cobra, better India
Than Siberia.

Anonymous said...

THE ROSE ON THE ROOD OF TIME

[...stained with sins
And wounds of disgrace, I saw
Thereby, glory’s tree.
–“The Dream of the Rood”]

Hare-brained, not merely a mare
Or a mouse’s smelly nest
Lodged between my ears, woven of red
And mahogany hairs and fit
For a fiddler’s fondness for fire and bow,
But as if the sky of silver-sandaled stars
Danced like white-footed rabbits
With one blinding idea upon time’s
Cold noiselessness, its eternities of brine
Or ponds of staleness, marooned, polished
And slippery as words or fish
Or old eels tired and sad enough
To cast themselves
Into counterfeit nets,

Not nests, yet nearly, teeming
With their abandoned mortality. Or else
A word is a rule, an iron rod,
Its destiny a nest of rose-colored coals
Where it lies until it too is russet
And hammered still rude until it’s a snake
Who swallows its tail, a kell, plunged
And purged in a water bucket, broken off
Cold, a link forged, not wholly
Honestly, but so what, all being
And beginning a sin and link
In the great chain of life, its poetry,
The chain for which we need
Each other, so hare-brained.

Tricia said...

You're taking my demand for "more animals" so seriously. What power I have!

RHE said...

So I finally located "The Casualty," and lo! the lines you quoted did not appear. My first thought was that you misquoted. I soon abandoned that thought and concluded that you made the lines up. That, too, seemed unlikely, but I finally hit upon the correct answer: you removed the lines from the poem and posted them here. When I saw "The Casualty," you'd already performed the line-ectomy. Of course I couldn't find the lines there; they were here.

Tricia said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tricia said...

RHE, how good to see you! In my copy of MacNeice's Selected Poems, that line appears at the very end of "The Casualty." I just double-checked. Maybe he revised the poem later? Sad mistake, it seems to me.

RHE said...

The version I was reading came off the internet; the most likely explanation is that it's simply a corrupt or incompetent transcription. That happens more often than one would suspect, and it's a good argument for corroborating online readings from...dare one say it?...books.

On the other hand, someone sent me a link to a poem of mine posted on a pornography site, credited to someone else, and perfectly transcribed! There is no justice.