Wednesday, 15 June 2011

esoteric poetry

The Beauty of the Husband by Anne Carson
I must have read about this somewhere online then requested it from the library, and it has sat half read for several weeks, loitering on the kitchen table and then lying around the bedroom. It is a beautiful piece of poetry but I am at a loss to be able to say anything intelligent about it because it is so utterly esoteric. I mean whoever heard of a 'tango' as a poetic form? The whole book is a narrative poem concerning a marriage, documenting the stages of the relationship. It reminded me a bit of when I reviewed Billy Collins some time ago, where he makes fun of overly pretentious poetry, so I tended to skate over the little quotes from Keats and the classical references which were not helpful to any understanding. It is probably a book that you could read time and again and notice different things each time. So what I did really was to just go with the flow and enjoy the language:

"My husband lied about everything.

Money, meetings, mistresses,
the birthplace of his parents,
the store where he bought his shirts, the spelling of his own name.
He lied when it was not necessary to lie.
He lied when it wasn't even convenient.
He lied when he knew they knew he was lying."
(Part VII p.33)

"His letters, we agree, were highly poetic. They fell into my life
like pollen and stained it."
(Part VIII p.37)

"Well he said.
Do you know she began.
If I could kill you I would then have to make another exactly like you.
To tell it to.
Perfection rested on them for a moment like calm on a lake."
(Part XII p.53-4)

"they watch stray drops of this fact condense on the air between them."
(Part XVI p.70)

"Even to receive this letter was to be transgressed
by an iridescence of him
which I could not keep out of me like a fine plaster dust
it came in at every pore."
(Part XXVIII p.134)

She manages to express the subtleties of the situations so exquisitely, sometimes you are not really sure what has happened but you are left with an atmosphere instead. It is a story that runs the gamut of emotions, from intense passion, through anger, guilt and sadness. It is about the wordless bonds that bind people together and tear them apart. The kind of book that makes you wish for a group of thoughtful people to talk it over with.

1 comment:

  1. Back at my computer after a week away. First thing to do is to check on your blog. :-) This sounds like I should have taken it on holiday. Where many things were intangible, but made me smile. :-)


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