Wednesday, May 24, 2017

JH Prynne: 'Moon Poem'

Moon Poem
JH Prynne

The night is already quiet and I am
bound in the rise and fall: learning
to wish always for more. This is the
means, the extension to keep very steady

so that the culmination
will be silent too and flow
with no trace of devoutness.

Since I must hold to the gradual in
this, as no revolution but a slow change
like the image of snow. The challenge is
not a moral excitement, but the expanse,

the continuing patience
dilating into forms so
much more than compact.

I would probably not even choose to inhabit the
wish as delay: it really is dark and the knowledge
of the unseen is a warmth which spreads into
the level ceremony of diffusion. The quiet

suggests that the act taken
extends so much further, there
is this insurgence of form:

we are more pliant than the mercantile notion
of choice will determine-we go in this way
on and on and the unceasing image of hope
is our place in the world. We live there and now

at night I recognise the signs
of this, the calm is a
modesty about conduct in

the most ethical sense. We disperse into the ether
as waves, we slant down into a precluded notion
of choice which becomes the unlearned habit of
wish: where we live, as we more often are than

we know. If we expand
into this wide personal vacancy
we could become the extent

of all the wishes that are now too far beyond
us. A community of wish, as the steppe
on which the extension would sprinkle out
the ethic density, the compact modern home.

The consequence of this
pastoral desire is prolonged
as our condition, but

I know there is more than the mere wish to
wander at large, since the wish itself diffuses
beyond this and will never end: these are songs
to the night under no affliction, knowing that

the wish is gift to the
spirit, is where we may
dwell as we would

go over and over within the life of the heart
and the grace which is open to both east and west.
These are psalms for the harp and the shining


stone: the negligence and still passion of night.

                       ~ from White Stones  (1969)

*

It isn't night; there's no moon to speak of, either now or when the sun's done for the day. This is in lieu of a post I ought to have made on the 21st to [celebrate] another year of this blog.

I thought I was good at remembering dates. Apparently age diffuses ability in addition to all else. Let's call it a kind of wandering at large.

There are times, not regular, when certain poems seem to be a sort of augury or a point of reference - something you'd stick with blu-tac on a wall or the side of a cupboard, so you can remind yourself of something as you come and go. 
 
Some years ago, that poem was (still is) Pessoa's poem '6 September 1934'. That poem made my mother cry for me, I don't know why. Swar took a photo of it immediately she read it.
 
Now, I believe I will need to find a place for this one somewhere unhumid, visible and unassailable. Will I take the Pessoa down? You have got to be kidding me. I need those cold, empty hands available at a moment's notice.
 
*
 
At first I wrote two lines of my own, after I copied the poem. Then I felt miserly and ungrateful, and therefore all of this.
 
It only remains for me to say to those of you who still visit, read, return, browse and comment despite my loud silence, 
 
Thank you!




2 comments:

batulm said...

Thank you. Been meaning to write to you for a while. Miss you.

Space Bar said...

Have been meaning to call you for a month now! I have no acceptable excuses. I also owe you a hand-written letter. Love to all of you.