Once Works Well was pure technology. Now it seeks merely to divert.
Pansy subjects - Verse! Opera! Domestic trivia! - are now commonplace.
The 300-word limit for posts is retained. The ego is enlarged

Monday, 20 July 2009

Enough of tin-snips for the moment

Strong winds do shake…
Can beauty last or is its brevity
The thing which matters most? When badly sung
Is Cosi’s trio ruined fatally,
Its throb dispersed, its close-linked pearls unstrung?

The menace of a changing point of view;
Can Constable survive the biscuit* tin?
Is Waste Land’s stoic wisdom cast askew
When found in advertising’s rubbish bin?

Peugeots corrupt the valley of the Lot,
Displacing oaks with their unnatural sheen.
Yet cars depart, their sound a passing blot,
And succulence assumes its old routine.

Beauty - or art (he shrugs) - is form and place
Harmonic with apparent destiny,
A bell that rings and makes some sense of space,
A new yet old familiarity.

But I’m the filter of this quality,
I set the seal on what I recognise;
A week ahead I may disqualify
That judgement taken by my younger eyes.

And others share my infidelity
By ripping out that planted boundary fence,
Allowing torpor, whim or emnity
To muscle in on beauty’s permanence.

Time’s the villain for us all; it ordains
Our lives as well as that of beauty’s span,
Which comes and goes, diffuses and regains
A moment’s power, fading, soon outran

*Cookie for US readers

NOTE (1) This was to have been a sestina
until I checked out the sestina’s rhyme
sequence. Not for me. Like doing a 100 m
dash in diver’s boots.

(2) Incorrect verb tense in last line. But what
the hell.

11 comments:

Plutarch said...

I sense the spirit of Proust wandering among these lines.

Avus said...

I liked that, BB!

Julia said...

A good recording of "Soave il vento" wipes out the bad sound files surely!

Barrett Bonden said...

Plutarch: Not intentionally, but I'm willing to accept subconscious responsibility.

Avus: Thanks for that. A far bigger subject than I've ever tackled before. A grave risk of hubris.

Julia: I wish I could remember the titles of the arias, duets, trios, etc. They sound so swish. As to your question, I'm on a hiding to nothing explaining what I was up to but the aim was to explore the subjectivity, transience and metamorphosis (not necessarily permanent) of beauty.

Lucy said...

I thought it sounded everso slightly like Joe Hyam actually, who may himself unconsciously also channel the spirit of Proust...

Mostly though it sounds like you. I like it too, that use of 'succulence' is very bold, though I'm slightly puzzled by the Peugeots piercing the oaks.

We used to have a metal waste paper basket with the Lascaux cave paintings on it when I was a kid.

(Comment verif. is 'chave'. Is that the feminine of 'chav', think you?)

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy: By now, it would take profound surgery to eliminate Plutarch's prousticitis. My case could probably be handled at a day clinic.

"Piercing" had worried me faintly but the case became acute when you unerringly picked it up. For which, much thanks, and I mean that. Is the change any better?

WPBs appear to have some seminal significance for you. Weren't we discussing your mauve one a month or two ago?

Chave/chav: sounds like a typo. It's one of those words (bling was another) which was introduced on a day I failed to read the relevant newspaper. Lacking an understanding of its provenance I have failed to add it to my repertoire.

The Crow said...

It has taken me longer than most, and many visits to Googleland, to fully understand your poem, but I now do.

Your poem was not difficult to grasp on the first run through, but I missed the depth of it by not knowing the cultural references. So, I had some homework to do to keep my ignorance from interfering with my appreciation of its fulsome beauty. I’ve listened to opera, looked at landscapes to rival Turner’s, read – and reread – Eliot’s poem (a trip in itself) and taken a virtual river tour through France. All worthwhile excursions and digressions, let me add.

Beauty survives mankind, lives on in mankind, and exists without mankind, even though it takes humankind to label it so. Beauty is sometimes destroyed by the actions of mankind, but is always diminished by the perceptions of mankind.

In my less than perfect opinion of things, that is.

:)

Barrett Bonden said...

