Slithering Absences.

… or Wordsworth’s sportive hedgerows.

Trying to tell stories has become increasingly difficult, surrounded and overwhelmed as we are by the disturbing attractions of the digital world.

The deliberate act of using pen, ink and paper is perceived as clandestine, outmoded. There is a peculiar and worrying urge to share every flicker and impulse from the illuminating to the puerile. The imaginative retreat of secrecy has been forgotten it seems, and with it, a quiet flourishing of the new and strangely bold.

Yet, writing as a primary instrument of thought allows us to uncover aspects of experience every bit as enthralling as Temple Run.

In some ways mirroring the activities of the Romantic poets and reformers of the 1790s, my own acts of writing, in 2013, have acquired subversive, elusive characteristics. Like much of the Romantics’ work during a period of political repression following the French Revolution, my writing represents a coded means of examining the forces of past and present. Just as Wordsworth considers in Tintern Abbey,these compositions look at the way in which we contemplate both ‘built’ and ‘unbuilt’ space, acknowledging the desire to sensualise and poeticise the human condition, while preserving a space of political resilience and perhaps, resistance. The absence of the abbey in Wordsworth’s celebrated poem in very real physical terms, suggest that he was preoccupied with the acting present, and as well as with future perceptions of history upon the abbey. Given that the 1790s was a time of increasing surveillance, paranoia and fear, the abbey  might be regarded as framing the issue of imprisonment both literal and metaphorical. My poem ‘Flag Iris’ offers a contemporary response to what I believe was troubling Wordsworth back in 1798:

open tongues of honeysuckle tangle inscriptions and press 

against the door   skin drawn back    its flank  a bed for flies

drunken peonies loosen webs of water and love survives in blobs of lichen

or gather in the broken calyxes of plastic cups.

 

the abbey  moans   

shifting its weight in the wind so at least  we know it is still

alive    floodlights flare and burn  it has closed its eyes   consciousness drawn back

 

it rains harder   a spear of flag iris parts the morning’s blue bubble sap

invents that that should not be

 

a clock

 

bites our world in half  and now 

pencilled in and  drawn back

a world  before  where ships happened to be and maps had holes in them

Coleridge, in 1795, had spoken about how social confidence, or what he called  the ‘beautiful fabric of love’ had been shaken to its very core by Pitt’s system of spies and informers. Such a sentiment lies at the heart of my own preoccupations. The world at large has become distorted: less free despite the astonishing range and extent of information from the internet.  Worldwide, we do not enjoy the freedoms and liberties we imagine we have inherited as current events in Syria confirm. We are  intimate and ruinous at the same time and our locus as Corbusier would have us believe is a sealed community, and so memory is displaced, becoming smooth and fragmentary. David Farrell Krellin in, Archeticture : Ecstasies of  Time and Space and the Human Body argues that our reactions are ‘slick’ . So how will we be remembered? Neuroaesthetics argues that our relationship with art, stories and words is crucial to our survival, allowing us to negotiate our primal desires. Thus writing is a refuge and comes into being through the conflict between the particular and the idea.

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2 thoughts on “Slithering Absences.

  1. Helen Mckenzie says:

    This is a beautiful poem….

    …and I completely agree that the urge, and increasingly the expectation, to share everything is worrying – not to mention annoying!

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