Books

I've been reading more poetry than usual and, in doing so, have come back across some of my old favourites.


Anne Sexton is particularly good but I don't have her collection to hand at the moment. Jamie McKendrick's translation of Valerio Magrelli's The Embrace: selected poems is very intriguing. I wish I could read the poems in the original Italian because it would be really cool to see what stylistic choices McKendrick has made/retained.


There's a line in one of Magrelli's poems: 'I've often imagined that looks/outlive the act of seeing' and it's typical of him to play with these kinds of - not paradoxical - but... I'm searching for the words.. he kind of uses tense variations of the same verb or word in order to define it in terms of himself. It's actually quite tricky to explain what exactly he's doing beyond saying tritely that it's very lovely and very clever.


There's a similar construction in another poem which ends:


It's as though a cloud

should have taken on

the shape of a cloud.


I love this one especially because it's so playful - I mean a cloud doesn't have any fixed shape.


I want to write poems like this. Clever, self-conscious poems. I tried to write something the other day from scratch but it wasn't clever and it wasn't interesting. It was just some self- gratuitous wank about someone I fancy who I can pretty safely say isn't that keen anymore. I think I used to be able to seduce people with my words. They're all revolting now; the words, and the people.


I'm reading Les Liasons Dangereuses and the font is too small - the plot isn't unfolding how I remember it either. There are a couple of lines that have been real bangers but nothing too exciting if I'm totally honest.


A lot of the sentiments in Les Liasons Dangereuses feel very commonplace now, even if de Laclos said it first. There's one such instance when the Vicomte is writing to the Marquise. He's complaining about the nature of love and desire; the way we have a tendency to want what we cannot have. The Vicomte says it rather nicely:


'Why do we give chase to what eludes us, and ignore what is to hand?'


This reminds me of something similar from Le Petit Prince, although maybe I'm misremembering it. Le Petit Prince really is very good. Ok I've just checked and it's not the same at all. But I love the fox and the rose.


The fox, knowing he will be left, crying, saying, 'It is the time you have wasted for your rose that makes your rose so important' but as Anita Shreve so well put it: 'It is time that determines the intensity of love'.






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