The Crow: Gosh! I hope the effort really has been worthwhile. I tried desperately to opt for clearer language but inevitably the allusions have tended to be Brito-centric.

The point I wanted to make is that beauty is not really a definable, unchanging quality. Even one person's view on what constitutes beauty can change, while two people may disagree quite widely on individual aspects of beauty. Let me take one example: the Lot valley is generally conceded to be one of the most beautiful in France, yet this concession doesn't allow for reality. An ideal (ie, selective) memory of it may dwell on the pleasing conjunction of the thick trees and bends in the river while conveniently forgetting the thousands of tourist cars travelling up and down. Is the real Lot valley (with its cars) beautiful? And so on. Julia suggests that a good performance of that operatic trio wipes out the memory of a bad one; but does it? Could the bad performance linger as a tainting influence.

I saw it as a complex issue at the very least. Perhaps too complex for my fledgling abilities.

Lucy said...

You didn't have to change it for me! I suppose 'piercing' was interesting because it described the colour of the cars glinting through the trees. It may have been my want of imagination that caused me to baulk at it; sometimes the point is to be made to see something differently, to be a bit surprised. I've convinced myself, I think you should put it back now! Unless you prefer 'displacing', it's your poem after all...

'Chav' was a word that exercised and puzzled me a while back, so I made some enquiries about it. Today's word is 'bread', which is wholesome and comprehensible.

Thanks for pointing out my WPB preoccupation, I'll get it looked at.

The Crow said...

BB, your poem presented the complexity of the issue very well, I think. I understood from the first reading your position that the concept of beauty is impermanent, fleeting, subjective. Your questions, once I knew the references, only enhanced the poem for me. Well, more than that: knowing what you were talking about with the questions you asked expanded my initial understanding, made it richer.

While I’ve never visited any place in Europe, I have my ‘valley of the Lot’ here, which has been desecrated (my p.o.v.) to make it more attractive to tourists. My ‘Cosi’s trio’ is Janis Joplin’s version of “Me and Bobby McGee.” I dislike hearing anyone else, even Kristofferson, who wrote it, sing it because it jars my memory of her and everything else I’ve attached to that song. When I was much younger I bought a pencil box because it bore a reproduction of van Gogh’s painting, “The Café Terrace.” Once I saw a museum-quality print (a travesty in itself, I’m sure) of the painting, the pencil box was an insult, and I discarded it, the magic gone.

Until I understood your references, and could find similar examples from my own experience, your poem was an academic question for me: good enough from that perspective, but I didn’t connect with it very well. Once I did my homework, so to speak, your poem was made personal – I then easily related to the emotions you felt when you wrote it. I knew what you meant on a deeper, more personal level, which made your poem live, not merely exist.

Your poem accomplished what you set out to do, as you’ve stated above. In addition, my narrow world was expanded a bit more (which I deeply appreciate) by taking the time to find out what lay behind the references.

The reasons we find objects, artistic creations and natural wonders beautiful lie deep within us and are based on our perceptions and prejudices – maybe even on what we had for supper the night before, for all I know. Your example, quoting Julia, is what I meant when I wrote that beauty is diminished by our perception. So it was with my disenchantment (when I was 19) with the pencil box, after I saw the print of van Gogh’s painting. The detail and colors were still there, but the beauty I saw when I bought the box had been diminished by the superior reproduction. I don’t even know if I could survive seeing the painting in person. It might be too much beauty for me to comprehend.

What I neglected to say in my initial response to this post is I think this is your best work yet. Now, is that a technical observation, from a Poet’s perspective? Nope. It is from the perspective of someone who connected with the soul of the poem, who drank it in and appreciated all that it had to say.

:)

Barrett Bonden said...

Lucy/The Crow: I appreciate the detail criticism and the overall reactions. I still regard my position as a versifier to be mildly fradulent, but readers' responses help keep the self-doubt down to manageable proportions. The "piercing Peugeots" are toast. As to the wider picture I look at what I wrote and see all the missed opportunities. Which is probably a good thing.
As to the WPB thing, Lucy, I'm sure a mild analgesic will suffice.