Saturday, November 12, 2011

"Not all good poetry is also 'important poetry'"

Mark Ford has a good article in the new LRB (gated) on A.S.J. Tessimond and Bernard Spencer, two largely forgotten English poets of the Auden generation; on the strength of the quotations, Tessimond seems reasonably worthwhile, Spencer less so. (Ford's remarks on Spencer seem muddled to me. Not only is all the quoted verse bristling with Audenesque phrases -- "a word or a lock which gunfire may not break, / Or a love whose range it may not take" -- but surely the idea that one couldn't write tentatively while under Auden's influence is refuted by the example of Louis MacNeice.) Anyway, here is Ford on Tessimond:
Tessimond can’t be said to have developed as a poet in any clearly discernible way, and it’s not easy when reading his posthumously published poems to decide which is early, which middle and which late. All seem buoyed up by his wit and curiosity and compassion; this is especially surprising given that in middle age he developed severe manic depression and underwent extensive electric shock therapy.

And here are two Tessimond poems quoted in the article, both of which I like:
Letter from Luton

Dear Hubert,
                  Bored, malevolent and mute on
A wet park seat, I look at life and Luton
And think of spittle, slaughterhouses, double
Pneumonia, schizophrenia, kidney trouble,
Piles, paranoia, gallstones in the bladder,
Manic depressive madness growing madder,
Cretins with hideous tropical diseases
And red-eyed necrophiles – while on the breezes
From Luton Gasworks comes a stench that closes
Like a damp frigid hand on my neuroses,
And Time (arthritic deaf-mute) stumbles on
And on and on and on.
                      Yours glumly,
                                       John

In that cold land

Ghosts do not kiss, or, if they kiss, they feel
   Ice touching ice, and turn away, and shiver;
But there as here, perhaps, we still can steal
   Quietly off, and talk and talk for ever.

2 comments:

windwheel said...

What means- Sarang?- I was so much more comfortable talking to you, thinking you solidly placed within an ancient (and always evil) Imperial Ars Dictaminis tradition, whereas you are probably- just a bright guy or gay or gal who failed to understand, being too young, that all poetry is self-serving crap or an autistic agape towards all alterity, or jus' a lets pretend us shitheads be as smart as fucking Physicists and Doctors and shite.
This is not to say that you can avoid becoming like us. Samuel Beckett deploys an Occossionalist argument-quod nescis quo modo fiat, non facis--
(if you do not know how a thing is done, then you do not do it)- against your current subject- the Proddy dog was more Aquinian than Joyce!- but that's poetry.
You one smart lil' Sarang! ( I currently believe you are either from Korea or Zimbabwe) and can write the English good.
Still...
Every smart guy, gay or gal,eventually ends up believing diachronicity selects for their own vanishing universe; thus, the supervenience of 'tastes' and 'personalities' which the remorseless maths of Maths- not the fitness landscape- has already rendered a virtual and excresent spandrel or junk DNA- renders your cri de coeur poetic.
So just write poetry already. The wench aint dead. It's you, you cunt.

True poetry rejoices in this customized Occassionalism of ontology such that it remains always orthogonal to every deformation of one's vector of survival, sexual propagation, or professional compromise, such that its fundamental conceits generate the entire vanity of language, but also mathematics, also 'mentalese'- in other words poetry remains the horizon, Science burrows to depass.

I actually fell asleep writing that last. What I meant to say was- you're a fucking poet you cunt. Everything fucks you. Every fucking Boring, self regarding, amor meus pondus meum, sentimental turd you came across is a fucking Boson fucking you infintesmally. What can you do? Pretend you is pregnant/ Give birth in pain and shame- guys you really think Theoretical Phys can nay say the Higgs?
Seriously, you gotta write.
Well, you do- but.
'not all good Bowel movements are also important B.M'- you don't know England. This shite of estimating the atomic mass of virtual turds is over. It turned out the Eco-Feminist/Post Colonial/Gramscian/Queer theory/Xenophiliac/ don't be nasty to paedophiles won that particular game of strip poker.

Write poetry- it's okay. turns out it's just a way of making notes, keeping score, simply mnemonics, just part of Rhetoric's Memory Palace, and. only in that sense 'the Mother of History'.

There's something quite sharp and undirected about your style. Do you perchance cut yourself?
I didn't.
I just made up my mind to be Puerto Rican.
verb sap.

Sarang said...

Appalled at sudden demotion from entrenched imperialist stooge (epistolary division) to random self-mutilator. I can't claim to understand what you're going on about but in any case it's difficult to understand the strength of your reaction to a mild endorsement of John Tessimond's occasional verse.