85. 3 Poems Answering Possible Questions with Fresh Structures of Feeling & Sensation, and the Assistance of Mr Prynne

• oh – all these memories
                 debris after Lynmouth

                 that was a warning

                                    deliberate mistake?
                                    the Torridge
                                    pretty good, yeah
                                    pretty much
                                                proper country yet

     my father defending it
     during the War
     centre for landing craft
                amphibious assaults1
                entire craft
                lost on the bar
                                thank you
                yankee knowhow

hence we returned
then to Bideford Fair
fire eaters & boxing booths
tigers on posters
how do I know
except what I dream
              – sights
                shining like mackerel
                glorious to engage with
                (when you’re all grown up
                after the dark
                one day to return to

 
• all this
imperfect recall
                 you can’t
                 go there after

                 but perfect
                 conceptions:

                 ah, Jeremy
                 so the night-time:

                 with our eyes closed
                 things come together
                             then happen:

                             sparks & lights
                             veering wildly
                                            burst up

did I see fireworks?
                     do you?

                     a level of abstraction
                  is a level of deprivation

                     what you see
                  is what you are2

 
• lost on the sands at Westward Ho!
                                    again
                                    everyone called Peter
                                    smile and
                                    know nothing

what do you find?
                   dark & dirty
                   muddy depths
                   below it all
                   patches of oil
                   muck &
                   mingled decay

where do we go when we die?

                             can’t be Broadstairs anymore
                             too narrow a path up anyway
                             always traffic jams at the gate

                             just empty drifting
                             down depthward
                             minimal hold

                                           think how slow
                                                     it is
                                                     to be a bubble
                                                     burst

                             down depthward
                             what colour? 3

 

 

1 Remember the armoured ducks?

 

 

2 “natural language itself is generically conceptualised in relation to ‘what there is’, whether ‘real’ or not, elastic in upward dimensionality, almost indefinitely so; and this is especially true of poetic discourse constructions. Within such territory, often separated from lower levels by ascription as ‘in imagination’ or ‘sublime’, an arbitrary text-lexicon can be converted into a distinct vocabulary, and improvised rules for following a narrative or a performance can be formed by modification of lower-order practice, or can be newly invented in their own right.” J.H. Prynne, Concepts and Conception in Poetry (Critical Documents, 2014), p 15

 

 

3 Elastic in downward dimensionality? The poet, like most, wants to go upwards in a burst of light – her or his true path is darkness & destructive transformation. But, you, the reader? Let’s follow Mr Prynne a little further: “A reader may have a demanding task to interpret these ’rules’, but the process may be exhilarating enough to carry the reader forward with strenuous delight: ‘it must give pleasure’ (both Wordsworth and Stevens are agreed upon this).” Prynne, loc.cit. Yes?

One thought on “85. 3 Poems Answering Possible Questions with Fresh Structures of Feeling & Sensation, and the Assistance of Mr Prynne”

  1. “debris after Lynmouth”: I remember I think an early visit to Lynmouth (from a holiday in either Westward Ho!, Brixham or Bigbury), when memories of the 1952 Lynmouth Flood Disaster were still fresh. The poem seems to be aware of the unnecessary conspiracy theory over a rain-making experiment that went wrong.

    “my father defending it”: my father was attached for much of WWII to the defence force for the Royal Marine base at Instow (now called Arromanches Camp), where amphibious assault craft (including the famous DUKW) and techniques were developed. Good wide sandy beach there, but a ferocious bar beyond where the Torridge meets the sea, on which he claimed American pride was laid low.

    “traffic jams at the gate”: meanwhile, back at Broadstairs the only street up from the harbour passes through the narrow Tudor gateway of York Gate, before coming out at the end of Albion Street.

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